Interview by Jen Bush
Jesica Garrou is the Associate Producer of Surviving the Rosenthals. She approaches her work in a collaborative and supportive manner. “I am a collaborator. My creativity comes via helping others create what they want to achieve.” She feels a strong sense of responsibility to protect the visions of the production. “As the associate producer, this means I get to ensure both the writer, Arnie and the Director, Andrea’s visions are met and that everyone involved contributes to the creative process that creates the final product.”
SURVIVING THE ROSENTHALS introduces us to songwriter Sammy, who enters therapy to heal himself and break free of the childhood shackles, brought on by his overbearing father, that still stifle him as an adult. The musical takes a surreal twist as Sammy meets – Sammy! Adult Sam meets 10-year-old Sammy in a battle to save himself. Surviving the Rosenthals provides real-world hope and outcomes … and does it in 90 minutes … set to music!
I had a chance to chat with Ms. Garrou to gain further insight into her career and her involvement with this production.
What drew you to this project?
I have admired Andrea’s work for a couple of years. She sent me the script and the music and I knew I needed to be a part of it in some way. The script is strong, modern, and poignant. The music is catchy and interesting to perform. I knew it was going to do well at this festival but also beyond and I wanted to be part of the team that makes it happen.
What is your creative process?
I listen and ask questions. I listen with my heart as well as my ears. I want to ensure everyone has a space to be a part of the project and to shape the piece.
Do you find a sense of added responsibility when dealing with plays that tackle serious, mature, or timely subject matter?
This piece deals with very heavy topics. In my role, my responsibility is to ensure the actors, the crew and everyone involved is comfortable even as the content brings up personal issues. I call it the “brave space”: a place where people feel safe but also bold enough to try and take risks. It is also the responsibility of our entire production to continue that brave space to the audience: a space where the audience feels safe to watch but bold enough to explore new ideas.
What’s so good about off-off Broadway/indie theater?
This is my first NYC show and I am honored to see how the NY theatre scene works in contrast to the New England regional theatres I have worked with since childhood.
It’s obvious the world is steadily reopening. What do you feel is different now than before pandemic? Another thought: what should be different now than before pandemic?
Hmm… My answer to this is not relevant to this show. But I think theatre should be accessible beyond the metropolitan areas. So while I did not experience a lot of great “zoom theatre” over this pandemic, I do think there is a way streaming media can bring theatre and theatrical opportunities to a great public. One thing that has changed is the cost of everything. When it comes to salaries, I believe this is a good thing as art is valuable. When it was taken away, the world felt it. Audiences missed theatre and live music. We missed art museums and galleries. We felt the difference of a world with limited access to creative output and I am hoping that means we will come out of this putting value on how creative endeavors impact our lives and create sustainable incomes for those who participate.
What’s next for you?
In addition to this piece, I am the production stage manager for Fire Island the musical which plays as part of The New Works Festival at Theatre Row. After that, I will return to Maine to spend a few weeks with my family and back to helping playwrights develop their work via zoom. I am always ready for the next adventure wherever it takes me.