Get to Know TEDxBroadway Speaker Jennifer Ashley Tepper
Jennifer Ashley Tepper is the director of programming at Feinstein’s/54 Below, and the author of The Untold Stories of Broadway book series.
As the leader of 54 Below’s creative team, she’s responsible for programming every show at the Broadway supper club and concert venue — over 1,400 shows to date!
Tepper was recently named one of the 10 professionals on Backstage magazine’s “1st Annual Broadway Future Power List.” We can’t wait to have her at TEDxBroadway 2016.
What book are you currently reading now?
I’m currently almost finished with Off-Broadway Musicals Since 1919: From Greenwich Village Follies to The Toxic Avenger by Thomas S. Hischak. It’s a fascinating book, and the only publication to extensively detail every important off-Broadway musical of the last century. Reading about the individual shows that were produced each year really gives a larger sense of how off-Broadway has evolved. The book also makes it register that a cast recording is everything for a musical. There are many shows in the book that sound worthwhile, that were even well-received by critics and audiences … but because they were never recorded, they didn’t live on — they never received future productions or gained new fans. Recordings are so important. The book has also taught me about several musicals I never knew much about, that I’ll be researching further!
If you could time-travel to witness any event in history, what would it be?
The Black Crook! The 1866 show is historically said to have been the first production ever of a “musical” as we know it. I would love to time-travel back to Niblo’s Garden, the Broadway theater where it was first presented, which is now a Guess Jeans in Soho. It was five-and-a-half hours long, so I hope I get to time travel with a snack. And I would love to talk to New York theatergoers from that time, and look around at what the city was like.
If you had a theme song, what would it be?
Definitely “Opening Doors” from my favorite musical, Merrily We Roll Along. Or “52,” a song written by my friend and frequent collaborator, musical theater writer Joe Iconis. But I also feel a deep kinship with pretty much any uptempo theater song that features a character either writing, or running through Manhattan, two things I tend to do quite often.