First Wives Club is pleased to have the Prince of PR, Rick Miramontez, President of O&M Co. working with us. He has been instrumenting in helping us share our story as we look forward to the time when all of you can see the results of our collaboration in Chicago and beyond.
We appreciate Rick’s experience, his extensive contacts with the press and most of all his passion for First Wives Club. Rick is one of the busiest people we know, but he took time to sit with us and share his expertise.
It must be exciting working with some of the most brilliant people in the theater. You have done PR for some of the biggest shows on Broadway. What do you look for when developing the PR strategy for a show?
Rick: It’s never dull! When representing a show, each production has its own special personality—like a human being. What I look for in each is the unique winning element that makes it stand out as something special. Something that people will want to go see. I enhance and broadcast those elements as far and wide as we can.
You’ve been in the business for over three decades. Are the Broadway audiences today different from those of ten or twenty years ago?
Rick: I think there is one fundamental difference between audiences now and maybe 20 – 30 years ago and that is that Broadway is less affordable than it might have been back then, so audiences are more discriminating. They really want to go in knowing that they are going to have a special experience. That’s where “brand names” and the recognition factor weigh in very heavily in the selling of a Broadway show.
We understand Molly Barnett is energetic and key to the Musical’s roll out. Tell us about Molly and how you two work together on O&M projects?
Molly is a key player at O&M Co. I think she started as an intern, and has since become a VIP. She has the same passion for the theater that I do and we see eye-to-eye on pretty much everything. Mostly, she is about taking care if the artists (while taking care of business) and she handled the million day to day details seamlessly. We’ve worked with Faith Prince before and she totally relies on and trusts Molly, as do I.
What other Musicals has Molly developed and been an integral part of spear heading with you?
Molly has been a key part of all our biggies, including HAIR, KINKY BOOTS and BEAUTIFUL. And now FWC! And she’s a cheerleader for shows that aren’t even ours, like THE LAST SHIP and ON YOUR FEET.
I suppose a lot of people don’t buy tickets to plays or any event unless they read all about it on the Internet first, such as reading reviews or checking out the website.
Rick: Or even have some relationship, even if it is opaque to the show. The hardest thing to sell is something that is completely brand new. There is nothing more exciting than a completely original musical or play, but they are also the hardest ones to sell because the recognition factor at the beginning is zero.
What role would you say that theater critics play today? Has their impact on a show changed over the years?
Rick: There are two factors here. There was certainly a time when there were multiple newspapers that had very respected critics, particularly at the New York Times. Their opinions had a huge influence on whether or not the ticket buyer would go see a show. These days, there are fewer critics, frankly, and fewer outlets. There is still the ever-important New York Times, but I think audiences seek their information out about a show in other ways in addition to reviews. Reviews don’t have the tremendous make or break influence that they used to have. That’s not to say that we don’t stay up at night anticipating reviews or that we don’t hope for great reviews.
What about THE FIRST WIVES CLUB excites you?
Rick: This project is so exciting for all kinds of reasons, and let’s see if I can list them in order – Number one: I think the brand of the First Wives Club, it’s such a popular story and one that touches people greatly, so that the idea of turning it into a musical has a lot of power behind it. That’s very exciting to me just on the face of it.
Number two: the Holland Dozier Holland score, which has songs that we absolutely know and love mixed with original songs is a very interesting notion. Number three: and very importantly, a book by Linda Bloodworth Thomason who is an icon of American popular culture and who absolutely knows the terrain of this material – that is exciting. She is one of the funniest writers in history, and the idea that she has been let loose on this story to make a new story is amazing.
Would you consider this a “global brand”?
Rick: Yes, absolutely. Even if people don’t know the story specifically from the movie or the book, they certainly know the situation. I think this is what makes this project very exciting and potentially important.
The movie was so popular. Do you think that there will be comparisons to the film and its famous actresses, and will that be a challenge?
Rick: I think at the beginning there is no choice. It’s something that is so iconic and so famous, and probably one of the biggest successes in the resume of each of those actresses. That it is unavoidable, and I don’t think we want to avoid it. Once those ladies inhabit the roles they are going to make them their own, so I have no problem with people saying, Faith Prince is playing the Bette Midler part.
We don’t want people to forget the amazing performances of Diane and Bette and Goldie, but at the same time there is no insecurity about what we have with the live show. It’s going to be its own thing, very special, and those ladies will become those characters and make them their own.
Why do you think this title has lasted and stood up to the test of time? It seems that it is such a girlfriend favorite film, a chick-flick. I don’t know a woman who hasn’t seen it.
Rick: All good art that’s popular really strikes a chord, and even though the movie is very much of its world, I think that there is a timelessness to it and a depth to it that makes it a very lasting, touching and powerful story, one that screams frankly to be made into a musical.
It must be fun to have Holland Dozier Holland and Linda Bloodworth Thomason as part of the creative team. How will they be used in your roll out strategy?
Rick: It’s an embarrassment of riches. On one hand, you have popular music royalty who are represented in the show by their greatest songs and their greatest contributions to popular music, and they are still writing and they are writing for this show. We are going to certainly celebrate them, but we are not just going to be taking victory laps. We are going to be looking into the assignments they have been given – the tasks at hand – writing new songs for the show, writing the score for a new Broadway musical, which is probably the toughest thing that you can do for a composer and likewise for the book writer.
As far as Linda is concerned, I mean, Linda is a very powerful (I say that in every sense of the word) woman in America who will just by the nature of how she represents herself, what she stands for, what her beliefs are and her track record, she will be listened to in a very big way, on stage and off stage. It’s exciting to have someone with those bonafides writing the book for your show. She represents the show in such a great way by who she is. Linda has a very interesting place in the American dialogue about the modern woman, and she is one of the funniest people on earth.
Having Tony Award Winner Faith Prince as Brenda must be exciting. Can you share with us how the three women click and get along?
Rick: Obviously, with casting the show the thought was at the forefront of the conversation between the casting people and the director and producers how do these women stand alongside each other and work together. They were cast in such a way by design, but I think it went beyond the wildest dreams of the producers with what they ended up with. These ladies are such a unit, and it is so believable that they have been deep lifelong friends for all those years. I think that’s the credibility of where all that starts in the conversation, in the selling of the show, in the actual making of the show – that is crucial and they are certainly going to land it.
What do you expect to learn from the Chicago pre-Broadway try out?
Rick: Chicago is a real theater town with real theater people. Chicago represents the heart of America and I think if we have something really special on our hands, Chicago is going to tell us so.
In your view is this a “gotcha film”, a sort of male bashing, or a girlfriend empowerment story?
Rick: I think it is an empowering story. I think the “bashing” in the show is for the sake of storytelling, for the sake of comedy and for sake of a good narrative. It’s really more about people supporting each other through tough times, and the takeaway is about total empowerment.
Social media and bloggers seem to have so much power now. They are so active with projects like this. How do you deal with the extremes that sometime occur with early bloggers who have intense points of views?
Rick: I think it is just the nature of the beast. What some people don’t fully understand, and which makes it frustrating is that a new show is a work in progress. It’s what gets made step by step, and you can’t really rush the progress. Rendering judgment on something that is in progress is sort of frustrating, but that is also just a sign of the times and reality. I think audiences understand. In fact, Chicago audiences embrace the process. They are excited about being a part of the making of a show knowing that it might change from night to night, and sending it off to Broadway in a healthy state and enjoying when it becomes a success. I think we just have to live with the new media because it is the age in which we do live.
Knowing what is coming into Broadway this next season, how do you think FIRST WIVES CLUB fits as a new entry?
Rick: I think it will be a jewel in the season because it will bring together some iconic American forces and a story that is much loved. I think it is going to be a big hit show, and what is great about big hit shows is that they generate other big hit shows and that is always great for Broadway.
About Rick Miramontez and O&M Co.
Rick Miramontez began his career in the world of theater and public relations right after graduating college when he became the press director of the Center Theatre Group / Ahmanson Theatre. He organized the campaigns for over 25 major productions, including the RSC’s The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby and world premieres of Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs and Biloxi Blues, and James Kirkwood’s infamous Legends!
He founded the Rick Miramontez Company in 1988. The company represented many West Coast major arts events, including the American Premiere of Sunset Boulevard, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and Cirque du Soleil at Santa Monica Pier.
Rick was one of the PR minds behind the New York City press campaigns for Hairspray, Sweeney Todd, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. He was also the account executive for Rent, The Producers, and Long Day’s Journey Into Night, to name a few. Rick has worked with everyone from Lauren Bacall to Neil Simon and Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Since 2006, Rick has been President of O&M Co., a public relations company that represents everything Broadway and beyond. O&M Co’s incredible roster of clients includes: the Tony Award-winning Best Musicals Kinky Boots; A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder; Beautiful – The Carole King Musical; Finding Neverland and many more. O&M Co. was behind the most famous press campaign in Broadway history for their representation of SPIDER-MAN Turn Off The Dark.