Come From Away creators David Hein, Irene Sankoff tell success story at SOCAN Foundation musical theatre workshop

Irene Sankoff and her husband, SOCAN member David Hein, at the one day workshop in Toronto, How to Succeed in Musical Theatre Business Without Really Trying. (Photo: Brad Ardley)
March 1, 2018

SOCAN member David Hein and his wife Irene Sankoff – the couple who co-created the Tony Award-winning, hit Broadway musical Come From Away – told the story of their success, and answered attendees’ questions, at a one-day musical theatre workshop presented by The SOCAN Foundation and co-produced by SOCAN. How to Succeed in Musical Theatre Business Without Really Trying drew about 250 people to the Al Green Theatre in downtown Toronto, on Feb. 26, 2018.

During their keynote address at the event, moderated by their producer Michael Rubinoff, Hein and Sankoff talked about their first musical theatre collaboration, My Mother’s Jewish Lesbian Wiccan Wedding, (based on a true story of Hein’s mom). The play was born out of a desire to start spending more time together, and they recorded the original cast album in their living room. The pair discussed how there was an exhaustive, constant re-writing process right up until the Broadway première of Come From Away, a feel-good musical about the Newfoundland hospitality on display when 38 planes were ordered to land there unexpectedly in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. The winsome couple also revealed how they made the difficult decision to turn down high-paying offers from major producers in order to work with people who were more in sync with them, and “felt right.”

Stay tuned to for exclusive video highlights from Hein and Sankoff’s keynote address, and from an exclusive interview with the dynamic musical theatre duo.

SOCAN Senior Legal Counsel Asma Faizi, left, makes a point at the How to Succeed in Musical Theatre Business Without Really Trying workshop in Toronto. On the right is SOCAN Licensing Manager Jason Abdool. (Photo: Brad Ardley)

The day provided other useful information for musical theatre creators, about the value of musical copyrights and how best to exploit them; how to write winning grant applications; what attracts music publishers; and how artistic directors and producers decide what to produce.

SOCAN Foundation Execuitve Director Charlie Wall-Andrews participated in one of the panels, Finding Opportunities for Funding Your Development Process, explaining how Foundation grants are available for musical theatre creators. SOCAN Senior Legal Counsel Asma Faizi and SOCAN Licensing Manager Jason Abdool, in their session, Understanding Your Rights, helped attendees learn about grand rights, performance rights, publishing contracts, and how to look after the business of musical creations.

At the How to Succeed in Musical Theatre Business Without Really Trying workshop. Left to right: SOCAN Vice President, International Relations Catharine Saxberg; SOCAN Foundation Executive Director Charlie Wall-Andrews, and Mitchell Marcus, Artistic & Managing Director, The Musical Stage Company. (Photo: Brad Ardley)

Other panel participants included Pat Bradley, Ontario Arts Council Theatre Officer; Leah-Simone Bowen, Toronto Arts Council Theatre Officer; Sean Patrick Flahaven, CEO, The Musical Company, New York; Natalie Bartello, Producer, Yonge Street Theatricals; and the aforementioned Come From Away producer Michael Rubinoff, Producing Artistic Director, Canadian Musical Theatre Project.

The event was the brainchild of musical theatre enthusiast and SOCAN Vice President, International Relations Catharine Saxberg, and was co-organized with Mitchell Marcus, Artistic & Managing Director, The Musical Stage Company; The Canadian Musical Theatre Writers Collective; and the Music Theatre Project at Sheridan College; all in partnership with The Al Green Theatre.