“You can have anything you want if you want it desperately enough. You must want it with an inner exuberance that erupts through the skin and joins the energy that created the world.”
“Reach high, for stars lie hidden in your soul.”
Pamela Vaull Stark
It’s 2010, and Scott Rudin, the Tony award-winning theater and film producer, is worried. He’s developing a new musical called The Book of Mormon, and things are going wrong, horribly wrong. A week-long workshop reveals some show-stopping flaws in the production: the main character is stuffy and unlikable; the story line is weak and confusing; the humor lacks wit and verve. The show’s writers, Trey Parker and Matt Stone (the two minds behind the popular South Park series), seem to be out of creative gas.
It’s crisis time. The show is adrift and seems headed toward Off Broadway and a lackluster run. What to do? What to do?
Instead of running for cover, Scott Rudin took the more dangerous, far riskier path. “Since the guys work best when the stakes are highest,” he decided the show should go straight to Broadway without a tryout. It was a decision with a multimillion dollar price tag.
Here’s Scott’s rationale: “In most of the things that I’ve been involved with that turn out to be good, there is a moment when you have to face your maker. You either sink or swim. This was the moment.”
So the show’s creative team turned its back on Off Broadway and aimed for the brass ring: a Broadway opening. Galvanized by this make-or-break decision to shoot for the stars, the creators pushed relentlessly to ready the show by making much-needed changes. Less than a year later, it opened to rave reviews and garnered a total of 14 Tony nominations. What’s our takeaway here? Sometimes, when a project is losing steam, the only solution is to turn up the heat: to put yourself under pressure, aim higher than you ever dreamed you could, and then push yourself until you get there. Write on!