After more than a quarter century in the business, one might be considered a “great.” And for decorated producer Kevin McCollum, three Tony Awards for Best Musical; countless smash hits on Broadway, including West Side Story and Motown: The Musical; and a lineup of big-name shows still yet to come have certainly earned him that title. Here, we check in with the prolific producer just before his pre-Broadway run of The Devil Wears Prada hits the stage here in the Windy City.
You’ve produced a handful of hits that have graced Chicago’s stages recently, including The Play That Goes Wrong and SIX. What’s it like working in this city?
I moved to the North Shore of Chicago when I was 14, and the city is very dear to my heart. Having grown up and spent my high school years there, and seeing theatrical productions, I have always loved being a part of Chicago theater. Chicago theatergoers appreciate artist- and ensemble-driven pieces, and Chicago manages to maintain its independent artistic identity while simultaneously attracting tourists for more commercial productions. It is an ideal place to launch new shows because Chicagoans are used to seeing excellent theater, and it is wonderful to have an audience that understands how special each piece can be.
What can audiences expect from The Devil Wears Prada?
An updated version of the beloved classic story and new incredible score by Sir Elton John. Our amazing team, led by Chicago’s own Anna D. Shapiro, has worked tirelessly to demonstrate how this story of a young woman finding her voice continues to be relevant in today’s day and age. Our production is going to feature spectacular choreography by James Alsop, incredible set design by Brett Banakis and Christine Jones, not to mention the innovative costumes by our designer, Arianne Phillips. I’m very excited to bring this coming-of- age story to the stage.
Beth Leavel and Taylor Iman Jones star in The Devil Wears Prada.
After so much success, is there anything left on your bucket list?
There isn’t a lot on my bucket list because I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have gotten the chance to fulfill a lot of my dreams. I’ve worked with personal heroes of mine, such as Steven Spielberg, Elton John and Berry Gordy, as well as many young people who became superstars like Lin-Manuel Miranda and director-choreographer Casey Nicholaw. I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunities to work with so many inspiring individuals in our industry.
What’s been a highlight of your career so far?
I can’t just pick one highlight from my 30-year career. Whenever I stand in the back of a darkened theater and see the curtain rise, and I watch audience members leap to their feet as they are moved by the performances they have just witnessed—that is magic for me.
Rob McClure in Mrs. Doubtfire
What’s next for you?
Our SIX Aragon tour, after a wonderful run at the CIBC Theatre in Chicago, will be traveling to Washington, D.C., on July 5 to play at The National Theatre through the summer. The Devil Wears Prada begins previews at the James M. Nederlander Theatre on July 19, and our official opening is Aug. 7. I am also working with Chicago Shakespeare Theatre on The Notebook [opening Sept. 6], which has a score by Ingrid Michaelson and book by Bekah Brunstetter.
Photography by: FROM TOP: PHOTO: BY JOAN MARCUS; PHOTO: COURTESY OF KEVIN MCCOLLUM; PHOTO: BY JENNY ANDERSON