Posts tagged #author Robert Z. Grant

Travelogue: Bradford, PA

[Once a month we have a company member report to us about life on the road. This month, it's Robert Z. Grant sharing with us his experience on our recent tours to the University of Pittsburgh in Bradford, PA]

Shows are Blurs

I love touring with Broadway’s Next Hit Musical. Especially in the fall when the foliage and crisp air makes for a refreshing change of scenery. In the northwest corner of Pennsylvania sits Bradford, PA, south of Buffalo. You barely have to leave New York State. Home to the University of Pittsburgh - Bradford. As happens on most tours, the show we did is now a blur to me, but we had a particularly fun time chatting with the students after the show. Most of them sat front row, and many of them belong to the university’s own improv group. And many had done a workshop with Greg Triggs prior to sitting down for the main event.

I presented first in the show. (After Greg had gotten the show rolling in his inimitable way, of course.) My suggestion was “Lampras.” The Pokemon reference was lost on me, but I came to know later when I spoke with the title’s author after the show. My story took place in the world of middle-aged hoarders and recluses — just what the kids of today are wondering about.

Wandering About Town

Speaking of wandering about… Bradford is a really charming little town. It reminds me of my own home in the midwest, minus the hills. It evoked many classic images for me, as though it could have been the bustling Main Street from "It’s a Wonderful Life” or a diner after dark in an Edward Hopper painting. Except in this version, there was a “Beef on Weck” sign in most windows. Deb Rabbai and I ate at a local restaurant called Beefeaters our first night venturing out from the hotel, and somehow managed to get through heaping plates of Bradford's celebrated roast beef — mine “au jus” and hers with gravy. The Beef on Weck (or Wick, depending) is made with roast beef on a kummelweck roll. The meat on the sandwich is traditionally served rare, thin cut, with the top bun getting a dip au jus and topped with horseradish. Always worth it to try local recommendations.

Small town charm. Oversized plates. Wind gusts and downpours. All this culminated in a musical story of Bratwurst for a terrific Bradford audience. Because at the The Phony Awards, everybody’s a weiner!!

More from Broadway's Next Hit Musical at the University of Pittsburgh in Bradford, PA

Check out our Show Highlights blog post where you can stream the winning song, watch the Red Carpet video, and read our review!

A Moment with Broadway's Next H!T Musical Host Greg Triggs!

Greg Triggs, Co-Producer / Emcee of Broadway's Next H!T Musical
Greg Triggs, Co-Producer / Emcee of Broadway's Next H!T Musical

Greg Triggs

Co-Producer / Emcee for

Broadway's Next H!T Musical

How much research do you do on a town before a tour show? What do you look for when writing your material? 

After years of performing in a nightclub in Orlando where the audience was wonderful but largely tourist, I love going to the audience. The fresh inspiration of each town excites me.

I usually use Wiki as a starting point. It has really quirky data and great demographics from the last census. It gives a great foundation.  

I'll start writing jokes before we arrive but the real work starts after we leave the airport. As we head to the hotel I'm looking for businesses that stick out, oddly named streets, people watching, etc.

I always take time to interview some of the people that we meet. That's always fun. Hearing about the town from people who live and work there really give me an idea of what's going on and what people are prioritizing.

I'm guessing the whole process takes about four hours…totally worth it.

Is there anything off limits when you are writing local material, or is everything fair game?

I don't know if it's 


, but everything is on the table.

What's the most surprising reaction you have had to a joke you told while on the road? 

It's amazing what people don't notice about their own towns. Fresh eyes bring fresh perspective. Parker CO for example. Every building is beige or brown. I mentioned that and you saw a lot of people turn to each other as if to say, "Oh my God, that's right."

We spent two weeks in Iowa. I think the audience was actually surprised that this group of comedians from NYC thought their town was cool - but it is and we loved being there. It's always an adventure.  

We were staying at a hotel in Olympia, WA. It had a Hall of Governors - very fancy. I always found a reason to walk through that area. One of their governors looked like Hitler. Not sure they loved me pointing that out.

What do you do differently when you are hosting in NYC as opposed to when you are on tour?

It's a totally different approach - usually in NYC our audiences know us better. Our points of view are established so there's less exposition. NYC audiences are a little more demanding in their own way. After all, they have about a billion things they could be doing instead of watching our show.

When you aren't out on the road with BNHM, what are you up to?

I own the world's smallest production company. It's called Strategic Entertainment. We provide a variety of creative services for companies such as the Tribeca Film Festival, the World Science Festival and Disney.

What is your craziest BNHM travel tale? 

That's hard - every tour has some sense of adventure…that's one of the reasons I love doing it. Once Robert Z. Grant, Gary Adler and I went into what we thought was a gay bar. We spent over an hour there talking to guys and wondering why there were so many straight couples there, why they only played hip hop. The mirrors on the ceiling were cool, but other than that we thought it was the worst gay bar ever.

Well, it turns out the gay bar was next door. We were in the wrong place. Being good improvisers we made a new choice and headed to that bar and started all over.

What is one thing you think your BNHM cast-mates would be surprised to learn about you? 

I'm kind of an open book. They'd probably be shocked to know that I gave serious thought to 

becoming a minister. Sometimes when I'm frustrated or over something I try to imagine what that life would've been like and am happy for the parishioners that didn't have to put up with Reverend Greg.

Thank God I didn't go into the business of God.

Posted on June 4, 2014 .