Here’s your drama!


Australian theatre producer Michael Cassel was flush with funds from a new US investor: a Broadway play was the obvious next step. Then came the show that proves the point that in show business, it’s not if but when you have a failure – and how you respond.


It’s after 9pm on Thursday, November 3, 2022, and Michael Cassel is sitting in the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre on West 45th Street, New York, New York. The theatrical producer is beaming, too, and no wonder. The Broadway premiere of Almost Famous – a musical based on the beloved coming-of-age rock ‘n’ roll flick from the year 2000 – is entering its finale. He’s sitting with a good mate whose taste he trusts, who turns to Cassel just as the song Fever Dog begins.

“Michael,” the friend whispers, “I think you’ve got a giant hit on your hands.”

Final bows are soon met with standing ovations, and Cassel, 42, permits himself to revel in the launch of his first Broadway show as a lead producer – a significant (and risky) step up from a career so far spent investing in other people’s productions or staging already established shows. This is basically his first big global swing, so he proudly strides on stage to toast the cast and crew, joined by music legend Joni Mitchell as well as his co-producer, former Sony music executive Lia Vollack, and her friend Cameron Crowe (who won an Academy Award for the screenplay of the cult film). Together they link hands and gaze into the applauding audience of 1078 people, soaking up the love.

As the curtain comes down in the theatre, the reviews go up online. That happens here. Critics see previews and post their opinion before opening night crowds have even hit the streets of Manhattan. Exiting through a stage door, Cassel scans his inbox. There’s only one review that counts – The New York Times – and its critique tonight is not kind. It’s an evisceration…

Click here for the full story from Good Weekend on Saturday March 18, 2023

Photography by Ben Sklar