McLean native Jamie Joeyen-Waldorf was drawn to the theater in her teens and has wasted no time taking her producing talents to Broadway.
After graduating from Langley High School in 2014 and earning a bachelor’s degree in theater and sociology from Northwestern University, Joeyen-Waldorf in 2019 helped produce the Broadway show “Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune,” starring Audra McDonald and Michael Shannon, and received a Tony nomination.
Her latest co-production effort is the off-Broadway musical “A Commercial Jingle for Regina Comet,” a story about two songwriters.
“It’s really a fun, whimsical show where you can just come and forget about life for an evening and have some catchy tunes come into your life,” she said.
The show, which was the first musical to premiere since the pandemic shutdown began in March 2020, opened Sept. 27 and runs through Nov. 14 at DRC Theatre.
Joeyen-Waldorf, 25, kindled her interest in theater while acting in productions at Cooper Middle School, Langley High School and some in college.
“I knew I didn’t want to be a performer professionally, but enjoyed it growing up,” she said.
She also reviewed nearly 80 plays for the Cappies program in high school and won several awards for her writing.
“I was probably one of the more intense critics,” she said. “I’d go to two or three shows each weekend. I really appreciated the breadth of shows I got to see.”
Joeyen-Waldorf interned for Broadway producer Daryl Roth in college and decided to pursue a career in producing. Producers bring their own strengths – technical skills, marketing, ticket-sales acumen, etc. – to help the production do its best work, she said.
Producers also must cultivate investors to bankroll shows – an intimidating undertaking. Another recent task some producers must tackle is having cast members take anti-racism training.
“I think on Broadway and off-Broadway there really has been an interesting conversation on diversity, equity and inclusion that has mirrored the workplace conversations that have been happening all over,” Joeyen-Waldorf said. “I think there is a big push in the industry to look at our practices in the workplace and how we can offer a better working environment.”
Industry veterans told Joeyen-Waldorf to follow her gut and work on productions she believed in, instead of those merely offering better paydays. Joeyen-Waldorf urged newcomers in the business not to shun a steady day job while pursuing their craft.
“Some people are like, ‘I need to make theater 24-7 and if I’m not able to sustain myself on that, I’m a failure,’” she said. “You don’t have to have this tumultuous life where you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck. There’s this pressure to be the starving artist when you really don’t have to.”
Joeyen-Waldorf since July has worked as a human-resources project manager for the New York Times. She also has been executive producer for her own company, JW Theatrical, since February 2019.
Shortly after college, Joeyen-Waldorf began working for TBD Theatricals.
“I could right away tell she had a passion for the business of producing, said managing producer Kayla Greenspan. “She asked smart questions throughout her time as an intern and eventually in her role as an executive assistant. She’s someone who is always willing to problem solve the big and small issues.”
Cody Lassen, producer of “A Commercial Jingle for Regina Comet,” said Joeyen-Waldorf has been an integral part of the show’s producing team.
“Jamie has taken on projects like managing our digital lottery, an initiative to get more affordably priced tickets to those who might not be able to see the show otherwise,” he said.
Joeyen-Waldorf has helped manage the company’s group-sales efforts and serves as a sounding board for accomplishing tasks better, Lassen said.
“We want to welcome new voices and new perspectives in our industry, and to have people in the room who come from traditionally underrepresented groups,” he said. “Jamie has been at the forefront of making sure we are doing that, which is not only the right thing to do to help change our industry for the better but is also good for business.”
Because of the pandemic, not everyone can attend theatrical productions in New York these days. Audience members must be vaccinated, prove their COVID-vaccination status and remain masked throughout the show.
“It’s kind of a no-brainer for them,” she said. “I don’t think there’s been a lot of push-back on that.”
The public has been hesitant to buy tickets in advance, so sales have occurred much closer to production dates during the pandemic, Joeyen-Waldorf said. Theater companies’ ticket policies now are more flexible, allowing for refunds and exchanges, she said.
Joeyen-Waldorf does not have any other projects currently in the pipeline, but said she’s open to new collaborations and wants to bring new voices to the table.
In her spare time, Joeyen-Waldorf enjoys the challenge of going to escape rooms and figuring her way out.
“It’s theatrical in a way,” she said. “You’re playing a role. You feel smart and accomplished when you get out.”