Tulsans could win Tony Award as producers of 'Pippin' revival in NYC

Tulsans Ryan Tanner (left) and Jay Krottinger are among the producers of the Broadway musical "Pippin," which won several awards at the Drama Desk Awards this past week and which is up for 10 Tony Awards, more than any other Broadway show this year. TOM GILBERT / Tulsa World

It was a surprisingly short step for Jay Krottinger and Ryan Tanner from the life of Patti Page to the magical world of "Pippin."

The two Tulsans are among the consortium of producers for the current Broadway revival of "Pippin," the Stephen Schwartz ("Wicked") musical that earned more nominations for the 2013 Tony Awards than any other show, with 10, including Best Revival of a Musical.

Krottinger and Tanner plan to be in the audience at Radio City Music Hall on June 9, when the Tony Awards are presented. And if "Pippin" wins for Best Revival of a Musical, they will be among those receiving a statuette in honor of their contributions.

Not bad for a pair of guys who became involved in their first Broadway show just a few months previously.

Since 2008, Krottinger and Tanner have run IQ Surgical, a company that designs and distributes a range of medical devices, with an emphasis toward orthopedic surgery.

"We sell products for such operations as hip and knee replacement, and we consult with the doctors and surgeons who use our products about how beneficial they can be to their surgical procedures," Tanner said.

"An orthopedic surgeon may know everything about how to do a total hip replacement, but he may not know how the products we offer will help him do that procedure better," he said. "And that helps us learn more and more about the field, that we can incorporate in the future."

IQ Surgical has been successful, but both men also had aspirations for something once expressed in a song by Mel Brooks: "I Want to Be a Producer."

"I've been involved in theater and entertainment all my life," Krottinger said. "I've done a lot of performing, but I always had aspirations to be a producer."

Krottinger got the chance while working on a graduate degree at the University of Central Oklahoma, where he worked with Greg White, a professor of music theater at the college who was working on a musical about the life of Patti Page titled "Flipside."

The musical premiered in 2012 at UCO in Edmond; went to the Kennedy Center National Theatre Festival, where it was named Best Musical; then went on a short tour culminating in a limited engagement at the off-Broadway theatre 59E59.

Krottinger and Tanner served as co-producers of that tour and the New York engagement, forming a second company they call Square 1 Theatrics.

It was while they were in New York with "Flipside" that Krottinger and Tanner were approached about investing in the upcoming production of "Pippin."

"They wanted us to raise $250,000 in about three months, and my first answer was 'no,' " Tanner said. "I don't want to say yes to something and then not be able to follow through. And to be honest, 'Pippin' didn't sound like anything to me."

"Pippin" is the story of a young prince who wants to discover his true purpose in life. Pippin's journey is presented as a show within a show, put on by a band of traveling performers, guided by the Leading Player - a role that in the original 1972 production earned a Tony Award for Ben Vereen.

The new production would re-create the original choreography created by Bob Fosse, as well as incorporate the acrobatic dazzle of Cirque du Soleil-style performers, bringing an edgier, more spectacular element to the dangers and temptations Pippin has to face.

Krottinger and Tanner were invited to a rehearsal, where the company was preparing the show's opening number, "Magic to Do."

"You imagine that everyone goes into a rehearsal knowing pretty much what they want to do," Tanner said. "But no. It's a very painstaking process - the cast does a line, the director stops them and says, 'I like that, but you need to look here, your hand needs to be here, I want to see this person do this, this person do that,' all these little details.

"We sat there for eight hours as they worked on what ends up being about a four-minute song," Tanner said. "But when it all came together, all those little details in place, it was amazing. You could see the passion that every person involved had for this show. And 'Pippin' has the hardest working cast on Broadway, without a doubt."

"It's truly like nothing that's ever been seen on Broadway. And we were sold," Krottinger said, laughing. "I said that we would be happy to raise the money to be a part of this show."

Krottinger and Tanner set to work lining up investors, beginning with contacts they had made through working with local nonprofit organizations. They managed to raise the money in time and are one of the more than 40 individuals and organizations recognized as the producers of "Pippin."

"It's been unreal because it's all happened so fast," Krottinger said. "When we attended the premiere, we happened to sit next to a woman who was one of the producers. She's been involved in something like 25 Broadway shows, raised and invested millions of dollars, and this is the first time she's up for a Tony Award for a show she's produced. We did it on our first show. It's really humbling."

Square 1 Theatrics plans to continue its involvement with "Pippin" as it prepares for a national tour beginning in 2014.

"We're strongly advocating the tour comes to Tulsa," Krottinger said.


“Pippin” is currently playing at the Music Box Theatre, 239 W. 45th St. in New York City. Ticket prices range from $59 to $148. To order: 212-239- 6200 or 800-432-7250, tulsaworld.com/pippinbroadway

James D. Watts Jr. 918-581-8478

james.watts@tulsaworld.com SUBHEAD: Tulsans could win Tony as 'Pippin' producers

Original Print Headline: Musical Money