One to One

Keith Vaz Wednesday 16th August 2023 09:36 EDT

Tegan Summer is CEO of Timeless Stage & Screen, based in London’s West End, and an NAACP and Ovation award-recipient. He is also the worldwide stage theatrical rights owner for the properties of James Dean, Bettie Page, The Nicholas Brothers, and Amelia Earhart, and holds the worldwide life rights for stage musicals for Malcolm X and Harvey Milk, among others.

Summer is a Producer on Nimax Theatres and Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s revival of Aspects Of Love at the Lyric Theatre in London, and GP on Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty's new musical, Little Dancer, directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman. He is Lead Producer on the Broadway-bound Stormy Weather - The Lena Horne Musical. Current and Credited: Producer, Librettist, and Lyricist of the following: “You’ve Gotta Give ‘Em Hope” – The Harvey Milk Musical; The Nicholas Brothers Musical with Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company (Jamil Jude Artistic Director); Mozart: Her Story - The New Musical (Carnegie Hall); Bettie Page, Queen of Pin-Ups * The Musical; Amelia - A Musical Tale of Bravery & Mystery; and the golden era musical, The Dolly Sisters: Icons of the Jazz Age, based on the biography by Gary Chapman. Summer also produced the world premiere of Marilyn! - The New Musical (Ogunquit Playhouse | Caesars Entertainment).

Summer is the former Board President of Amas Musical Theatre in New York, a Board member of the Foundation for New American Musicals, and a member of the National Alliance for Musical Theatre and the Dramatists Guild.

1. Which place, or city or country do you most feel at home in? 

I always feel at home in London's West End; I grew up in and around theatre. As a child, I had an insatiable desire to be around creatives or to listen to producers and directors expound about their day. Not much has changed today. I now realise it is a desire to connect, to tell and listen to stories of the human condition.

2. What are your proudest achievements? 

I have lived in many countries and absorbed what I saw as the most potent, effective, and robust artistic influences. I am happy to be implementing them today, combined with my own views and practices, alongside the very best in the industry. We are creating something unique and innovative.

3. What inspires you? 

The thought and act of effecting change with words. I live and measure my life in words; the ability to deliver a message though my chosen medium of theatre through story and song, didactic and otherwise. Nothing inspires me more than being influenced by a moment in time or a life-changing story I may have heard. I am typically on the next plane to speak with the source; they may be a mother in a village, a descendant of a historical figure, or key persons within an international organisation. 

4. What has been biggest obstacle in your career? 

In my formative years, I was. I would be somewhat concerned with pre-conceived notions about who I am and what I do, instead of letting time, ability, and opportunity be my guides. That comes with experience, but youth and ambition can be blind to that. This also points to being comfortable in your own skin, for which there is not timetable. I was able to breathe once that was clear.  

5. Who has been the biggest influence on your career to date? 

There have been so many… family, friends, peers… I would be remiss to select just one. Suffice to say, anyone who has achieved the impossible, the unthinkable, through hard work, determination, will, and stamina. Especially those who have triumphed when they are the lone voice among a majority.

6. What is the best aspect about your current role?

I interact with an eclectic range of incredible human beings. Each brings something different culturally, with a unique lens on society; I learn something new every time I step out of the door. This enriches my work to the nth degree. As a writer, I am fascinated by you, and love the exploration as much as the final stanza.

7. And the worst? 

The somewhat transient nature of our business. There is something magical about the bond one strikes up with a fellow artist or creative in theatre. Another life, sometimes aided by geography, can rear its heads once a show is closed, and then we repeat the cycle. Some stay in your heart, others disappear forever.

8. What are your long term goals? 

I would like our theatrical production company to be a global hub; a place where we represent a range of subject matters with various socioeconomic and cultural interests. There are many around the world without a voice - our team is dedicated to using the medium of musical theatre as their instrument.  

9. If you were Prime Minister, what one aspect would you change? 

Youth violence continues to rise every year. Trends in data point to a shift towards younger victims (our young women especially), and a significant portion of armed robberies "involve the use or the threat of use of a knife." This has become part of our zeitgeist in the UK, especially London, rendering the statistics all the more alarming. We have initiatives in place; I would prioritise new and additional programmes to see if we can move the dial. 

10. If you were marooned on a desert island, which historical figure would you like to spend your time with and why?

Honestly? My father. He was largely absent and there are many unanswered questions; a few about me, others about his stock as a man. I was raised by mother, mentors, my (many) siblings, and the love of the theatre community in London. I was twelve when my father left, and although I did not miss his guidance, I am curious about the decisions he made. His absence allowed me to engage the world fearlessly.

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