Joshua Sherman is a producer, director, and designer who has just launched, CHARMERS, a new anthology web series that showcases TODAY’S talent via original short films and retro-music videos. Along with his mother, Eileen Bluestone Sherman, Joshua also released a new CD, Perfect Picture, a studio cast recording of the new musical inspired by the life of Norman Rockwell, featuring such Broadway favorites as Debbie Gravitte, Ron Holgate, Judy Kaye, Mark Jacoby, Beth Leavel, Andrea McArdle, Emily Skinner, Randy Skinner, Bob Stillman, Tom Wopat, Lillias White, and Karen Ziemba.
1. Who or what inspired you to become a producer/director/designer? I’ve always been passionate about theater, and I am a trained artist. My two childhood heroes (because of how they combined theater and art) were the legendary caricaturist, Al Hirschfeld, and Tony/Oscar/Emmy-Winning Designer, Tony Walton. I feel very fortunate that I had the chance to work with both of them.
As for producing/directing…I am most impressed by the "old school showmen" who had both artistic vision and the practical drive to create a great product.
So – at the top of my list are guys like Florenz Ziegfeld, P.T. Barnum, and David Merrick, as well as Ed Sullivan and Dick Clark on TV. And along those same lines, great visionary directors/choreographers, like Bob Fosse,Michael Bennett, Jerome Robbins, Tommy Tune, Hal Prince and Stanley Donen.
2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? There are countless celebrities that I would love to have the privilege of working with…but in all honesty, I love discovering new talent or showcasing celebrated artists in a new way. The only thing more exciting than discovery is reinvention. But – if I had to choose…I would actually love to work with Ralph Lauren, Ryan Seacrest, and Justin Timberlake. These guys have built (and continued to build) their empires. They have vision and drive. I’d like to see their process up-close.
3. You have just created a new web series entitled CHARMERS. What made you want to create this kind of web series, paying homage to the past, while fostering today's talent? What made you want to have Ryan VanDenBoom as the lead in this series? I am passionate about developing new works, and I am always on the lookout to discover new talent. My cardinal rule is that the people I work with must be TALENTED and NICE.
Ryan VanDenBoom and I were at lunch - and he told me he was looking for an opportunity to demonstrate his skills as a principal, as well as a director/choreographer. I asked him, "Do you have a reel?" He said, "No." I said, "Let’s make one." And that was that – and we had lunch. And while we ate, we talked about who we really admire. He and I both love MGM musicals, Sammy Davis, Jr., The Rat Pack, and Bobby Darin.
The more I thought about it…I decided rather than create a "Reel," wouldn’t it be cool to create a new classic musical scene - a short film, of sorts. Ryan loved the idea…So we went to work…figuring out the right song, concept, arrangement, location, etc. Because of my background in design, I’m a huge architecture buff – and I love going to historic homes. One of my favorite spots is the former Everett mansion, which is now Southern Vermont College. The library there is spectacular – and I approached the Dean to ask permission to film there.
Ryan and I finalized the storyline and action. We set a shooting script and rehearsed it. Ultimately, we filmed CURIOSITY in March 2013. It was supposed to be a one time thing. I was really testing the collaboration and trying to create a vehicle for him. We had a great work experience- and we were thrilled with the end result.
So - we decided to make more…When I discussed it with my mom (Lyricist Eileen Bluestone Sherman), she suggested that it could be a web series…and when I discussed it with my dad, he suggested they could be pitched as modern day SOUNDIES, the precursor to the music video. We call our episodes "CHARMERS."
And that’s the story of how it happened…
4. What do you hope people enjoy most about watching these series? I think these CHARMERS have universal appeal. They have great melodies, unique visuals, and they are fast-paced & short in length. I hope they make people smile. I hope they make people want to sing and dance!
5. What do you enjoy most about creating a web series? What have you learned about yourself from your careers? My favorite part of any project is the creative process. I love connecting talented people and fostering collaborations. And to have a final product that can be seen by so many around the world is amazing. I love that we’re bringing retro-glamour to the digital age. I also think making these CHARMERS perfectly fits my skill set.
They are fast-paced, involve complex organization and design – and allow me to work directly with great talent in both the recording studio and on location. And then I’m on to the next one. Lol.
6. On many of your projects, including CHARMERS and your newest CD Perfect Picture (based upon the show of the same name) you have collaborated with your mom and aunt. What is it like to work with them in this capacity? What do you like best about collaborating with them? I grew up in a household filled with music, including all of the great musicals of the "Golden Age." I also watched my mom and aunt CREATE new musicals. I saw the sparks of creation and the hours of re-writes. I think seeing the process of development first-hand directly influenced my sensibility and understanding of how to work with and produce artists. I think I understand my mom and aunt's music in a unique way and, frankly, it’s very exciting to share their talent with the rest of the world - and get them the recognition they deserve.
7. What do you get from producing/directing that you do not get from designing? The Final Say. Lol.
8. What's the best advice you've ever received? From my Mom & Dad: You CAN have everything, but not at the same time.
From my best friend, Antonio Edwards Suarez: Whenever I encounter conflict, I hear his voice asking: "Do you want to be right – or do you want to be happy?" (I choose happy!)
Quick Shameless Plug:
We’re already developing Season 2, but I must admit, I’m very excited for our Season 1 Finale, featuring Tony Award Winner Lillias White (Fela, The Life) as the Christmas Loon. It's an entirely new character for Christmas! It will make even the meanest scrooges SMILE.
Check out "I Keep Christmas In My Pocket" beginning November 27th. It’s a Charmer!
Joshua Sherman (Producer, Co-Director, Designer) began his theatrical career as an archivist and designer. His mentors include Al Hirschfeld, Peter Harvey, Santo Loquasto, Willa Kim, and Tony Walton. As part of Walton’s design team, Joshua worked on the Tony Award winning Broadway revival of Annie Get Your Gun (Bernadette Peters); Elaine May’s Taller Than A Dwarf (Matthew Broderick & Parker Posey); Harold Pinter’s Ashes to Ashes (David Straithairn); Tommy Tune’s Easter Parade (Sandy Duncan); Finian’s Rainbow; and Terrence McNally/Jon Robin Baitz’s House (Richard Dreyfuss, Marsha Mason, Rue McClanahan & Daniel Stern).
Producing credits include The Odd Potato, as well as the corresponding Broadway Album (feat. 20 Tony winners including Jim Dale, Sutton Foster & Elaine Stritch) and productions of Perfect Picture, as well as the newly-released album (starring Tom Wopat, Beth Leavel, Lillias White & others).
Joshua is a voting member of the Recording Academy and is a graduate of Marymount Manhattan College and Stony Brook University Medical School. He is a practicing M.D.
Episode 1: Joshua Sherman Presents: Curiosity 2013
Episode 2: Joshua Sherman Presents: A Little Imagination 2013
Episode 3: Joshua Sherman Presents: We Talk Without Words 2013