Ken never intended to become a producer. With his wife and creative partner, Vy Higginsen, he took the original MAMA, I WANT TO SING to established producers on Broadway and off-Broadway. None thought the original musical about life in the Black church was commercial enough to risk money. With no other alternative, Vy and Ken invested their life savings for one major reason. They thought that there was an untapped, undiscovered audience that could relate to this material.
The big risk paid off. MAMA the musical ran for eight years in New York, then toured across the USA, Japan and Europe for another ten years, The experience of mounting an original musical, the administering and managing it in global markets proved to be a hands-on, crash course in theater producing. Ken is glad to share the lessons on this website and in live workshops called PRODUCING HIT SHOWS.
2014 Black American Musical Theater poster promoting four of Ken Wydro's musicals, New York, NY.
Ken’s career as a stage director began in the Drama Department at the University of California, Berkeley where he received a Master’s Degree in Directing. In 1968, Ken began studying with David LeGrant, the famed acting teacher of Bernadette Peters and Tobey Maguire, among others. During the 1970s, Ken also participated in the Actor’s Studio Directors Unit working
In 1995, MAMA was performed at the Gielgud Theater in London, England, with stars Doris Troy and Stacy Francis.
with master teachers like Lee Strasberg, Arthur Penn and Elia Kazan.
Of all aspects of theater production, Ken enjoys directing most. The auditions, the callbacks, the rehearsals, the tech week coordinating the lights, sound, costumes and band, the first previews with notes to the actors after witnessing the audience reactions — this is the most fun and exhilarating period of the creative process. Even with the problems and multi-personalities involved, this is the time that brings the most gratification and satisfaction.
Jerry Griffin as Jung in SECRETS: THE UNTOLD STORY OF SIGMUND FREUD AND CARL JUNG, at the Barrow Group Theater in New York City, 2013.