Scan the roster of producers on “The Color Purple” and you’ll likely recognize a few names. You’ve probably heard of Oprah Winfrey. Ditto Quincy Jones. But Andrew Asnes and Adam Zotovich? Not so much.
Although you may have seen them onstage recently. Asnes is a chorus member of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” while Zotovich appears in “Fiddler on the Roof.” With their involvement in “Purple,” the duo’s first producing venture, they’ve become examples of a possibly unprecedented Broadway hyphenate: the ensemble performer-producer.
The two came from dance backgrounds — Asnes, 40, worked with Paul Taylor Dance Company and Zotovich, 28, with Alvin Ailey — and met on the national tour of “Contact.” This spring, they discovered they had each independently signed up for the three-day producing seminar offered by the Commercial Theater Institute.
They were looking for a small project to kick off their budding partnership, but one of Asnes’ fellow “Scoundrels” performers appeared in the “Purple” workshop in July and turned him on to the tuner.
“Then we kinda stormed the castle,” Zotovich says.
They approached one of the co-producers of “Purple,” Roy Furman (“Scoundrels,” “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” “The Odd Couple”), for guidance. Delighted by their entrepreneurship, he responded by offering to carve out a place for them on “Purple” if they could raise enough capital.
Targeting African-American and female business leaders, Asnes and Zotovich set out to add to the diversification of the show’s funding.
“I think an established producer is less likely to cold call someone they don’t have a relationship with,” Asnes says. “Whereas Adam and I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
“I had to watch them learn that it’s much harder than they think,” Furman says. “Investors always say yes before they say no.”
The pair didn’t make the $1 million goal Furman set for them, but their pool of about 10 investors contributed enough to get them in the game.
Next up, they’re working on a possible Off Broadway production of a romantic comedy written by “Fiddler” Tony nominee John Cariani. They’re also involved in the early development of a dance-theater piece about Harlem photographer James VanDerZee.
And, of course, they haven’t given up their day jobs, performing on Broadway eight times a week.
Wilson lives on
August Wilson couldn’t make it to the rededication of the Virginia Theater, which was renamed Oct. 16 in his honor. But he spoke to well-wishers anyway.
Before he died Oct. 2, the playwright had prepared comments for the event that were read by daughter Sakina Ansari.
“This is the capstone of my entire career,” he wrote in a speech that was both forthright and poetic. “You can rename it, you can tear the building down, but there will always have been a building that was named the August Wilson. I can use this capstone to ease my dying.”
Lloyd Richards, Charles S. Dutton, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Leslie Uggams and Andre de Shields were among those who turned out to watch the marquee light up on West 52nd Street for the first time.
In addition to Wilson’s signature wrought in neon on the marquee, the walls of the theater’s side lobby have been covered with photos and other memorabilia from productions of the 10 plays in Wilson’s cycle.
“It’s a celebration that’s tempered with sadness,” said Mitchell, who starred in Wilson’s “King Hedley II” at the theater that would become the August Wilson. “I just wish August was here.”