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Two Broadway Publicists Hang Out Shingles as Hartman Group Closes

Leslie Baden Papa and Matt Ross each strike out on their own now that Hartman Group is defunct

A pair of Broadway press agents at PR firm the Hartman Group, long one of the two big dogs in the small world of Broadway praiseries, are striking out on their own as the Hartman Group closes up shop this week. Leslie Baden Papa has hung out the new shingle Vivacity Media Group while former Hartman colleague Matt Ross will launch Matt Ross Public Relations, and each exec will bring with them legit clients with whom they have worked previously.

Papa has tapped fellow Hartman alum Whitney Holden Gore to serve as vice prexy of the new firm. She’ll continue to rep Broadway tuner “Rock of Ages,” as she has since the show opened, as well as the upcoming Off Broadway musical incarnation of “Heathers.”

Ross, meanwhile, brings colleague Nicole Capatasto with him to his office, along with shows including Off Broadway’s “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812” and “Murder for Two” as well as Maxolev Prods. (Howard and Janet Kagan), producers of “Great Comet.” On the docket as well is a brewing Broadway revival of “On the Town,” to be helmed by John Rando (“A Christmas Story”) and choreographed by Joshua Bergasse (“Smash”).

The launch of the two offices — both skedded to open Jan. 6 in Gotham — resolves the lingering questions raised by the recent, surprise exit from the PR world of Broadway vet Michael Hartman, who had handled the PR duties for a major chunk of Main Stem shows, first as a principal of Barlow Hartman and then as the topper of the Hartman Group, which opened in 2009. Last week another team of flacks from Hartman Group, including Tom D’Ambrosio and Wayne Wolfe, jumped over to the recently established Polk & Co., bringing B.O. juggernaut “Wicked” with them.

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