Hey DSM Fans!
I sat down to chat with Dallas Summer Musicals’ President and Managing Director, THE Michael Jenkins. I love talking to Michael because he has SO MANY wonderful stories, and I get to pick his brain about The Music Hall, DSM and Broadway in general. There is a lot of information about him on our website, so I decided to go the “Getting to Know You” route, and ask Michael a very random assortment of questions.
Before we get started, here’s a brief summary of DSM’s legacy of leaders:
1945 – The first of three men, who have guided Dallas Summer Musicals for most of its fabled history, to take control of the theater was Charles R. Meeker. Meeker served as mentor to two young men – Tom Hughes and Michael Jenkins in the 1940’s and 1950’s.
1961 – Meeker resigned his post to produce shows at the new Six Flags Over Texas, taking a young usher and assistant named Michael Jenkins with him. Tom Hughes, then the house manager at the Music Hall, took over. During his long tenure at the helm of the Summer Musicals, Hughes became nationally recognized as one of the most astute and successful producers of musical theatre in the country. He was also one of the most likable and congenial figures you might ever meet in or outside the world of theatre.
1994 – Following the untimely death of DSM’s beloved Hughes, Michael Jenkins answered a call to help save the theatre. He quickly put together a season for the summer of 1995, intending to simply get the theater “up and going” before handing it off to others, but lucky for us, he’s still here!
(The above information was taken from the DSM History page on our website)
You travel a lot, what’s your favorite destination? Australia, I’ve been there 38 times. And Tokyo, it’s so clean and refreshing …and I really like sushi.
Book? The Bible
Movie? Planes, Trains & Automobiles –it reminds me of my life.
Musician? James Taylor
Food? Chicken Fried Steak
Favorite Dallas Restaurant? NYC?
Dallas – Al Biernats, The Mansion and PARIGI (and Tei-An for sushi)
NYC – Frankie & Johnnie’s – “I’ve done more deals there on the back of a napkin, than you can imagine!”
Sport? Basketball (Mavs) and Baseball (Rangers)
Favorite Broadway show and why?
People ask me that every day… usually one we’re producing or presenting!
[Michael started coming to the musicals at 8 years old]
If you can’t pick a favorite, are there any shows that have a special meaning?
Flower Drum Song – When I was 8 years old, I stayed with my grandma over the summer. It was so hot that she wouldn’t let me go outside. That summer, we listened to the music of Flower Drum Song and I learned every song. I even drew a picture of the stage and all the scenery that I imagined while listening to it. Actually, we just found it! It’s off getting framed as we speak.
[Michael never would have imagined that later he’d produce the Broadway production and the national tour]
If you could stay a certain age forever, what would it be? – 39 –
If you could learn to do anything, what would it be? Walk on a tight wire in the circus
If you could be any fictional character, which would you choose? Mickey Mouse
Do you have any hobbies? I collect Disney ceramics. I have the largest collection outside of Disney at 1,942 pieces. My collection once belonged to Walt’s secretary, Lucille Martin.
[When the Disney ceramics were made, Walt always got the very first one, or the #1s. The #2s went to Roy. Walt’s daughters got #3 & #4. And Walt gave his secretary, Lucille, the #5s. Michael’s collection is very valuable because it’s ALL #5s.]
What story does your family always tell about you?
When I was at Baylor, my political science teacher gave us a project: We had 6 weeks to draw a political cartoon. I had forgotten about it until the last minute. So I went to the store and bought a pack of construction paper. I opened the package and pulled out the black piece. I put my name on it and called it “The Dark Ages.” I got an A! All my classmates hated me.
Also, I used to take the first ride on new roller coasters. …I was only hurt one time.
[Michael flew about 17 feet in the air, IF he had fallen 1ft. outside of the space he landed in, Michael might not be here today!]
What was the first “big” thing you bought with your own money?
Well, you know the story of my first theatre investment, right?…
[When Michael was 17, he decided that he wanted to invest in a Broadway show. The minimum investment was $5,000. Michael worked a whole summer painting numbers on seats in the Cotton Bowl and he made close to $2,500. Knowing she’d probably never see the money again, Michael’s mom generously loaned him the other half. With the money, Michael took a chance on a little show – maybe you’ve heard of it? – called, My Fair Lady. So, needless to say, Michael bought his mom a new car.]
Best advice you’ve ever received?
John Stemmons once told me, “You never learn anything talking.”
Do you pass it on, or do you have your own piece of advice to give?
“Customer service is not everything, customer service is the only thing.”
A huge thank you to Mr. Jenkins for taking the time to talk with me!