In this episode, we’re talking with Chuck Santoro, Chief Creative at Proscenium Events about how corporate events are like theater. In 30 minutes, Chuck name-checks Hamilton, West Side Story, Les Miz, Stomp, and even turns the tables on our theatrically minded host. So hit the download button, screw your headphones on tight, and get ready to take notes.
Chuck Santoro draws upon his marketing and theater background to bring insight and creativity to meetings and events. He is an expert speaker coach, has a keen eye for design, and excels at understanding brands and branding. Chuck always finds ways to represent the brands he works with in ways that are unexpected and exciting. He has directed talent such as Ben Stiller, Viola Davis and Harry Connick Jr. He has led the creative for brands such as Bank of America, Boeing, Harley-Davidson, Jet Blue, Nintendo, Novartis, Pfizer, Qualcomm, TD Ameritrade, T-Mobile, and Walmart.
Hosted and Written by Jeremy Dobrish
Produced by Bethany Potter
Theme Music by Mike Mancini
Logo design by Shraddha Maharjan
Special thanks to Dossie McCraw
HOW CORPORATE EVENTS ARE LIKE BROADWAY SHOWS
By Jeremy Dobrish
Sitting down and talking with Chuck Santoro is like being led on a tour of the Theatre Hall Of Fame by Pee-Wee Herman; you get an awful lot information, and you have a super-fun time, but you better pedal fast to keep up!
Chuck is the Chief Creative at Proscenium Events which means…he’s my boss! He has been a friend and mentor to me for almost ten years, so getting to officially interview him was a real treat.
He hired me, in part, because I come from theatre, so I started by asking him why he likes to hire theatre people. He believes that any sort of performing arts background (at Proscenium, we also have creative directors who come from performance background as diverse as theme parks and the circus) is useful for this industry:
“There is a sense of getting the job done, like camaraderie, a team spirit, we're all in this together, rolling up our sleeves. And I think there's something there. We were taught a certain way. As young actors and then for you and I turning into young directors, I think we could be scrappy.”
We talked about how corporate events used to be structured like mini-musicals. That’s no longer the case, but there are still many similarities between theatre and corporate events:
“Our actors though now are corporate executives who are doing basically characters in our play and we want to move the audience in whatever way we can. We're always like, what do we want our audience to think of on their plane ride home? In the same way, what do we want an audience to feel after they exit a Broadway show?"
But there are differences too:
“I think one of the biggest differences in our world now is we, for the most part, we open and close on the same day and we know we're going to. At least in theatre you have a preview period and you can tweak.”
Chuck feels that the entertainment side of the event can sometimes be what the attendees most easily remembered years after the event is done:
“What the attendees remember isn't always what the executives are talking about. What they remember and they talk about are like, oh, that was the show with the drum line, right, that was the drum line year or, oh, that's when you had the rock band open the show.”
In addition, corporate events can be very emotional:
“There's some tears. I've done some shows where there's some very emotional moments when we bring a patient profile to life or with customers.”
Of course, I asked Chuck the question on everyone’s mind: what will corporate events look like as virtual events become less prevalent and live events make more of a comeback:
“There's some people who can't wait for live. And there's also a lot of people who are like, you know what, I am totally fine and happy I can get the message at home. So how are you catering to these two very different audiences who usually, absorb information in very different ways?”
Talking with Chuck is tons of fun. I highly recommend it. And once the two of us get started on theatre, it’s hard for us to stop. In fact, he asked me a few questions about playwriting, and even turned our “lightning round” questions back on me.
If you want to hear more about how corporate events are like theatre, listen to the full episode.