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Q&A: Arielle Tepper Madover

Broadway Producer and NYC mom of three

After taking home the “Best Play” Tony Award for Red a few weeks ago, Broadway Producer Arielle Tepper Madover has announced her next project: the revival of Annie, slated for 2012. The mom of three also serves on the Board of Trustees for the Public Theater, Syracuse University, and The Dalton School—and is a member of the Juilliard Drama Council and The League of American Theaters and Producers. (Whew! We feel tired just thinking about it.)

Madover chatted with StrollerTraffic about the juggling act, the importance of being involved in kids’ school communities, and how she introduces her little ones to culture in the city.

Arielle, we love your work on Broadway and have to ask that most cliché of questions: how on Earth do you juggle your career with three children—your 8-year-old stepdaughter Isabel, almost 3-year-old son, Jonah, and Sasha, who turns one in October?
It is definitely difficult to juggle work with three kids. I have no set routine for my day, which makes it even harder. I do make sure I spend time with them every day—some days more, sometimes less. The weekends are really family time. I rarely schedule anything work-related on the weekends.

What about school? Do you get very involved as a parent?
I am on the Board at Isabel’s school, Dalton, where I’m a very active and involved alum and stepmother. My parents were never really interested or involved in my school —things were different back then—so my husband and I really feel it is important to be involved for the kids, as well as to help the school. We have such a strong sense of community and to us that is what life is all about.

Did you grow up in New York?
Yes. I went to Dalton from when I was three . . . they had a nursery school back then.

What are your favorite things to do in NYC as a mom?
I love to just spend time with the kids even if it is simply taking a walk through Central Park or going to the playground.
 
Obviously you’re passionate about the arts, but do you think it’s important to introduce kids to culture early, when they are very young?
I think introducing kids to everything is always great. We are big readers to the kids at home, as it is so important to us to help develop their imaginations. As far as dance and theater, we do things that are age-appropriate. We took my stepdaughter to small ballets when she was three, and gradually developed into going to more sophisticated shows when she got older. My son, Jonah, saw his first show when he was a few months over two. It was at The New Victory Theater, and we were seated on pillows on the floor so we didn’t have to worry about him sitting still for too long.
 
Are there ways to introduce kids to Broadway at a young age? Any theatre companies for kids you really like?
Yes, I think many of the offerings specifically programmed for young kids are done very well. The New Victory Theater is just fantastic. You always know that you are going to see something really wonderful there. Broadway does a lot of outreach for kids through various kids’ websites, and playbill.com provides a lot of logistical information about the shows in terms of length, age range, seating . . . so that you have an idea of what you are in for. When my stepdaughter was a little younger, we spent a lot of time at Symphony Space, which I think is fantastic. There are so many. I feel like we never have time to do everything that NYC has to offer.
 
Do you have family memberships at any museums?
Yes, we are often at the American Museum of Natural History. Jonah is also fascinated by the Whitney—he became obsessed with the ceiling lights in the lobby when we took him there as a baby. The Met is also fantastic, as he loves the armor and we like to go and look at the Impressionist paintings together.
 
High-brow activities aside, are there any fun classes you like for kids such as cooking or gym?
Yes we do a lot of classes with Jonah as well as Sasha now that she is old enough. I am a huge fan of Free to be Under Three.
 
What about TV? Are there any kids’ TV shows that you think are well done?
To be honest, Jonah is book-obsessed and Izzy isn’t much of a television watcher. I must say, though, that I am a fan of a lot of what the cable channels are doing for kids—Discovery Kids, PBS. I grew up watching TV constantly, so even though my kids don’t really watch it, Electric Company  is how I learned to read at a very early age.
 
Where do you like to take the kids for dinner?
We go to our neighborhood diner—3 Guys—all the time. Jonah calls it “the fancy restaurant.” We also love JG Melons, Serafina, Big Daddy’s Diner and Sweetiepie. We are not big out-to-dinner people with the kids. My son takes a really long time to eat his meals, so sometimes it is just easier to stay home . . . it’s so much less stressful.
 
Any restaurants in the theatre district you can recommend!?
It’s hard for kids because it is so crowded and expensive, but my favorite is Brooklyn Diner.
 
Before we let you go, we just have to ask: can you tell us about the search for Annie?
We are sorting everything out now. The show will open on Broadway in the Fall of 2012, but we haven’t yet decided how far in advance we are going to begin casting.