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Meet One Of New York Theater’s Greatest Champions: Dori Berinstein

Jeryl Brunner

"As The Curtain Rises" is a dishy podcast comedy series that offers listeners a glimpse of the behind the scenes mayhem trying to birth a Broadway show. In this case there’s the challenge getting "Avvatar: The Musical" to The Great White Way. 

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Dori BerinsteinCourtesy of The Broadway Podcast Network

This digital soap opera in the format of a radio play is produced by the Broadway Podcast Network. The delicious series was directed, co-written by Dori Berinstein, who co-founded and is CEO of the Broadway Podcast Network. This digital platform, which was co-founded with Alan Seales, produces over 100 theater podcasts, dramas, musicals and miniseries, like "As The Curtain Rises."

Launched in October 2019, The Broadway Podcast Network has significantly grown by leaps and bounds. They began with 15 podcasts and now they have close to100 podcasts. "Since the beginning it was very much the plan to create podcasts and record plays, musicals, audio dramas, and soap operas. It was never to replace theater and we certainly never anticipated the pandemic," says Berinstein. "When you see a show, you want to know more. What is happening behind the curtain? There is so much additive information that we are excited to bring to life. We are in a community filled with amazing storytellers and wanted to help support and give them a voice."

An unstoppable force in New York theater, Berinstein is a four-time Tony-winning Broadway producer whose credits include "The Prom," "Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf," "Thoroughly Modern Millie," "Legally Blonde: The Musical," "The Crucible," "One Flue Over The Cuckoo’s Nest," "Fool Moon," "Flower Drum Song," "Enchanted April" and "Golden Child."

Producing shows for 25 years, "As The Curtain Rises" is inspired by things Berinstein has witnessed along her journey. “Our As The Curtain Rises characters are certainly “inspired” by our theater colleagues. In some cases, characteristics are exaggerated. In other instances....not so much!,” says Berinstein. “The behind-the-curtain Broadway world is definitely the perfect setting for a soap opera.”

The performers in “As The Curtain Rises” is as delicious as the plot. The series features a riveting cast including Alex Brightman, Ariana Debose, Andrew Barth Feldman, James Monroe Iglehart, Ramin Karimloo, Ilana Levine, Lesli Margherita, Mauricio Martinez, Bonnie Milligan, Ashley Park, George Salazar, Sarah Stiles and Lillias White. The priceless cameos from Lynn Nottage, Alex Lacamoire, David Korins, Natasha Katz, Matt Britten and Jordan Roth are worth the listen.

In addition to her many theater credits, Berinstein is also an Emmy-award-winning director, producer and film and television writer. She and Bill Damaschke, who produced The Prom on Broadway, collaborated with Ryan Murphy to adapt the show into a Netflix feature film starring Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, James Cordon, Keegan-Michael Key, Andrew Rannells and Kerry Washington. She also co-produced the Sony Masterworks cast album of the musical Half Time. The show was inspired by her documentary, Gotta Dance, about a group of seniors who make up a hip-hop dance troupe who perform for The New Jersey Nets. 

“I love the art of storytelling and believe it's all about a good story. Whether you're telling it on stage or screen or in an audio drama or soap opera, I like moving between different worlds and sometimes moving a project throughout different worlds,” says Berinstein who has degrees from Smith, the Kennedy School at Harvard and the Yale School of Drama where she was a visiting scholar focusing on the business of Broadway. 

Working in strategic planning at Paramount Pictures she joined a tiny emerging independent film company, Vestron Pictures. Within a year, she became head of physical production and ultimately supervised production on the film Dirty Dancing. “What keeps me very excited is being able to collaborate with wonderful people,” she adds.

Creating and producing As The Curtain Rises during the pandemic was particularly meaningful to Berinstein. “We haven’t been able to produce live theater. Even though it’s tremendously goofy and fun, this took on a whole other level of urgency,” says Berinstein. “It’s important to keep theater alive during this time. And it’s thrilling to work with and pay actors, make people laugh and try to provide some joy.” 

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New York based journalist who has written for Forbes, Parade, InStyle, National Geographic Traveler, Travel + Leisure, and The Wall Street Journal. Author of the book "My City, My New York, Famous New Yorkers Share Their Favorite Places" and podcaster, ("When Lightning Strikes"). I cover the arts, theater, entertainment, food, travel and people who are motivated by their joy and passion.

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