Quincy native takes home Tony Award for work on 'Pippin'

Ryan Tanner
Posted: Jun. 10, 2013 6:00 pm Updated: Jun. 24, 2013 6:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

If you were watching the Tony Awards Sunday night, you probably didn't see Ryan Jude Tanner on camera.

The Quincy native, who now lives in Tulsa, Okla., was on stage at Radio City Music Hall as "Pippin" won the Tony for best revival of a musical. Tanner is one of the founders of Square 1 Theatrics, which is one of the producers of the revival of Stephen Schwarz's 1972, five-time Tony Award-winning musical.

"This is my first nomination and first win, so I didn't know how to work the best angle for myself," Tanner said.

Tanner, 33, laughed as he recalled seeing other producers rush to the stage.

"They were charging down the aisles, and once I got there I realized it was because they wanted to be in the front for their 15 or so seconds of fame, which is nice, of course," he said.

Tanner said his pride and joy comes from the hard work from the cast and crew.

"We do eight performances a week," he said. "It's their work and their talents that have gotten everybody here."

Tanner is a 1997 graduate of Quincy High School and was an active member of the music department lead by Kathi Dooley and Dan Sherman.

"I was never an actor or singer in any production, but I was part of the stage crew, and I loved that part" he said.

The work ethic instilled during his high school productions has carried to his professional career.

"If there's one thing I learned from being a part of the QHS music department and learning under the direction of the two of them was discipline, discipline and discipline," Tanner said. "They are such hard workers and ... you're expected to show up, do great work and then go out and be good ambassadors."

A producer's role is to find investors who are willing to help fund the show.

"We go out and raise capital from investors," Tanner said. "Hopefully, we have a long running show, which now after the awards, we're pretty certain we'll have a good experience."

He said the award had a lot to do with timing and luck, as it is unlikely for a producer to receive a nomination on the first Broadway production, let alone win.

"There was one lady that co-produced 38 different productions, and this was her 10th nomination and first win," he said.

Tanner attended Illinois College in Jacksonville before moving to Tulsa in 2004. He got involved with producing after fundraising work for charitable organizations and events in Tulsa.

"Now I'm asking people to invest in something that is not tax deductible, but could give them a return," he said.

Tanner handles the capital of the projects Square 1 Theatrics, while his business partner, Jay Krottinger, looks at the creative side.

After a short run at the American Repertory Theater at Harvard University, "Pippin" opened at the Music Box Theatre in New York City on April 25. A national tour will start in Denver in 2014, with a worldwide tour starting in London late next year.

"Pippin" took home three other Tonys: best direction of a musical for Diane Paulus, best performance by a featured actress in a musical for Andrea Martin and best performance by a lead actress in a musical for Patina Miller.

"This is the first production that (Schwarz) has been behind since the early '70s," Tanner said. "He came back and reworked lyrics and was on board completely."

Last year, Square 1 Theatrics co-produced the off-Broadway musical "Flipside: The Patti Page Story" in conjunction with Oklahoma-native writer and director Greg White. "Flipside" debuted at the University of Central Oklahoma in 2010, before completing an eight-city tour of Oklahoma. The "Flipside" international tour is slated for 2014.

Square 1 Theatrics also won the Outer Critics Circle Award for its involvement in restaging "Pippin."

Besides producing theatrical performances, Tanner and Krottinger manage IQ Surgical, a health care marketing firm.