Andrew Kato has been active in theater since his days working at the famed Burt Reynolds Dinner Theater. Currently, he is the artistic director at the Maltz Jupiter Theater. Ironically, Kato was a server at the Burt Reynolds at one time.
His latest endeavor, a show called Academy about an all-boys preparatory school, was an official selection of the 2009 New York Musical Theater Festival.The festival works to support new musicals and their creators. Altar Boys was developed there, as was Next to Normal.The latter piece won “Best Score” at the Tony Awards last year.
“I conceived of and developed the piece. It’s been in the works for over 10 years,” said Kato.“It’s been a labor of love. In the last year it’s had quite a journey.We picked it up again a little over a year ago, as part of a workshop.”
The “we” that Kato speaks of is his collaborator and best-friend John Mercurio, whom he used to work with in his time at the Burt Reynolds.As the show was in the workshop stage, they received a $34,000 grant to present three new works in New York, one of which was Academy.
Inspired by Goethe’s Faust,Academy is a pop chamber-musical about boys learning to become men, and remaining true to themselves.Academy is also a show within a show, as the boys are attempting to stage Goethe’s seminal work.
“I did not go to boarding school,” Kato responded to a question he is probably asked quite often.“The initial inspiration was from an a cappella festival. I was so impressed with the boys’ camaraderie. From there we developed a storyline that was both compelling and universal.”
The rigors and daily pressure of attending a prestigious, academically elite school is one of those “compelling and universal” themes. Kato says that the show also examines the father-son relationship, something that is often overlooked on stage and screen.
The show, in an abridged format, drew a very positive reaction from Jupiter audiences. In New York it was extended twice,and the cast was described in a rave New York Times review as the handsomest on Broadway.
Kato’s work—and clearly his enthusiasm for theater—go beyond being the creative force behind a show. He also lends his talents to the Emmy Award-winning Tony Awards, Broad-way’s most glittering evening.This year the Radio City Music Hall event will air on Sunday, June 13.
“I am the coordinating producer. In television that means that I oversee all or most of the segments. If you think of the show as having 12 acts, I make sure that they are delivered well and completed,” said Kato, who has been with the show for seven years now.“I just submitted my resume and got a phone call offering me the job. I nearly fell over backwards!”
Now he is taking the show on the road. However, he is not merely taking it cross-country; he is taking it to Korea, where it will make its Asian debut at the Daegu International Musical Festival with two-time Tony Award-nominee John Caraffa.The theater—like Times Square itself—never shuts down. Rehearsals for the show begin in New York City the day after the Tony Awards, on Monday.