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Broadway Producer, Alumnus Visits Campus

By Amanda Morad | March 6, 2013

Bruce Long speaks to students at a special chapel Thursday, Feb. 28.

What does it take to go from graduate student to Broadway producer? Regent University School of Communication & the Arts alumnus Bruce Long ('98) answered from personal experience at a special chapel on Thursday, Feb. 28.

"It requires an intense level of focus," he told students gathered in the Studio Theatre. "There is zero margin of error in your focus. It must be singular, and you must be completely confident in the call of God on your life."

Long's confidence has brought him through plenty of failures and successes to his current role as a producer on the new Broadway musical, Hands on a Hardbody. Opening at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on March 21, the ensemble piece features a group of misfit Texans in an endurance competition for a new truck and a new lease on life. "They all aspire to something greater and this truck is the key," Long said. "It would be easy to make light of their comedic situations, but these characters are you and me. It's all of our stories."

Years before Hands on a Hardbody, Long and his wife Michelle met as theatre students at Regent and began the long, arduous journey to Broadway straight out of the gate. After living in New Jersey and working in New York for a year, they diverted to North Carolina where Michelle landed a teaching job at a private Christian school. At the time, they thought the Broadway dream was on hold indefinitely.

"Be open to the will of God," Long encouraged students. "The Bible happens in compressed time, so there's this expectation that when we're promised something, we get it on the next page.

"We seem to have this idea of IKEA Christianity: If I follow the instructions, the end result should be what I want. God should be obligated to do what we want Him to do. But He's incorrigible. The way and the time in which God fulfills his promise is His business."

Long acknowledged that tough skin is a basic requirement to participating in the theatre business. "There are so many moments you hear 'no' and if you just would have heard 'yes,' you know things would be so different," he said. Long used his wife's original musical, By Grace, as an example. The soaring musical tale of the events surrounding Grace Kelly's marriage to Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, has attracted interest, but hasn't gotten its "yes" yet.

Still, the Longs press on with other projects while they wait, developing relationships and knocking on as many doors as they can along the way—that's the life of any who pursue theatre, Long said.

He made sure to give students a down-to-earth snapshot of what life in theatre looks like: "97 percent of the time, you're not going to get what you want. It takes a toll, so you have to have that indivertible focus."

Long's wife joined him to close with a softer word of encouragement. "Those moments of failure are what shape you into who you are," she said. "God really does have your best interest in mind."

Learn more about the School of Communication & the Arts.


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