By Safiya Merchant, The University Record
When Thomas Laub realized he wanted to work in theater for the rest of his life, he was surrounded by enamored theatergoers at a production of Guys and Dolls.
“Everyone in their seat was having this shared experience of sitting and breathing together and watching and experiencing the same thing,” said the School of Music, Theatre & Dance senior, who grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina. “It was just this wonderful moment of bringing people’s focus together in a really, really cool way that I loved — that I do love.”
During his time at U-M, Laub merged his passions for theater and business through launching Runyonland Productions.
Evoking the moment he decided to dedicate his career to theater, the company is named after the opening sequence of Guys and Dolls.
Laub’s company has produced four shows, spanning a variety of topics such as the untold story of writer Shel Silverstein, the effects of Huntington’s disease on families, and religious tolerance.
They’re also co-producing a reading series on new musicals by Middle Eastern writers about the Middle Eastern experience. It’s a project that hits home with Laub, who has Jewish, Lebanese and Palestinian family members, and says he wants to more effectively portray Middle Eastern issues on stage.
As Runyonland’s president and producer, Laub’s responsibilities range from collaborating with creative teams and directors to working on sales and ticketing.
“It’s a lot of different work and it’s a lot of work that never really stops,” Laub said. “That’s why it’s so exciting and fun.”
Laub said he’s passionate about bringing new voices to the table and showcasing work from and about communities that don’t often get representation on Broadway.
“I think shining a light on issues that have been ignored largely on stage — that’s just very, very rewarding personally and for our organization,” he said.
After graduation, Laub plans to work with Disney Theatrical Group on Broadway, where he will focus on the dynamic pricing of the company’s Broadway shows.