I personally had some poor experiences with AVENUE Q songwriter Jeff Marx and walked around holding them against him.
Recently my client Justin Paul, who won the Oscar and Tony this year, told me his remarkable story about Jeff’s extraordinary help at a crucial moment in Justin’s life.
That story, quoted by Jeff Marx in this article is:
“I met them both [Benj Pasek and Justin Paul] when they were freshmen in college. Benj emailed me, saying he was in the same college acting program I had attended, and asked if he could be my assistant for the summer. I said sure—he worked for me that summer, and we became great friends. He never played me his songs until the end of the summer because he was afraid I wouldn’t like them. They were fantastic, and I told him he and his writing partner could really have shows on Broadway. He didn’t believe it yet (they were only 21 years old!), but I did.
“At the end of the next school year, he wanted to come back out to New York City and I encouraged him to bring Justin so they could write songs all summer, get better at it, and start writing a show.
“Justin said he couldn’t come to New York City because his deal with his parents was that they would pay for college, but during the summers he had to work. I asked him how much he would realistically earn, and he said ideally probably $7,000.
“I told him I would give him $7,000 so he could come work in New York for the summer, but he didn’t feel right about accepting such a gift. I said, ‘OK, we’ll call it a loan. And just to make it interesting—and give you a deadline—let’s say you’ll pay me back only if you have a show open on Broadway before you’re 30. Otherwise, you’ll just keep the money.’
“He accepted the loan and they continued writing. Seven years later, their show A Christmas Story opened on Broadway and, on opening night, he gave me a check for $7,000.
“They beat the deadline by three years—they were only 27 years old.”
It really underlined to me the power of perspective.
One person’s experience is not the same as another’s.
Hearing about Justin’s journey with Jeff allowed me to reframe how I perceive Jeff.
It set me free.
In my mind Jeff Marx is no longer my negative thoughts about him. He is now that guy who had an monumentally positive impact on someone I love dearly.
And I have an incredibly successful client because of the early help Jeff gave him along the pathway.