After interviewing so many talented stage performers, Broadway Wiz is shining a spotlight on creators and innovators. They may not have their name in a playbill, but all of these people have found ways to share their love for Broadway through their artistry.
This week we are featuring Jack Abrams. Jack is the creator of Broadway Bricks, a one-a-kind idea where Broadway and plastic meet. Building bricks (Legos) are made to look like characters from Broadway shows, ranging from classics like Phantom of the Opera to new contemporary musicals like Dear Evan Hansen and Mean Girls.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I am sixteen years old and I live in Los Angeles, California. I am the middle child. I have two brothers and I am by far the person who enjoys theatre and Broadway in my family the most. Theatre, thankfully, has always been available and accessible to me. I’ve been able to see many shows and grow up with this background and culture of Broadway and acceptance of creativity.
Where did the idea for Broadway Bricks come from and how did you get started?
Growing up, I always saw lego sets of Harry Potter, Marvel Superheroes, and Star Wars. I wanted to see my interests in lego: Broadway. Since these hopeful dreams weren’t going to show up anytime soon, I decided to make them myself. My first set was Hamilton in 2016. I was really proud of my design and posted it on twitter on Christmas Eve. The next day I woke up to thousands of notifications on my phone due to Hamilton creator, Lin Manuel Miranda, retweeting my work and giving it an “A+”. It truly felt like Christmas morning (because it was).
What is your design process like and how do you select which figures to make?
Normally, I create the main principal characters from the show. However, sometimes I do include the ensembles because they deserve just as much credit. My first step is research. For opening night posts, I spend hours searching through social media for pictures from curtain calls, because shows rarely post production photos far in advance of opening, giving me time to actually create a set. After finding good, clear photos, I find the parts. I have a container full of “mini-figure” pieces and choose the ones that most resemble that character. Then I spend hours carefully drawing on the plastic pieces with sharpies and other fine markers to draw the costumes for the characters. After I’m done drawing, I place the figures on my laptop and put a photo of the shows logo in the background. I photograph them separately and all together as a cast and then I post them on social media and my website for all to see!
Do you have a favorite design?
I don’t think I have a favorite design, but I do love the full casts of shows I made. Examples include Mean Girls, SpongeBob Squarepants, and Waitress because they are all so colorful and detailed.
First Broadway show you ever saw or show that made a deep impact on you?
The first Broadway show I saw was The Lion King on tour at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles. The first show I saw ON Broadway, was Billy Elliot. The first show I remember being heavily impacted by was the 2013 revival of Pippin. It was so creative, amazing to look at, a great story of belonging, and really took me into the world of Broadway.
What advice would you give those in the theatre community who may want to start their own Broadway themed business?
If you want to start your own Broadway themed business, do it. Express yourself. Broadway and theatre is all about creativity, interpretation, and being yourself. I love seeing people’s creativity and inspiration from the same core idea of theatre. With the number of fans of Broadway increasing every day, it couldn’t be a better time to share your creativity.
What has been the most rewarding part of your business so far?
I have two. The main one would be how people react to my creations. This includes the actors the characters portray and fellow Broadway fans as well. When people comment “Spot on! Great job!” or “You made my childhood dream come true,” it makes my day. Another rewarding part is when I get dm’s, or direct messages, on my Instagram or Twitter of people telling me how my business and work has impacted them. People being kind and spreading kindness with no intentions is very important. Small things like that matter.
You’ve had the opportunity to share your work with many Broadway stars, what has been your favorite reaction?
One of my favorite reactions would have been from Christy Altomare, star of Anastasia. I first created figures for Anastasia in 2016 during it’s pre-Broadway run at Hartford Stage. When the show moved to Broadway, Christy posted a photo of her dressing room with fan art. A photo of my figures were posted on her wall. She printed it out herself. When I saw the show in January 2018, I gave her an updated version of her Anya figure. She freaked out and showed all the fellow theatre-goers waiting to meet her at the stage door. She is just so sweet and so appreciate of her fans.
Do you have plans to expand Broadway Bricks, or are there any new projects on the horizon?
Well, I do create sets for each Broadway musical opening every season (since 2016). So, look out for some Beetlejuice, Tootsie, Kiss Me Kate, Be More Chill, The Cher Show and King Kong. I already have a store, but I plan to revamp it and add more figures. However, the store is to buy merchandise with the figures on them, not the actual figures themselves. My ideal goal is to eventually sell the physical figures themselves.
Visit broadwaybricks.com or @broadwaybricks on Facebook or Instagram to see more of Jack’s work!