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 Jennifer Kahn, creator of Scenery Bags. Scenery Bags make bags out of retired theatre backdrops and use a percentage of the proceeds to take kids to see theatre through TDF.
Where did the idea for Scenery Bags come from and how did you get the business started?
The idea came while my friend and I were on vacation in Maine. There was a shop that sold retired sales made into bags. I loved it! I remember sitting with my friend at lunch that day and saying, “where’s our idea like that!” and it was there that Scenery Bags was born. That night I called a friend of mine who rents sets, and asked him if he had any that were unusable and he said yes, and when I got home I went and picked up 600 pounds of drops! Those drops sat in a storage unit for the next 2 years while I did Spring Awakening and continued to Stage Manage and try to find a manufacturer. Fast forward – I finally found a manufacturer, had a baby, and had to stop stage managing for a little bit, so I finally had the time to make this dream into a reality! And I am forever grateful for how incredibly supportive the theatre community has been on this crazy journey.
What is the process like to obtain the backdrops you use for your bags?
As a stage manager for the past 20 years I started with who I knew. I called every Production Manager I’d ever worked with and asked for their trash..and they said yes! Now I spend most of my time working with General Managers to obtain drops when shows close, and we are very lucky that as our company grows and people hear about us, they email me! I get emails and messages all the time from theaters that are clearing out their warehouse, or closing a show and want to send us what they’d be throwing out.
Do you have a favorite Scenery Bag?
That’s so hard. They are all like my little children. I have a special attachment to Desert Song and The Wizard of Oz because they were the first two drops we ever cut. (I also Stage Managed a production of Oz that used the National Tour set.) Out of the new ones, I can’t even begin to choose. I love them all so much!
It’s amazing that you donate a portion of your proceeds to TDF programs that enable kids of all ages to have access to theater. Where did your love of theater come from, and why did you choose to support this cause?
My Mother. She raised my sister and I on old movie musicals. It’s all we ever watched. My first school girl crush was on Gene Kelly, and my sister and I started a Doris Day fan club…we were the only members. I was then a dancer and after seeing a com