How Daryl Roth of 'Kinky Boots' Became The Biggest Force on Broadway

Jewish Producer Grew Up Feeling Like an Outsider

Good as Gold: Daryl Roth captured yet another Tony award for “Kinky Boots.”
Getty Images
Good as Gold: Daryl Roth captured yet another Tony award for “Kinky Boots.”

By Simi Horwitz

Published October 04, 2013, issue of October 11, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Theater producer Daryl Roth says that she has not encountered sexism or ageism on the job, though she’s faced her share of painful challenges, especially early on in her career.

“When I started in ’88 -’89, I was new to theater,” Roth recalled as she sat in her exquisitely appointed West 57th Street corner office. “And because I was married to a very successful man [real estate mogul Steven Roth] who, by the way, is self-made, I was viewed as a dilettante by those who were entrenched. They looked at me — ‘Who is this person?’ And they assumed I’d be gone soon. It’s been 26 years, but I still feel a strange hurtfulness.”

Roth has produced seven Pulitzer Prize winners and more than 75 award-winning productions, including the Tony-winning “Clybourne Park,” “August: Osage County,” “Proof,” “The Normal Heart,” “War Horse” and most recently the musical hit, “Kinky Boots.”

Roth now has her sights set on John Grisham’s “A Time to Kill,” slated to open on Broadway at the John Golden Theatre on October 20. Adapted by Rupert Holmes, it is a courtroom drama set in a Mississippi town in the 1980s and tells the story of a black man who murders the two white rednecks who raped and beat his young daughter. Convinced the court system will not hold the thugs culpable, he takes the law into his own hands.

Roth says she was drawn to the project, not simply because she’s a John Grisham fan, but because the novel explores “the point at which race and justice intersect in our society,” she noted. “I don’t know if race and justice are played out fairly. I’m interested in the question, ‘When is it right for a person to defend his family when the law won’t?’ Is there a time for justice, a time to kill? It’s complicated. Nothing is black and white. Pardon the pun.”

Roth has an uncanny ability to find plays that can achieve critical acclaim while appealing to a broad audience. She admits it’s a balancing act, as she looks for works that mirror society and are steeped in reality. Family dynamics and the experiences of gay life are of special interest, not least because her son, producer Jordan Roth, president and majority owner of Jujamcyn Theaters, is gay.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.