LGBT History Month: Jeffrey Seller
Broadway Producer of Hamilton
“I fail all the time and I have to be willing to fail in order to succeed.” Jeffrey Seller is Tony Award-winning theater producer best known for the smash hits “Rent,” “Avenue Q,” “In the Heights” and “Hamilton.” Seller grew up in suburban Detroit, the adopted middle child of a Jewish family. He was enamored of musical theater from an early age. After hearing Patti LuPone sing “Evita” on the “Tony Awards,” he dashed to the library in search of the soundtrack. In fourth grade he wrote his first play, “Adventureland,” which later became the name of his production company. In 1986 Seller graduated from the University of Michigan and moved to New York City. He got his start as a booking agent and became a publicist and producer. Along with his business partner, Seller produced “Rent” in 1996, “Avenue Q” in 2003 and “In the Heights” in 2008. All three shows received the Tony for Best Musical. While working on “Rent,” Seller created the idea for the first-ever rush and lottery ticket policies. With prices and demand for popular Broadway tickets soaring, he was determined to make shows accessible to all people, regardless of their income. He offered a number of front-row seats at a low price on a first-come, first-served basis. People camped out overnight to get the coveted spots. The success led him to offer discounted seats through a lottery system. Seller has worked on numerous shows, including “De La Guarda” in 1998, the “Wild Party” and “High Fidelity” in 2000, the revival of “West Side Story” in 2009, and the “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo” in 2011, starring Robin Williams. He produced the film adaptation of “Rent” in 2005. In 2014 Seller produced “The Last Ship”—the musical written by rock icon Sting, based on the album of the same name. In 2015, with collaborator Lin-Manuel Miranda, Seller produced “Hamilton.” A Broadway phenomenon, “Hamilton” received 11 Tony Awards and a record-breaking 16 nominations—the most ever for a musical. Seller lives in New York City with his spouse, John Lehrer. They are the parents of a daughter and son.