Terence Davis – MC – Person of the Month
Chairman – Malibu Playhouse
Founder – Malibu Music Awards and Festival
Founder/Producer – Malibu Music Unplugged
Founder- Malibu Symphony Association
Interview by Veera Mahajan
I am meeting Terence Davis (TD) at Sunset Café over dinner while the Malibu Music unplugged is going on by the bar. Terence is answering my curious queries with one keen ear to the order at the show. He had to get up a few times to make sure that all performances are going on as scheduled and everyone is happy but made sure he came back and continued the interview and answered all my questions with patience and enthusiasm. As you read along you will see how his unshakable love for music and all performing arts comes though abundantly and without a doubt.
MC: your story, you are the…?
TD: New chairman of the board of Malibu Playhouse which is the new name of the
The Malibu Stage Company
MC: Why the name change?
TD: We’ve brought in a new Artistic Director, Gene Franklin Smith, and renovated
and the theater has now been renovated thanks to Gene. The board agreed that
along with everything new it was a good time to re-brand the theater as a
professional theater company moving away from a more community theater
MC: So what are your responsibilities?
TD: As board chairman I’m responsible to sustain our theater financially by raising
funds and running our theater as a business with our board as team members
each contributing to our success. We have a great working board.
MC: how many board members do you have?
TD: Presently we have 11 and always looking to add quality, interested people. We also have an Executive Board which we are adding special members of the community to help us financially and give us guidance.
MC: What are your criteria for someone to be added on the board?
TD: We have a lot of theater people, now we need a CPA, we are looking for someone who has accounting and finance background. We have an attorney, Steve Weinberg. He understands our business and he is a terrific team member. We are looking for people who can play a role in our development, help us financially. For the Executive Board there is a financial requirement.
MC: Has the theater been successful?
TD: We have been successful because of the star power that we have. Dick VanDyke, has been a fantastic supporter both financially and as an actor. “The Sunshine Boys” with Dick and Jerry VanDyke was a huge success. Lou Gossett directed “Blood Knot” and it has been recognized as one of the best plays in Los Angeles. Lou being an Academy Award winning actor is also a very fine director.
And Kathryn Ross and Sam Eliott did performed “Love Letters” for us and are huge supporters. Their performance was magical as was the entire night. Add to these shows many other great ones like Cabaret, Glorious, Three Tall Women, A Soldiers Story, and many others.
MC: You mentioned fundraising, what events do you have planned in that regard?
TD: As I mentioned my most important responsibility is to keep us financially sound. However, that’s the board’s responsibility as well. We have fantastic board members like Diane Namm who is very creative and has some great fund raising ideas. We just added a new board member Andi Howard. She owns a record label and has tremendous connections. Diane and Andi are together heading the events and development committee. Diane organized our “Love Letters” event and directed it. She and Andi have planned an event at O’gara Coaches which is the Rolls Royce, Bentley and Maserati dealership in Westlake on Thousand Oaks Blvd. It will benefit the Malibu Playhouse on October 19th. The highlight is a drawing where the winner gets a Bentley for night on the town and dinner. There will be wine from four wineries and Herradora Tequila, Woodfort Reserve and Chambord and hors d’oeuvres
Our next fundraiser is an Art and Collectible Auction on December 8th, at our theater. Many of us have some painting or collectible that is sitting in a closet and can be donated for a tax write off to help support our theater. We are asking Julien’s Auction House to conduct the auction for us. I will be donating some art, and several others have already heard about it and are excited to come to an art auction. It’s before Christmas so there will be some great items auctioned of estate jewelry, sports and movie memorabilia, and music items as well.
MC: do you consider fundraising as your strength?
TD: I think my ability to network and fundraise will be very helpful. I think I have some visibility in Malibu through many of the organizations and projects I’ve been involved with. I hope to have the support of the community because theater and a performance place is a cultural asset to our community. Many children have had acting classes at our theater and learned about the value of performance art. Theater has been important since ancient times and continues today to be a valuable experience for people of all ages.
MC: How long have you been a board member?
TD: 11 years. I am the longest serving board member.
MC: Were you elected Chairman by the board?
TD: I was elected unanimously to the chairmanship. Which to me was a very wonderful vote of confidence. Our board is made up of very dynamic people.
MC: is that the reason you are stepping down from the chief organizer of the Malibu music festival?
TD: Yes, I need to concentrate on the theater. The Malibu Music Awards is now in it’s sixth year. It has been very successful in honoring music stars in our community, music educators, students, composers, and producers. We have a nationwide song contest that has had hundreds of submissions each year. But it’s time to bring in new people with fresh ideas and for me to step aside and only consult with them. I’m excited that Frankie Avalon is this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award honoree. But now aside from my family and my business, the theater has to be at the forefront of my focus. We have a lot at stake. We are just renovating the theater. We will grow by leaps and bounds if we can build a performing arts center. That is our main goal. I have a short-term vision and a long- term vision. The long-term vision includes a community wide effort to build a performing arts center. Which is the biggest undertaking our community will have outside of maybe buying the Legend Park. We have to work with the city to help us acquire the land. I think the City owes us the opportunity to raise the money to build our own performing arts center, not only for theater but also for ballet and music concerts. We need to bring more culture to the youth of our city.
MC: Malibu music unplugged: is that part of enjoying art or is it business for you?
TD: I am in music business. So it was a natural thing for me to find the talent that I want to work with. Franco (owner Sunset café) presented the opportunity for me to create Malibu Unplugged which is every Thursday night at the Sunset Restaurant. I bring ten singer songwriters who perform 3 songs in rotation. We are in our second year; we have produced over 70 shows at Sunset. We started with local artists but now we have people from around the country coming here to perform.
MC: How do artists find out about Music unplugged?
TD: Artists also find out about Malibu Unplugged on the internet and through the industry blogs and facebook. I also created a MeetUp.com for Malibu Unplugged that has nearly 100 singer songwriters.
MC: You also founded the Malibu Music festival, are you giving that up as well?
TD: Yes, I think it is time for some fresh new ideas. As a separate entity it has a lot of opportunity. We can run it as a mini version of South by South West; which is one of the nations big music venues. Our concept is 27miles of music, which means we put music at almost every restaurant and other locations all over Malibu. I would like to see it grow it to something even bigger.
MC: What made you start the festival? And get involved in the theater?
TD: I love this city. I have lived here 25 years. It seemed natural to get involved in the community if I am going to live here. My greatest legacy would be to help bring the performing art center to the city.
MC: What brought you to Malibu?
TD: I met a girl and she lived here. She went to Pepperdine. I met her on a blind date and we got married a year later.
MC: What is your background in music?
TD: I was a musician in bands from my teens through college. I then was in corporate life as an NYSE Stockbroker and then as eventually hired by Hasbro Toys and was an executive there until 1990. I owned several toy companies that made musical toys that led me to become a supplier of music to the toy industry. The music I create goes into hundreds of toys and greeting cards each year. I’ve been a supplier of music to Hallmark Cards, and many other consumer products companies that use computer chips with sound. I expanded to commercials and then songs and score for films. I wrote 8 songs for the National Lampoon movie “Thanksgiving Family Reunion” starring Bryan Cranston in 2003 and then other movies. I have a best friend Gary Hoffman, who produced it and gave me the opportunity to get started in films. I also work with talent and produced a CD with the BackBeats from The NBC Sing Off which we also have a track with Sara Barielles. I’ve recorded Kris Krisofferson, Dick Van Dyke’s book on CD “My Lucky Life” for Random House, and many others from the Kardashian’s to America’s Most Wanted with John Walsh and so many others.
MC: what is your vision for Malibu?
TD: My vision for Malibu surrounds the arts. My goal is for the people who live and raise families here to have an opportunity to have culture without having to go to downtown LA. They can enjoy the theater, ballet, all kinds of performances from pop music to symphony music. We have so many talented people. We may be the most talented community in the world.
MC: What is the vision for your self?
TD: I like to leave the legacy that I helped build the performing art center in Malibu. Besides that, the only goal is to see my children do well and care of my family. I think it was Winston Churchill who said, “I make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give. We only have a certain amount of time, for me it comes down to the dates on a tombstone; the date you are born and the date you die. What did you do in between those two dates? Did you do everything you possible could? For me, I have so many things I want to accomplish.
MC: What do you want to accomplish between those two dates; your wish list?
TD: I have written a book, and I would like to finish it. I’m writing a play, I want to finish it. I’ve written hundreds of songs, I like more of them recorded. I’d like to learn pottery, and I’d like travel so places I haven’t been. But these are just personal things. The big things of course, are my son and daughter married some day and grandchildren. I can’t accomplish this… it’s up to them, but it’s definitely on my wish list! I have to admit I never thought I would be saying this to anyone!
MC: What is the book about?
TD: The book is called Monetizing Your Creativity. I’ve had a very creative life which I’ve been able to earn a living from. I’d like to share my ideas and share other successful stories of other people who have been successful doing creative work.
MC: And the play, what’s it about?
My parents moved to the USA from England where my mother was a theater person. She was a theater goer until she died. I was named after Terence Rattigan, an English playwright and got my degree with a major in theater. While Rattigan wrote dramas, I’m most interested in comedy and musicals. The play I’m writing presently is about a young lawyer, fresh out of law school, and how he screws up his first day on the job because of an over sexed secretary and his inexperience. He meets some pretty crazy clients and has to save his job by fixing the situation. There’s a lot of interplay between this handmsome young lawyer, his secretary, the old partners of the law firm, and three clients. I enjoy watching the people I’ve had read it up to the end of Act one, and I get a big kick each time they laugh!
MC: You do have a very creative life, and it’s been fun hearing about it.
TD: Thank you so much for this, it’s been a pleasure!