Robert Viagas is an editor, author, manager, and journalist with more than thirty-five years’ experience, most it working on Broadway with Playbill Inc., the iconic theatre program company. The founding editor of Playbill.com, Playbill’s theatre news website, Viagas has published 19 books on the performing arts, and served as a nominator for the annual Tony Awards.
Playbill placed extraordinary responsibility in Viagas’ hands during the past 21 years to spearhead virtually all of that company’s new projects, notably the widely used and cited theatre news site, Playbill.com, for which Viagas served as founding editor. In addition to Playbill Radio, Viagas also founded Playbill Books (including the Playbill Broadway Yearbook series). He has held various titles at the company over the years. His current title is Special Features Editor, overseeing PlaybillUniverse.com, a new website for the Playbill family of websites, developing content for all platforms, from books and print, to websites and social media.
Always fascinated with the entertainment business, Viagas was a pioneer broadcaster on satellite radio. In 2002 he began hosting “Radio Playbill,” a program of news and recordings that was part of the original content offered at the premiere of Sirius Satellite Radio (now SiriusXM). He later hosted Playbill Radio, a 24-hour web radio service that drew on more than 20,000 tracks that Viagas assembled for Playbill. Viagas also was asked by Sony to supply liner notes for the special 40th anniversary re-release of the original cast album of the classic A Chorus Line. The anniversary package was released in October 2015.
He took over writing and editing the “At This Theatre” column from Louis Botto, hosted the Tony Awards webcasts from 2002 to 2008, and produced the special Tony Awards Playbill each year from 2002 to 2012, and again in 2015. He enjoyed the rare honor of serving on the nominating committee for the Tonys 2012-14.
The New York Times’ CyberTimes described him as “encyclopedic” in his knowledge of Broadway.
Among his other books, Viagas was chosen by the original cast of A Chorus Line to tell their story in On the Line: The Creation of “A Chorus Line” (Morrow) and by the creators of the original The Fantasticks to tell their story in “The Amazing Story of The Fantasticks” (Citadel).
When it comes to the difficult area of collaboration he literally wrote the book on it—The Alchemy of Theatre (Applause Books), consisting of essays on collaboration, in which he worked with the likes of Edward Albee, Wendy Wasserstein, Hal Prince, Chita Rivera and others to codify how one collaborates in the world of theatre. The roll-out book-signing event sold out the 92nd Street Y in 2006.
His 2009 book I’m the Greatest Star! (Applause) contained biographies of the 40 people he considers the most brilliant stars of Broadway musical history, from George M. Cohan and Fanny Brice to today’s Nathan Lane and Sutton Foster. The book was also adapted as a stage musical and presented at Hofstra University that same year.
He is a juror for the annual Boston Science-Fiction Film Festival and Marathon, and performs his solo shows, The 10 Secrets of Broadway and The Ghosts of Broadway at libraries and colleges.
Viagas’ experience extends to the world of classical music. In addition to serving at various times as editor of the Playbill programs for the New York City Ballet, the New York City Opera, Houston Ballet, the Opera Company of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Ballet, he co-authored the book Scales to Scalpels (with Dr. Lisa Wong), about the remarkable Longwood Symphony Orchestra, consisting entirely of professional doctors.