By Meryl Willett, Storyteller
Helping others to identify and unleash their strengths is what Andrea Reiser ’84 loves to do. Whether that’s coaching family and friends in pursuit of their aspirations, sharing positive tips in her online community, or helping talented artists bring their theatrical visions and voices to the stage, “There is nothing more beautiful and inspiring than watching someone you admire soar,” she says.
After graduating Wheeler with the Class of 1984, Andrea pursued a degree in Mass Communication from Boston University. “I’ve always loved the craft of writing and was the editor of The Spoke my senior year at Wheeler.” Now, several years and three books later, she has focused her talents on the effects of positive psychology. Her most recent work, The Happy Book: 50 Rays of Sunshine to Brighten Your Day (PickleStar Press 2018) grew out of a collection of inspiring quote images she had created for her website. “Often I would get messages from readers saying, ‘I needed to hear this today! Thank you!’ It was fulfilling to learn that in a small way my daily quotes were helping people move toward achieving their goals,” she says. A portion of the proceeds from The Happy Book goes toward organizations that support breast cancer research in honor of a friend, and in memory of her mother.
The other hat Andrea wears involves her lifelong love of Broadway theatre. Through her company, PickleStar Theatricals, Andrea (in partnership with two of her sons) evaluates theatre productions from an artistic and commercial perspective for potential investment. She currently supports numerous projects, including the Tony Award-winning Hadestown, which was an opportunity she found through a young family friend and aspiring producer involved with Uplift. Uplift, Andrea explains, is an initiative designed to offer under-represented minorities within the theatre industry a gateway into producing. “I was impressed with Uplift’s mission, and also fell in love instantly with the music and story of Hadestown, so getting involved with the production was a no-brainer. And it was an absolute thrill to be at Radio City Music Hall this past June as part of the Hadestown team when the show won eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical!”
As Hadestown prepares for its upcoming national tour, Andrea is excited to take on two new projects, both Olivier Award-winning shows coming to Broadway from London. The Inheritance, an impactful new two-part play, opens at the Barrymore Theatre in November 2019. The show follows three generations of gay men whose stories are connected by their common search for community. It challenges audiences by asking what one generation owes to another. The other project is a gender-swapped revival of Stephen Sondheim’s legendary musical, Company, opening at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre in March 2020. The much-beloved show is newly reimagined with a female main character Bobbie contemplating life, love, and marriage on her 35th birthday. “I’m grateful and proud to be part of the team for both shows,” she says.