Talent: Talent is subjective and should be judged as such. Never assume what a director may be looking for. What appeals to some may not to others so reflect on your own talent and pursue a variety of avenues. At a recent dancer audition there was one performer whose skill level paled in comparison to others. However, their energy and commitment was a standout and contagious. We eventually cast them in an entirely different role than they auditioned for.

As a part of our series about creating a successful career in theatre, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Neil Goldberg.

Neil Goldberg is an American theatre producer, Broadway director, award-winning author and founder of Cirque Dreams, Cirque Productions, Dream Studios and Variety Arts Management. His name is synonymous with creativity and quality family entertainment. In a career spanning over 3 decades, he has designed and produced shows for 2 Super Bowls, the NBA, Disney, NBC, ABC, CBS, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Carnival cruise lines, Armed Forces Entertainment, casinos and hotels worldwide.

Neil created Cirque Ingenieux, proclaimed “opulent and engaging” by The Washington Post and collaborated on the score with Golden-Globe winner Kitaro. His production of Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy was the first show of its kind to perform on Broadway at The Broadway Theatre and nominated for an American Theatre Wing Best Costume Design Award. In 2019 he sold Cirque Dreams to Cirque du Soleil.

The NY Daily News declared “There have only been a handful of shows that have generated an exclamation point as assertive as the ones created and directed by Neil Goldberg.” His shows have entertained over 50 million people worldwide in over 500 US cities and abroad with highlight engagements at the Kennedy Center; the Grand Ole Opry House; Ziegfeld Theatre, NYC; Dolby Theatre, LA; Alte Oper house, Frankfurt, Germany; Salle des Etoiles, Monaco; and the Ministry of Bahrain Summer Festival.

The LA Times proclaimed Neil “A leading theatrical impresario and circus maven.” He has been featured on the Today show, GMA, CNN, Fox and Friends, CBS Saturday, Sirius XM, iHeartRadio, The Kelly Clarkson Show and numerous publications.

In 2021, Neil conceived and wrote POMP, SNOW & CIRQUEumstance, an illustrated children’s holiday book published and distributed worldwide. The book has received 9 coveted book awards and now available in over 30,000 retail and online outlets. In collaboration with Armed Forces Entertainment, book readings and performances have entertained over 100,000 services members and their families abroad. In 2022, the book was made into a 30-minute holiday television special which won 7 Telly Awards. The book is now part of USO’s Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program & Libraries. The sequel’s due out in 2024. POMP, SNOW & CIRQUEumstance is currently being produced into a live action holiday stage spectacular with residency premier engagements in 2023 followed by national tours and Broadway.

Goldberg’s companies, Variety Arts Management & Dream Studios, continue to focus on developing creative experiences, multimedia, costuming and consulting. He is the founding philanthropist of the Neil Goldberg Dream Foundation, established to enrich the arts.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Growing up on Long Island, NY and working at the family textile business, Mendel Goldberg, established by my great grandfather in 1892 and still operating in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, introduced me to a work ethic and passion for color and creativity. Dance, music, and art classes led to community theatre, dressing store windows and anything expressive with dimension and design. After graduating from C.W. Post College, I landed in the center of New York City’s garment district, designing textiles and collaborating with some of the industry’s top fashion designers.

My deep-rooted fascination with design were key factors in my artistic world and I filled my spare time with theater, costume creation and stimulating outlets that nurtured my appetite for creativity and the arts.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

My mom took me to see my first Broadway play when I was 8 years old. It was The Miracle Worker, Helen Keller story. I was mesmerized at the stage setting, dimension and how every time the house moved, audiences would view a different perspective. Afterwards at home I took a dozen cardboard shoe boxes and recreated the stage set. It wasn’t long before I realized that prior to anyone walking out onto the stage, a lot of preparation needed to be done for the stage. That’s when I decided I wanted to spend my life putting on shows.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

In 1995, unbeknownst to me, Joe Jimenez, VP of Marketing for Caesars and Atlantic City Hilton casinos, showed up at a private corporate cirque show I produced in Washington DC for a pharmaceutical company. He said he had heard of my work and wanted to check it out. Afterwards he handed me his business card and said “call me.” About a week later we spoke and within a few months I was contracted for 3 years to produce my first public cirque show in Atlantic City. Joe moved on to Vegas and my Cirque Dreams shows turned into a global franchise. Joe and I remain dear friends today.

You probably have a lot of fascinating experiences. Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I was invited to Beijing, China to consult on producing a new show based on a Chinese fable. The hospitality was incredible and at our first evening’s welcome dinner I requested through translation salad as my meal preference. For 5 days I was served salad for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

For one of the first shows I produced, the costumes for the opening number were designed in a similar color pallet as the stage set. When the cast gathered on stage in costume, everything blended together and all you could see were the performers faces and hands. From then on, visualization boards, and pre-production communication became paramount in my process.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

The Live action POMP, SNOW & CIRQUEumstance at The Diplomat hotel is my current passion project. It’s based on the holiday storybook I wrote with co-author Nikolaou and now adapted into a live immersive holiday stage experience for the entire family. The second book sequel Holidays All Year with POMP, SNOW & CIRQUEumstance is due out in 2024. I continue innovating new ways to engage readers and theatergoers while consulting on unique projects with good material I feel I can make better. I connect with shows that have dynamic standards and distinctive content such as Koolulam, an extraordinary immersive musical experience I am artistic directing, soon coming to the States from Israel.

You have been blessed with success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of rejection, lack of support, or failure?

No is a powerful word and heard it many times throughout my career. It can also be a motivator. Believing in oneself is a great foundation for persevering. My philosophy has always been to be respectful, appreciative and make the best of every situation. Explore all branches of your profession. Exceed expectations by paying attention to every detail no matter how small. I’ve learned, lived and succeeded by these mantras.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in the live performance industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Pace yourself and be prepared to take calculated risks. Theatre is a never ending whirlwind of challenge, reward, obstacles and gratification.

Thank you for all that. This is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career in Broadway, Theater or Live Performances” and why? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

Talent: talent is subjective and should be judged as such. Never assume what a director may be looking for. What appeals to some may not to others so reflect on your own talent and pursue a variety of avenues. At a recent dancer audition there was one performer whose skill level paled in comparison to others. However, their energy and commitment was a standout and contagious. We eventually cast them in an entirely different role than they auditioned for.

Perseverance: if at first you don’t succeed -try again and again. This is the nature of entertainment. Not just for performers but all levels of the industry. My own personal journey to Broadway began at age 8. I finally stepped onto that stage 32 years later.

Kindness and Respect: is an unconditional criteria for success. I’ve auditioned and afforded opportunity to many. I’ve always treated others as I’d want to be treated myself, regardless of stature or position. Twelve years ago I introduced and combined 2 aerial artists from different countries to perform a new act in a show. They were grateful, appreciative, and eventually married. Recently they named their first-born child after me.

Have a financial back up plan: regardless of whether you’re a producer or performer you should always budget carefully and have a financial back up plan. If a show is not selling or it’s taking longer than anticipated for a performer to secure a contract, plan and forecast other options and opportunities. Before successful as a mainstream producer and mounting touring productions, I found numerous opportunities with private events, theme parks, cruise lines and other platforms. I’ve maintained and nurtured those valuable relationships while cultivating new ones remembering things can change in a moment’s time.

Diversify: Entertainment is an ever changing phenomenon. Read about business, take a master class, attend industry functions and network through all platforms even if it doesn’t evoke an immediate response. Know all your options. Today the world is an accessible landscape of opportunity. Just because something’s worked before doesn’t mean there’s not an alternative. Had I not diversified and began producing corporate and industrial shows early on in my career, I never would have met Joe Jimenez and would possibly not be doing this interview today.

For the benefit of our readers, could you describe how the skill-sets you need in a theater performance are different than the skill-sets you need for TV or Film?

In live theatre anything can happen at any time in a moment’s notice — scary, exciting and rewarding. In Film and Television there’s the ability for multiple takes or a post-production fix. There is a unique adrenaline rush to a live performance feeding off the energy of an audience’s spontaneity sitting feet away. This is one of many reasons successful actors and artists choose to perform live or on Broadway at some point in their careers.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

To make a difference. Entertainment can be rewarding in many ways but one of my inspirations has been to satisfy others desire to escape reality, dream and imagine possibilities. The stage is my platform for reimagining. I also established the Neil Goldberg Dream Foundation as a way to give back, enrich the arts and make a difference. My shows and productions have entertained millions of people in over 500 cities across five continents. I’m proud to be recognized for influencing today’s contemporary circus and entertainment landscape, innovating unique theatrical productions, spurring schools, and the careers of thousands of performance artists worldwide.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

It’s simple — “All the world’s a stage” by Shakespeare. Everywhere we go and everything we do is a contribution to the greatest show of all time — life. We all play many parts on this journey, and it is the sum of those parts that make up the cast of the world we live in today.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

It would be an honor to have Steven Spielberg and his family attend a live POMP, SNOW, & CIRQUEumstance experience at The Diplomat this season. I’ve long admired his work and accomplishments. He is one of the most successful directors in history and a pioneer in the entertainment industry. His risk-taking and intense commitment to many themes and genres would make great breakfast conversation … and lunch and dinner.

How can our readers continue to follow your work online?

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!


  • Savio P. Clemente

    TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor

    Savio P. Clemente, TEDx speaker and Stage 3 cancer survivor, infuses transformative insights into every article. His journey battling cancer fuels a mission to empower survivors and industry leaders towards living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. As a Board-Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Savio guides readers to embrace self-discovery and rewrite narratives by loving their inner stranger, as outlined in his acclaimed TEDx talk: "7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger." Through his best-selling book and impactful work as a media journalist — covering inspirational stories of resilience and exploring wellness trends — Savio has collaborated with notable celebrities and TV personalities, bringing his insights to diverse audiences and touching countless lives. His philosophy, "to know thyself is to heal thyself," resonates in every piece.