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Rich Products: Making Chaplin talk … and sing and dance

You’d be forgiven for thinking frozen food, film stars from the silent era and Broadway musicals have little in common. But not so, once you throw a family business into the mix.
Chaplin the Musical, which stars Rob McClure in the title role, has the backing of family business Rich Products
© Joan Marcus

You’d be forgiven for thinking frozen food, film stars from the silent era and Broadway musicals have little in common. But not so, once you throw a family business into the mix.

Rich Products, the Buffalo-based frozen food producer, has lent its backing to a musical about Charlie Chaplin – the silent film star best known for his portrayal of the Tramp.

Opening on Broadway this week, the show has been the source of a few sleepless nights for Bob and Mindy Rich, who own the food business and are producers of the show.

But how did the couple get involved? “My husband and I are frequenters of Broadway shows. We’ve always been fans, especially of musicals,” Mindy, who is vice-chairman of Rich Products and president of the company's entertainment division, told CampdenFB.

“And after a show one night, we went to a little place called Chez Josephine. There was this wonderful pianist [Christopher Curtis], who was also singing some songs that he had composed for a new musical he was working on and it was a story of Charlie Chaplin.

“That was about seven or eight years ago. But we just fell in love with him, fell in love with his music and fell in love with the story of Chaplin.”

The rest, as they say, is history.

With expertise in frozen non-dairy cream, you might be forgiven for wondering if the Richs have taken on a bit too much with an all-singing, all-dancing show.

Not so, said Mindy, who reckons it’s not a total stab in the dark for the couple – they’ve been co-producers on a number of musicals in the past and also own three minor league baseball teams. And, according to Mindy, it’s no easy feat “creating an environment where people, who know there is a 50% chance you are going to lose the game, are going to walk away and say they had a wonderful time”.

She added: “One of the best parts of a Broadway show versus baseball is you know what’s going to happen every night.”

Previews of the show have been on since August and Mindy said the audience response has so far “just been wonderful”.

She’s hoping this will continue. “I think everyone’s goal when they go to Broadway is to have a giant hit – a Phantom of the Opera or a Wicked – that everyone gets to see. So that’s the dream!”

Chaplin the Musical, which stars Rob McClure in the title role, is showing at the Barrymore Theatre. Break a leg, Rich! 

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