Jay Krottinger and Ryan Jude Tanner, founders of the Tanninger Companies, may be best known for the success they have had with helping to produce some of the most acclaimed Broadway musicals in recent years.
But their adventures on The Great White Way and in London’s West End represent just a portion of their endeavors to help build Tulsa up — body and soul.
“It’s understandable that people are drawn to the Broadway stuff, because that’s where the glitz and the glamour is,” Krottinger said.
And the awards. In June, Tanner and Krottinger earned their second Tony Award as co-producers of the radical revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!,” which won for Best Revival of a Musical. They won their first Tony Award — also for Best Revival of a Musical — in 2013 for the Cirque-du-Soleil-style reworking of Stephen Schwartz’s “Pippin.”
They also have invested in several other shows that were nominated for Tony Awards, including “Come From Away,” “Waitress” and “Memphis.”
“On the other hand, we also backed ‘A Time to Kill,’ which definitely was not a hit,” said Tanner, laughing. Adapted from John Grisham’s first novel, the play by Tony Award-winner Rupert Holmes closed after running less than a month on Broadway. “And we remind ourselves about that often.”
The next show the duo is helping to produce is one of particular interest to Tulsans — a musical based on S.E. Hinton’s iconic novel “The Outsiders” that is scheduled to debut in June at the Goodman Theater in Chicago.
The book of the musical is being written by Adam Rapp, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for drama. Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance of the band Jamestown Revival are writing the music in association with Justin Levine, and Liesl Tommy, another Tony Award nominee, is directing.
“With all our other Broadway projects,” Krottinger said, “we’ve come in relatively late in the process. We knew the shows were bound for Broadway. This is the first time we’ve joined a show that was still in the development stage. So far there have been two industry readings of the show (to attract potential investors), and we’re still in the process of casting.
“The hope is that the show will ultimately make it to Broadway, of course,” Krottinger said, “but there’s no guarantee of that happening.”
“That means the risk is higher,” Tanner added. “But we knew this was a project we had to be part of, because it fits perfectly with our goal of backing shows that in some way highlight Oklahoma, the talent that is here, and the stories we all have to tell.”
Tanner and Krottinger first got into the producing game in 2013, with “Flipside: The Patti Page Musical,” which ran Off-Broadway and toured nationally. It had been written by Gary White, a professor of theater at the University of Central Oklahoma, where Krottinger earned a graduate degree in theater.
However, they had already had a successful business in the health care industry, IQ Surgical, which specialized in designing and distributing medical devices, especially those used in orthopedic surgery.
That business, now called Tanninger Sciences, has continued to expand into the fields of biotechnology and telemedicine, looking for ways to use new technologies that can provide patients and doctors with more efficient and effective ways to diagnose and treat illnesses — from robotic surgeries for knee and hip replacements to helping those in rural and underserved areas have access to medical personnel and care via teleconferencing.
“Our goal is to help support emerging technologies that can provide more positive patient outcomes with lower costs to the health care system,” Krottinger said.
In addition to theater and medicine, the Tanninger Companies are involved in commercial development, such as the renovation of the old Swinney’s Hardware store in the Kendall-Whittier neighborhood that now houses the company’s offices along with TPC Studios, and hospitality, as co-owners of MixCo, the speakeasy-themed cocktail bar and restaurant in downtown Tulsa.
“We have a very entrepreneurial spirit,” Krottinger said. “We take a great deal of joy in collaborating with people. And there is absolutely no way we could accomplish anything without our equity partners and investors.”
As individuals as well as an organization, Krottinger and Tanner have been involved with about 15 local nonprofit organizations, from Theatre Tulsa to the Philbrook Museum of Art, whether serving as board members or through donations.
“We both think it’s important to give back to the community, and Tulsa has been great for us,” Tanner said. “I know from personal experience how much impact something that might seem like a simple gesture can have on a person’s life.”
“That’s one of the cool things about being involved in ‘The Outsiders’ musical,” Krottinger said. “We’ve visited the Outsiders House several times, and to be there when people come to see it, and hear them talk about how the book and the movie were so important and meaningful to their lives — to be a part of a new way of telling that story is something we knew we had to do.”
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