From Barrack to Broadway

David Treatman (left) and Alan Koolik (right), Columbia University students and theater producers in New York City.

David Treatman, a 2016 graduate of the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy,  and and his business partner, Alan Koolik, are two of the youngest producers on the New York theater scene. They are students at Columbia University: Treatman, a sophomore, and Koolik, a junior.

These two college students are making their commercial theater debut with the off-Broadway hit Puffs. The show opened on July 17 at New World Stages, next to the Gershwin Theater.

“Puffs: Or Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic” provides audiences with a new perspective on a familiar adventure. The story follows three new heroes, who, unlike that famous student wizard from their school, are just trying to make it through magic school. As described on the “Puffs” website, the show “is s a Potter-inspired comedy for anyone who has ever felt like a secondary character in someone else’s story.”

In describing his professional production debut, Treatman says:

Producing encompasses the business of theater. In particular, this includes capitalization of shows. We are focused on creating opportunities for smaller investors to participate in the thrill of creating theater. We really wanted to make this something accessible to smaller investors, not just the giants who dominate the scene. With ‘Puffs’ we were able to do this.

As a student at Barrack Hebrew Academy, Treatman was actively involved in theater, receiving many accolades, including several Cappies, The Queenie Barnett Drama Award and the Kammie Award.  A dedicated member of the Barrack drama department from 6th through 12th grade, Treatman worked on both sides of the curtain, and starred in many of the school’s productions, such as “Shrek,” “Rent,” “Legally Blonde” and more. In his senior year, he experienced his first taste of the business side of theater when he directed “The 39 Steps.” He communicated with Broadway and West End producers, sound designers, and lawyers to acquire the rights to produce this show at Barrack.

Treatman continues to pursue theater at Columbia. As a freshman, he participated in five shows, both onstage and off, including Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” “A Wrinkle in Time,” and the 123rd annual Varsity Show, Columbia’s oldest performing arts tradition. It was also at Columbia where Treatman met Koolik.

Koolik graduated from Pine Crest School in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, in 2015. While in high school, he acted in several plays and musicals, winning a Cappie Award and the Founder’s Council Fine Arts Award for Excellence in Drama. Once at Columbia, however, he focused on the management aspect of theater. He served as an assistant producer of The Varsity Show and will be making his on-campus producing debut in the fall.

Professionally, Koolik has worked as a production intern for the Tony Award-winning producer Andy Sandberg and is currently an intern in the ticketing department at Jujamcyn Theaters. At Jujamcyn, he is part of a group focusing on new methods of dynamic pricing and matching statistical models to historical theater sales data. He hopes to one day pursue entertainment law, specifically as it relates to theater.

“David and I were really excited by the opportunity we found with ‘Puffs’ to start producing so early,” said Koolik, adding, “The producing world is so hard to break into, especially for two college students.”

Nevertheless, with an abundance of research and chutzpah the two found a suitable gateway to the business of theater by investing with Tilted Windmills Theatricals. “We have learned a lot from John Arthur Pinckard and David Carpenter, and have made invaluable connections for future endeavors,” said Treatman. “We are very excited to be starting our next projects.”

“Puffs” will be playing at New World Stages (340 W. 50th Street) now through January 14. Tickets can be purchased online, by phone or in person.

Treatman’s mother, Ronit Treatman, writes “The Kosher Kitchen” column for The Philadelphia Jewish Voice. She is also the former president of The Philadelphia Jewish Voice and a current member of its board of directors.

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