Michael Jackowitz, DO, has been straddling the world of theater and medicine his entire life. After completing an internal medicine residency in New York City, he took a workshop about producing at the Commercial Theater Institute that changed everything for him.
“I went into medicine, frankly, because I didn’t believe one could be a producer in real life,” Dr. Jackowitz says.
After 23 years in producing, his dream of winning a Tony Award finally came true. He and Jeffrey Grove, DO, won the 2018 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical for co-producing “Once on This Island.”
“It’s a hobby and I enjoy it. It doesn’t get more fun than what happened this past weekend,” Dr. Grove says.
The win was a massive surprise to both DOs. The musical had already lost seven of its eight nominations earlier that night, and was up against “Carousel” and “My Fair Lady” for the Best Revival of a Musical Tony.
“I watched Christine Baranski’s mouth and thought, that looks like an ‘O’-word, not a ‘M’ or ‘C’ word,” Dr. Jackowitz says. “When she said “Once On This Island,” it was one of the happiest moments of my life.”
Feeling a connection
Dr. Grove and Dr. Jackowitz were roommates in medical school at what is now Nova Southeastern University Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine. Now, as two of the managing members at WitzEnd Productions, they look to produce shows that move them emotionally.
As soon as Dr. Grove, the board secretary and chair of the development committee for the American Osteopathic Foundation, saw the dress rehearsal for “Once on This Island,” he fell in love with the Romeo and Juliet-inspired story of a peasant girl and a wealthy boy.
“I thought the music was really good, and it made you feel something,” Dr. Grove says. “That’s the test for me—does it make you feel something?”
Dr. Jackowitz looks for a similar feeling.
“My favorite thing in the world is sitting in the audience waiting for a new musical to start,” Dr. Jackowitz says. “I like to see how long it takes for me to determine if I’m seeing the next Les Miserables.”
How medicine and musicals mesh
Both physicians share their passion for theater and involvement with producing with their patients.
Dr. Grove has Broadway memorabilia all over the checkout area of his family medicine practice and looks forward to putting his award on display in his office. He and his patients bond over the shows he’s working on, and his patients often follow his Broadway journey on social media.
For Dr. Grove, the emotion in theatre fits in with the holistic aspect of the osteopathic philosophy.
“You can physically heal someone, but you can also emotionally heal people and help them deal with life’s tragedies through theater,” Dr. Grove says.