Most days, David Treatman can be found studying at Columbia University. But on top of the demanding coursework and numerous extracurricular activities, he can also be found downtown, working as a co-producer both on- and off-Broadway. Dividing his time between college life and a busy production schedule, he is not your typical undergraduate student.
“The beautiful thing about GS is that there is no 'normal.' There is this sort of camaraderie that makes it so much easier to be a non-traditional student,” Treatman said.
Treatman began his foray into theater—and the world of production—in high school. After having starred in school musicals including Rent and Legally Blonde, he got the opportunity to direct The 39 Steps his senior year. To acquire performance rights for his school, he worked with Broadway and West End producers, sound designers, and lawyers, forming connections which would be instrumental leading up to his current projects.
Upon arriving at GS, Treatman continued his involvement in school theater—but was also inspired to move towards commercial production.
“I have wanted to be a producer ever since watching Mel Brooks’ The Producers in middle school,” Treatman said. “So I was actively scouting for opportunities.”
Those opportunities would begin to materialize through a friendship with Alan Koolik, a Columbia Engineering student.
“When we met and realized that we were interested in the same profession, we split the work of thinking about our 'in,'” Treatman said.
The perfect “in” seemed to fall into their lap. Over the course of a summer internship, Koolik heard that the company he was working for was seeking new producers for Puffs—a show which, coincidentally, Treatman had already seen four times. The play seemed to be the ideal opportunity for a number of reasons, and they decided to take on the project.
Puffs continues to succeed spectacularly, and Treatman has been approached by numerous producers and playwrights with new opportunities. Recently, he accepted an opportunity to produce Tony Kushner’s revival of Angels in America, which features an all-star cast including Nathan Lane and Andrew Garfield.
“When I started looking seriously for ways to start producing, I found it a bit difficult to get taken seriously because of my age compared to the older 'elite' of Broadway producing,” Treatman said. “I am really very excited about [the revival] because it has given us a seat at the 'big boy table,' so to speak.”
While offers for future producing opportunities keep flowing in—including from The Public Theater, where Hamilton began—Treatman still finds time to stay involved on campus. In between taking courses at two institutions as a student in the Joint Program with List College of the Jewish Theological Seminary, he participates in sailing, a political action club, Hillel, and five different theater clubs.
“I love having a foot in each community. Being a student at two schools at once has been a monumental help in learning how to balance all of these opportunities,” Treatman said.
Join CAA Arts Access in partnership with the GS Alumni Association to see Puffs on Thursday, December 7! After the show, Columbia alumni and students are invited to stay for a special conversation with David Treatman along with other members of the Puffs team.