Rand Martin is a lobbyist with Rose & Kindel, and also an actor and director with the Davis Musical Theater.
Tell us about your day job.
I’m a lobbyist, have been for almost a decade. Prior to that I spent almost 11 years working in the Capitol. I was senior legislative staff to Assemblyman Terry Friedman from West L.A. in the early ‘90s. Then I became chief of staff for John Vasconcellos in ‘94 and stayed with him for seven years. I’ll always cherish that I was his longest-serving chief of staff in his 38 years being in the Legislature. He’s very demanding. He’s a great boss, but his mind is always going. It takes a lot out of you to work for him. He was the idea guy, and staff implemented. That’s how it should be. Now you rely on staff and lobbyists to lead the charge, because the members don’t have the institutional knowledge. Prior to that I was a white-hat lobbyist.
Did you work in the do-gooders building?
I had a view of the Capitol from the 10th floor of what is now the Citizen Hotel. I was there for almost four years. It was a great building, very cheap and everybody was on the same kind of mission. I was the executive director of a new organization called The Life Lobby, which was an AIDS organization. All the AIDS services organizations got together in the ‘80s, ‘86 to ‘90 when I was there. It was insane. It was fun to be in the center of it. It was a very supportive Legislature. That’s how I got to know John Vasconcellos and Terry Friedman, they both happened to be real leaders on HIV and AIDS issues. They were in very prominent positions, especially John, who was chair of Ways and Means at the time.
Let’s talk about the theater.
On the theater side of my life, I do most of my work at the Davis Musical Theatre Company. I’ve been with them off and on since 1986. I’m a real aficionado, one of those people who can quote lines and sing songs and tell you how long certain shows ran on Broadway, and bore most of my friends. As far back as five years of age, I did performing for my church in Southern California. In first or second grade, we had a talent show at my elementary school, and I sang a song from “My Fair Lady.” I don’t think they much got it. I’m not even sure I knew what I was singing. My parents always had original cast recordings as part of their record collection. I had a great love for that kind of music. I did it in junior high, high school, college. I got my first real directing experience in college.
I went to a small liberal arts college near Richmond, Virginia, Randolph Macon College. The theater professor, he and his wife ran a dinner theater, called the Barksdale Theatre, in an old tavern from the 1600s, an incredible place. He brought some real-world experience to a very small college that wouldn’t have otherwise had a theater department. I got to do shows that are probably pretty obscure to most people. I did “Stop the World I Want to Get Off,” I played the lead. It’s got very popular songs—“What Kind of Fool Am I,” “Once in a Lifetime.” They’re originals from that show. It’s also where I got to do my first directing, which I never would have gotten to do if I was in a big theater department at a major university. I also got to do shows over at the dinner theater, not big roles, but I got experience in a real-world setting.
Between college and Sacramento, I was in D.C. I did dinner theater fulltime. It was the first and last time I was able to live on my earnings as a theater person. I had a studio apartment and a car that was old but paid for.
Was being a performer good preparation for being a lobbyist?
Incredible preparation. Being able to think on your feet, being in front of people. It’s not as rehearsed as being in a theater setting, but the same dynamics are in play. Your performance is really important to how they receive what you have to say. It’s important in a hearing to be able to be as interesting as you can. Some people get up and read testimony in soft-spoken monotone. You see eyes glaze over. Any lobbyist worth his or her salt makes it concise and entertaining. When you’re in a musical, there are so many songs, you don’t have a whole lot of time for the scenes. The dialog gets truncated. That’s similar to what you have to do in committee. You have to get to the points that are going to compel your audience. I’m surprised sometimes how quickly some people who are non-theater people pick up on the similarity.
Tell us about the show you just finished.
It was “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” We opened a month after the revival on Broadway. Daniel Radcliffe from “Harry Potter” is starring in that production. We didn’t have Harry Potter in ours. It’s a 50-year-old show that is a satire on corporate America. The amazing thing is that it’s as relevant today as in 1961. Which is actually a little scary, when you think that corporate America hasn’t evolved that much. The only major difference, in 1961, there was a lot of gender bias. “How to Succeed” does look at it with a wink and a nod. You’ve got the blustery CEO and the sex bomb secretary who are having an affair, and you’ve got the ambitious young guy working his way up the ladder. We do six shows a year. I keep telling them every presidential year we need to do “Of Thee I Sing,” a George Gershwin musical from the ‘30s that’s a satire on the president.