pop-up store tony awardsA few years ago, around Halloween, pop-up costume stores starting appearing in empty street-level shops, doing a ton of biz in a short period of time.  The retailer was happy.  The landlord was happy.

One thing you can always count on in business:  when someone does something successful, someone will try to do the exact same thing (usually without the same results – originality is the best advertisement ever).

And then came the Christmas pop-up.  And the Superbowl pop-up.  And so on and so forth.

I blogged about this phenomenon last December, so what’s got me intrigued yet again?

This Friday, a Tony Awards pop-up store will open at the Paramount Hotel!

It’s supposed to feature merch, “fan experiences” and a ton more (I’m hoping there’s a “Get your picture taken while accepting a Tony” cutout).

It’s a super smart idea since the majority of people who walk through Times Square are at the very least interested in the theater.  Giving them an immersive reminder that the theater’s biggest honors are to be televised in just a few weeks should engage a lot more viewers than a billboard.  Remember, we all live and breathe Broadway all year ’round.  But the casual tourist from Alabama or Uzbekistan may not even know the Tony Awards exist!

I’ll be poppin’ by The Tony Awards pop-up store on Friday, and you should too.  The Tony Awards are the biggest tool we have to grow our audience.  The bigger the ratings we have this year, the bigger the audience we will have tomorrow.

 

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green with envy broadwayI’m jealous of the West End.

They’ve got lower costs for labor, crowdfunding, and they let you eat ice cream in your seats.

And they have also gotten their hands on some very popular material lately that I don’t think anyone on Broadway could have grabbed.

In 2009, I saw War Horse in the West End, and I wept like a baby.  And I remember thinking, “This is exactly the type of theater I’d like to produce.   Where did it come from?”

It was an adaptation, of course, like most shows out there.  But this one was from a very popular novel.  A novel that was ripe for a movie treatment (and became one directed by Sir Spielberg, no less!

But somehow, the National Theatre got a stage version first.  BEFORE the movie.  “Huh,” I thought, “That breaks every theatrical rights rule I’ve ever heard.”  Usually, either the Author’s agent doesn’t want to release the stage rights before the film rights are released for fear of upsetting the movie studios.  Or, if the rights are already sold to a studio, usually that studio ain’t letting anything happen to that property until the film is long released.  And maybe never!  (I’ve had a few studios say to me, “Ken, we have no interest in INSERT TITLE HERE ever being  a live theatrical property.  Ever.”)

But there I was, staring at a giant puppet of a horse.

Last year I was chatting with John Tiffany during tech of Macbeth and I asked what was on deck for him.  He responded in his awesome accent, “Let The Right One In . . . you know, the vampire book!”

If you don’t know the vampire book of which he speaks, Let The Right One In is based on the 2004 Swedish bestseller that the National Theater of Scotland adapted into a stage version, and which is on a stage in the West End as I type.  (It did have a film adaptation as well in 2010 – but the stage rights had to have been already promised by then.)

And this coming year, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which is another best-selling novel which debuted onstage in Great Britain in 2012, will arrive on Broadway, beating its future film version by years.

I can’t say this for sure, but I have this sneaking suspicion that if I, or one of my Broadway counterparts, had approached the authors for the rights to any of these projects for a Broadway production, we would have been rejected with the same old excuses, which I translate to mean they are afraid a Broadway production will damage the brand and make a film sale difficult or impossible.

So what is it about the West End that is safer?  Does it feel more out of the way?  Are the critics kinder?  Is that why stars like Matt Damon and more have stepped on those stages but never ours?  Is that why Rain Man premiered there but never here?

Or is the West End considered more artistic?  Are the agents and publishers and movie companies, oh my, more trusting of work in the West End than they are on the Broadway?

Whatever the reason is (and I hope you’ll give me your ideas in the comments below), I’m a little green with envy.  I want the rights to newer stuff.

Wait – I wonder if I asked for the rights to something and said I would premiere it in London first . . . if that would make the rights easier to get.  I bet it would.

Do you?

 

(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)
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FUN STUFF:

- Nominate your favorite Broadway Behind The Curtain Staffer for the 1st Annual GHOSTLIGHT AWARDS!  Click here.

- Win 2 tickets to see Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man.  Click here.

- Need help raising money?  Who doesn’t.  Take my How To Raise Money seminar and raise more money faster.  Guaranteed.  Register today.

- Win $500 in our Broadway’s Next Big Star contest!  DEADLINE EXTENDED UNTIL FRIDAY.  Click here to enter!

 

Here are this year’s Drama League Award nominations:

OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION OF A BROADWAY OR OFF-BROADWAY PLAY

All That Fall
All The Way
Casa Valentina
Domesticated
Mothers and Sons
Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play
The Open House
The Realistic Joneses

OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION OF A BROADWAY OR OFF-BROADWAY MUSICAL

After Midnight
Aladdin
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
The Bridges of Madison County
Bullets Over Broadway
Fun Home
A Gentleman’s Guide To Love And Murder
Murder For Two
Rocky

OUTSTANDING REVIVAL OF A BROADWAY OR OFF-BROADWAY PLAY

The Cripple of Inishmaan
The Glass Menagerie
Good Person of Szechwan
The Mutilated
Of Mice and Men
A Raisin in the Sun
Twelfth Night, or What You Will
Waiting For Godot

OUTSTANDING REVIVAL OF A BROADWAY OR OFF-BROADWAY MUSICAL

Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill
LES MISERABLES
Violet

PLEASE NOTE: The Roundabout Theatre Company production of Cabaret received The Drama League’s Outstanding Revival of a Musical Award in 1998, during its original engagement. Therefore, it is ineligible for a production nomination this season. However, it was determined that the cast of the production would be eligible for consideration.

DISTINGUISHED PERFORMANCE AWARD

One winner is selected from this category. The recipient can only receive the award once during his or her career.

Reed Birney, Casa Valentina
Steven Boyer, Hand to God
Zach Braff, Bullets over Broadway
Arnie Burton, The Mystery of Irma Vep
Michael Cerveris, Fun Home
Nick Cordero, Bullets over Broadway
Bryan Cranston, All the Way
Alan Cumming, Cabaret
Tyne Daly, Mothers and Sons
Mary Bridget Davies, A Night With Janis Joplin
Gabriel Ebert, Casa Valentina
Carson Elrod, The Heir Apparent
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, The Comedy of Errors
Sutton Foster, Violet
James Franco, Of Mice and Men
Peter Friedman, The Open House
Michael C. Hall, The Realistic Joneses
Lena Hall, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Neil Patrick Harris, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Joshua Henry, Violet
James Monroe Iglehart, Aladdin
LaTanya Richardson Jackson, A Raisin in the Sun
Ramin Karimloo, LES MISERABLES
Andy Karl, Rocky
Adriane Lenox, After Midnight
Tracy Letts, The Realistic Joneses
Zachary Levi, First Date
Sydney Lucas, Fun Home
Taylor Mac, Good Person of Szechwan
Jefferson Mays, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
Idina Menzel, If/Then
Laurie Metcalf, Domesticated
Jessie Mueller, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Chris O’Dowd, Of Mice and Men
Kelli O’Hara, The Bridges of Madison County
Estelle Parsons, The Velocity of Autumn
Steven Pasquale, The Bridges of Madison County
Jeremy Pope, Choir Boy
Zachary Quinto, The Glass Menagerie
Daniel Radcliffe, The Cripple of Inishmaan
Ruben Santiago-Hudson, How I Learned What I Learned
Margo Seibert, Rocky
Robert Sella, The Mystery of Irma Vep
Tony Shalhoub, Act One
Jennifer Simard, Disaster!
Brian J. Smith, The Glass Menagerie
Patrick Stewart, Waiting for Godot
John Douglas Thompson, Satchmo at the Waldorf
Denzel Washington, A Raisin in the Sun
Michelle Williams, Cabaret

Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theatre
Barbara Cook

Unique Contribution to the Theatre
Key Brand Entertainment/Broadway Across America

Founders Award for Excellence in Directing
John Tiffany

 

3 things broadway marketingSome of you out there probably read the subject of this blog and thought, “Only 3?”

And you’re right, I could probably write another 4,000 posts on my issues with the state of Broadway marketing alone.  For this blog we’re going to focus on the three biggest problems I see that get in the way of shows making bigger splashes in this amazing, crowded pool of live entertainment in NYC. (Notice how I didn’t say a bigger splash in the Broadway pool – because, like it or not, Broadway shows don’t just compete with Broadway shows – they compete with every entertainment offering in this city – from live music, to stand-up comedy, to sitting on the TKTS steps and people watching for free!)

And I’m also going to try to suggest a solution or two for these issues, because I don’t believe in ranting just for rant’s sake.  If you’re going to say something’s wrong about any subject, from Broadway marketing to politics, then you should also try to propose a solution – even if you have no idea if that proposal will work (try that in your life – you’d be surprised at how quickly you can change things for the better if for every criticism you make, you come up with a wacky way to make it better).

Here we go . . .

1.  We’re fast, but not fast enough.

A new Broadway show is like a newborn babe.  Those first few days of a baby’s life are so important, as is the beginning of a new Broadway show, and any business for that matter.  But what makes our businesses different than others is that, because of the challenging economics (translation – because things are so f*#$ing expensive!), we can’t afford to sit on our hind parts for a second.  Too often I see fantastic concepts and ideas get tossed about in meetings that are just not executed fast enough.  And by the time the wheels of action have started turning, it’s too late, and another week has passed, and more potential has vanished.  We’re a perishable inventory industry.  Every second that goes by is another seat we could have sold.

One of the reasons we’re slower than others is that our teams are so much bigger.  Seems like it would be the opposite, right?  That a bigger team should lead to more action?   Not the case.  More producers, more staffers . . . sometimes means more indecision, and an approval process that takes longer than a trip to JFK during rush hour traffic.  And those massive teams that crowd around ad meeting conference tables also incites, “I don’t have to do anything about this idea because someone else must be taking care of it.”

And then that idea doesn’t happen.

I recommend having small, independent PACs (Producer Action Committees) on your show with just a handful of folks whose responsibility it is to throw the match on great ideas so they catch fire quickly.  Never leave a meeting without the idea, a deadline, and who’s taking the lead and you’ll find you get things going much, much faster.  And faster marketing means faster ticket sales.

2.  Why is everything so expensive?

I’ve seen a whole host of interesting marketing ideas get tossed out into the ethos by Producers only to come back with a price tag that doesn’t make economic sense to pursue.  So the idea gets tossed into the trash instead.   Often that price tag comes from the advertising agency, or another larger company that has a huge amount of overhead and infrastructure to support, and so the price reflects just that.  Don’t blame them for the high costs.  They have their economic model that they have to support.  But don’t not do the idea just because you got one quote that you didn’t like.  Get another.  Or better . . . do it yourself.    (I find this especially true for video marketing ideas – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told an idea I’ve had cost several thousand to produce but we’ve done it for a couple hundred, or in some cases, nothing.)  We live in an age that you or someone you know can make and edit your own videos, build and market your own websites, hey, even place your own advertising.  So if one price doesn’t make you happy, find a way to get it cheaper.  But get it done.

3.  Been there, done that.

With any industry that has great risk attached, there’s always a fear factor of doing anything new.  It’s hard to get anyone to color outside the lines or “think outside the box,” because, well, what if this new idea doesn’t work?  It’s just safer to go down the same road we’ve always gone down, right?  Well, yes, it is safer.  It’s also boring.  And  it’s also one of the reasons our attendance has flatlined.  Couple that with the fact that there are only three advertising agencies in town that focus exclusively on Broadway shows and it is no wonder that Producers eat from a similar marketing menu with each production.  In 2014, marketing is the Producer’s greatest responsibility – even more so than raising the money.  And that’s right, it’s your responsibility, not your agency’s.  It’s a Producer’s job to be up on the latest in advertising trends.  It’s a Producer’s job to ask your agency to try new things.  The industry has spent almost one hundred years building a very particular, inflexible, and resilient box.  It’s your job to think outside of it.

I get a lot of my ideas from Entrepreneur Magazine, from high end department store marketing (luxury goods), and from Hollywood press agents.  I even got one marketing idea from my doorman.  Ideas are everywhere, if your eyes are open to them.

 

Faster, cheaper and newer.  I guess that’s the summary of this post.  And that could also be a summary of how to make any business more efficient.

Now it’s up to you, no one else, to make that happen.

 

(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)
- – – -

FUN STUFF:

- Nominate your favorite Broadway Behind The Curtain Staffer for the 1st Annual GHOSTLIGHT AWARDS!  Click here.

- Win 2 tickets to see Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man.  Click here.

- Need help raising money?  Who doesn’t.  Take my How To Raise Money seminar and raise more money faster.  Guaranteed.  Register today.

- Win $500 in our Broadway’s Next Big Star contest!  DEADLINE EXTENDED UNTIL FRIDAY.  Click here to enter!

 

Here are this year’s Outer Critics Circle Award nominations:

OUTSTANDING NEW BROADWAY PLAY
Act One
Casa Valentina
All The Way
Outside Mullingar
The Realistic Joneses

OUTSTANDING NEW BROADWAY MUSICAL
After Midnight
Aladdin
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
Rocky

OUTSTANDING NEW OFF-BROADWAY PLAY
Appropriate
Choir Boy
The Explorer’s Club
The Heir Apparent
Stage Kiss

OUTSTANDING NEW OFF-BROADWAY MUSICAL
Far From Heaven
Fun Home
Murder For Two
Storyville
What’s It All About? Bacharach Reimagined

OUTSTANDING NEW SCORE
(Broadway or Off-Broadway)
Aladdin
The Bridges of Madison County
Fun Home
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
If/Then

OUTSTANDING REVIVAL OF A PLAY
(Broadway or Off-Broadway)
The Cripple of Inishmaan
The Glass Menagerie
Machinal
Twelfth Night
The Winslow Boy

OUTSTANDING BOOK OF A MUSICAL
(Broadway or Off-Broadway)
Aladdin
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Fun Home
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
Rocky

OUTSTANDING DIRECTOR OF A PLAY
Tim Carroll, Twelfth Night
Michael Grandage, The Cripple of Inishmaan
Lindsay Posner, The Winslow Boy
Bill Rauch, All the Way
Lyndsey Turner, Machinal

OUTSTANDING DIRECTOR OF A MUSICAL
Warren Carlyle, After Midnight
Laurence Connor & James Powell, Les Misérables
Sam Gold, Fun Home
Alex Timbers, Rocky
Darko Tresnjak, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder

OUTSTANDING CHOREOGRAPHER
Warren Carlyle, After Midnight
Peggy Hickey, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
Steven Hoggett & Kelly Devine, Rocky
Casey Nicholaw, Aladdin
Susan Stroman, Bullets Over Broadway

OUTSTANDING SET DESIGN
(Play or Musical)
Christopher Barreca, Rocky
Beowulf Boritt, Act One
Bob Crowley, Aladdin
Es Devlin, Machinal
Alexander Dodge, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder

OUTSTANDING COSTUME DESIGN
(Play or Musical)
Gregg Barnes, Aladdin
Linda Cho, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
William Ivey Long, Bullets Over Broadway
Jenny Tiamani, Twelfth Night
Isabel Toledo, After Midnight

OUTSTANDING LIGHTING DESIGN
(Play or Musical)
Kevin Adams, Hedwig and the Angry inch
Howell Binkley, After Midnight
Paule Constable, Les Misérables
Natasha Katz, Aladdin
Philip S. Rosenberg, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder

OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A PLAY
Bryan Cranston, All the Way
Ian McKellen, No Man’s Land
Brían F. O’Byrne, Outside Mullingar
Mark Rylance, Twelfth Night
Tony Shaloub, Act One

OUTSTANDING ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Tyne Daly, Mothers and Sons
Rebecca Hall, Machinal
Jessica Hecht, Stage Kiss
Cherry Jones, The Glass Menagerie
Estelle Parsons, The Velocity of Autumn

OUTSTANDING ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Michael Cerveris, Fun Home
Neil Patrick Harris, Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Andy Karl, Rocky
Jefferson Mays, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
Bryce Pinkham, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder

OUTSTANDING ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Sutton Foster, Violet
Audra McDonald, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill
Jessie Mueller, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Kelli O’Hara, The Bridges of Madison County
Michelle Williams, Cabaret

OUTSTANDING FEATURED ACTOR IN A PLAY
Paul Chahidi, Twelfth Night
Michael Cyril Creighton, Stage Kiss
John McMartin, All the Way
Alessandro Nivola, The Winslow Boy
Brian J. Smith, The Glass Menagerie

OUTSTANDING FEATURED ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Barbara Barrie, I Remember Mama
Andrea Martin, Act One
Sophie Okonedo, A Raisin in the Sun
Anika Noni Rose, A Raisin in the Sun
Mare Winningham, Casa Valentina

OUTSTANDING FEATURED ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Danny Burstein, Cabaret
Nick Cordero, Bullets Over Broadway
Joshua Henry, Violet
James Monroe Iglehart, Aladdin
Jarrod Spector, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical

OUTSTANDING FEATURED ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Judy Kuhn, Fun Home
Anika Larsen, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Sydney Lucas, Fun Home
Marin Mazzie, Bullets Over Broadway
Lisa O’Hare, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder

OUTSTANDING SOLO PERFORMANCE
Jim Brochu, Character Man
Debra Jo Rupp, Becoming Dr. Ruth
Ruben Santiago-Hudson, How I Learned What I Learned
Alexandra Silber, Arlington
John Douglas Thompson, Satchmo at the Waldorf

JOHN GASSNER AWARD
(Presented for an American play, preferably by a new playwright)
Scott Z. Burns, The Library
Eric Dufault, Year of the Rooster
Madeleine George, The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence
Steven Levenson, The Unavoidable Disappearance of Tom Durnin
Lauren Yee, The Hatmaker’s Wife

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