I get a lot of emails from folks telling me that it’s their dream to work on Broadway.  Some want to be General Managers.  Some want to be Casting Directors.  Some don’t have a clue as to what they want to do, but they know they want . . . well . . . to be a part of it, New York, New York.

Some have finished school.  Some have even been through graduate school.  And quite a few through law school, actually.  Some haven’t even finished high school.

But they all know they want to do what I have been so blessed to have been able to do . . . work in an industry that they love.

Since I was one of those people who dreamed about working on Broadway, I’ve come up with some tips for folks looking to land that theater job . . . and keep it.  And while, sure, these tips are focused on the NY scene, they are easily applied to wherever you may be.

So if you’re looking to work on the Broadway, here are five tips to help you out:

1.  Got an interview?  Get tickets.

One of the first questions I ask people who sit in front of me looking for a job is, “What shows have you seen lately?”  And then I ask, “Have you seen mine?”

I can’t tell you how many people say no.

Does it count them out?  Not 100%.  But the people that say yes?  Oooohhh, they vault to the top of the leader board.  It’s not about kissing a$$, or putting some bucks in my till.  It’s about a gesture that says, “I’m interested in seeing the work that goes on here, so I can show you how I can contribute to making it even better.”

I know, theater tickets are expensive.  But they’ll be a lot easier to pay for if you have a job that pays you a salary.

Make an investment in your search, and people will invest in you.

2.  Get in the right room.

There’s no question that Broadway is a very closed-door industry.  And it’s hard to get that open, no matter how hard you knock.  Here’s the good news.  Once you do get the door open and you get in the room, the door usually shuts and we don’t let you out.  You’re ours!  Bahahahahaha.

Jobs are the best way to get entry into the room, but there’s the catch 22, right?

So how else can you get potential employers to know who you are?  Emails rarely work.  Cold phone calls?  Forget it.  So, attend Galas.  Go to conferences.   Get to opening nights.  Invest.  Do whatever you can do to put your face in front employers.  I’ve hired at least three people who grabbed me for an intro after listening to me speak on a panel.

A face-to-face intro is a zillion times more “impressive” than an electronic one.

3.  Be prepared to start at the bottom.

I have a lot of respect for people who have earned MBA’s, JD’s, MD’s, or any advanced degree that cost six figures and took several years.

But that doesn’t mean you get to start at the middle.

Broadway is a niche industry which requires  a lot of specialized knowledge that isn’t taught in any curriculum.

So that means anyone looking to get a job in the biz has to start where everyone else does . . . at the bottom.  That means low wages, grunt work, and probably no health insurance.  No matter what your age or your degree.

But do what you’re told with a smile on your face, and you’ll rise to the top quicker than you can say “I went to graduate school for this?”

4.  We don’t punch clocks.

At the end of every interview I always ask if the job candidate has any questions.  (Tip:  Have a question or two . . . it’ll keep you in the room longer and create a stronger impression.)  The questions they ask me teach me more about their personality than any other part of the interview.  And the one question I hate the most?  “What are the hours?”

Broadway don’t punch no clocks, yo.  Yes,  most offices around town will tell you that their hours are 10-6, including mine.  But walk into any theater company at 6:30, 7 or even 8, and I bet you see a few people still hanging ‘round.

If you want to work on Broadway, you can’t be a clock watcher.  The employees that we want are the ones who are going to work until their job is done, with a smile on their face, because they love what they do.

Need an example of these type of employees?  Stop by my office some time and meet anyone on my staff.

5.  Remember JFK.

I’ve saved my favorite tip for last . . .

When going in for an interview, remember these words:  “Ask not what your company can do for you, ask what you can do for your company.”

Remembering that mantra will get you in the perfect frame of mind to seem like the perfect employee.

 

Working on Broadway isn’t for everyone.  And if there is any other industry you’re interested in, you should probably do that.  But if you must work on Broadway, you will.  Passionate people who persevere don’t stay idle long.

And if you’re one of those people, make sure you send me your resume.

Good luck in your search!

 

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

_ _

ARE YOU LOOKING FOR A JOB ON BROADWAY OR OFF BROADWAY?

If you’re looking to get a job on Broadway, here are a few advanced tips:

- If you’re looking for more reading material, then I also recommend you get this book that gives you the tricks and tips on on how to interview for a job on Broadway, Off Broadway, or anywhere.  Good luck!  Hope to see you in a Broadway job soon!

- Finally, check out our classified section, which lists the latest Broadway jobs available.  Click here:  Get a Broadway Job.

- I now offer Broadway Career consulting.  Click here to inquire about how I can help you with your resume, your interview, and give you the inside scoop of what it takes to work on Broadway . . . and who specifically you should target to get your dream job.  Click this link to email me to inquire about Broadway Career consulting: Get A Broadway Job.

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20 Responses to 5 Tips to Getting a Job on Broadway

  1. Sara Wolter says:

    Great tips Ken. I would also add “the show must go on” curtain up at 2pm or 8pm so whatever it takes to give the audience a 100% experience is always part of a job description no matter what your job is….

  2. Patricia says:

    These tips are true for any profession where people want to make their mark and have a great career. I also love problem solvers who don’t give you the problem but let you know how it can be fixed or even better how they fixed it!

  3. Rachel says:

    Great Tips! I love this article. I have a question about tip 4. Do you have any questions that you can suggest to ask? Have there been any questions that impressed you or interested you in an interview?

  4. Maury says:

    Young people! Take in every word! Ken speak-eth the truth!

  5. Mackenzie says:

    I love how much you appreciate your staff. I hope you share it with them as much as you share it with us!

    Also, I totally understand #2. I attended your master class at Emerson a few years ago and wanted to introduce myself, but you were whisk away too soon!

  6. Bea says:

    Thank you very much for this article!!!!very usefull, also for the spanish teather industry!!!

  7. SONIA VANGHELE says:

    It”s true! I saw one day a doctor on the TV and he said that when he must choosea new doctor in his team the first think he ask is if they play sports.For every job you need tips.But more important if you are happy to do one job or another.To wake up in the morning with a big smile on the face .I work in the theatre ,I stay all day.I make marionettes and I play also.
    Unfortunately I live in Greece.It”s difficult for me to come in USA.I saw your shows on the net.I know that it”s not the same but we are furaway.That”s why give me a chance even by E-mail or Skype to talk with you and you never know!
    There are my tips to have a meeting with you!

  8. Erika Carrillo says:

    Love this advice!I’m currently going to North Dakota State University and I’m studying the hospitality and tourism insudtr with a minor in business administration. I always loved music. Music has been always in my family’s blood.I remember doing skits with my mom on the streets in Ecuador ( church , singing in front of people and dancing! I wish the world wasn’t about just money and getting paid to live. I wish we can just live sharing our passion with the wold. That is why I’m considering in double minor in theather dance! My Dad said that it will be a waste of time and that probably wont get paid enough! but it is my passion and I’m going to pursue that! I wish everyone could see this article! is exactly of how I feel inside! time is important but when you do what you love it goes faster and sometimes you wishes that time goes slower. Time should never be a problem.
    Thanks for sharing Mr. Davenport,

    Erika Carrillo

  9. Elsa Noemi Pagan says:

    I really liked what you had to say, nice and down to earth. would love to work on broadway with props or whatever. Maybe one day it will come true for me. Thanks again.

  10. Terrianne says:

    I truly appreciate the strong advice. I am a singer/actress who has come to the realization of what I really want out of life through many various experiences. I came to this site looking to see how to audition for Broadway and this has helped me tremendously. Thanks so much for giving back. That is my ultimate goal. I will get there!

  11. Courtney Teresa Jones says:

    I am only 12, going on 13, years old, ( this is my mom’s email. ) and it is my dream to be on Broadway. So can you tell me, what kind of expectations do you have, and what training do I need to have a higher chance of getting a lead role?

  12. Chiara Bortolini says:

    Dear Ken Davenport,

    I’ve read with accurance your article, and I’ve found it absolutely useful for those, as I am, who would love to get into Broadway-exciting world. All the tips are extremely keen. You always underline to keep in touch with professionals, and speak face to face to express the truly desire to be on Broadway. And this is definitely very important. However,as I’m Italian and living in Italy at the moment, could you suggest me how to land that theatre job in the distance? I know you’ve got an extraordinary and very high-quality experience about this world and it would be a privilege recieving your advices.

    Thank you very much for all the time you could give me.

    Best regards,
    Chiara Bortolini

  13. Makylah Ladd says:

    Love the advise taking in every word it’s defiantly my dream to live in NWY and get in Broadway

  14. Emily says:

    Thanks for the advice I’m a highschool student and my dream job would is to be a Theater Tech working on Broadway. Reading this article helps me to understand what this will take. Thanks. :)

  15. Andrea says:

    I want to work on Broadway . And I will.

  16. Emily says:

    This website is so inspiring. Im 18 and I don’t want to be on broadway, I NEED it. I can’t even picture myself doing anything else with my life than performing. It is my absolute dream to make it on Broadway. This website made me realize a little more that if I don’t stop giving up then maybe I actually do have a chance.

  17. Nikki Taylor says:

    I like to sing and act and i like the musical and be in one of the like The Music Man and Joseph and the amazing technicolor dreamcoat and bye bye birdie.

    By:Nikki Taylor

  18. Phoebe Tango says:

    What if you Dont have a resume ? No experience ? But Broadway is what you desire , not a spark but a fire. When I ask this I am no liar ? ….when can I be hired?

  19. Elizabeth Marvitz says:

    Thanks for the tips! I find them really practical and helpful! I would also like to ask though what an audition would be like and what are some amazing things to do to stand out (per say what types of clothing to wear, what songs to sing or monologues to perform, and what questions to ask)? What should I be ready for? And what are things I should stay away from talking about or auditioning with?

    Thank you in advance for your time!

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