Broadway StarsI found ‘em.

I found the stars that will replace in Les Miz.  (Cameron, you can thank me later.)

I just did a Fun on a Friday blog last week, so I normally wouldn’t put one up again so quickly (I’m a “fun” curmudgeon, I guess), but I just get such a kick out of this video and the stars in it, that I had to break my personal bloggin’ rule.

I’ll admit that one of the reasons I love the vid is because it reminds me of my freshman year at Johns Hopkins University, when me and my dormmates used to play that classic college game, “Let’s sing Les Miz in the hallway!”

The other reason I love the vid is because it’s a great reminder of the most important characteristic Producers need to find from stars they want to put in their shows.

What is that special sauce that the two stars in this video have?

They L-O-V-E the theater.  It’s obvious.

One of them loves it so much, that he’s back on Broadway this season.  And the other one, well, I’d bet money we’ll see him on Broadway at some point.

Enjoy their love, and look for that love when you’re looking for a star for your show.  (If you’re an email subscriber and you can’t see the video, click here.)

 

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white stretch limo broadway As I prepped for my Producing 101 Tele-Seminar this past weekend (which started last night and was a blast – and not too late for you to sign up), I did a lot of thinking about the moments in my producing career that helped shape me as a Producer.

There was the Hal Prince story, the  $100,000 investor story, and of course . . . the limo story.

You’ve never heard me tell the limo story?  That’s because I never tell it.

But I’m going to today, because it’s a great reminder that Producers face all sorts of challenges, from raising millions of dollars, to coming up with marketing plans to make sure we can sell enough tickets to recoup those millions of dollars.  But it’s the simple ones that really make you sweat, and that teach you how to think on your feet.

And this one involved a white stretch limo and the Altar Boyz.

And it taught me more about producing than anything else up until that moment.

I had planned a huge press event for the signing of the cast recording of Altar Boyz, the second Off-Broadway show that I produced. Now, I’m a bit of a “stunt-man” when it comes to press.  And to make our signing a bit special (and press worthy), I challenged the Backstreet Boys to a “Boy Band Battle” and invited them to show up at Virgin Megastore to see who the better boy band really was–them . . . or the Altar Boyz.

I wrote a letter and took out an ad in Time Out challenging them to show up.  I sent emails, faxes . . . letters.  When they didn’t respond, I even sent them a rubber chicken (for being “chicken” . . . get it?).

For the day of the signing, I planned to have the guys arrive at the Virgin Megastore in a beautiful white stretch limo.  I hired 100 girls to stand nearby with “I <3 The Altar Boyz!” signs and and chase the limo when it rounded the corner.  I got fake fans, fake paparazzi, and even fake security. I had everything.

Except . . . the white stretch limo.

It was supposed to pick up The Boyz and me five blocks away.  But it was late. 5 minutes. 10 minutes. 15 minutes. Very late.

And when I called the company, they couldn’t even locate the driver.

I was about to panic. I was about to scream. I was about to run home, call my mom and tell her I was doing what she wanted and going to law school.

I had hired 125 people for this event.  And there were hundreds of others that were going to show up at the signing!  And the press!

What to do.

I looked around for some sort of transportation. Cabs? Horse-drawn carriages? The Naked Cowboy? No, no, definitely no. And then I remembered that this was Times Square. This was New York City. Certainly there had to be . . .

And I started running up and down the streets looking for people who were driving any kind of fancy car. I started flagging them down like I was pregnant and my water just broke.

And then I saw a white stretch limo coming my way.   I jumped out in the middle of 8th Avenue and pulled him over.

It wasn’t ours.

But it turned out the driver had an hour to kill before an airport run. And I don’t remember what I said to him, but he agreed to help. And he didn’t even want the $100 I offered.

My Boyz jumped in the back (they had no idea the original limo didn’t show), and we made our grand entrance with 100 screaming teenage girls with signs proclaiming their love for the Altar Boyz behind us – and about 500 people from Times Square who walked in just because of the commotion – and the limo.  Success!

Until now, everyone thought that the event went off without a hitch.  And for me, that’s what a Producer has to do . . . solve problems, without anyone ever knowing there is a problem.

And that limo (or lack thereof) taught me so much about how to produce Broadway shows.

Because you see, the challenge of producing shows or producing anything . . . is that half the time things don’t go the way you plan.

But for me . . . that’s when things get fun.

 

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Standing Ovation BroadwayIf you’ve seen a show lately, then I’d bet money that you’ve seen a Standing Ovation as well.

They seem to be everywhere these days, don’t they?  I remember seeing them at every high school show I saw when I was a teen, and that trend took over Broadway as well.

To be honest, I don’t really care if every show has a Standing ‘O’, as I wrote about a couple of years ago after John Simon e-screamed that the perfunctory elevated ovation should stop (you can read that original post here).

But does every Broadway show really have a standing ovation?  And why are people standing up?  Do they really think the show deserves it?

We can hypothesize all we want, but there really is only one way to find out . . . Ask The People!

So that’s what we did.  I sent my peeps into the street and we asked a hundred theater going folks the following questions:

  • On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the last Broadway show you saw?
  • Did that show get a standing ovation?
  • Did YOU stand up?

Here is what we found out:

  • The average show was given a rating of 8.52.
  • 99% of the shows received a standing ovation.
  • Of the 99% of shows that did receive a standing ovation, only 5% of those surveyed did not stand with the rest of the audience.

So it looks like standing ovations really are everywhere.  And just about everyone is participating when they see one.

But wait . . . there’s more to learn from this.  Let’s dig a little deeper.  The shows received an average rating of 8.52.  I wonder what the Standing “O” numbers were like for people who rated their show less than an 8 . . . which would equate to a “so-so” theatrical experience, right?

Let’s see . . .

  • 28% of the people we surveyed rated their show less than an 8!
  • Despite this mediocre (or less) rating, 79% of them stood anyway!

So let’s get this straight . . . people see a show, they think it’s “eh” but they get on their feet anyway.  Why?  Peer pressure?  Get halfway to the door?  Stretch their legs?

We asked the folks who stood up, even though they didn’t love the show, why, and here’s what they said:

  • 41% said, “I liked the actors, just not the show.”
  • 36% said, “Everyone else was standing, so I did too.”
  • 9% said, “I was just trying to get a better view of curtain call.”
  • 5% said, “I’m just nice, and I felt bad not standing.”
  • 5% said, “I stood out of enthusiasm, it was a climactic moment.”
  • 4% said, “I just love theatre in general, so I stood.”
Pretty interesting stuff, isn’t it?  Lots of takeaways about how actors influence audience response, and how Social Proof can get people to do something they aren’t inclined to do on their own.
But my big takeaway, and one that all Producers should remember when they are standing in the back of their house, watching an audience give their show a standing “O” . . .
It’s easy to get people to stand up these days.  It’s not as easy to sell tickets.

(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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Theater Producing Teleseminar‘Twas only 6 weeks ago when I announced my first ever Producing 101 Tele-Seminar, and I couldn’t be more excited about the response.

Not only have you once again proven to me how many people there are out there that have the Theater Producing bug (which means the future of our art form has a future!), but what also thrills me is how many of you are phoning in from all over the country world.  So cool!

For those of you who have already registered, get ready for a good time, and a lot of info.  I spent the weekend preparing for the seminar and had so much fun remembering all the tricks and tips of how I got started with my first show.  And oh the stories I’ll tell.  :-)

I also realized that I made a ton of mistakes when I was just starting out.  And some of them slowed down my career.  I’m going to make sure I hit each one of those, so you can avoid ‘em and be on a faster track to your producing career.

Click here to read the original post about the Tele-Seminar and to register.

For those of you who have not registered yet, you’ve got 24 hours left.

The Producing 101 Tele-Seminar starts tomorrow, April 9th at 7 PM and lasts three weeks – tomorrow, Wed. April 16th, and Wed. April 23rd.  But if you can’t make one, don’t worry, each session will be recorded and emailed to you the next morning.  You could register and just listen to the audio recordings while on the treadmill!

Here is how the sessions break down:

Session #1:  Finding Your Project - Wednesday, April 9th, 7-8 PM
Session #2:  Funding Your Project - Wednesday, April 16th, 7-8 PM
Session #3:  Filling Your Seats/Marketing Your Project - Wednesday, April 23rd, 7-8 PM

At the end of each session, I’ll also open up the lines to a Q&A.

It’s only $99 and as always, it’s guaranteed.  If you aren’t satisfied, just let me know and back your money will go.

Register today.  And start producing tomorrow.

UPDATE:  The Seminar has started but it’s NOT TOO LATE to register.  Sign up here, and get access to the full audio recording of the previous sessions, and listen at your own pace.  Register today

 

(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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- First ever Producing 101 Tele-Seminar starts TOMORROW!  Learn more.

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Five Nominees Best Musical BroadwayFor years I’ve been writing about my hope that the Tony Awards would relax their strict rules about the number of nominees for Best Musical and Best Play.  It was back in 2010 that I first wondered if Broadway could have more than the perfunctory four nominees.  And  then, in 2012, I wrote about it again in my 3 Things Theater Can Learn from the Oscars blog, when the Oscars rewrote their rules and made the number of nominees flexible . . .  any number between five and ten depending on how many the nominators felt were worthy.

And I’m super-pumped to announce that the Tony Administration did pass a new rule this year that allows a fifth nomination for the Best Musical, Best Play, Best Revival of a Musical, and Best Revival of a Play trophies . . . again, if the nominators feel the field warrants it.

Of course, I can’t help but be a little disappointed that this ruling didn’t come a few years earlier as I’m pretty sure Godspell would have grabbed one of those extra slots, instead of getting nudged out by the Superstar revival that only lasted a few months.  But I’m still dancin’ in the streets, as I think this new ruling allows a greater celebration of each specific season and the number of quality musicals represented, instead of handcuffing the committee to only a certain number of kudos.

I know it’s not easy for that Admin Committee to alter existing rules.  It may seem easy to us, but we have to remember that each slight adjustment could have a major effect on theater history, never mind our entire society!  Shows that get nominated have a shot at winning.  Shows that win can not only experience greater financial success in the short term, but those plays usually are performed more often around the world, which means their message is spread to more people . . . which means more people can be affected by what they say.

So allowing a fifth nominee for those four categories is a pretty massive change, and I thank the Admin Committee for doing it.

And what a perfect year for this new policy to take effect.  Just look at the field for Best Musical this year:

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
A Night With Janis Joplin
After Midnight
Aladdin
Beautiful
Big Fish
Bullets Over Broadway
First Date
If/Then
Rocky
Soul Doctor
The Bridges of Madison County

Just look at all those new musicals!  It’s no wonder some of them are having a bit of trouble getting their noses up off the ground.  It’s a like a giant Broadway cage match!

The chatter all over Shubert Alley and every other Broadway Street this year is whether there will be five nominees instead of four.  It’s a tough call.  Since the critics sent out more “mixed messages” reviews, the Nominators aren’t going to want to just reward what some people might feel are mediocre productions.  Then again, I do think there’s a bit of a critical backlash happening amongst the theatrical intelligentsia who make up the Tony Nominators.  I’m hearing things like, “Critics don’t define excellence.  They just provide color commentary.  And the Nominators are the ones with the ultimate authority.”

All this means there’s a second reason for shows in the fray to be nervous on April 29th when the noms are announced.  Will the show be nominated?  And will there be five instead of four?

My opinion?  I think there will be a full five finger set of nominees this year.  And I do believe this season represents a perfect reason as to why this rule makes so much sense.  We’ve got more new musicals than usual.  And what a diverse lot we have!  To limit it to four would not properly represent the season that Broadway is having.  Gosh, I remember when Sunset Boulevard took the top prize in 1995 practically by default, because there was only one other nominee that year (one of the first jukebox musicals - Smokey Joe’s Cafe).  And let’s face it, Awards are not only rewarding excellence, but also the best soft-marketing we have.  And the shows, and Broadway itself, could use it.

Whether you like all the shows or not this season, we should take pride in the fact that there are twelve potential nominees for Best Musical this year, and I’m hopeful that five will be honored with a nomination on April 29th.

What do you think is gonna happen this year?  Five or four?

 

(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:

- First ever Producing 101 Teleseminar starts in 2 days!  Learn more.

- Win 2 Tickets to see Forbidden Broadway.  Click here!

- Want to learn about Broadway Investing?  Click here to sign up for Broadway Investing 101 on Saturday 4/12.

- Are you Broadway’s Next Big Star?  Click here to enter our contest!

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