A Tony Award-Winning Producer’s
Perspective on Broadway
And How You Can Get There Too

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How to Watch This Year’s Tony Awards

It’s Tony Awards weekend!

If you’re like me, and I’m guessing you are, then you’ve been waiting for the 74th annual Tony Awards (which are technically last year’s) for a very long time. 

You’ve probably noticed that the long-awaited broadcast is happening a little differently this year. 

Well have no fear! I’ve put together a step-by-step list for everything you need to do to prepare for the theater industry’s biggest night. 

The main awards ceremony airs Sunday, September 26th at 7pm EDT on Paramount+. To watch, follow these steps:

  1. If you don’t already have a Paramount+ account, sign up for a FREE 7-day trial here.
  2. If you don’t want to keep your account after the ceremony, no problem! Set yourself a reminder to cancel your account before the 7-day trial is up (If you create an account on Tonys day, ask Siri, Alexa, ‘Hey Google’ to remind you to cancel on October 1st. 
  3. When posting on social media, be sure to use these hashtags: #ThisIsBroadway, #Broadway, #BroadwayIsBack, or #BroadwaysBack. 
  4. Tune into the livestream, see if your predictions were right, and enjoy!

Following the awards, a celebration of live theater’s return will air on CBS at 9pm EDT. Follow these steps to watch Broadway’s Back!:

  1. Those with access to live cable can tune into Broadway’s Back! At your local CBS station. Check your local listings here.
  2. Don’t have cable? Well you’re in luck. Several streaming services like Hulu and YouTube have LiveTV packages, all of which offer free 7-day trials when you sign up.
  3. And let me know who your favorite performances are – if you’re not too busy singing and dancing along!

I can’t wait to see so many shows be honored after such a trying year and a half. But if I know anything, it’s that TheaterMakers can make it through anything. And I can’t wait to root alongside all of you this weekend. 

Happy Tonys Weekend!

September 24, 2021: What TheaterMakers Are Talking About This Week

Here’s what TheaterMakers were talking about this week . . .

 

1 – Hamilton at the Emmys

The era of multi-medium theater is alive and well! With specials like Hamilton on Disney+, Diana on Netflix, and countless others, the time for continued TV and Theater collaboration is now. What theater-movie crossover do you think is next?

Read more: www.deadline.com 

And watch Renee Elise Goldsberry’s beautiful acceptance speech from the Emmys here.

 

2 – NYC Tourism

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the return of tourists will be a driving force to revitalize NYC (and Broadway!). 

Read more: www.nytimes.com 

 

3 – Andrew Llloyd Webber’s Theater Art

It’s one of the basic rules of theater – collaboration is key. So it’s no wonder Andrew Lloyd Webber sought out a partner to help decorate his West End theater. Check out Maria Kreyn‘s art, and the stories behind it, below. 

Read more: www.barrons.com  

 

4 – Inclusive Theater

“There is room for everybody, and we all benefit from working together and appreciating our differences.” And it’s the work that needs to continue. Learn more below about how that work is being done on Broadway and beyond. 

Read more: www.forbes.com  

 

5 – Being Back at a Broadway Show

If you’re anything like me, you are doing everything you can to get yourself back into a theater, whether that’s as a theatermaker or an audience member. Have you been back at a live show yet? What has that been like for you? 

Read more: www.vanityfair.com 

 

Fun on a Friday: 

In honor of the 2020 Tony Awards airing this weekend (finally!), take a look at the latest performance from the cast of The Tina Turner Musical

 

Watch the video here:

 

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Want to be part of an online community of theatermakers? Join 1.8k+ producers, writers, actors, directors, and more here. Best part? It’s completely free.

Join the Free TheaterMakers Facebook Group Today.

I get asked a lot of questions. But there’s one question I get asked All. Of. The. Time.

“What does a Producer actually do?

And although I do a lot of different things, I’ve narrowed it down to one simple answer.

I get people in a room. No matter what that room looks like.

And for me, there is nothing more exciting than putting passionate people in a room to see what happens next. Because something awesome always does.

That’s why I started a FREE Facebook group for TheaterMakers.

Writers, directors, actors, designers, and more . . . if you want to make theater, on Broadway, Off Broadway, in your hometown or at your high school, this Facebook group is for you.

You can meet future collaborators, get best practices on marketing your shows, and lots more.

And over 1,700 TheaterMakers have already joined!

And boy oh boy are they a lively bunch. Here’s what’s happening in there RIGHT NOW. . .

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If you’re a TheaterMaker or TheaterFan, join. Meet future collaborators. Get advice from peers on how to create a demo for cheap. Find out the best practices for streaming readings.

But join . . . and watch how it helps you do whatever you want to do in the theater.

I’ll see you in the group.

September 17, 2021: What TheaterMakers Are Talking About This Week

Here’s what TheaterMakers were talking about this week . . .

 

1 – Broadway’s Biggest Reopening Yet

A major welcome home is due for the companies of Wicked, Hamilton, The Lion King, Chicago, and Lackawanna Blues as they reopen for the first time since March 2020. Make sure you get yourselves to these shows and continue to support live theater! 

Read more: www.playbill.com 

2 – Drama League Songwriting Contest

Calling all songwriters! Here’s your chance to be a part of history with The Drama League. Find out all contest rules, regulations, and prizes below. Not a songwriter? Share this blog with a theatermaker in your life who is!

Read more: www.playbill.com 

3 – Experimenting with Is This A Room, Dana H, and PassOver

Us theatermakers know that Broadway has always been the place for creative experimentation. And that’s not stopping any time soon! Get inspired by how Pass Over, Is This a Room, and Dana H are continuing to move that experimentation forward this season.

Read more: www.nytimes.com  

4 – Digital Theater 

There’s no denying that digital theater had a major jump start during the pandemic. From TikTok, Clubhouse, Zoom, there is an avenue for almost any production you can imagine. And its legacy is just beginning. Have you created digital theater before? 

Read more: www.insider.com  

5 – Non-profit Vax Req Database

Not in NYC but want to keep up with COVID-regulations in the arts? Stay up to date with the policies across all arts organizations below so you can plan your trips to the theater accordingly. 

Read more: www.artshacker.com 

Fun on a Friday: 

Watch Lin-Manuel Miranda give the curtain speech at the first Broadway performance of Hamilton in over a year and a half (and grab some tissues while you’re at it!). 

Watch the video here:

 

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Want to be part of an online community of theatermakers? Join 1.8k+ producers, writers, actors, directors, and more here. Best part? It’s completely free.

Why We Keep Watching SVU (And What We Can Learn From It)

If you’re like me, then you have access to over 1,000 channels of television, streaming and more.

And yet, somehow, you always wind up back on Law & Order: SVU  (Insert “dum, dum” sound effect here).

Why is that?  What does Benson (and sometimes Stabler) have that keeps us coming back?  

Here are three reasons why SVU has had a spell on us for over 22 (!) years and how you can apply their tricks to your shows:

  1. The stakes can’t get any higher.

For a drama to be successful, it needs to be, well, dramatic.  That means the stakes need to be high for the hero.  

Well, Law & Order, like all police dramas, is life or death.  Literally.  (So are medical dramas – which is why they also make popular TV shows.)  The highest of high stakes is in the DNA of every single episode.  You know you’re signing up for a heart-rate-racing story when you turn on the channel.

Your show may not be a police drama . . . but whatever the conflict is, it needs to FEEL like life or death for your protagonist, even when it’s not.

  1. The objective is clear.  And the outcome clearer.

“What does your hero want,” is a common note I’ve given to others AND to myself when reviewing scripts.  Well, in SVU, there’s a crime at the top of every episode.  So what does our hero(s) want?  To catch the criminal.  That’s it.  You know what the want is before the show even starts!  

And if that wasn’t enough, at the end of the show, a judge declares the criminal guilty or innocent.  End of story and end of episode.  The audience has the cathartic resolution that it craves in all dramas in one those words or the other.

It’s the clearest arc there is.  There’s no question if the hero got what they wanted.  Or not.  And that clarity satisfies the audience in a way that many shows don’t.

In your plays and musicals, make sure your resolution is as clear as a judge’s verdict.  Your ending doesn’t have to be a happy one, but it has to be clear.

  1. Each episode exists on its own. 

SVU is episodic.  There’s a new plot every week.  It’s like, well, a new play, every single week.  Sure, same main characters.  Same want.  Same resolution.  

But new story.  

It’s both familiar, but brand new.  Every time you tune in.  You don’t need to have watched for 22 years to enjoy the next episode.

Does that mean your play or musical needs to have 22 previous versions to work?  No, of course not.  But the takeaway here is if you do NOT have 22 years of history, then you need to make sure your story hooks your audience deep and FAST.  Otherwise, they’ll wriggle off the hook.  

And if all that wasn’t enough . . .

Here’s a FOURTH reason why SVU captures our attention like Benson captures criminials.

  1. Ripped from the you-know-where.

SVU has a “true crime” feel by using real life stories as its source material.  That’s right, just like so many Broadway shows, SVU is an adaptation.  And not only does SVU benefit from having a factual story as a foundation to build open, the “real life” spookiness of the plot, makes an audience lean in just a little closer and say, “This actually happened!”

When creating plays or musicals, look to see what YOU can adapt – whether’s that’s a movie or newspaper article . . . or even an event from your own life.

So, if you want to create a SVU like “show” just following these simple steps:

  • Make it life or death, even if it’s not life or death.
  • Make the hero’s want clear and whether they get they want or not even clearer.
  • Hook your audience in the first few pages, and don’t let go.
  • Find something to adapt . . . and the more real you can make it feel (even if it’s not real at all), the better.

What are your reasons for watching SVU?  Or your favorite TV show?  Talk about it now in our Facebook group for TheaterMakers.

“Places, Please.”

At the TheaterMakersSummit last year, with over 1,000 people present, we made a prediction.

We made a prediction by choosing the theme of THIS YEAR’s summit a year in advance.

With no vaccines available then, we still believed that the theater would be back this fall.  

So we chose, as our theme . . . “Places, please!”

Fun, right?

And we were wrong. 

Because as of RIGHT NOW, there have already been FOUR Broadway shows running, many National Tours and International Productions, and countless regional and community theater productions.

We may not be back at 100%, but the theater is back.

We’re not going to change our theme.  Because we still believe there is a lot to do to prepare for the return of the theater on Broadway and all over the world.  And a lot to do to make sure that our return produces more theater and better theater . . . for all our audiences and our TheaterMakers as well.

And this year’s Summit looks to be our biggest and best yet.  It should be . . . after all it’s our 5-Year Anniversary!

We’ve got a ton of terrific speakers lined up already including:

  • Douglas Lyons
  • Andrew Lippa
  • Steve H. Broadnax III
  • Brian Moreland
  • Alie B. Gorrie
  • Jacob Stuckelman
  • Sammi Cannold
  • David Korins
  • Georgia Stitt
  • Rashad V. Chambers
  • JJ Maley
  • Dori Berinstein
  • Pun Bandhu
  • Cody Renard Richard
  • Sierra Boggess
  • Dede Ayite
  • Tom Kirdahy
  • Ron Simons

And BY REQUEST panels with

  • Broadway’s Lead Producers
  • Playwrights who are writing for television and other mediums
  • the next generation of Broadway Producers
  • 4 niches that have found their audiences
  • “How It Got To Broadway” case studies
  • Broadway Investors

Oh, and get this new feature we just added . . . “A PITCHING BOOTH!”  Yep, based on the ol’ carney concept of a “Kissing Booth”, we’re giving you a chance for you to line up and quickly pitch your show (or your resume) to Producers, Agents, Investors and more.  Hopefully, you’ll get some love in return. 

(And plan on some IN-PERSON mixers too.)

The Summit is on November 6th and 7th, with a bonus day on the 8th complete with sessions and intensives for those looking for an extra dose of inspiration and education. You can get your ticket now here.  And make sure you do before October 1, because the prices go up the closer we get to the date.

The Summit is my favorite event of the year.  I love theater people . . . and besides an opening night, there is just no other opportunity to get so many people who love the theater and love making theater in one place.

I hope you join us.
To see the full list of speakers, click here.

Podcast Episode #250: An Important Announcement

ESTIMATED LISTENING TIME OF THIS EPISODE: 4 Minutes

LISTEN WHEREVER YOU LISTEN TO PODCASTS:

 

ABOUT THIS EPISODE:

After 6.5 years of podcastin’ with our industry’s greatest theatermakers, I’m putting down the microphone . . . for now.

Stay subscribed because there’s always something up my sleeve! And if you’re ever looking for encouragement or inspiration to keep goin’, I highly recommend any of these 250 episodes. 

My mission is to get more people talking about the theater.  The more people talking about it, the more people who want to make it, perform it, support it, etc.  And that’s how theater not only survives, but thrives.

I thank you and the theater thanks you!

AFTER YOU LISTEN:

  • FOLLOW The Producer’s Perspective on Apple Podcast (it’s FREE!)
  • REVIEW the Podcast on Apple Podcast (it’s the biggest compliment you can give)
  • SHARE this episode with your friends!

JOIN the TheaterMakers Facebook Group

Farewell To The Leader and Legend, Liz McCann (1931-2021)

What we forget about the theater, and especially Broadway, is that it’s not that old of an industry.

And the people who built it are still among us.

Sadly, we lost one of the pioneering leaders that made the theater a better place for audiences, artists, and for other people just like her.

Liz McCann, winner of 9 Tony Awards, and one of the first female Producers on the boards, passed away yesterday.

She was a producing giant. Starting her career as a production assistant and working her way into rooms where people told her she didn’t below. And then proving to them and to the world, that not only did she below, but she deserved to rule the room.

Her IBDB page reads like a menu at a diner . . . it goes on and on. From The Dresser to Indecent to A View From The Bridge and her many plays with Albee . . . she forever changed the theater with who and what she supported.

I never worked with her directly. And we weren’t close by any means. But that didn’t stop her from sending me an encouraging email now and then. Especially when things weren’t going well.

When we announced the premature closure of Gettin’ The Band Back Together, I got this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was as if she was saying, “Hey – you did good. It happens to all of us. Some shows will work.  Some shows won’t. It has happened to me 100 times. Keep going.”

And I remember exactly where I was when I got that email. And it was like a steroid shot to my day . . . and was one of the many ways Liz and her incredible career has inspired me to, well, keep going.

I can only hope that one day I have 10% of the impact that Liz did on the theater.

Rest in Peace, dear Liz.

But something tells me you’re not resting at all . . . something tells me you’re ruling that room up there as well.

As you should.
To read more about Liz’s career, read her NY Times obituary here.

September 10, 2021: What TheaterMakers Are Talking About This Week

Here’s what TheaterMakers were talking about this week . . .

1 – Broadway Returns

An incredible insight to how the theater came back and the energy that is to come as we move forward. Which show is first on your list? 

Read more: www.vogue.com 

2 – Broadway Advocacy Coalition

Our friends at Broadway Advocacy Coalition have been doing incredible work for the Broadway community for over 5 years now. Find out how they continue to make change – and how you can too.

Read more: www.playbill.com 

3 – Waitress House Record

It really only takes a taste! In case you were worried if people would come back to Broadway . . . or if you were worried that a vaccine mandate would stunt sales . . . take a look at this.

Read more: www.deadline.com  

4 – Tonys Preview

The countdown is on! In just a few weeks we will (finally) be celebrating the 2020 Tony Awards. Need a refresher on who’s on the ballot? Take a look below and then let me know what your predictions are.

Read more: www.broadwaydirect.com  

5 – Lin-Manuel Miranda + Bernadette Peters

It’s not everyday we get to hear the greats talking to each other about what they do best. Take a look at what Lin-Manuel Miranda and Bernadette Peters have to say about their careers and legacies below.

Read more: www.interviewmagazine.com 

Fun on a Friday: 

Check out the first trailer for Diana, filmed live on stage for Netflix.

Watch the video here:

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Want to be part of an online community of theatermakers? Join 1.8k+ producers, writers, actors, directors, and more here. Best part? It’s completely free.

Take The “Places, Please” Challenge to Jump Start Your TheaterMaking.

One of the most fun and most productive events we had this year was our “Take Charge of Your ’21” Challenge in January. Over 500 TheaterMakers joined us to hear tips and strategies on how to have your best year yet from super successful people in the business.

We learned how to crush writer’s block, how to squeeze a few more hours into each day for your REAL work (not that day job work), how to increase your confidence . . . and more.

We got such great feedback on this free event that we decided to do it again! But better.  🙂

I’m proud to announce our free “Places, Please” Challenge to kick your theatermaking in high gear, will begin on September 20th!

Why now?

Two reasons.

First, I don’t know about you, but even though I’ve been out of school for (mumble, mumble) years, I STILL think the start of the school year is the start of a NEW YEAR for me.

So what better time than RIGHT NOW to re-evaluate where we are, and develop a plan on how to accomplish all that we want to accomplish as we sprint toward the end of the year.

Second, this is a PIVOTAL time for the theater and for theater-making. First, we’re finally opening up again. So not only do we need to be ready to get out of the zoom rooms and into a rehearsal room again, but I believe that a renaissance is around the corner. And that means opportunities. Opportunities for more new voices in the theater than ever before. 

And you want to be ready, right? I mean . . . we just went through a crapper of a year. Well, the sun is coming out tomorrow, so let’s take advantage of it.

That’s why I assembled some of the smartest and most motivational and inspirational theatermakers I know to give you strategies on how to be ready for the renaissance.

And they are all coming to you for free as part of the “Places, Please” challenge!

Here’s who is on the docket so far:

  • T. Oliver Reid (Hadestown, Once On This Island) on How To Prevent Burnout 
  • Ryan Scott Oliver (2009 Jonathan Larson Grant Recipient) on Writing On Time: Scheduling Creative Writing and Not Missing a Beat
  • Tony Howell (Tony Howell & Co) on Reconnecting With Your Purpose
  • Stephanie Klemons (Hamilton, In The Heights) on How To Set Yourself Free: Getting in Touch With Your Authentic Movement
  • Alicia Albright (Disney’s Frozen on Broadway) on Mindfulness
  • Joe Rosko (founder of Built For The Stage)- Building Yourself On and Off Stage: How Physical Training Enhances Our Work as TheaterMakers
  • Rodrick Covington (Once On This Island) on How To Fuel Creativity and Health in Mind & Body
  • And ME! I’ll be talking about how to get the attention of Producers who are looking for . . . well, you!

The challenge starts on September 20th, and will be LIVESTREAMED from 12 – 1 pm EDT. (With a replay later that night.)

It’s free, BUT you do have to register in advance so click here right now to sign up now.

And yes, just like last time, we’re going to have prizes each and every day . . . including . . .

  • Final Draft License 12
  • The Ultimate TheaterMakin’ Book Collection including books from our favorite TheaterMakers like Mandy Gonzalez, Ali Stroker, Leslie Odom, Kenny Leon, James Lapine and more!
  • Memberships to TheaterMakersStudio
  • A script review by our Pro Dramaturg, Eric Webb
  • Tickets to shows.
  • Finale Music Notation

And . . .

  • AN IPAD!

Seriously.  An iPad.  Because we all need one of these suckers.

This is an exciting time to do what we all do. And we’re going to celebrate that with this challenge, AND most importantly, make sure we’re ready for the even more exciting times ahead.

So if you’re committed to getting ready for the theatrical renaissance, then sign up now.

Because this IS your Places call!

Take the free Places, Please challenge by signing up here.  

(Space is limited – if you’re not sure you can make each and every day of the challenge, sign up now anyway . . . replays will be available.)

Oh, and here’s what some people said about our LAST challenge and how it helped them:

  • “I’ve implemented a few of the tips into my daily life over the last few weeks and they’ve been so helpful.” – Lauren Avila
  • “This challenge sparked some more drive in me to go for it!” – Nicolette Blount
  • One of the successful people I contacted, the one I was most afraid to contact, got back to me and we had an extraordinary phone conversation this morning. And one of the directors I’d like to work with and who I contacted for the “Do something fearless” challenge responded to my email, and wants to read my script.” – Douglas DeVita

Sign up today.

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