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

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DAY 4 RECAP of The TheaterMakers Challenge: Susan Blackwell, Laura Camien & Rodrick Covington, an ANNOUNCEMENT! and more!

This challenge is like a freight train!

We just wrapped up Day #4 and got incredible tips on not only how to increase the amount of theater you make (even in a pandemic) but also how to make that theater better.

Here’s a quick recap:

  • Creativity Sparkers Susan Blackwell and Laura Camien from The Spark File (not to mention Title of Show) detailed a step by step process to find the perfect collaborator.
  • Body/Mind/Wellness Guru Rodrick Covington taught us his L.E.T. system that will fuel your creativity and get you healthier in mind AND body than you have ever been before.  This is a guy that does more in 2 hours than most people do in a day.   He taught us how he does it.
  • And me?  I talked about how I plan for the next 90 days, using a specific process and worksheet that I shared in the Facebook group.

And we gave away a free 30-minute video editing session!!!  Congrats to Kelia Olea.

 

If you missed any of the first four days of The Challenge, you can still sign up here and watch the replays in the Facebook group, which are available right now.

And we still have not one but TWO days left!

Tomorrow, come learn marketing and branding secrets from Branding-Guru-To-The-Broadway-Stars Tony Howell, and get inspired from Broadway actor/writer/activist/entrepreneur Amber Iman.

See you tomorrow at 12pm EST!

Take the challenge now

– – – – – – – –

This challenge was sponsored by TheTheaterMakersStudio, the Masterclass community of TheaterMakers who want to see their shows on stage.  In celebration of The Challenge and The New Year, The TheaterMakersStudio is offering you a FREE 30-day trial membership.  But this offer ends on 1/24/21, in just 3 days.  After that, there will be no free trial option.  If you have ever thought about joining TMS or just want a sneak peek behind the curtain, this is your last chance to get it for free.  And in 30 days, if you find it’s not for you or you don’t have the time, just cancel.  No worries.

So ask yourself . . . what’s the worse that happens . . . TMS doesn’t help.  You’ve lost nothing.

Now, to quote Mandy Gonzalez . . . “What if” it does help?

Try it for free here.

Free option ends on 1/24/21.

DAY 3 RECAP of The TheaterMakers Challenge: Vivek Tiwary, Ryan Scott Oliver and more!

We interrupted our challenge for a couple of hours today to watch a new President take the oath.

And well, let’s just say everyone was in a preeeeeetty good mood when we kicked off Day #3.

And, just like President Biden, we were ready to get to work.

We got great tips on how to do just that including . . .

  • The Broadway Producer of Jagged Little Pill and NY Times Best-Selling Author Vivek Tiwary talked about his weekly “Vision Strategy” session and how it can help you create a filter in your work . . . helping you do more of what you want to do and do LESS of what you don’t want to do.
  • Composer/Lyricist Ryan Scott Oliver gave us all his “Writer’s Block Vaccine,” with seven super easy steps to make sure you NEVER HAVE WRITER’S BLOCK.  And you are going to love the first step!   (When I followed his process, The Karate Kid was involved.)
  • And me?  I talked about my struggles with focusing on the BIG stuff.  That’s why I try try try to use a strategy called “The Big Three,” which I explained (and vowed to everyone to follow it myself!)

And congratulations to Nicole Truillo, the winner of a free headshot session with photographer Jeremy Daniel!

If you missed DAY 3, 2 or DAY 1 of The Challenge, you can still sign up here and watch the replays in the Facebook group, which are available right now.

And we still have TWO days left!

Tomorrow come get inspired by Susan Blackwell and Laura Camien of The Spark File and learn how to get that mind and body in shape with Core Fitness Founder, Rodrick Covington.

See you tomorrow (back at our normal time of 12pm EST).

Take the challenge now

– – – – – – – –

This challenge was sponsored by TheTheaterMakersStudio, the Masterclass community of TheaterMakers who want to see their shows on stage.  In celebration of The Challenge and The New Year, The TheaterMakersStudio is offering you a FREE 30-day trial membership.  But this offer ends on 1/24/21, in just 4 days.  After that, there will be no free trial option.  If you have ever thought about joining TMS or just want a sneak peek behind the curtain, this is your last chance to get it for free.  And in 30 days, if you find it’s not for you or you don’t have the time, just cancel.  No worries.

So ask yourself . . . what’s the worse that happens . . . TMS doesn’t help.  You’ve lost nothing.

Now, to quote Mandy Gonzalez . . . “What if” it does help?

Try it for free here.

Free option ends on 1/24/20.

DAY 2 RECAP of The TheaterMakers Challenge: Telly Leung, James Snyder and more!

Woohoo!

Day #2!  Done!

And I remembered to unmute myself at the top! Little wins!  🙂

I didn’t think we could top the first day’s energy . . . but we did.  The group of theatermakers in this challenge are like a snowball rolling down a hill . . . gathering speed and momentum with each tip from our A-listers.  And what tips we had.

  • Telly Leung talked about asking for help, and gave a worksheet he designed to the group to get people moving with their project.  It’s available for free in the private Facebook group.
  • James Snyder talked about his “digital sunset” and the importance of “Bare Minimums” to make sure you end each day feeling like you won the day.
  • And me, well, I talked about why NEVER getting to “To Do” Zero is how you accomplish bigger things, and I shared my tool on how to fill up your To Do Tank every week in 2 minutes (And I did it live!).

And congratulations to our first prize winner, Renee Grayson, who won a copy of Final Draft!  And Lorene Phillips Mudaliar, who won six months of TheaterMakersStudio!

If you missed DAY 2 or DAY 1 of The Challenge, you can still sign up here and watch the replay in the Facebook group, which is available right now.

And tomorrow is Day #3!  Broadway Producer Vivek Tiwary and Composer Ryan Scott Oliver will join us to share their tips for success.  And one of our participants will win a free headshot session with Jeremy Daniel.

BUT . . . . BIG PROGRAMMING CHANGE . . .

Tomorrow’s Challenge will start at 2 pm EST to make room for the inauguration!

So enjoy the BIG show in DC and then join us at 2 pm Eastern Time for Day #3!

Take the challenge now.

Last chance to join 1,500 other TheaterMakers in our challenge.

Facts:

  • It starts in 24 hours.
  • 5 days.
  • 10+ Broadway A-listers including Mandy Gonzalez, Justin Guarini, Telly Leung, James Snyder, Vivek J. Tiwary, Ryan Scott Oliver, Rodrick Covington, Susan Blackwell, Laura Camien, Amber Iman, Tony Howell, Kate Rockwell, and more.
  • 20+ actual strategies you can start using today that will help you have your best year of theatermaking yet, no matter if you’re a Writer, Producer, Director, Actor, etc.
  • There are 1,500 people signed up as I type this.
  • 1 hour per day from noon – 1 PM Eastern Standard Time.  (With on-demand replays available in case you can’t participate live.)
  • We’re giving away tons of prizes including an iPad.
  • It’s free.
  • You can sign up here.
  • Did I say it starts in less than 24 hours?

Oh, one more thing . . .

  • While there are going to be 20+ strategies discussed, it only takes one . . . one idea, thought, action item . . . that breaks you through in this biz.  The right play, role, investor . . . and bam. So there’s no reason to not sign up . . . unless you don’t want it as bad as you say you do.

See you there.  Noon tomorrow.

Sign up here.

(If you have ALREADY signed up, make sure you join our private FACEBOOK GROUP – where the event will be streamed.  Check your email for instructions.  Because the Facebook Group is where it’s all going to happen!)

Phil Smith (1931-2020): The Chairman of The Shubert Org . . . and perhaps all of Broadway.

I didn’t know exactly who he was when I first met him.

But I could tell he was a titan.

It was early in my career.  I wasn’t even a Company Manager yet.  I was still an Assistant.  And I was in a Broadway box office signing the nightly performance statement for some show, when in he came.  He looked me over, smiled and said something like “Looks like this show is in good hands.”

It was all a wanna-be-theatermaker and wanna-be-mover-and-shaker needed to hear from Phillip J. Smith, the Chairman Emeritus of The Shubert Organization, who passed away yesterday, due to complications from Covid-19.  (Yeah, that nasty bug just took another one of our best.)

And here’s the thing . . . those kind of random, steroid shot affirmations didn’t stop coming from Phil over the last twenty years.

While I’d see him at opening night parties, or when I was asking/begging for a Broadway theater, it was the unplanned meetings that I’ll always remember.

And often they were what kept me going.

Like the time he got the invitation we sent to all the Tony Award Voters for Alan Cumming’s Macbeth.  Rather than sent the standard invite, we did a little something-something to the invite – made it on burnt parchment paper, dripped “blood” on it, sealed it with wax . . . you know, made it spooooky.

Two days after they went in the mail, my assistant said, “Ken, Phil Smith is on the phone!”

Honestly, my first thought was, “Oh crap, what did I do?”  🙂

I picked up the phone and heard, “Ken!  You are a Producer!”

He got the invite.  And I think he liked it.

He applauded my crowdfunding of Godspell, when others looked down on it, even telling me stories of Broadway Producers from back in the day that did something similar.

And one day, when I was in that ornate office of his, and I told him my dream was to be one of those Producers who had five shows with my name on them running at once, he bellowed, “YOU WILL BE!”

I don’t know that anyone has ever been that supportive of me in this business.  And he was the Chairman of the Mother-Effin’ Shubert Organization.

And it’s not like we were besties or anything.  And I’m sure he did this for many of us that he saw come up through the ranks from Assistant Company Manager.  Especially since he started from the bottom and worked his way to the most powerful chair on Broadway.

I’ll miss seeing him at opening nights.  I’ll miss asking him for the keys to one of his Broadway theaters for one of my shows.  Shoot, I’ll even miss him saying, “Sorry, Ken, no theaters available.”

Farewell, Mr. Smith.  And thank you.  Those doses of your support are part of the reason I’m still plugging away at that dream of mine.

And I promise, I not only won’t stop, but I’ll do what you did for me to the next generation of Assistant Company Managers.

What the adoption of the vaccine means for Broadway’s return.

I’m a pretty positive guy.

But I’ve had more down days in the past 365 than my entire life.

Can you blame me? I’ve got three big loves in this world:

#1 – My wife.
#2 – My daughter.

(They’re a tie for #1 & #2, btw. Just listed in the order I met them.)

And #3?

The theater.

And we all know what happened to #3. (#1 and #2 are what kept me through what happened to #3.)

So I’ve had some tough days. And I know you have too.

One of the hardest moments I had was when this survey hit my inbox. It indicated that only 25% of our audience was willing to come back to theater anytime soon.

I didn’t believe them. But I’m also a data guy, so I couldn’t dismiss them either.

So I got kinda down.

And then something popped in my inbox last week that turned my frown right around.

It was a survey about the vaccine.

What in the name of Covid does the vaccine have to do with it?

You can read the NY Times article here, but the crux of it is as follows:

When the race to create a vaccine against Covid began, half the people out there said they didn’t want it.

But now that it exists? Well, read for yourself:

“In polls by Gallup, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Pew Research Center, the portion of people saying they are now likely or certain to take the vaccine has grown from about 50 percent this summer to more than 60 percent, and in one poll 73 percent — a figure that approaches what some public health experts say would be sufficient for herd immunity.” (NYT)

What happened?

The idea of it is no longer ambiguous. It’s real. Tangible. Happening.

And the moment something is real and people can wrap their hands around it . . . they can also wrap their heads around it.

And we’re going to see the same trend in surveys of theatergoers.

Once a theater gets the green light?  Once a Broadway show sets a firm date?  Once the curtain goes up?!?! WATCH what happens to their interest.

It’s going to skyrocket.  Because that word of mouth is going to spread faster than any virus could. (Can you imagine what the ovation is going to be like on that first night back?!?!?)

Most consumers don’t think ahead anymore. It’s why advance sales for theater tickets or vacations don’t exist like they used to.

And this is where surveys and data let us down. (Can you believe it?)

You can’t ask people what they’ll do “if/when” . . . you can only ask them what they will do now.

Now, they won’t buy a theater ticket . . . because they can’t.

But when they can? When they have that vaccine themselves? When there are safety precautions on top of those vaccines?

Well, that day . . . if Evan Hansen were writing a letter to himself on that day, he’d say, “Today is going to be an amazing day.”

See you there.

– – – – –

The theater is coming back. You ready???  Join over 1,000 other TheaterMakers in our free Take Charge of your ’21 TheaterMakers challenge! It starts Monday!  Get ready for the renaissance.

The Top 10 FAQ About Our Theatermakers Challenge (that starts next week!)

Ok, sooooo, you like this challenge idea, don’t you?

How do I know you like it?

Well, we announced it a week ago, and we already have enough people signed up to fill a Broadway theater!  Truly!  (Haven’t signed up yet? Click here.)

Already our private Facebook group is poppin’ with TheaterMakers like you. And they’re all ready to charge ahead and take charge.

To those of you who already signed up; your passion for making this your best year of theatermaking yet is so inspiring to me.  So, we’re doubling down on the challenge. We’re adding more content, more strategies, and some surprises along the way.

Oh and prizes. Lots of prizes.

We will be giving away something theatermaking-related every single day of the challenge.

Like . . .

  1. Final Draft 11 Scriptwriting software! ($249 value)
  2. Headshot package with Photographer Jeremy Daniel ($450 value)
  3. Promotional Blast from The Streaming Stage Company to Promote Your Work to over 50k people ($995 value)
  4. Get your video edited together professionally with Video Editor Katie Goffman ($599 value)

And even . . .

The Work From Home package of your dreams including:

Video Conference Selfie Ring Light ($24.99 value)
Blue Yeti Nano Professional Condenser USB Microphone for Recording/Streaming on PC/Mac ($99 value)

and, drumroll please . . .

A BRAND NEW iPad Pro ($999 value)!!!

Oh, and you’ll also get the most valuable thing of all . . .advice that can help you achieve the things you want to achieve in the theater . . . you know the things you see when you close your eyes and dream.

That advice will be delivered by a team of “Broadway Avengers” – 10+ super successful TheaterMakers who will be your mentors through the challenge (and maybe even beyond?).

So get ready.

If you haven’t signed up . . . click here.

Now, since we announced the challenge, some questions have come up and I wanted to make sure I answered them . . . so here they go!

 

1. How much is The Challenge?

The challenge is free. It’s sponsored by The TheaterMakers Studio, the masterclass-like community of TheaterMakers I founded five years ago. You do NOT have to be a member of TheaterMakers Studio to join. TMS uses events like the challenge to let TheaterMakers know how it helps TheaterMakers.

 

2. What time is The Challenge?

The Challenge will take place from 1/18 – 1/22 from 12-1pm ET/ 11am-12pm CT/ 10-11am MT/ 9am-10am PT.

That’s 5-6 pm in London, 2-3 am in Japan, 4-5 am in Australia, for our international TheaterMakers.

 

3. What if I can’t make those times?

We WILL have replays of the video for those of you who can’t tune in during those times. While we strongly suggest you show up LIVE (so you can participate in the comments, ask questions, etc) we realize this is impossible to mandate. So, we will have replays! (But we suggest you add the challenge to your daily calendar NOW to reserve the time.)

 

4. Where does it take place?

It’s all online . . . and on Facebook.

You’ll be invited to join a private Facebook group of TheaterMakers like you. There you’ll get access to the private livestreams with me and the speakers . . . and you’ll also be able to talk with your fellow Challengers. This is where some of our biggest success stories come from! We’ve had bookwriters meet composers, directors meet writers and producers meet playwrights.

Don’t have a Facebook page?  Get one! There, you’re already going to have a more successful 2021.

 

5. Who are the speakers again?

You’ll get advice from Susan Blackwell, Laura Camien, Rodrick Covington, Mandy Gonzalez, Justin Guarini, Tony Howell, Amber Iman, Telly Leung, Ryan Scott Oliver, James Snyder, Vivek Tiwary, as well as a few surprise guests as well.

 

6. Who is it for?

It’s for anyone who wants to make theater or wants to make more theater. Whether you are just starting out or you’re a veteran TheaterMaker, this challenge will jump start your 2021 so you’ll be doing more of what you want to do. It’s for Writers, Producers, Directors, Actors . . . and yes, even Fans.  So sign up.  If you don’t like it, you can get your money back. Oh, wait.

 

7. What does the “challenge” part mean?

Great question.

So, this isn’t my livestream. This isn’t the Summit . This is a challenge.

That means you WILL have homework! You will have assignments. Of course, you can choose NOT to do them. No one is getting graded (hmmmm, there’s an idea for next time!).
But if you don’t do them, you won’t go as far this year as you will if you DO do them. Period.
So get ready to work.
8. How do we take charge of our TheaterMaking during Covid?
Some of the people on our speaker list had one of their most successful years ever in 2020. Is it harder to do? Sure. But that’s why learning strategies from those who have been successful are more important.
Oh, and Dr. Fauci expects theater to be up and running by the fall.  So this is the time when you get ahead.
9. Are you running The Challenge again soon?
No. Talk to us in 2022.
10. Will I feel out of my league if I haven’t started my theater career yet? It’s still just a dream?
Everyone starts somewhere. It’s just important to start. And this Challenge is a great way to do just that.
11. Where do I sign up?
See you at The Challenge in . . . 6 days!

Your Favorite Daddy-Daughter Duo Is Back!

I think it’s safe to say that what the world needs now . . .more than ever . . . is love, sweet love.

That’s the mission of YouTube singing sensations Mat & Savanna Shaw, who found an audience of millions during this pandemic, with their joyous and simple videos.  That’s right, who needs special effects and high tech, when you have a duo like this, with a message like this.
And that’s why I produced their world premiere concert a few weeks ago.
It was so successful (thousands tuned in) that we wanted to give those who missed it another chance.  That’s why, through Friday, January 15th, you can see their livestreamed concert OnDemand!.
Grab your ticket here, and don’t forget to share with friends and family.
And I dare you not to smile when these two sing.
Enjoy!

My review of Ratatouille Musical on Broadway (well e-Broadway, that is.)

Have you ever read a New York Times review of a musical and wonder, “Wait a second – I’m three paragraphs into this review and I still don’t even know if he liked it or not!”

Critics have a skill . . . it’s like a fisherman who doesn’t try to land the marlin on the first bite . . . they drag you in . . . all slllllloooooowwww liiiiiikkkkke. And get you to read all the way to the bottom.

SPOILER ALERT: This is not a New York Times review.

So let me get the rat out of the bag right now.

My review of Ratatouille musical?

I liked it.

You can stop reading now, if you like. And if you want a more in-depth analysis of it, you can read the actual New York Times review here.

But yeah, I liked it. I couldn’t help but get the e-chills hearing Daniel Mertzlufft’s orchestrated version of Emily Jacobsen’s “Ode To Remy” (aka The TikTok heard ’round the world) sung by Titus Burgess.

I loved Andrew Barth Feldman, Kevin Chamberlain (who got in on this early), and can Adam Lambert please come back to Broadway now?

And kudos to the writers, Michael Breslin and Patrick Foley, for how fast they delivered something of this quality (with a score that was mostly pre-existing!) In a way, they wrote a jukebox musical . . . and they wrote it faaaaaast.

So yeah, I liked the show.

But I effin’ LOVED that it happened.

Seriously, Ratatouille should get the Nobel Peace Prize for musicals.

At a time when the theater is torn apart . . . because we can’t be together . . . leave it to the NEXT generation, Gen Z, to teach us to create something no matter what the circumstances.

Great leadership often comes from the young . . . because they aren’t trying to lead . . . they are just doing what they love and it’s impossible not to follow them. It’s why I jumped into the TikTok fray  . . . I wanted to be in their group.

While I give so much love and props to this group of creators, the next generation of theatermakers, I so respect Disney Theatricals under the leadership of Tom Schumacher, for letting it happen.

20 years ago? This would not have happened. No way. Too many lawyers. Too much corporate fear.

Today? You must learn to give the people what they want. And Disney did that . . . while simultaneously protecting its brand (the musical was only available for viewing twice) . . . and helping to raise $1mm for The Actors Fund.

So yes, I liked the performances, the choreography, the costumes even . . .

But I loved what Ratatouille represents . . . the future.

And I predict that review will be a rave.

One of the (many) great tragedies of yesterday was this.

I don’t write about politics on this blog.

But what happened at The Capitol yesterday wasn’t politics.

It was a riot.  It was an insurrection.  It was a criminal act.

And yes, the fuse was lit by an ego-filled, selfish, “I-don’t-even-care-for-the-futures-of-the-people-who-follow me,” “leader.”

There were so many tragedies.

A woman died.  Lawyers who hid under desks will be haunted by that fear for a long time to come.  Leaders around there world were laughing at us.

And for me, there was another great loss over the course of this election battle that we will never, ever get back.

Time.

Several elected officials from one faction of one party, followed the drumbeat of a despot.  They pursued fraudulent claims (for their own personal gain) that were refuted over and over again, included by the highest court in the land.

To them, I say this . . .

Folks, this thing was over.  Done.  You literally had your day in court.  And you lost.

But no . . . you kept going.  When you knew what the outcome would be.  Yes, my non-friends, the definition of insanity is doing something over and over and expecting different results.  And this was insane . . . as evident from what you witnessed personally yesterday.

Now, when someone who is not a politician pursues something a bit bonkers in their own life, I don’t care so much.  It’s their life.

But you are congresspeople.  Your job is to help better the country.

And there was so much more you could have done with the countless hours you spent pursuing something that had been refuted 147 times, that you knew you would never win.

But you wasted everyone’s time anyway.  For what?

Imagine for a moment . . . how much good could have been done if instead of wasting your own time, money, and resources fighting baseless claims and therefore wasted the time, money, and resources of those who had to refute those claims, you had used that time, money and resources on something that actually could make the lives of the people of this country better???

  • What if all that time was spent working on better ideas for vaccine distribution?
  • What if all that time was spent on brainstorming solutions to the issues of systemic racism in this country?
  • What if all that time was spent at an effin’ soup kitchen?

As I said on Tuesday if there is one thing this pandemic has taught us is that life is short.  Life is so short.

And if we want better lives, we must make use of the time we have.

Every member of Congress has an obligation to use the resources they have to better their district . . . and therefore their state . . . and therefore their country . . . and therefore the world.  Those who waste time not only don’t help, they hurt devastate.

Oh, and at the same time, they can also incite violence.

They won’t go to jail.  But those who stormed the Capitol will.  Good job, folks.  Way to help your people.

Now, what can you do about it?

Two things . . .

  1.  Vote for those who take advantage of the short time we have to make the world a better place.  (Need an example of a Politician, Leader, Hero who wastes NO time?  Stacey Abrams.)
  2. Take advantage of the short time you have in this life to work on things that can have the biggest impact on your life.  Life. Is. Short.

There.  End of rant.

Ratatouille Musical review tomorrow.

– – – – –

Speaking of time, take our “Take Charge of your ‘2021’ Theatermakers challenge and learn how some of the most successful in our business and making this their best year yet . . . despite what happens in Washington!

 

 

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