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

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Broadway League and Actor’s Equity Set Touring COVID Precautions

Thrilled that the Broadway League and Actor’s Equity have come to an agreement to safely restart Broadway touring.  And yes, it includes . . . mandatory vaccinations.  

And with the announcement of NY lifting its restrictions this week, the light at the end of the tunnel seems to be getting brighter and brighter. 

In other words, life, as we knew it, is on its way back. But with a 2021 twist. 

In addition to the mandatory vaccinations for Equity members, North American touring production protocols include: 

  • No interaction between Equity company members and audience members
  • Daily cleaning of the performance space, venue and props. Cleaning of the dressing rooms, orchestra pit and other high traffic areas before first rehearsal and between each performance.
  • Physical distancing in the orchestra pit and around the stage door
  • No backstage visitors, autograph signings or cast meet-and-greets.
  • A unidirectional flow of traffic within a theater, whenever possible
  • No communal food or drink service for company members and designated food and drink areas within the venue
  • A mandated COVID-19 safety training for cast and crew members and penalties, starting with a $50 fine, if protocols are not followed.

But it’s not like we haven’t figured out we can’t adjust to something different, right?

And while the Broadway League and AEA have yet to announce their protocols for Broadway’s return this fall, we can see the direction they’re probably headed.

To bastardize a Sondheim title . . . we are almost OUT Of The Woods!

What do you think of the touring protocols?

Looking for your mentor?

When I started my podcast over five years and two hundred (!) interviews ago, I told all the A-listers I interviewed that I was doing it for my listeners.

But as you’ve all probably heard, it was as much for me as it was for my audience.

So I culled the BEST takeaways, action items, quotes and inspirational insights from 50 of those interviews and put them into a book entitled . . . Cast of Mentors

Inside the book, you’ll find a couple of pages per mentor, with key questions and answers about how to make better theater – that you can read in 5 minutes. Yep, I designed the book for you to read in bites.

Got five minutes before a Zoom meeting starts? Read tips on directing from Kenny Leon. Or songwriting from Bobby Lopez. Or producing from Daryl Roth. Or life from Ali Stroker. Or . . . on and on and on. Because there are 50 of ’em in this volume alone. (See the full list of mentors below).

And now . . .

Cast of Mentors: Short Sage Advice From 50 Broadway Superpowers E-book and Paperbacks are available NOW!

And, of course, the Hardcover is still available for those who have an empty space on your coffee table.

 

The Cast of Cast Of Mentors:

Rick Miramontez

Charlotte St. Martin

Nina Lannan

Terrence McNally

Jordan Roth

Tim Rice

Ben Brantley

Michael Arden

Casey Nicholaw

David Henry Hwang

Ted Chapin

Susan Stroman

Daryl Roth

Joe Mantello

Stephen Schwartz

Lynn Ahrens

Diane Paulus

Jeanine Tesori

Benj Pasek & Justin Paul

Robert Lopez

Leigh Silverman

Stephen Byrd

Bartlett Sher

Sue Frost & Randy Adams

Tara Rubin

Rick Elice

Lynne Meadow

David Stone

Kenny Leon

Stacey Mindich

Kathleen Marshall

Eva Price

Kwame Kwei-Armah

Pam MacKinnon

Sergio Trujillo

Lisa Kron

Rebecca Taichman

John Weidman

Joe Iconis

Michael Greif

Kirsten Childs

Dominique Morisseau

Ali Stroker

Mara Isaacs

Alan Cumming

Asmeret Ghebremichael

Jamil Jude

Mandy Gonzalez

Robyn Goodman

Paul Tazewell

 

Get the advice on how you can achieve your theatrical aspirations from all these mentors here.

Podcast Episode #237: New Destination Only For TheaterMakers

ESTIMATED LISTENING TIME OF THIS EPISODE:  12 Minutes

 

LISTEN WHEREVER YOU LISTEN TO PODCASTS:

 

ABOUT THIS EPISODE:

When I was in college at Tisch, I, like every other student at NYU, tried to get into nightclubs on the weekend.

And for some reason, the fancy door people, with their super chic outfits, always turned me away. In hindsight, it might have something to do with my khaki pants from The Gap, white shirt from The Gap and blue blazer . . . from JCPenney.

I did get into one. Once. One of the ladies from my acting class at Strasberg took pity on me, and escorted me past the velvet rope on her arm. (You know who you are, and I’m still thankful.)

When I got inside, well, things got worse. 

Listen to this week’s episode to find out what happened AND how a nightclub inspired me to create a new place for the cool theater people.

 

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

 

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.

 

The biggest compliment you can give me is by sharing this podcast.

 

I thank you and the theater thanks you!

Katori Hall wins Pulitzer Prize for The Hot Wing King

In case you missed the news last week, there was indeed a winner this year for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama!

(There have been several years where the award was not given – and in a year where there wasn’t a lot of theater as we usually know it – there was some worry that it’d get skipped again.)

But nope.  We have a winner!

Katori Hall’s play The Hot Wing King, “the story of two gay black men in Memphis, Tennessee navigating love, life, and family” picked up one of the most coveted awards in the world, the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in Drama.

The show opened at Signature Theater Company in February 2020 before being postponed, but was still granted eligibility for this year’s prize.

(Hall has had a busy couple of years – penning the book (and getting a Tony nomination) for Tina: The Tina Turner Musical.  And she was the Executive Producer and Showrunner for P-Valley on Starz, based on her play.  Oh, and she also appeared on my livestream – click here to watch that video).

Another interesting tid bit about this year’s awards was that one of the finalists was a “streamed” production – Patrick Foley and Michael Breslin’s Circle Jerk. 

So yes, my theatermakin’ friends and theatermakin’ fans, streaming is here to stay.

Congrats to Katori, and all the finalists . . . and, well, anyone that got their play off the ground in the past 12 months.  You all deserve awards, just for making it happen.

– – – – –

Watch my interview with Katori Hall here.

June 11, 2021: What TheaterMakers Are Talking About This Week

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

 

1 – Bob Fosse’s Dancin’ Will Return to Broadway Next Season

A ‘contemporary celebration’ of Bob Fosse’s legacy is heading back to Broadway in the 2022-23 season. The show, which features a unique mix of songs (including Neil Diamond), will begin performances following a to-be-announced out of town engagement.

Read more: www.playbill.com 

 

2 – Musicians United for Social Equity Announces Two Mentorship Opportunities

Musicians United for Social Equity has announced two new mentorship programs for early to mid–career theatre musicians of color, aimed at achieving racial equity off stage on Broadway and beyond. Mentors include multiple Tony and Grammy winners that will give emerging professionals personalized programming opportunities. Applications for both programs are open now through the end of June. 

Read more: www.playbill.com 

 

3 – The Broadway League Announces Inaugural Juneteenth Event

The Broadway League is hosting the first ever Juneteenth celebration event, featuring several Broadway fan favorites. The free outdoor event aims to support and celebrate Black artists in the Broadway community and beyond. 

Read more: www.playbill.com 

 

4 – NYC is Planning a Central Park “Mega-Concert” with Producer Clive Davis

New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio is teaming up with legendary music producer Clive Davis to open NYC back up in style. The ‘mega-concert’ will take place on Central Park’s iconic Great Lawn this August with details to follow. 

Read more: www.Variety.com

 

5 – New York’s Beloved Drama Book Shop Reopens at New Location 

The beloved NYC Drama Book Shop is finally reopening its doors at its new location. Shoppers new and returning can make reservations to visit now. 

Read more: www.nytimes.com 

 

Fun on a Friday: 

Jimmy Fallon and Lin-Manuel Miranda sing of excitement for Broadway’s reopening in this star-studded clip.

 

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Want to be part of an online community of theatermakers? Join 1,000+ producers, writers, actors, directors, and more here. Best part? It’s completely free.

Maybe it was because I was about to turn 30.

Maybe it was because I was about to turn 30.

Or maybe it was because Raul Esparza, Amy Spanger and Jerry Dixon gave some of the best performances I’ve seen.

Or maybe it was because I so wanted Jonathan Larson to still be with us (imagine what he would have made next – #Rent was his #InTheHeights) and he never got the chance to write his Hamilton.

But seeing the original production of tick, tick…BOOM! was one of the greatest theatrical experiences of my life.

Which is why I CAN’T WAIT FOR THIS MOVIE!

P.S. Trailer looks ridiculously amazing.  You agree?

 

A politician teaches you how NOT to fundraise for your project

One of a Broadway Producer’s primary responsibilities is to raise money.  It’s what makes us different from Movie Producers, Record Producers, and TV Producers. 

I used to complain about it. But as a mentor of mine said, “Ken, that’s the game. If you don’t like it, go produce movies instead of theater.”

That shut me up big time. Because it reminded me that we have the choice to do whatever we want in this life. I choose the theater, with all its idiosyncrasies. And instead of complaining about what bugs me, I take the serenity prayer to heart. I accept the things I cannot change, and work with a positive attitude to change the things I can.

One profession who has to raise more money than a Broadway Producer is a Politician.

So, I watch how they do it like a hawk watching a hawk.

I learned a couple of things about how they do it pretty quickly:

  • They follow up and then follow up some more.
  • They come at you through email, text, phone calls, direct mail and would send a carrier pigeon if they could.
  • They’d love a big check, sure, they’ll take lots of littles ones too.
  • They’re good at it. Because their jobs depend on it.

 

Which is why I was so shocked when a certain political candidate I follow was effin’ up so badly.

I’m not going to name names, because, well, it makes no difference who it is. And I eff up all the time, and I wouldn’t want someone else pointing it out either. (Let he without a marketing sin, cast the first e-stone.)

So what was this politician (or his team, more precisely) doing to decrease his/her chance of raising money?

This politician sent out emails that described their fundraising efforts as follows:

“pacing behind our goal.”

“not great.”

“we expect to get pummelled . . . “

 

There are more, but you get their drift. And I’m sure you get why this is the wrong approach when raising money.

No one ever wants to throw money at a sinking ship. One of the most powerful marketing strategies is social proof – demonstrating that whatever it is you’re selling is popular with tons of people. Because people want to do what other people are doing. You see a long line at a restaurant or a night club? You want to know what’s going on. You see a lot of people with the same sneakers or handbag? It makes you curious.

So telling everyone that people AREN’T giving you money when you’re asking them over and over? That can drive people the other way!

Now, the exception to this rule would be if this politician was going to his or her inner circle with open and authentic asks for real help. But communicating this way with potential backers who you don’t know that well, is a surefire way to NOT raise money.

(You can bet that I didn’t click “donate now” when I read these emails.)

Remember, when approaching investors, always be honest with where you are with your fundraising. But down-in-the-dumps, negative-marketing, is rarely a solution to raising money.  Or anything, for that matter.

 

– – – – –
Want more tips on raising money?  Get my book, How To Raise Money For The Arts or for Anything.

Podcast Episode #236: 10 Audition Tips for Actors

ESTIMATED LISTENING TIME OF THIS EPISODE:  12 Minutes

LISTEN WHEREVER YOU LISTEN TO PODCASTS:

 

ABOUT THIS EPISODE:

The episode is for the actors out there. 

Sitting on the other side of the table is something that every actor should do. It’s incredibly educational and inspirational because frankly, you realize that while there are lots and lots of people who call themselves actors, there’s a much smaller group.

Since so few actors get a chance to sit where producers and directors sit, I am sharing 10 tips on how to have a better audition experience.

 

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

 

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.

The biggest compliment you can give me is by sharing this podcast.

I thank you and the theater thanks you!

 

RECENT EPISODES:

June 4, 2021: What TheaterMakers Are Talking About This Week

 

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

 

1 – Jordan Fisher Will Return to Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway When It Reopens

The Broadway production will resume its run at the Music Box Theatre on December 11. Jordan Fisher confirmed on Good Morning America that he would once again lead the company as Evan Hansen, alongside the company that was appearing in the show when theaters shut down.

Read  more: www.theatermania.com

 

 2 – Broadway & Beyond: Access for Stage Managers of Color has updated its website to include a contact database for stage managers of color 

Broadway & Beyond: Access for Stage Managers of Color provides opportunities to stage managers of color to learn from people in the industry and provide insights to help stage managers of color start, maintain, and advance a career in the arts through free networking and educational events.

Read more: www.broadwaybeyondaccess.com

 

3- Broadway’s Hottest Marketing Tool: Streaming Shows

The Pandemic has helped normalize streaming theater and it seems here to stay, and there’s a business model there.

Read more: www.variety.com

 

4 – Black Theatre Coalition Announces Paid Fellowship Program for Aspiring Theatre Makers

The application submissions will be accepted for six weeks beginning June 1, 2021 through July 16, 2021 with 12-month Fellowships.

Read more: www.broadwaynews.com

 

5 – New York City to Tie Tourism Campaign to In the Heights

NYC & Company, the city’s official tourism organization, is launching a campaign tied to the film to promote Washington Heights.

Read more: www.wsj.com

 

Fun on a Friday: 

Jordan Fisher performs ‘You Will Be Found’ from Dear Evan Hansen.

 

 


Want to be part of an online community of theatermakers? Join 1,000+ producers, writers, actors, directors, and more here. Best part? It’s completely free.

What I Learned About TheaterMaking From Those “As Seen On TV” Commercials.

I didn’t sleep much in my 20s. And 30s. And whenever I’m in tech.

I worked into the wee hours. It was lonely in my apartment (being an artrepreneur often is, am I right?), so I kept the television on.

And at about 2:30 AM, the late night shopping commercials started. For the Chia Pet, The Flowbee and those famed Ginsu knives.

They were distracting. And I found myself drawn to them . . . even considering purchasing a set of those knives . . . when I didn’t even cook!

Then I realized what worked about those commercials. And now the most successful plays and musicals from Show Boat to Hamilton, used a VERY similar technique.

I wrote about what you can learn about how to make a hit using this same strategy on The TheaterMakers Blog recently. Read it here.  

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