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

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3 Reasons Why Crowdfunding Did NOT Take Off on Broadway

It has been 10 years (!) since I crowdfunded Godspell. It remains one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done in this business.
It took two years to put together. It took three law firms. I had to pass a securities exam. Oh, and let me tell you when this SEC slaps your wrist in the midst of your offering, you lose some sleep.
But, like most difficult things, it was also one of the best things I ever did for my business. And my life.
Not only did we fund the production, and help launch the careers of some superstars, but I’m also still friends with many of “People of Godspell”, which is what we called our Producers and Investors (we had over 730 of them!).
We created a family. And it still exists. (That’s pretty common with Godspell, actually, as anyone in it can attest.)
After we successfully crowdfunded the show, using an old regulation called a “Reg A,” Congress passed The Jobs Act . . . which made it MUCH easier for businesses to crowdfund. (Bad timing on my part!)
Everyone predicted an explosion of this type of microfinancing in all industries . . . Broadway and Off-Broadway included.
And it didn’t happen.
I don’t know of ONE Broadway or Off-Broadway production to utilize the new “Regulation CF” since it was passed.
Why?
There are three reasons why.
1. The max money you can raise
Regulation CF was designed for small businesses, so there’s a $5mm cap on how much you can raise. That immediately knocks out 99% of Broadway musicals, leaving only Broadway plays.
Now, ALL Off-Broadway shows are (or should be) well under $5mm. So, this regulation should be in “play” for any commercial producer looking to crowdfund an Off-Broadway show. Still, I don’t know of anyone who has done it. Yet. See below for why.
2. It ain’t cheap to raise small amounts of money.
In our business, there are a limited # of vendors in each area of expertise. There are 3-4 advertising agencies. 2-3 accounting firms. And there are more, but still a limited number of lawyers.
And our lawyers don’t specialize in this . . . which means you’ll need to hire another attorney who does. And that adds to your budget. And smaller businesses don’t want to add to a budget that they were concerned about raising in the first place.
3. You have to work even harder to raise less money.
I remember a consulting session I had once with a writer who launched a Kickstarter campaign. He wondered why he hadn’t raised all this money in the first five days. When I asked him what he had (added) done to promote it, he said, “Nothing. Don’t people just find it in Kickstarter?”
Like anything, just because you build it, doesn’t mean ANYONE will come. You have to spread the word about your offering. And when you’re raising small amounts of money at a time, you have to spread the word every further. We spent a ton of time and money marketing the Godspell offering. That, plus the press we get (that’s where the SEC got saucy), plus my own network, is what led to a successful raise.
Most people don’t want to work that hard. Because it’s true, it IS easier to raise bigger money from fewer people. (That’s why the point of crowdfunding shouldn’t be to raise the money – it should be to raise a marketing army – because all those investors with skin in the game, will shout your show’s name from their e-rooftops!)
(By the way – I gave Kickstarter guys some marketing nuggets and the good news is – he reached his total with three days to spare.)
Wait. Was that three reasons already? But I’m not done. So here’s a BONUS reason why crowdfunding hasn’t taken off on or Off-Broadway.
4. Producers think it makes them look desperate.

This is the one that we need to get over. By not allowing the small investor to participate in the making of theater, we’re ignoring a huge portion of the theatergoing population. Small donors are what got Barack Obama elected. Small investors are what brought down giant hedge funds with the GameStop saga.

And by embracing small investors, whether through crowdfunding or by Producers dividing up $50,000 units into more reasonable numbers, we could launch more new shows, more new voices . . . and market them as well.
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If you’re looking for tips on crowdfunding, check out our 8 Tips for a Kick A$$ Kickstarter here, or get my book on How To Raise Money For The Arts Or For Anything.

On the anniversary: Dr. Kenny Dipchand Hasija 10/13/29 – 4/12/20

Dear “Kenny” . . . as you asked me to call you since I could speak. Not dad, no. Because you wanted me to know you were as much a friend as a father.
That’s one of the reasons that today, the one-year anniversary of your passing, is harder than I ever thought it would be. Because for the last twelve months, it felt like two of the closest people in my life were gone.
I know, I know. You’re not gone. And you never will be. I’ll never forget when you and my mother divorced and you told me we would always be together. Always. “We might not be in the same house or in the same state or even on the same continent, Kenneth, but anywhere we go in our lives, we are connected. Always.” And that we are. Because I can hear your support and encouragement with everything I do.
I do want to say I’m sorry. I’m sorry that we never got to go to The Met. I’m sorry that this damn pandemic didn’t allow me to hold your hand when you finally left us on that Easter morning. I’m sorry that it has not been safe for me to travel to your childhood home in India and to spread your ashes in the Ganges as you told me you wanted. I know you understand. You always did. But know that as soon as I can, I will lay your spirit to rest in those waters, so that you may join your mother, and your young brother, and be at peace in the land you left so long ago.
And yes, yes, I know what you’re going to ask. And I will. I promise. I said, I promise! (Now, I know where I get my stubborn side.) And when I do it, I will owe it ALL to you.
Rest, my father and my friend. Thank you for what you did for me while you were here, and what I know you are doing for me, for your granddaughter (your “genetic code” as you said), and for my whole family, from high above us all.
Love,
Kenneth Anjum Hasija
In remembrance of Dr. Kenny Dipchand Hasija 10/13/29 – 4/12/20

Podcast Episode #228: How I know and how you should know what shows to do.

ESTIMATED LISTENING TIME OF THIS PODCAST EPISODE:  11 Minutes

 

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN:

  • FOLLOW The Producer’s Perspective on Apple Podcast (it’s FREE to do so!)
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DESCRIPTION:

“Why?”

It’s a common question.

“Why did you produce that show, Ken?”

A lot of people think it has to do we a google-like algorithm, or focus group results, or the “perfect budget.”

While I look at all of those things . . . it’s usually AFTER I decide I’m going to produce a show.

Want to know my super-secret system and what it has in common with this female billionaire?

Listen in.

And I advise you follow it when choosing what theater you choose to make.

April 9, 2021: What TheaterMakers Are Talking About This Week

From Actors’ Equity releasing new protocols for fully vaccinated productions to the first performance in a Broadway theater since March 2020, here’s what TheaterMakers were talking about this week . . . 

 

1 – Broadway Reopened. For 36 Minutes. It’s a Start.

This event showcased the dancer Savion Glover and the actor Nathan Lane, where they performed before a masked audience of 150 scattered across one of the biggest Broadway Theaters, St. James. This event was the first such experiment since the coronavirus pandemic caused to close on March 12, 2020. It’s the first step home — the first of many,” said Jordan Roth. “This is not, ‘Broadway’s back!’ This is ‘Broadway is coming back!’ And we know it can because of this.”

Read more: nytimes.com

 

2 – Wear a Mask, Avoid Intermission: Lessons from the Covid Think Tank Town Hall 

The rapid rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine has increased new and improved ideas and optimism about indoor theater swiftly reopening in the U.S. In addition to the vaccine, testing, enhanced theater ventilation, and continued mask-wearing is also the key to gradually restarting the industry. Their plan for reopening? “Plan now,” Dr. Smith said. “Even if you don’t have a go-live date…There are so many layers. There’s a lot to think about and to talk about.”

Read More: broadwayjournal.com

 

3 – COVID Passports: Entertainment venues air concerns over plans

The government has said Covid-status certificates could be used at theatres, nightclubs, and festivals starting in June. They could be used to prove vaccination or testing. They will be trialing this at events at venues in Liverpool, as well as sporting events. 

Read more: bbc.com 

 

4 – Actors’ Equity releases new safety protocols for vaccinated productions

The new guidelines come after the backlash from the community about previous protocols. Absent from these protocols are the requirements of private transportation to and from theaters, as well as the need for Plexiglas and 12 feet of distance on stage. Those regulations are still included in documents for indoor theater productions without a fully vaccinated workforce.

Read More: broadwaynews.com

 

5 – Neil Diamond Bio-Musical Sets Sights on Broadway

A Beautiful Noise is set to run for four weeks at the Emerson Colonial Theater Boston in 2022, the show’s producers, Ken Davenport and Bob Gaudio announced on Tuesday. They plan to bring the production to Broadway following that run.

Read more: nytimes.com

 

FUN ON A FRIDAY! Josh Groban’s New Song

Bush’s Beans and Josh Groban teamed up to give the bean the ballad it deserves.

 

 

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Want to be part of an online community of #theatermakers? Join 600+ theatermakers here. Best part? It’s completely free.

I got great advice from this tech billionaire.

It’s not a secret that one of the places I look to learn the secrets of theater-making . . . is outside the theater biz.

First, by examining what other industries do, I get a perspective that I don’t have.

Second, a product is a product is a product. And even though our product is an art, we build it, market it, and sell it in the same way as everything else.

Here’s a story that reminded me of that basic truth . . . from the tech space.

In February, Whitney Wolfe Herd became the youngest female billionaire on the planet.

And she did it by breaking into one of the most competitive markets around . . . online dating.

Whitney invented Bumble, the dating app where women get to make the first move.

Now, whenever anyone breaks through ceilings like Whitney, the first thing I do is jump up and down for them and tell as many people as I can. (Purpose of this blog #1.)

Second, I try to learn from them, and how they bust through the barrier. . .  and then tell as many people about that so they can learn from it too. (Purpose of this blog #2).

And what I learned from the many articles I read about her success is all in this perfect little quote. When a reporter asked her why she made Bumble, she said . . .

“I’ve truly just always tried to build what I wish existed,”

Whitney didn’t follow some fancy business plan. She didn’t pay attention to algorithms. She didn’t listen to focus groups.

She thought about what would she would like to use, and what her friends would also like to use, and she built it.

And she made a billion dollars.

To put this in theatermakin’ terms?  Whitney’s quote is the same as saying . . .

I produce shows I want to see.

I write shows I want to see.

I direct shows I want to see.

I act in shows that I want to see.

Etc.

The cool thing about following this mission is two-fold:

1. You can’t go wrong. If the show doesn’t work? You got to see it. And you wanted to see it. I hang all the posters of my shows on my office wall, even the ones that didn’t “succeed.”  And they ALL make me smile. Because I wanted to see them.

2.  You have good instincts. If YOU want to see something. Odds are other people do too. You are your OWN focus group. This is derivative of the Peter Lynch philosophy of investing . . . investing in what you use every day. You are investing your time, creativity, money . . . into something you WANT to use every day. And I’d be if you want to see that show, there are a lot more people where you come from

So take heed to the tech billionaire’s advice when you’re making theater. And I look forward to hearing how you break through your barrier.

And if you want to see more about what other TheaterMakers think about this, click here!

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If you want help breakin’ through, watch one of the masterclasses on everything from producing to writing to directing and more.

 

You didn’t know her. But you would have. RIP Our Friend, Patricia Rumble

Patricia Rumble came to me a few years asking for some help in getting a show she wrote off the ground.

I was so taken by her passion for the theater and her passion for life, that I started working with her privately.  It’s something I rarely do nowadays.  But trust me, if you spent five minutes with this woman, you’d bend over backward while doing backflips, to help her.

She became one of my favorite clients. Ever. She was so optimistic about her future.  And whenever I gave her an idea of something to do to get her closer to her goals, she executed it before we could even get off the phone.

I once told her to get in touch with a local Texas theater and see if they would help her with her show.  The next day she drove down to the theater, talked her way into a meeting with the Artistic Director right then and there.  And secured a reading.  Boom.

I checked in with her a few weeks ago to see how she was doing. I was expecting to hear the good news I always heard when I checked in.  She always had great stuff going on.

This time, she told me she developed early-stage cancer in 2020.  She had a simple procedure to address it.  And it ended up being not so simple.  She had a series of complications, including . . . Covid.

She spent over three months in the hospital.

When she finally was in the recovery stage, she told me she was, “on fire to continue writing.” She started and finished a new one-woman show.  She was adapting a previous play of hers into a musical. And she was in negotiations to turn another into a movie.

She said there was a reason she got out of the hospital – because she had “more to do.”

It’s hard to read the tone in an email, but, it read like it was written with the excitement of a college graduate, not a woman in her 70s.

But that was Patricia.

She was getting ready for another surgery. And in her last email to me, just 23 days ago, she said . . .

“Looking forward to theatre to be open once again so we can continue what we love doing.”

Patricia died last week.

That’s really all I have to say about it. I think you understand the type of theatermaker person she was.

But I will say this. She wanted to keep making theater. She wasn’t done. And now she can’t.

She’s another tragic example of how precious our time here is.

Patricia can’t keep writing. But I guarantee you this, she is up there right now, cheering us all on to do the things we dream about doing.

We owe it to her to do “what we love doing.”

I will, Patricia. I promise.

The World Premiere of The Neil Diamond Musical will be . . .

It was almost a year ago to the day.
We were about to announce that our Neil Diamond Musical that has been in development for a few years, would have its world premiere in Boston in 2020.

And then, it became clear to us, and to the rest of the world, that this pandemic wasn’t going to cooperate with anyone’s plans.

So we’ve been waiting.  And waiting.  And . . .

Now . . . finally . . . I’m thrilled to announce that the show with a book by four-time Academy Award nominee Anthony McCarten will have its world premiere in Boston at the Colonial Emerson Theater (where I grew up going to shows), in July of 2022.

Oh.   And the title!  Well, it’s called . . . A Beautiful Noise.

You can see the exact dates and sign up to get exclusive access to tickets here.  (And in the spirit of the season, look around and see if you can find a little Easter Egg hidden on the site, just for you.)

You’ll hear a lot more from me about the show in the coming months.  We’ve all been so starved for theater, I plan on sharing a lot.  🙂  So follow me here to see photos and videos along the way.

But right now, all that we wanted to do was put our Sweet Caroline of a flag in the Beantown ground and say. . . we’re coming . . . we’re coming to America Boston!  And THEN America!

See more here.

Podcast Episode #227: What TheaterMakers Need To Know About Social Media Marketing in 2021

ESTIMATED LISTENING TIME OF THIS PODCAST EPISODE:  23 MINUTES

 

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

  • FOLLOW The Producer’s Perspective on Apple Podcast (it’s FREE to do so!)
  • Rate/Review on Apple Podcast
  • FOLLOW on Broadway Podcast Network’s FREE iOS app
  • Share this episode with your friends!

 

DESCRIPTION

Two facts are certain:

  1.  If you’re a theatermaker (or a person with a pulse), you need to be on social media.
  2.  The rules of how to make your message stand out changes every five sec . . . oh, there we go again!

How do you learn about what’s working now?  Two ways, you jump in the deep end and try a whole bunch of @#$%.

Or you listen to this podcast and let people like me who recently tried a whole bunch of @#$% tell you what we learned.

Which was a ton.

If you are planning on using social media to market yourself or your show, this one is a must-listen.

April 2, 2021: What TheaterMakers Are Talking About This Week

April 2, 2021: What TheaterMakers Are Talking About This Week

From Diana the Musical announcing their Netflix release date AND their Broadway return date, to the future of casting on Broadway in Phantom of the Opera, and a possible Game of Thrones musical, here’s what TheaterMakers were talking about this week . . .

 

1 – Diana Musical Sets Netflix Run — and Broadway Opening Night

For the first time, a filmed version of a Broadway stage production will be out to stream before the musical even opens. “Diana,” was shot last September in the Longacre Theater, without an audience. The show is set to begin streaming on Netflix on October 1. They’ve also announced the opening on Broadway beginning two months later on December 1.

Read more: nytimes.com

 

2 – Game of Thrones Play in the Works for Broadway, Will Revive Iconic Characters (Exclusive)

The play’s official description reads, “Featuring many of the most iconic and well-known characters from the series, the production will boast a story centered around love, vengeance, madness and the dangers of dealing in prophecy, in the process revealing secrets and lies that have only been hinted at until now.”

Read More: hollywoodreporter.com

 

3 – First 150,000 spectators attended the musical CHESS in Moscow

CHESS was produced and opened during difficult conditions under COVID-19 restrictions, quarantine, and isolation laws. Even with all of the restrictions, the Russian production of CHESS in Moscow became the second longest-running production of CHESS in the world, after London.

Read more: moscrow-broadway.ru

 

4 – What Do Australian Theatre Critics Think of Hamilton?

The Australian staging of Hamilton officially opened March 27 at Sydney Lyric Theatre, making it the first and only staging of the Tony Award, Olivier Award, Grammy Award, Pulitzer Prize award-winning musical currently running in the wake of the coronavirus shutdown.

Read more: playbill.com

 

5 – What The Phantom of the Opera‘s Open Casting Call Means for Broadway’s Return                   In response to the wave of injustice and racial discrimination at the start of the pandemic, Broadway leaders have decided to make changes in their productions, within representation and equity on stage. A change in language in the casting call does not guarantee anything but shows a future filled with change.

Read More: playbill.com

 

BONUS! Saturday Night Live: Choreographers
A dance rehearsal gets interrupted when the choreographers (Maya Rudolph, Kenan Thompson) refuse to work with each other.

https://youtu.be/04zG-QoK9C8

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Want to be part of an online community of #theatermakers? Join 600+ theatermakers here. Best part? It’s completely free.

The new reality TV show about producing . . . that I’m producing!

That’s it.  I’ve had enough of people telling me I should . . .

1 – Produce television

2 – Produce a reality television show about producing a Broadway show.

So, during the pandemic, I started pitching TV networks like crazy.  And wouldn’t you know it, Netflix bought it!

The show follows the days and nights and late nights of three Broadway Producers (yes, I’m one of them) starting as we get Broadway up and running again.  Think a live version of William Goldman’s The Season . . . but about the most important season EVER – the first season back for Broadway after the pandemic!

They won’t let me say any more than this right now but stay tuned, because I’ll spill more soon.  (I’m just glad that today, I can finally leak this!)

If you want to read the official announcement from Netflix, including WHO THE OTHER TWO PRODUCERS ARE, click here.  (Guess first!)

OH, and we still don’t have a title, so if you want to suggest one, click here.

 

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