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

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Who I’m having over this Thanksgiving Weekend.

 I couldn’t ask for better guests.
 
They are sweet. They are funny.
 
They are going to sing for their supper.
 
And what’s cool is, they can come to your house too!
 
 
And, of course, it’s a livestream!
 
Mat and Savanna are YouTube superstars. Their videos have racked up 40mm views . . . in only seven months!
 
This daddy-daughter duo recorded a song at the beginning of the pandemic to share their message of hope and love with their friends.
 
Turns out, they have a LOT of friends. Or they do now!
 
But that’s what happens when you have an incredible message and TWO incredible voices.
 
I had them on my livestream last spring (and introduced them to Broadway star, Sierra Boggess, who is directing the concert). And, over the summer, I found myself listening to them all the time. And they always put a smile on my face.
 
Since we could all use a few more smiles these days, I called them and asked if I could have the honor of producing their first EVER concert, and they said yes!
 
And tomorrow night is the big day.
 
I hope you’ll join us. You’ll hear the classic covers that got them fans like Kelly Clarkson and got them on TV shows all over the country. And you’ll also hear some holiday tunes, and yep, some Broadway stuff as well.  (Savanna’s dream is to be on Broadway – and well, I think you’ll see that she’s well on her way.)
 
The concert is TOMORROW night, Saturday, November 28th at 8 PM Eastern. You can get your livestream ticket here.
 
You can’t ask for better socially distanced guests than these two.  🙂
 
Mat and Savannah Shaw
“What The World Needs Now”
Saturday, November 28th
8 PM Eastern
LIVE!
 
 

 

My Official 2020 Broadway Holiday Gift Guide for TheaterMakers and TheaterFans alike!

Usually, I publish my holiday gift guide on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

But since you probably have a little more time on your hands this Turkey Day, I thought you might want to start your e-shopping early.

As always, here are my top ten (pandemic-friendly) Broadway-themed gifts of 2020 that every TheaterMaker and Theater Fanatic will love. 

 

1) Broadway Face Masks

Masks are a thing.  And even with a vaccine coming, they’re going to be a thing.  Even years AFTER this pandemic has been crushed, they will STILL be a thing.  (If you have a cold, you’ll wear a mask – just like they do in other parts of the world.)  So, if you’re going to wear something, you might as well show your Broadway pride.  Here are some great places (including some TheaterMaker small business artisans on Etsy) to pick up a Broadway-themed mask.

 

2) Working On A Song

Hadestown was one of the most exciting, successful new shows on Broadway last year, raking in eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Now you can hear from the creator herself (who also happens to be one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020) as she takes you along on the decade-long journey of bringing Hadestown to Broadway. Get your copy of Working on a Song: The Lyrics of HADESTOWN by Anaïs Mitchell today!

 

3) BE A BROADWAY STAR – The Board Game

Yes, yes, we created this game.  But for those of you who think we’re just stumping for our own stuff, click here and look at all the amazing reviews.  Be A Broadway Star is the ONLY Broadway board game.  It’s a mashup between charades and “Life” and is a ton of fun (and yes, adults, there is also a drinking version).  IMPORTANT:  We sell out of these EVERY holiday season.  And with board games all the rage during the pandemic, we predict we will sell out faster.  Get Broadway’s only board game on Amazon here.

 

4) CAST OF MENTORS: Short Sage Advice from 50 of Broadway’s Best 

Yep, this one is also mine, but it’s the type of gift that I would have wanted under my tree when I was coming up in this biz so I had to recommend it. 

Have you or your special TheaterMaker ever wanted advice from your favorite Broadway mentor? How about 50 Broadway mentors? In Cast of Mentors: Short Sage Advice from 50 Broadway Superpowers you’ll get more than you paid for in this collection of truths from high-achieving Tony winners, Oscar winners and Pulitzer Prize winners (!) including Terrence McNally, Dominique Morriseau, David Henry Hwang, Daryl Roth, Kathleen Marshall, Stephen C. Byrd and more.   Get your copy of Cast of Mentors for your favorite TheaterMaker here.

 

5)  “Will You Light My Candle?” candles and more. 

We can all use a little soothing scent from a sweet candle, not to mention a little ‘light’ to remind us there is light at the end of this tunnel!  A candle from this Etsy shop will transport you into the world of all your favorite shows!

 

6) The TheatreMakers Studio Membership

Know the site Masterclass.com?  TMS is like Masterclass.com but for theater.  It’s a a digital training program and community for TheaterMakers at all stages in the process.  If you’re a writer, producer, director, or actor and you want to get a show on a stage, find a producer, meet other writers, and more . . . this is the place for you.

As a member, you’ll have access to our certification courses, monthly group coaching calls with my team of experts, access to our Private Facebook Community, a literal treasure trove of resources, checklists, execution plans, and a ton more! This is a perfect way to show the TheaterMakers in your life that you’re invested in their careers and want to see them thrive.

Oh, and you also get me once a month on a coaching call, since I founded the place.

 

7) These Work-From-Home Pajamas You Deserve

Okay, be honest. How many days this year have you spent in your pajamas? Pajamas have become the new business casual as many of us have shifted to work from home during the pandemic. Why not bring the spirit of Broadway to your work from home with these festive pajamas from Playbill?

 

8) MY BROADWAY BINDER

With all the free time quarantine has given us, why not organize that Playbill collection like we’ve all been saying we would do for years? This is my personal favorite way to do that, and I’m sure any Broadway lover would feel the same. Start organizing your playbills and memories here.

 

9) A SUBSCRIPTION TO THESE STREAMING SITES

All the cool kids are streaming it. So shouldn’t you?  Check out BroadwayHD and BroadwayOnDemand to get great theater content right on your phone, desktop or big screen tv.  And there are free trials or free content on both!  (And make sure you watch Daddy Long Legs, while you’re there.)

 

10)  SINGULAR SENSATION by Michael Riedel

It’s a real battle between who writes better books about Broadway:  Jen Tepper and her “Untold Stories of Broadway Series” or Michael Riedel.  Michael follows up his first and fantastic book, Razzle Dazzle, with this new one, Singular Sensation, which has his usual flair of history, drenched in gossip.

 

If you’re looking for more gift ideas for the Broadway theater lover in your life, click here to see past years guides.

If you have someone in your life who dreams about being on Broadway or creating shows for Broadway, check out this specialty guide here.

Will “Ratatouille The Musical” make it to Broadway?

Who knew a rat could cause a revolution?
 
Don’t know what I’m TikTok-ing about?
 
Let me catch you up, my over 40-something friend.
 
The latest social media platform to hit the e-waves goes by the name TikTok. It made a name for itself by doing two things:
 
  • Allowing users to post 15-second clips of themselves doing crazy dance moves.
  • Getting accused of espionage by our ex-administration (sorry but not sorry if that “ex” part was a spoiler for anyone).
 
And now it’s getting a new rep . . . for making musicals.
 
A few MONTHS ago, a TikTok-er posted a made-up melody for a hypothetical musical based on the Disney film, Ratatouille.
 
And then, a few weeks ago, another Tok-er added orchestrations like you’d hear in an Act II finale.
 
And boom.
 
Viral sensation born.
 
But here’s where it gets interesting.
 
See TikTok isn’t about viewing content. It’s about MAKING content. So people didn’t just view the video. They added to the theoretical musical by making up songs of their own. Some added choreography. Makeup.  
In other words . . .
An entire musical, created by its fans, is coming together right before our virtual eyes.
(And, I might add, much faster than “real” ones get made!)
 
So now you’re up to date.
 
But what does all this mean? It means a ton, actually, but here are 3 Takeaways from The Ratatouille Musical on TikTok (and a special surprise too).
 
1. TikTok has tipped.
 
The “kids” make social media sites. Adults break them.
 
See, like new musicals, young people can only get a social site so far. Unless the site finds an older audience (i.e. the moms of those early adopting kids), the sites ends up as another MySpace. (Ironically, the kids find the NEW social-site because their moms found the old social-site. And like fleas on a dog, they jump to the new one.)
 
This is why Facebook went beyond its “college-only” membership model, and why it tipped into the big-billionaire-boys-club.  I remember when Twitter tipped in 2008, which I predicted and wrote about here (the Arab Springs had something to do with it).
 
And, this musical is drawing the adults to TikTok, like, well, like a rat to the subway.
I’ve gotten at least seven emails in the last few days from people my age asking me “Did you see that rat musical on “The TickTock?”
 
Yep, TikTok is now officially a thing.  
What does this mean for you?  Get ready to start focusing your promotional efforts on this new platform.
 
(But don’t worry, Twitter is just about dead so you won’t have to manage that one for much longer.)
 
2. TikTok is a great place for TheaterMakers to get discovered.
 
You know who made this musical go viral?  A musical theater writer.  
 
And in this one video (not to mention his previous “Grocery Store” the musical) he’s gotten more attention in a few months than in his entire career.  (I don’t think he’d mind me saying that – and if he does, I’ll apologize to him directly, because I’d love to meet this guy.)
 
It wasn’t too long ago that YouTube was the place for musical theater writers to break out (Pasek and Paul talked about their success being tied to YouTube’s birth here). Now, TikTok looks to be the next place that song writers can get discovered.
(IMPORTANT NOTE FOR THOSE LOOKING TO EMULATE THEIR SUCCESS): They used a big brand to get a spotlight on their stuff. I call this strategy “brand-jacking” and it’s awesome.)
 
3. People effin’ miss musicals.
 
If you EVER thought musicals were losing their relevancy, take a look at the 10 million views these videos have gotten. And take a look at how major media has gotten involved. And Playbill.com. And even Tony-nominated composers.
 
People all over the world are banding together to write a musical. Would this be happening if they could see one? No. That first video never would have been posted in the first place.
And our audience has kept Broadway and musicals top of mind better than any marketing agency could ever dream of doing.
– – – – – 
 
Now the question is . . . will Ratatouille The Musical actually get produced??? Will Ratatouille make it to Broadway?
 
I don’t know. But I know this . . .
 
I want to produce it.
 
 

See my appeal to the writers of Ratatouille The Musical to give me the rights to produce it on TikTok here:

 

It wasn’t right.

The first copy was too big.

The second was too blurry.

The third copy was juuuuuussssst right.

And so went the Goldilocks-like journey of publishing my new book, CAST OF MENTORS:  SHORT SAGE ADVICE FROM 50 BROADWAY SUPERPOWERS.

You can order the “just right” version right here, just in time for the holidays.

One thing I do guarantee . . . the advice in this book, from A-listers like Terrence McNally, Joe Mantello, Mandy Gonzalez, Kenny Leon, Pasek & Paul, and so on is “juuuuuust perfect.”

There’s an answer in this book for every question a TheaterMaker might have, from a college student with a BA in theater graduating in the middle of a pandemic, to a professional producer with awards on his mantle who is still looking for his West Side Story (ok, ok, that might be me.)

Oh, and the hardcover version looks cool on a coffee table.

Get it here.  If it doesn’t help you, let me know.  We’ll give your money back to you.  And you don’t even have to return the book . . . you just have to give it to another TheaterMaker.  Because I know the words of these Mentors will inspire the right people to do great things . . . on and off the stage.

Get CAST OF MENTORS here.

What “The Queen’s Gambit” Taught Me About How To Market Broadway.

Nerd alert confession time:
 
In 1991, I was a member of The Manhattan Chess Club.  
 
I was a decent player, although I did get beat by an 8 year old once. (In my “defense,” my coach told me the kid was the next Josh Waitzkin). 
 
I gave it up. Not because the 8 year old slapped my ego like a hockey puck. But because I got hyper-focused on becoming a “grandmaster” in the theater . . . a journey I’m still on, by the way!
 
But chess is one of those things that I say I’ll get to someday. You know, like when I retire. (Ha!) And every once in awhile, when chess appears in the news, I’ll click.
 
So, when I noticed that a new Netflix series called The Queen’s Gambit was trending, I couldn’t help but watch.
 
There were seven episodes.
 
I watched them in two “up-until-2AM” nights.
 
There were a ton of marketing lessons from this series:
 
– It felt like a true story, but wasn’t (a strategy more typical for horror films, like The Blair Witch Project).
– The “#X in the US” banner on Netflix uses social proof to give you a solid dose of FOMO if you do NOT watch.
– The series was “limited” giving you both a desire to finish it, and also want something more. (Google “2nd season of Queen’s Gambit” to see what I mean.)
 
But the biggest marketing lesson of all is the simplest, most powerful, and it’s right on the surface . . . but also hidden from view.
 
What am I talking about?
 
Put it this way . . .
 
What do you think I wanted to do after watching ONE episode of watching The Queen’s Gambit.
 
That’s right.
 
I wanted to play chess.
 
The Queen’s Gambit wanted me to play chess.
 
And . . . here’s the ding-ding-ding . . . I bought a chess set within 24 hours.
 
Now, I understand marketing enough to know that if this happened to me? This happened to a lot of those people who made the series #3 in the US.
 
The lesson?
 
The best way to sell something is to create a story around that something.
 
It’s long-term strategy. No question. But if someone asked me how to market Broadway?
 
It’d be encouraging more movies about Broadway and the theater. More TV shows about the theater. More books, poems, and stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things in the theater.
 
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to buy a course on how to play better chess.
(Have you seen The Queen’s Gambit?  Did this happen to you?  Are you playing more chess now?)
– – – – –
Do you have a show but need some help in marketing it, without hiring a high-priced marketing company you don’t need?  Click here for lessons on how to market your show from Broadway A-listers for less than you pay for your gym membership.
 

10 Takeaways from The TheaterMakers Summit.

The title of this blog could have been 10,000 Takeaways from The TheaterMakers Summit.
 
But to be honest, I have so many action items from our 103 speakers myself, I want to get working on them right away.
 
So, you’ll have to forgive me if I only have time to type out 10 of the 10,000.
 
My hope is that one of the 10 below is the “thought domino” you need in your career or your life. Because, as I mentioned in my welcome speech, it only takes one.
 
The right takeaway, action item, thought, note, etc. can start your snowball rolling down the hill.
 
I know this. Because it happened to me.
 
My life changed when I heard ONE thing. I had been toiling away in a decent job. Dreaming about more. But not doing anything about it.
 
And then I heard my ONE THING. From Hal Prince. He ignited a fuse in me that is still burning to this day.
 
So enjoy these 10. And let one of them spark you to do amazing things in the theater. And beyond.
 
“We don’t have time to dither; we don’t have time to feel helpless; we don’t have time to wait for rescue. It’s up to us.” – Jim McCarthy
“Pick the thing you love to do and learn how to do it really well, do it with conviction with 100% esteem and all your heart, even  if it’s a small  thing, and that will translate to something else eventually.” – Stephanie Klemons
 “There only two things actors have any control over. Your attitude and how prepared you are, the rest is completely out of our control.” – Jenn Colella
“You have to have something that speaks to audiences of color and stories that are told by those people and those artists, and they must be involved from the beginning.” – Dr. Tawnya Pettiford-Wates
 “We are going to see an explosion of creativity in the next 10 years in the industry, we will be mentally prepared for it and our audience will demand it.” – Shele Williams
“One of things I hope will change in the future: what we think of as Broadway or mainstream theatre doesn’t have to be these big houses.” – Ben Brantley
“The path to systemic change is uncharted territory, it will take our collective power to map the way forward together, and this is a marathon we all need to be prepared to see through to the end.” – Naila McKenzie
“If there’s one thing the last nine months have taught us is that time is precious, and the things you’re working on better matter.” – Arvind Ethan David
“Recognizing we can grow as a community and be more thoughtful and engaged with the audiences that are to come. It gives us a chance to review… and we need to bring a little grace into the conversation.” – Thomas Schumacher
“The last time America faced a pandemic, the next 10 years were some of the most productive and foundational years in our art form. Broadway was essentially born during that time so I hope you are holding on to a sense of encouragement right now.”  – Christopher Jackson
 
And here’s my piece of advice to add to the above.
 
Seek out the wisdom of others who are where you want to go. Use their path, their words, their advice to springboard you to success.
 
It works.
 
– – – –
 
10 Takeaways not enough for you, you serious action-taker TheaterMakers? If you want to hear more of the 10,000 Takeaways from the TheaterMakers Summit, click here.
 
 
 

“One Last Time”

“One Last Time” is my favorite tune from Hamilton.

There’s something gracious in the message, and something so amazing in the performance.  It’s one of the umpteen reasons I wanted Chris Jackson to speak at our conference this weekend.

And today, I have my own version of that message . . . as I tell you, for the last time, that this is your final chance to get a ticket to The TheaterMakers Summit, which starts in less than 24 hours.

I know, I know, you’ve probably heard me talk about the TheaterMakersSummit already.  Maybe you’ve seen ads, gotten emails, or heard me mention it a billion times in this blog.

Well, sorry, but not sorry.

The reason we e-smack you over the head with this message?

We know, for a fact, there is nothing else we do all year long that helps people achieve their theatrical goals.  Period.  And it only takes one weekend to do.

Think about it.

  • We have over 100 A-list presenters.  You wouldn’t have 100 professors in an MFA program!
  • We have over 30 panels, on every subject from streaming to playwriting to personal finance for TheaterMakers.  You wouldn’t have that diverse a curriculum in any MFA program.
  • And you will join hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of other TheaterMakers just like you.   You wouldn’t have that many networking connections in any MFA program!

If you’re a writer, director, designer, actor, producer or just appreciate the art of making theater, this is the conference for you.

And whether you’re just starting out or you’ve already had shows running around the world, you’re going to learn how to get to the next “stage” of your career.

You’ll just have to forgive me if I’ve talked about this conference a lot.  I can’t help it.  I remember what it was like seeing the first show I produced on stage, the first show that I wrote on stage.  And I’m obsessed with helping people feel that same feeling.  Because there is nothing like it.

And when you see an audience respond to something you’ve created?  Oh man . . . is it something.

So if you want to make theater, if you want to feel that feeling, there is no better place on the planet to be this weekend, then at The TheaterMakers Summit, with 103 experts and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people just like you.

Still on the fence?

Think about it this way.

What’s the worst thing that could happen if you came?  You didn’t learn anything?  Ok, you’re in the same place you are now.  And you email me and we give you a refund.  No questions asked.

Now.  Ask yourself . . .

What’s the BEST thing that could happen if you came?  You get your show up?  You advance your career?  You meet someone to help you along?

Worth it?

Yeah.  That’s what I thought.

There.  I said it. This is my “one last time.”

Join us.

 

 

FIVE Things I Learned About Playwriting from The Presidential Election.

Watching the last few days of our recent Presidential election was as dramatic as any event I’ve seen in my life.  It kept me riveted to my seats for days!  It was like sitting through Les Miz, both parts of Angels in America AND The Inheritance over and over for a week!  And I didn’t even want to get up to pee!
 
In between waiting for ballots to come in and binging Krispy Kremes and Kit Kats, I couldn’t help but wonder what I could learn from all this drama.
So I asked myself “What about THIS ELECTION put me so on-the-edge-of-my-seat?  And how can I put that into all of my shows?”
 
Here are FIVE things I came up with that are now a part of my “Edge-Of-Your-Seat” checklist on every single one of my shows (and ACTION ITEMS for you to help you with YOUR shows):
 
1. A super specific SIMILAR objective for BOTH the protagonist and antagonist.
 
One candidate wanted to win the election. The other candidate wanted to win the election. Boom. You can’t get clearer than that.
The “want” for EACH character wasn’t, “To improve his understanding of the word,” or “To gain self-confidence.”  Those may be good objectives but it’s hard to show an audience if your hero has achieved them.
An election is a win/lose. It’s like a boxing match or a basketball game (now you know why Rocky and Hoosiers are so easy to get into). Or a court case (Law and Order, To Kill a Mockingbird, 12 Angry Men, etc.).
 
And when both your protagonist and antagonist have the same goal, the conflict or “counter-objective” is super clear. Because both characters want the same thing, they also want to prevent the other “party” from getting the same thing.
 
ACTION ITEM: What does your protagonist want? Can you make it more specific . . . and if it’s a “internal want,” (e.g. to be a better father), who can you symbolize it with something specific. And what does your antagonist want? Can it be the same thing? Or at the very least, can you make it to prevent the protagonist from getting what he or she wants?
 
2. High stakes? Make them even higher.
 
What was at stake in this last election?
 
Not much. Just a pandemic. The economy. Democracy. Or in simpler terms . . . people’s lives, people’s livelihoods, and the entire country.
 
I mean, can you get bigger stakes?
 
Your story may not be as big as an election, but however high your stakes are, ratchet ’em up as high as you can go.
 
I like to think of my stakes as the bar a pole vaulter (i.e. my protagonist) has to leap over. When I do my SECOND draft, I look at where I set the bar in the first draft. . . and then I raise it up a few more inches. And so on with the third draft, fourth, and on.
 
ACTION ITEM: Write out the answer to this question:  “What will happen to your hero if he or she does NOT get what they want?” Like this:  “If my hero fails, he or she will . . . ” Then make it worse.
 
3. Have a bad guy? Make him badder.
 
However nasty your antagonist may be, make him nastier. Be careful about mustache-twirling cliches (you avoid this by having them do things that you’d never expect – just like what happened in this election and AFTER this election).
 
We know that our audience must feel empathy for our protagonist. One way to accomplish this is by making the antagonist, the person preventing our hero from getting what they want, even more of an a-hole. When we dislike someone, we are more likely to want the other to succeed.
(Oh, I will leave it to you to decide who the bad guy was in this election.)
 
ACTION ITEM: On a scale of 1-10, how much of a bad guy is your bad guy? Add something to your story that he or she does or has done to make him or her worse.
 
4. Think you know what’s going to happen?
 
This election took more twists and turns than a rollercoaster. And that’s how your story should unfold as well! On Tuesday night, it started out one way, then turned another (which kept people up watching late into the night). Then the next day it turned again when the mail-in vote started coming in. Then one network called Arizona. But others didn’t! And then . . . And then . . . and then!  
 
You have to surprise your audience with moments they can’t predict or EXPECT. Most successful stories follow similar structures. But what happens within that structure to keep your audience engaged is fair game.
 
ACTION ITEM: Count the twists and turns in your story. Then add another one.
 
5. Stretch it out.
 
Yes, people want shorter content in 2020. But as this election shows (as well as Les Miz, Angels in America and The Inheritance), there are ways to keep people watching. If you can keep your audience twisting and turning (see #4), you’ll increase the tension, and be able to stretch your story just a touch more . . . which will give your audience an even bigger release when the curtain comes down.
 
There would have been celebrations of the winner of this election around the world regardless of when the race was called. But I guarantee you, the celebrations would NOT have been as big as they were if the race was called on election night.
 
ACTION ITEM: Where in your story does your hero get what they want? Can you add a “But wait,” moment to delay it a touch more? Be careful!  Make sure your audience truly doesn’t know what’s going to happen next, or they’ll get bored. But if you’ve done your twisting and turning right, this could get you an even bigger celebration at the end of your show.
 
Happy drafting!
– – – – –
If you want more advice on how to create award-winning stories, don’t listen to me.  Listen to Pulitzer Prize winners, Academy Award winners, Tony Award winners, and more.  We have them all and 100 other speakers at this weekend’s TheaterMakersSummit in just TWO DAYS!  Get your ticket now. It only takes ONE change in your script to get the attention of a Producer.  Hear what you should do this weekend.  Click here.

Will the Vaccine mean Broadway will come back early?

 
It’s been a good week for the theater world.
 
First, we had the election. Enough said.
 
Second, Pfizer announced a vaccine that was 90% (!) effective in preventing Covid-19.  (To put that in perspective, the FDA stated they’d take a shot on a shot that was 50% effective.)
 
 
“The vaccine is on its way, folks,” he said, “We’re going to get over this together!” 
 
You could hear the sigh of relief from TheaterMakers all over the planet.
 
You could also hear emails whizzing through cyberspace from Producer, Directors, Agents, Actors, etc, wondering, “Does this mean we can get back to work sooner?”
 
Good question.
 
Currently, on Broadway, customers can get refunds and exchanges through May 31st. That never meant we’d open up right after, however. And most of us in the industry expected a fall return. (I predicted a November 11th curtain-up, but boy o’ effin’ boy would I SO love to be wrong about that one).
 
But could the news that Americans could get vaccinated by April keep us on track for a June return? In time for the more bountiful summer?
 
Or could some shows open even earlier? If all Americans could get vaccinated by April, does that mean half could have doses by March? Could the state allow a few shows to open under those circumstances (along with a zillion other protocols)?
 
I know I’m excited about the vaccine and what it could mean for the industry, as you can tell from the tone of my typing.
 
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We’re theater people. Which means we can let our emotions overwhelm reason.  So it’s important we take a breath, especially when we’re dealing with something as dangerous as Covid-19, and as fragile as the Broadway economic model.
 
A few things:
 
First, while I trust the CEO of Pfizer (you think he would have released this data to the world if he wasn’t sure?), and I trust Dr. Fauci, there are a few more steps to go with the FDA before Pfizer gets the green light.  Monday’s breaking news was only a press release.  And every Broadway Producer knows a press release is just a press release.  
 
Second, no matter how good the vaccine is, it’s ZERO percent effective if people don’t take it. (Expect one heck of a marketing campaign from the government to push inoculation.) 
 
Third, we’re in the middle of a rising second wave EVERYWHERE in this country. If we don’t clamp this one down, it will be hard for any of our powers-that-be to focus on lifting restrictions.
 
Fourth, for Broadway to return, it has to be safe for its audiences and it has to be safe at the box office. And since our audiences are 65% tourists, I wouldn’t expect a full-blown opening day for all the Broadway shows the second that we are approved to open. Some shows will open asap, of course (expect Disney to lead the way), but others will wait until they know it’s safe in the audience and for their bottom line.  These shows will wade into the waters as well (perhaps with fewer than eight shows a week).
 
So, based on the information announced in the last few days, there’s now a good ‘shot’ (pun intended) that some shows will open for the summer . . . which is so much better than what we all thought a week ago.  Earlier than that is a stretch, but the next few weeks will tell that tale.
 
But regardless of when we open, the news of the vaccine and Fauci’s statement is like a starter gun going off in the race to get our theaters open again.  There is light at the end of the darkest tunnel ThaterMakers have ever been in.  
And it’s time to run towards that light, like that little girl in Poltergeist.
So, if you’re a Producer, Writer, Director, Actor, or any kind of TheaterMaker . . . the end is in sight. And it’s time to start gearing up for our return.
 
Because if you don’t, a whole bunch of other TheaterMakers are going to pass you by and grab the opportunities that will be here before we know it.
 
– – – – –
 
I want to thank Pfizer and Dr. Fauci for making their announcement just THREE DAYS before my TheaterMakers Summit. Because if you’re looking to get yourself ready for the theater’s return, there is no better place to be than The TheaterMakers Summit. Join 103 (!) speakers who are as excited as I am to help you make theater in our new world. Click here.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

3 Things I Learned From Joe Biden’s big win.

It doesn’t matter what side of the political spectrum you are on . . . Joe Biden’s win was a big one. (Unless, you’re so far on one side that you don’t acknowledge the win . . . but something tells me that doesn’t apply to the people who read this blog. Thank goodness.)
 
Whenever something BIG happens, I make it a habit to try and determine why it happened. Then, both you and I can apply it to our swings of the bat . . . in the hopes that we can both come up with a home run of our own.
 
Big “wins” in any industry are always the result of 1,000 different things. And while I’m no political expert by any means (nor do I ever want to be), here are THREE KEYS I believe that helped put Biden over the top. And can help you too.  
 
KEY #1: Authenticity is the new transparency.
 
If George W. Bush was the kind of guy you could have a beer with, Joe Biden is the kind of guy you can have a chat with. And you can expect him to be open, honest, humble and sincere. He has experienced tragedy in his life. And he’ll talk about it. He has experienced disappointment in his career. And he’ll talk about it. This is a guy who once said, “I’ve done some dumb things, and I’ll do dumb things again.”
 
By being transparent AND authentic, Joe was able to give us something we haven’t had in awhile . . . a politician that the people can relate to, empathize with, and BELIEVE.
 
ACTION ITEM: How can you allow people to see your personal truth in your work and in your life? (Here’s a tiny example of this concept from my own life – look at how many likes this picture got! And then, read the story of how Rachel Hollis became the mega motivational star she is today.)  
 
KEY #2: It’s all in the . . .
 
Joe Biden ran for president twice before. And lost twice before. We’ll get more into this in KEY #3, but KEY #2 reminds us that sometimes the world isn’t ready for what we have to offer. And there is not much you can do about it. Except keep going, and wait for when the time is right.
 
And Joe knew.  He used it as a reason to stay the course.  Read this quote from the New York Times about his 1988 race:
 
He liked to say that presidential history ran in cycles: bursts of progress and upheaval, followed by periods of correction in which voters choose a candidate who can “let America catch its breath.” (New York Times)
 
Your unique talent, your unique voice, your specific art may not achieve the type of breakthrough success exactly when you want it.  Or think you deserve it. (My mom taught me early never to think I deserve anything.) 
Whether you’re a politician or a playwright, your success depends on an audience. And their reaction is unpredictable. And it also depends on what else is going on in the world (Remember when Chicago opened in 1975 and didn’t make a dent in theatrical history? And then the revival opened in 1996 . . . and is still going . . . all over the world?  Pandemic notwithstanding, of course.) 
 
But when you stick around, and keep creatin’, the stars and stages will align.
 
ACTION ITEM: Have you stopped doing something in your life because you didn’t achieve the type of success that you wanted, when you wanted it? Pick it back up. Don’t focus on the success. Focus on the doing. And the success will come when the universe (and the audience) is ready for you.
 
KEY #3: Get up off the canvas and keep punching.
 
Joe Biden didn’t just run for President twice before.  And lose twice before.  He got shellacked!  (The first time he lost, it ended in scandal!)
 
TheaterMakers think a bad review in the New York Times is hard to get over . . . imagine millions and millions of people saying, “We don’t like you.” TWICE!
 
Can you imagine? If you had experienced “failure” at that high of a level in your pursuits . . . would you want to get back up and run again?
 
I’m sure those losses hurt. But Joe didn’t let them bother him for long. Joe knew he needed better timing (KEY #1).
 
And he also said to himself, “What can I do to be better?” He trained. He learned. He didn’t let his ego get in the way, and served under others.
 
And he used the experience of his two previous losses to help him win this time out.
 
For many, disappointment or a failure becomes an excuse to quit. The successful use it as a textbook to create their future.
 
ACTION ITEM: What is something in your life or career that didn’t work out the way you wanted? Have you held your own personal post-mortem? Asked others to help you objectively analyze why something didn’t work?  What can you do next time to make it better?
 
BONUS KEY #4!!!!
 
There’s a 4th Key to Joe Biden’s success this time around that we must acknowledge . . .
KEY #4.  He found a strong, smart woman to stand by his side.
 
Which, if you’re counting, makes TWO. 
– – – – –
 
If you’re looking to learn from those who have taken several swings of the bat before they hit one out of the park? You must come to the TheaterMakers Summit! You’ll hear so many authentic A-listers talking about how they “made it,” and how you can too. Click here. It’s in just FOUR DAYS!  And more A-list speakers were just added to our lineup!  See you there.
 
 
Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

I'm on a mission to help 5000 shows get produced by 2025.

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