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

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These folks are so boss.

I want to give a shout out to all of the boss’s I’ve had throughout my life who taught me so much.

From my Boss at Domino’s Pizza in the 80s, to my Boss at Cutco in the 90s (Yep, I sold those suckers), to all my Bosses on Broadway when I was Company Managing and General Managing from Nina Lannan to Hal Luftig and so many more.

Here are three great pieces of advice I got from my Boss’s.

1. “People invest in people, not in projects.”

2️. “Take care of the people who work for you. And they will take care of you.”

3️. “Life is NOT work. So make sure you have a life.”

Oh, and one more . . .

And from my greatest Boss, my wife, this one . . .

4. “Just do what I say. You know I’m right.”

So shout out the great bosses in your life by sharing this post with them and saying “thanks!”. And if you are a great boss, keep up the good work!

October 15, 2021: What TheaterMakers Are Talking About This Week

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

 

1 – Variety’s Broadway Comeback

What an honor to be part of such an exciting event to celebrate our industry’s return! Hear from some of Broadway’s leading players below about what we need in order to come back better. The best part? Theatermakers anywhere can learn from the event’s tips.

Read more: www.variety.com 

2 – The Theatre Leadership Project Tax Credit is Approved

Looking for a way for your show to come back better? Then The Theatre Leadership Project has a solution for you. Take a look at this incredible opportunity for emerging BIPOC theatermakers, then make sure to send this info to the theatermakers in your life!

Read more: www.broadwayworld.com 

3 – Six Costume Inspiration

It’s no question that the Queens of Six have style, but do you know which real life pop queens inspired the show’s costume designer Gabriella Slade? Take your guesses in the comments before reading, and let me know if you got any right!

Read more: www.variety.com 

4 – Creative Goods QR Merch Codes

Anything that reduces a line anywhere is a good thing – especially in a Broadway theater! Now your in-show shopping experiences just got that much easier thanks to Creative Goods. What Broadway souvenir are you most excited to take home this season? 

Read more: www.broadwaynews.com  

5 – Jesus Christ Superstar Turns 50

One of the theater’s most iconic stories is turning 50, and what a journey! Take a look at Jesus Christ Superstar’s unique history from concept album to tour to Broadway to NBC to. . .beyond. 

Read more: www.nytimes.com 

 

Fun on a Friday: 

New Broadway musical anyone? Check out the first song from Paradise Square before its New York premiere!

 

Watch the video here:

 

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I turned 14 years old. TODAY.

 

14 years ago, I sat in my much smaller office and said, “I’m going to start a blog.”

So I did.  

And oh, what a ride this blog has been.

It’s where I announced the crowdfunding of Godspell.  It’s where I announced the livestreaming of Daddy Long Legs. It’s where I announced my iPhone commercial.

In those 14 years, it has been mentioned in the NY Times and Vanity Fair.  And it has been flamed on chat boards. 

In other words, this blog is everything and more than I ever could have imagined.

I tried to quit it a couple of times.  And, I keep comin’ back to it.  Because I believe conversations about the theater are what keep the theater kickin’. 

So I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of you for reading.  And . . . because I’m a data guy – I also wanted to show you something which I found fascinating.

Of the thousands of blogs I’ve written . . . literally thousands, which ones do you think are the most popular?

I’ll tell you.  

Here are the Top 10 blogs over this blog’s 14 years of existence.  (And it’s no coincidence that 3 of them were written in 2020).  Enjoy ‘em!

 

  1. 3 Reasons Why Social Distancing Won’t Work For The Theater (June 18, 2020)
  2. 10 Audition Tips for Actors (December 10, 2008)
  3. 100 Quotes Every Theater Producer, Playwright, Director, Actor, etc Must Read (April 26, 2019)
  4. Top 100 Theater Books Every TheaterMaker Should Read. (January 24, 2019)
  5. 5 Tips to Getting a Job on Broadway (January 7, 2013)
  6. The Three Types of Broadway Producers: Lead Producer, Co-Producer and Executive Producer EXPLAINED (March 28, 2019)
  7. How to write a One-Person Show in 30 days. (August 5, 2016)
  8. “How Do I Get The Stage Rights To A Book/Movie/Play, etc.?” (January 29, 2008)
  9. Why Broadway May Have An Advantage Before It Opens Back Up (April 28, 2020)
  10. Broadway’s return isn’t about marketing. It’s about habit-ing. (May 7, 2020)

 

Oh, if you want to read that first EVER blog?  It’s here. (If a Producer talks out loud in his office and no one is there to hear it. . )

I’m going to keep bloggin’.  Because I’ve been doing it for almost 1/4 of my life now!  

But we are going to do a bit of a refresh and add some new and exciting features.  You’ll see next week, when we start our 15th year off on a new foot!

And if you’re not a subscriber, click here and sign up to make sure you see the new look of the blog.

Thanks again and I look forward to the next 14!

October 8, 2021: What TheaterMakers Are Talking About This Week

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

 

1 – Broadway Extends Vax Requirement

Even though it may not come as a surprise, our new normal is here to stay. . . at least for right now. The Broadway League has extended its mask and vaccination requirements through the end of 2021. Stay up to date with Broadway’s vaccine requirements below. 

Read more: www.playbill.com 

2 – IATSE Updates

Thankfully, negotiations are back on after a monumental strike authorization vote from IATSE members. Looking forward to a resolution that satisfies both sides and keeps our sister industry working. Stay up to date with the latest union decisions below. 

Read more: www.deadline.com 

3 – Dana H / Is This a Room? Downtown Hits

Almost everything about the current Broadway season is brand new, including the operation inside the Lyceum Theater. Take a look at what it takes to bring two Broadway debuts – Dana H and Is This A Room – to the same theater. . . at the same time. 

Read more: www.nytimes.com  

4 – Diana on Netflix Before Broadway

It’s not news that I’m a major supporter of more streamed theater. I believe the modern day version of a pre-Broadway concept album (basically what Andrew Lloyd Webber did with Jesus Christ Superstar) is a streaming production. Read why the team behind Diana chose to debut on Netflix before Broadway. And then ask yourself, “Would you stream your show before Broadway?”. Let me know why or why not.

Read more: www.hollywoodreporter.com  

5 – TedxBroadway 2022 

I can’t believe it’s been 11 years since the first TedxBroadway. And super kudos to my co-founders Jim McCarthy and Damian Bazadona on their announcement that the next conference will be in March 2022. . . in person and virtually! Get ready to tune in from wherever you are to celebrate and discuss the return of live theater and ask ourselves, “What’s the best Broadway can be?” 

Read more: www.playbill.com 

 

Fun on a Friday: 

The first trailer for the VERY FIRST revival of Funny Girl has just dropped, featuring Beanie Feldstein in the iconic title role. Hello, Gorgeous indeed! 

Watch the video here:

 

 

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

Two (more) things about the Tony Awards.

I’m still thinking about the Tony Awards.

I can’t help it.

It was such a unique year.  And so many things were tried that never would have been tried in an “ordinary” year.  

The Tonys were forced to do something that our industry doesn’t like to do . . . experiment.

And sometimes experiments lead to great things.  And sometimes they lead to . . . less great things.

There were TWO things that stood out to me . . . ONE that I hope sets a precedent and becomes the way we ALWAYS do it.

And one that I hope isn’t done again.

Let’s start with the one I hope disappears:

 

The Two Tiered Network Approach

While I did love the fact that all the awards were “televised” by having a pre-show stream on Paramount+, I’d prefer the Awards stay unified as one broadcast on one network.

That’s the best way to get the most viewers and to accomplish what I believe is the purpose of the show:  to honor and market the excellence in the theater.

Personally, it didn’t bug me that much. I had Paramount+ already.  (My daughter wanted to watch something they had – so I had to get it.) But from listening to the feedback of our fans (and our primary responsibility should always be to listen to our consumers) is that asking our fans to pay for yet another streaming service (even if there is a free trial), isn’t going to get more people to watch.

So that’s one I hope gets scratched.

Now, the one experiment that I hope becomes precedent is . . .

 

The Live Performances From The SHOWS’ Theaters.

In the past, all live performances were live FROM the theater presenting The Tony Awards (in recent years – that’s Radio City).  So, the casts had to be bussed to and from the theater several times (dress rehearsals, performances), new sets had to be built, props had to be loaded in and out and in and out, etc.

It’s a logistical nightmare and super expensive.

Why was it done that way?

The (good) argument has always been that the energy of the shows performing live at The Tonys Theater energizes the audience at The Tonys Theater . . . which translates to better TV.

Ok.  I get it.  Sort of.

This year?  Because of Covid . . . the shows performed FROM their theaters.  Simpler.  Safer. And I don’t know this for sure, but it had to be less expensive for most.

And I’d argue . . . the shows came off even better than they would if they performed at the Winter Garden.

Why?

The shows are on their own sets.  So the shows look like more of a spectacle.  And the audience gets to see inside the room where it happens . . . and that glimpse helps market the shows better.  

The ACTORS are on their own sets . . . and in their own theaters.  They are bound to be more comfortable . . . and therefore deliver much better performances.  Performing on the Tonys is nerve wracking enough . . . why put them on that enormous stage they may have only walked across twice?  

I could go on and on . . . 

The sound was better.  The audiences were real people and fans!  Otherwise they wouldn’t have been invited.  (Isn’t it awkward during a performance on the Tonys when the camera catches a celeb who is obviously not interested in whatever number is going on?)

So I’d argue for this experiment to become the norm.  

It’s a win, win, win.  It creates a better marketing environment for the show, a safer environment for the company, and should save hours and hours of time and logistical planning.  

The 147 pros outweigh the cons for sure.

What do you think?  Did you enjoy the performances live from their theaters more than previous years?  Or would you rather them performed from Radio City?  Comment below to let me know your thoughts.

And we’ll see what happens at the next Tonys, which are only . . . 8 months away!
Want to know what I thought about the Tonys ratings being down? Check out last week’s blog.

The Dr. Kenny Encouragement Fund Scholarship Deadline EXTENDED

Listening to feedback on everything you do is the key to doing everything you do better.

And one piece of feedback we got about my Dad’s scholarship is that TheaterMakers are busier than EVER right now!

And they just needed a bit more time to apply.

So, we’re giving it to them.

Our deadline for our TWO scholarships (one for a student and one for anyone) was last week, but we’re now giving you TWO more weeks!  You have until October 15th at 11:59 PM to apply for our two $1,000 scholarships.

Need more info on how to win?  Click here for all the details and the application process.

And if you don’t need the scholarship this year, forward this on to someone you know who might. 

October 1, 2021: What TheaterMakers Are Talking About This Week

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

1 – CBS and Paramount+ Split Tonys

After 18 months without Broadway, this was bound to be a post-Tonys week to remember. And though I’ve always said there should be more streaming in theater, splitting the Tony Awards in two telecasts wasn’t EXACTLY what I had in mind. Hear from the Producers and the Networks as to why they believe this was an advantage. But now that it’s over, what did YOU think? 

Read more: www.variety.com 

2 – Thoughts of a Colored Man Partners With YMCA 

An incredible example of how theater can change lives – even off stage – is the latest community initiative from Broadway’s Thoughts of a Colored Man and YMCA. Take a look at how Keenan Scott II, Brian Moreland, and the theatermakers behind the show are impacting the community the show reflects. 

Read more: www.t2online.com 

3 – Slave Play Returns to Broadway

More exciting reopening news: Jeremy O. Harris‘s record-breaking Tony-nominated play Slave Play is officially coming back to Broadway! The once-again limited engagement is set to open in November, so get yourself to the August Wilson before it’s gone (again!). 

Read more: www.broadwaynews.com  

4 – Dramatists Guild Inclusion Rider

I applaud the Dramatists Guild for providing the necessary tools for theatermakers and another crucial step forward for our industry. Find more details about how the resource can be utilized below.

Read more: www.broadwaynews.com  

5 – CAA Buys Rival ICM

In a groundbreaking move for our colleagues on screen, two major agencies become one. Keep up to date with this story to see how its effects influence how the film industry moves forward. 

Read more: www.hollywoodreporter.com 

Fun on a Friday: 

Watch Tony-winner Matthew López’s family (including Broadway icon Priscilla Lopez) find out The Inheritance won Best Play. 

Watch the video here:

  

 

 

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

Duh. Of course The Tony Awards ratings were down!

Instead of predicting who was going to win The Tony Awards on Sunday, I should have predicted the adjectives editors were going to use to describe the low ratings the show was destined to receive.  

“Plummeted!”

“Crash!” 

And my favorite . . . 

“All time low!”

Uhhh, remember that time for a year and a half when theater was at an ALL TIME LOW?!?!  

The articles aren’t wrong, of course. The ratings weren’t good. Down 51% in fact. But if you were expecting something better, then you’re wearing a helluva of a pair of Mama Rose-colored glasses.

Of course the ratings were down . . . and here are five reasons why:

  1. All Awards Shows Are Down.

Awards shows have been on a decline for years.  Check out this analysis I did in 2019 of Tony viewership compared to The Oscars and Grammys over the years. 

In 2020, The Emmys hit an all time low as well . . . and unlike the theater, you could still see TV in 2020!

(The Emmys bounced back to a healthy number this year, just like we will, when we’ve got new shows to tout.)

  1. Guess Who Really Advertises The Tonys?

If we ever needed proof about who markets The Tony Awards, this was it.  

See, in a “normal” year, all of the Broadway shows spend a gazillion dollars in awards marketing . . . trumpeting their nominations, trying to convince voters, etc.  And it’s a big public drum beat leading up to the ceremony.

This year? None of it. I’d estimate that $20mm WASN’T spent on media talking about The Tony Awards. 

And that’s got an impact.  

  1. It wasn’t JUST Football, but also Football.

We’re usually up against an NBA game. This year, we faced Football. And I know, you’re thinking that our audience isn’t Football’s audience. There’s more of a crossover than you think . . . and Football can be a full day activity in front of a screen for a family. Even if they all aren’t watching, the chances of that screen staying on into the night, drop.  

And don’t forget about baseball. And the last few days of warm weather. And, and, and . . .

  1. Who were we rooting for again?

Imagine watching the Bachelor or Survivor or Ru Paul’s Drag Race . . .and taking an 18-month break before you found out who won. Would you even remember who was still in the game?  

Competitions are about building up some drama (pun intended), and this year, that was impossible to do. Sure, our avid fans were invested . . . which is why the ratings didn’t drop even MORE. The Casual fans, casually watched something else.  Probably SVU.

  1. Two Networks is Like Two Acts.

Years ago, there was a certain show that was having trouble in previews. No one liked it.

When I asked someone close to the show how it was going, they said, “They just cut the intermission . . . less opportunity for people to leave.”

While I understand why it was done, having the show split in two and on two different networks (Paramount+ and then CBS) adds a complication to the process that gave people an opportunity to leave.  

Then add in the cost for Paramount+, its lack of availability for Canadian audiences, etc, and you have a recipe for low ratings.

So yeah, it was low. 

But get this . . . next year’s Tony Awards, which is NOT too far away, by the way, will be bigger.

I have TWO big thoughts about next year’s awards. I’ll share those next week.

Sign up here to make sure you don’t miss that entry.

Congratulations to The Tony Award-winning TheaterMakers

Well, it finally happened. Last night, the Davenport clan watched the 74th Annual Tony Awards. It wasn’t a typical Tonys (and maybe that’s a good thing). But it was a TONYS!!!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Congrats to all. Relive moments from my podcast and from the last year on The Producer’s Perspective Live where I was lucky enough to speak with so many of last night’s winners.

And now the new season  . . . figuratively and literally . . . begins! 

 

The Inheritance

Congratulations to Matthew Lopez, Tom Kirdahy, and all of the theatermakers on The Inheritance

  • Best Play
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play – Andrew Burnap
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play – Lois Smith
  • Best Direction of a Play – Stephen Daldry

 

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

Because they won, won, won! 

  • Best Musical
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical – Aaron Tveit
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical – Danny Burstein
  • Best Scenic Design of a Musical – Derek McLane
  • Best Costume Design of a Musical – Catherine Zuber
  • Best Lighting Design of a Musical – Justin Townsend
  • Best Sound Design of a Musical – Peter Hylenski
  • Best Direction of a Musical – Alex Timbers
  • Best Choreography – Sonya Tayeh
  • Best Orchestrations – Katie Kresek, Charlie Rosen, Matt Stine, and Justin Levine

 

A Soldier’s Play

Congratulations to Kenny Leon and all involved with this award-winning play!

  • Best Revival of a Play
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play – David Alan Grier

 

Jagged Little Pill

  • Best Book of a Musical – Diablo Cody
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical – Lauren Patten 

 

A Christmas Carol

  • Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre – Christopher Nightingale
  • Best Scenic Design of a Play – Rob Howell 
  • Best Costume Design of a Play – Rob Howell
  • Best Lighting Design of a Play – Hugh Vanstone
  • Best Sound Design of a Play – Simon Baker

 

The Sound Inside

  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play – Mary-Louise Parker

 

Tina – The Tina Turner Musical

  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical – Adrienne Warren

How to Watch This Year’s Tony Awards

It’s Tony Awards weekend!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Tonys Weekend!

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