A Tony Award-Winning Producer’s
Perspective on Broadway
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BROADWAY’S RECOVERY PART I: What Will It Look Like?

Since the pandemic began, Economists have been obsessing about how quickly the economy is going to bounce back after this sucker is over (or . . . over “enough.”)

Will we have a “V” shaped recovery?  Or a “U” shaped?  Or my favorite . . . a Nike Swoosh shape?

Since the pandemic began, Broadway Producers (including the one composing this hypothesis right now) have been obsessing about how quickly Broadway is going to bounce back.

My prediction . . .

Broadway is going to bounce back . . . and fast.

What’s unique about our industry is that it doesn’t follow any of the typical shapes of recovery because we went from 100 mph to zero in NO seconds flat.  We were grossing $30 million a week on Broadway alone . . . and then we were zero dollars the next week.  We slammed into a COVID-19 wall.

Even restaurants have take-out options.  Bands that can’t give concerts can sell albums.  Broadway shows?  We got nothing.  (Hint for next time – and there will be a next time, as I’ll talk about next week  –  all shows should be captured for potential streaming opportunities.)

So if I had to give our recovery a shape, I guess it would look something like this . . .

(FYI, I spent about an hour trying to figure out what to call that shape.  I tried everything from “Deformed Bucket Recovery” to “The Fishing Hook Recovery” . . . what would you call it?)

You can see that we had that immediate wall-smacking drop off on 3/12 . . . and of course, an immediate and completely 90% vertical BLAST OFF when(ever) our curtains go back up.

Now, the more interesting part . . . what happens AFTER that straight-into-the-sky return.  Well, you’ll see that I’m not predicting we’re going to start grossing $30mm a week like we were when we shut down.  For one, there will probably be fewer shows, which means less of a gross potential, never mind fewer tourists to see those shows.  (PS – That diagram above is definitely NOT to scale)

So we’re going to start off earning less than when we were.

How much less?

That depends on what I call The Three Ts:

  1. Testing
  2. Treatment
  3. TIME (How many weeks/months do we have from knowing when we can come back to the actual day we come back.)

Nevertheless, I do believe we will see a quick upward trajectory after we return.  (The stock market is having that sort of bounce – and believe it or not, we do tend to follow the dow’s chart, as I showed here.)

But my belief in a quick Broadway bounce back is not some hunch.  I have THREE reasons why I think we’re in store for a quick recovery.

What are they?

I’ll tell you tomorrow in PART II!

– – – – –

(Can’t wait to read PART II?  Want it now?  I already wrote it.  Click here to get it to emailed to you NOW.)









Tonight on the Livestream: I’m sitting down with Lynn Ahrens (Lyricist of Once On This Island, Ragtime, Anastasia) at 8pm EDT. You can now watch on my Facebook pageTwitter, Broadway Podcast Network’s Youtube channel, or Broadway On Demand.

THIS WEEK ON THE LIVESTREAM: Lynn Ahrens, Kelly Devine, Adrian Bryan-Brown and more!

We had a week of big laughs on last week’s Livestream, and not just because I can’t seem to get through an episode without screwing something up.  🙂

If you missed any of the industry experts we had on the show, or just want to see my ‘live bloopers’, here are a few replays from last week to catch up on!

  • Mara Isaacs talked about her company Theater For One and how it’s perfect for Social Distancing for theatre.
  • Jamil Jude shared his insight to how regional theaters will bounce back stronger than ever.
  • Michael Greif talked about his relationship with writers Pasek & Paul and Jonathan Larson and how the piece develops when you have great collaborators.
  • The Daddy Long Legs Reunion brought together the entire team for the first in nearly five years and we chatted about fond memories, how the show came together, and what important prop is living in Megan and Adam’s apartment.
  • Des McAnuff shared his insight on

You can see all of the 50+ episodes here.

AND HERE IS WHO IS ON THE LIVE STREAM THIS WEEK:

Tuesday, May 26th – Lynn Ahrens (Composer – Ragtime, Once On This Island, Anastasia)

Wednesday, May 27th – Lisa Kron (Playwright/Bookwriter – Fun Home) with Special Guests Daddy-Daughter YouTube Singing Sensations Mat and Savanna Shaw.

Thursday, May 28th – Kelly Devine (Choreographer – Diana, Come From Away, Rocky)

Friday, May 29th – Adrian Bryan-Brown (President – Boneau/Bryan-Brown: Broadway Theatre Public Relations).

We are going LIVE every night at 8pm EDT (7pm CDT/ 6pm MDT/ 5pm PDT). Follow me on Facebook to get notified as soon as we hit the “GO LIVE” button.

Don’t have Facebook? You can also watch the livestream on Broadway Podcast Network’s Youtube channel.

To see who’s coming up next, visit www.TheProducersPerspective.com/LIVE.

Forget Broadway shows, what about Broadway readings, workshops, and more?

Over the last several months (!), the #1 question for the professionals working on Broadway and the avid fans of the best spectator art on the planet has been . . . “When can we see a show in a theater again?”

But there is another important question to be asked and it isn’t about what will be on Broadway when the lights go back on . . . rather what might fill Broadway theaters in the months and years after!

The best business people I know don’t focus only on what’s happening today . . . but they think about what is going to happen tomorrow.  That’s their job.  This is why stocks of companies that are losing millions of dollars can have exceptionally high values, because investors are betting on what WILL happen, not what is going to happen.

That’s why a company or industry’s health isn’t only measured on what product is being “produced” today (whether that’s diapers, drugs, or Broadway musicals), but what new product(s) are in the pipeline.

Broadway has had a pipeline so full over the last few years that it has been clogged with product.  I heard a rumor that before this whole corona-bologna happened, there were more than 30 (!) plays and musicals looking for a theater on Broadway this spring alone!

Will there be the same log jam now?  Will more theaters be available?

And if there are . . . my question is . . . will there be new plays and musicals ready to fill them?

See, Broadway shows aren’t the only things that are shut down.  So are readings, workshops, labs, and all the development work that goes into the creation of a new piece of theater.  I had four musicals that were set to debut in the next 18 months in February.  I still have four musicals set to debut . . . but they’ve all been pushed back. Not only because we can’t produce theater right now . . . but also because we can’t develop theater.

So the question so many Producers have been asking is . . . where will readings and workshops fit in the phased-reopening of New York City?

I keep thinking that a rehearsal of a reasonably sized musical would be similar to a medium-sized office reopening.  So will we be able to come back when mid-sized companies do?  Then again, there’s often singing involved in our readings.  And also . . . what if we wanted to bring in an audience?  That seems like a no-no.  I guess we could socially distance a reading.  Or work with smaller cast sizes (just work with principals, etc.).

Zoom readings and online development work can only go so far in a medium like the theater.  So while we certainly can’t commence this work tomorrow, I’m hoping that development can find a safe way to come back before our productions do.

Otherwise, we might have an empty pipeline . . . which would mean empty theaters.

– – – – –

Want to hear about what’s in our pipeline?  Click here to learn about the shows we’re developing.

P.S. And if you’re looking to hear directly from people in our industry share what they’re doing to keep creating during this time, tune into my Facebook page every night at 8pm EDT. Tonight, I’m going LIVE with Tony Award-winning Director, Des McAnuff (Jersey Boys, Ain’t Too Proud).

 

 

Tonight on the Livestream: Tony Award-winning Director, Des McAnuff

Big thanks to everyone who tuned into our Daddy Long Legs Reunion last night. It was wonderful to see John Caird, Paul Gordon, Michael Jackowitz, Megan McGinnis, Paul Alexander Nolan, and Adam Halpin together in one space after all these years.

If you missed this special livestream benefiting The Actors Fund, make sure you check out the replay available on my Facebook page, my Twitter, Broadway Podcast Network’s Youtube, and on Broadway On Demand. You’ll hear everyone’s favorite memories, the reason behind a cut song, and what prop Megan has in her NY apartment…!

And don’t forget, you can go back and replay all your favorite episodes here!

And tonight, we’re celebrating the end of Week 9 with none other than Tony Award-winning Director, Des McAnuff (Jersey Boys, Ain’t Too Proud, The Who’s Tommy).

Tune at 8pm EDT tonight . . . click here to set your e-reminder.

To see the full line-up of guests for the next few weeks visit www.theproducersperspective.com/LIVE.

———–

(If any of you are interested in streaming your concert, workshop, reading . . . or even starting your own livestream series, I highly recommend the platform we’ve been using – StreamYard.  Click here to check them out.)

[REMINDER] Daddy Long Legs reunites TONIGHT at 8 PM!

Hey all!

Don’t forget – we’ve scheduled a very special livestream event for all of you tonight!

The company of my Off-Broadway production of Daddy Long Legs will be reuniting tonight!

Don’t know Daddy Long Legs?  Well, dang it, you should, because it’s one of the sweetest shows I’ve ever seen, never mind produced . . . and it just so happened to be the very first show to EVER be livestreamed!  That’s right, it was a little glimpse at the future when we livestreamed it to 135 countries and 155k people in 2015 (!).  You can learn more about that here.

So we thought it was only appropriate to bring back the cast and creative team to see what they’re up to, and what they thought about livestreaming back then . . . and what they think now!

Look who’s gonna be here:

Megan McGinnis (Jerusha Abbott), Adam Halpin (Jervis Pendleton), Paul Alexander Nolan (Jervis Pendleton), John Caird (Book & Director), Paul Gordon (Music & Lyrics), and Michael Jackowitz (Producer).

Bring your questions and get ready to hear about everyone’s favorite memories from the show (and maybe a few behind-the-scenes memories from the 2015 broadcast).

To tune in, click the link here. We are going LIVE at 8pm EDT (7pm CDT/ 6pm MDT/ 5pm PDT) but you can set your reminder NOW to be alerted as soon as we go LIVE.

Make an event of this livestream with your friends and family . . . invite them to enjoy in the #DaddyLongLegsReunion and share the link with them!

We’re also raising money for The Actors Fund. If you can share a few bucks, we’d love for you to donate to this organization. If not, please help us in raising awareness.

– – – – –

Never saw Daddy?  Or want a reminder?  See it free with a trial on BroadwayHD (use code: DLLBHD) or stream the recording here!

Why The Grease Sing-along Instead Of The Tony Awards.

Over the past few weeks, there has been a lot of chatter about what CBS might air on Tony Sunday instead of the actual, aborted, Tonys.

I heard about Best Ofs, Tributes, and a whole host of other ideas (including some with some pretty big celebrity hosts).

And at the end of the play, CBS chose Grease.

Ok, ok, I’m not giving them full credit.

They chose a Grease sing-along.

A wop baba loo bop a wop BS.

This was a hard one for us Broadway avids to take.   The Tonys is our Super Bowl, our Masters, our Christmas, and Hannukah rolled into one for some!

And now that night will consist of four chords and three jokes.

Now listen – I actually love me some Grease.  Those four chords and three jokes are some of the most brilliant around when you calculate how many people this show/movie/classic has kept smiling over the past 50+ years (not to mention how much money it has made).

So, I apologize for knocking it.  It’s just I love the Tonys that much.

What happened to all those other ideas?  The Best Ofs and so on?

What happened is what usually happened . . . someone added up the cost of a revised “Tonys” (as well as the time and logistics involved in making it) and compared it to the cost of showing Grease.  Guess what won?

See, it’s not so easy to just pull old Tony Awards footage out of a vault and show it . . . like you can pull an old movie out of a vault and show it.  The Tony Awards telecasts weren’t set up for replays.  And it’s just too expensive to do it.  So our sister-in-show-biz, the movie industry, has a leg up on us here.

But hopefully, this will teach us that we need a mechanism in place for situations like this (as I wrote about here), and our lack of flexibility with what we can do with our content is causing us to lose the battle.

We’ll win the war.  Because nothing replaces live.

And in the meantime, on Sunday, June 7th, I’ll just watch Netflix instead.

– – – – –

If you want something to stream, check out Daddy Long Legs on BroadwayHD.  You can get it for free for 30 days now with the code DLLBHD.

 

 

Tonight on the Livestream: Celebrating 50 episodes with Jamil Jude

Big thanks to Mara Isaacs for joining me last night. I’m excited to watch her company, Theatre For One, blossom during this continued social distancing period. And if you’re looking to make some extra cash, might I suggest taking a page from Mara’s daughter’s handbook — tutoring!

If you missed her episode last night, you can catch the replay here.

And don’t forget, you can go back and replay all your favorite episodes here!

And tonight, we’re celebrating 50 episodes with Jamil Jude, the Artistic Director of Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company. Jamil is gonna share with us how his regional theatre is coping during these times . . . especially in the middle of Georgia.

We have a special guest joining us as well! Remember Mary Neely? She was featured in our “Something To Make You Smile” feature last week? Well, we loved her videos so much, we asked her to join us tonight and she said YES.

Tune at 8pm EDT tonight to celebrate 50 episodes. And click here to set your e-reminder.

To see the full line-up of guests for the next few weeks visit www.theproducersperspective.com/LIVE.

———–

(If any of you are interested in streaming your concert, workshop, reading . . . or even starting your own livestream series, I highly recommend the platform we’ve been using – StreamYard.  Click here to check them out.)

THIS WEEK ON THE LIVESTREAM: Mara Isaacs, Daddy Long Legs Reunion, Michael Greif, and more!

This week, we’re celebrating the big 5-0. 50 episodes since the shutdown. Are you caught up?

If you missed any, here are a few replays from last week to catch up on!

  • Santino Fontana shared his infamous “baby blowouts” stories and his best Andrew Cuomo impersonation.
  • James Snyder unpacked his first professional role . . . as Luke Skywalker in Stars Wars the Musical.
  • Dominique Morisseau announced she submitted her script for the upcoming SoulTrain musical.
  • Lorin Latarro disclosed her exciting plans for June . . . including Broadway choreographers and ensemblists dancing on the streets of Broadway.
  • Stephanie Klemons talked about how being a double major in Genetics & Microbio Research and Modern Dance helped her on her journey of being the Supervising Choreographer for Hamilton: An American Musical.

You can see all of the episodes here.

AND HERE IS WHO IS ON THE LIVE STREAM THIS WEEK:

Monday, May 18th – Mara Isaacs (Producer – Hadestown)

Tuesday, May 19th – Jamil Jude (Artistic Director & Director, True Colors Theatre – Paradise Blue) and Special Guest Mary Neely

Wednesday, May 20th – Michael Greif (Director – Dear Evan Hansen, Next To Normal, RENT)

Thursday, May 21st – Daddy Long Legs Reunion 

Friday, May 22nd – Des McAnuff (Director – Ain’t Too Proud, Jersey Boys, The Who’s Tommy)

 

We are going LIVE every night at 8pm EDT (7pm CDT/ 6pm MDT/ 5pm PDT). Follow me on Facebook to get notified as soon as we hit the “GO LIVE” button.

Don’t have Facebook? You can also watch the livestream on Broadway Podcast Network’s Youtube channel.

To see who’s coming up next, visit www.TheProducersPerspective.com/LIVE.

[Rant Alert] We’d be better off right now if we had only done this.

WARNING:  What follows is somewhat of a rant.

But please know this rant is directed at me too.  For I believe the things that we don’t get in our lives are no one’s fault but our own.  Blame the person in the mirror.  Because that is the only person you can control.

So here’s the thing . . .

Right now there are thousands of Actors, Stagehands, Writers, Designers, and all disciplines of TheaterMakers out of work.  They’ve got no money coming in.  Zero.

And with yesterday’s announcement that Broadway is out for another . . . well . . .  several months at the very least . . . things are going to get tough for a lot of those artists and fast.  My biggest fear is that many will have to give up on their careers in the theater.  It’s already hard enough to get a job . . . but what if there are fewer jobs?

I’ve got the same worry about our TheaterGoers too . . . just in a different way.  As I wrote last week (in what has become one of my most read posts EVER), the theatergoing “habit” for our audience has been broken . . . so we run the risk of our audience retiring as well.

Scary times, right?

But it could have been less scary.

See, the challenge for the economic model on Broadway is that its revenue streams are limited.  We’re all about getting butts in seats and the best price.  And that’s just about it.  And shoot, even when we can get audiences to show up, there are few ancillary forms of revenue (we don’t get any of that bar revenue, or ticketing fees, etc.).

The most successful businesses have multiple streams of income . . . not only does this generate higher profits when things are good, but when there is a crisis, you’re not solely reliant on one source of revenue.

Like we are now.

Ok, here comes the rant part.

One of the biggest, ‘virtually’ untapped resource for an additional revenue stream for Actors, Designers, Investors, Stagehands, and everyone who works on a show . . . is, well, a literal revenue stream.

Streaming.

This is a big “duh,” now . . . since there are bazillion Broadway streaming events going on every single night during the crisis.  We’ve got livestreams like mine, virtual Mother’s Day concerts, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s shows, and so many more a whole website was created to curate them!

But no one is paying their rent or their groceries because of ’em.

When Broadway was shut down I got about 147 emails from folks saying, “Ken!  What can we do to stream Broadway shows?!?!?”

That’s when I knew we @#$%ed up.  And big time.

This is when I really point this rant at myself.  Because I should have known that streaming wasn’t only important to our industry, but that one day it would become necessary.

See, I livestreamed Daddy Long Legs, back in 2015 and got over 150k people from 135 countries to tune in . . . with zero marketing . . . and NOT during a pandemic.  (You can see it now, here, by the way.)

But streaming that show was expensive and contractually cumbersome.  And every time I investigated doing the same things on other shows . . . especially big Broadway shows . . . the numbers just didn’t add up.  Producers were forced to spend way too much money upfront to have a realistic shot at recouping that cash.

And it’s hard for a show that’s struggling to build a NY audience to invest additional money in something that could be years away.  (It’s easy for Hamilton to do . . . . which obviously paid off.)

So I stopped pushing a new video-capture model for running shows.  And other folks in the biz stopped pushing it as well.  There were a few shows that popped up on a screen here or there, and there is, of course, BroadwayHD.  (But if you’ll notice – the majority of their titles are NOT Broadway titles – but London titles – where the rules and economics make more sense, or Off-Broadway, non-profits, or “others.”)

And the fact is . . . if I had pushed harder for a new model . . . had we all pushed harder . . . there could be dollars being earned by EVERYONE involved with Broadway shows over the past decade RIGHT NOW.

Shame on us.

See, you can’t wait for a crisis to come to have an epiphany.  You don’t start eating better when you have a heart attack.  You do it years before.

Instead, we just never thought we’d need this content.

So we didn’t do anything serious about it.

Bad on us.

Maybe we can now.

And it’s easy.

See, the problem with the model right now is that we pay an extraordinary amount of money to capture a production on video. . . even though filming that production may not require any additional work from everyone involved (they just do their usual show), and even though that content may never be monetized.  We’re paying a ton of money for an option to monetize it . . . and that monetization model is also extraordinarily high risk.

Why not allow all shows to be shot, and archived, for a minimum amount of money (if any), and then have the payments made if/when the shows are released.

Imagine what we could be giving to our TheaterGoers and our Artists right now.  (Hamilton is about to keep their buzz going big time when they release their movie on Disney+ in July.)

I call this the “Save The Stream For A Rainy Day” concept.

If the capture is used, the Producer pays.  If not, the Producer doesn’t.

And then . . . to fix the monetization of the content model, why not cut all the artists involved in a much bigger portion of profits rather than getting a flat payment, which would allow the unions and Authors to get “Bonanza Insurance” in case something really blows up online.  (Or give the Producer a choice – pay a high upfront fee on release or a bigger royalty cut.)

There is a way to figure it out and provide for another revenue stream that everyone in our industry desperately needed before all this happened.

And now?  Scheez.  I’m literally kicking myself.  K-I-C-K-I-N-G M-Y-S-E-L-F!

Ok, rant over . . . no more talking about what happened.

Now we just need to make something new happen.

– – – – –

You can see Daddy Long Legs for free here now, AND get this . . . I’m reuniting that cast on my livestream at 8 PM on May 21st!  Click here for more.

 

Tonight on the Livestream: Broadway Choreographer, Lorin Latarro

Big thanks to Dominique Morisseau for joining me and droppin’ some powerful truth bombs last night. Were you taking notes? If not, no sweat . . . you can watch the replay anytime you want here.

And don’t forget, you can go back and replay all your favorite episodes here!

And tonight, we’re joined by Broadway choreographer and possibly the busiest person I know, Lorin Latarro.  Lorin is always working on a new project it seems . . . jumping into rehearsal for one show, starting tech in the other, and starting pre-pro for the next! I’ve been trying to get Lorin on my podcast for months and leave it to a pandemic to bring us together. 

What is Lorin up to these days? How is she keeping busy during this time? Tune at 8pm EDT tonight to find out! (Click here to get an e-reminder!).

To see the full line-up of guests for the next few weeks visit www.theproducersperspective.com/LIVE.

———–

(If any of you are interested in streaming your concert, workshop, reading . . . or even starting your own livestream series, I highly recommend the platform we’ve been using – StreamYard.  Click here to check them out.)

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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