Why I decided to produce . . .

. . . Oleanna.

Yep, I officially signed on for my first Fall project this past week.  And that project is David Mamet’s Oleanna, fresh from its LA run at CTG.

So what made me sign on to produce this show in this challenging market?

Here’s a quick rundown of some of my “pros” list:

  • One great playwright and one great freekin’ play that’s about an issue that people can’t help but talk about when they leave the theater (hello, Word of Mouth!).
  • Two A list stars:  Bill Pullman and Julia Stiles (who is making her Broadway debut.  I love producing shows with stars who are here for the first time.  Oh, and did I tell you that she blogs?  A star after my own heart!).
  • ONLY two A list stars, and no other actors, keeping that weekly nut low.
  • One A list director:  Doug “Doubt” Hughes.
  • A terrific set of reviews from the LA production.
  • A terrific set, that we’re getting from the LA production, saving us a bunch o’ cash.
  • A theater on 45th St., one of the most highly trafficked theater blocks in the city.
  • It’s one of the first shows to open this season.  And it opens well before the other Mamet.

I could keep going, but you get the idea.

But do take notice of what the first reason was on this list.  That’s always where it has to start. You have to believe that your show is great, and will be talked about.  If you can’t write that on your list, then keep looking.

If you do have a good one, then come up with at least five other reasons why the show makes sense now.  When I do this exercise, if I can’t come up with at least five more reasons, then I scrap the idea and move on.

It’s like playing Texas Hold ‘Em.  If you’re sitting in early position, and you don’t have Jacks or better, you fold and wait for the next hand.

If you’re dealt a show and can’t come up with five good reasons to get involved, then fold and find another show.

Does this strategy mean you’ll win every hand?  Nope.  But it does mean the odds are much more in your favor.

And I love my odds on Oleanna.

For more on Oleanna, check out the website which just went live.

Oh, and here’s a tip:  tickets are actually on what we call “soft sale” now, meaning no advertising has broken announcing the onsale.  That also means great seats are available now.  And for this show and these stars you want to be close.  The announcement happens Sunday, and after that, the good ones will be much harder to get.

To get tickets, click here.

Comments
  • Very glad you’re doing Mamet!

  • Kyle Butler says:

    Ken, I saw Oleanna in London a few years ago with Julia Stiles (and Aaron Eckhart). It was a good piece–the first Mamet show I ever saw, actually–and I’m glad you’re producing it on Broadway.
    But I don’t think it’s fair to call either of the leading actors “A List.” Susan Sarandon, Daniel Radcliffe, James Gandolfini–they’re A-list.
    Julia Stiles and Bill Pullman will draw an audience with name recognition about as well as Jeremy Irons and Joan Allen did, which is not to say that the show won’t be successful. Just don’t hedge your bets on their personal brand recognition.
    Good luck and I hope you recoup!

  • Dave says:

    I hope you’ll be putting a deliciously affordable student rush in there as well, for us students who spread word of mouth like it’s hot gossip!
    PS – Do producers control that side of ticketing? I’ve always wondered who hates us so to put a lottery and not a rush… or even worse, GENERAL rush.

  • Gustavo Paso says:

    Dear friends,
    I´m in Brazil and I search desperately the email address
    from DAVID MAMET. I´m a Theater and Cinema Director and I´m trying for
    months, in vain, to talk to him. Could you please help me in some way?
    Sincerely yours,
    Gustavo Paso

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Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

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