Where did that job come from?
Just the other week, I was talking to a very well-respected Producer who has been around for quite a few Tony Awards. He wanted some advice on hiring an internet marketing firm. I was giving him a few tips on how I pick my internet vendors, when he interrupted me and said, “You know, Keith, it wasn’t too long ago that we didn’t have internet marketing firms.”
He was right, of course – not about my name, obviously, but the guy has so many Tony Awards, I’d let him call me Steely Dan if he wanted to.
He was right about the late birth of the Internet Marketing Director. This industry, as slow to adopt new technology as it is, didn’t start driving down the information super highway until the early 2000s. And believe you me, we weren’t breaking any speed limits back then.
And that got me thinking. As producing plays and musicals on Broadway has become more complex, more complicated, and . . . duh . . . more expensive, we’ve seen quite a number of names and jobs get added to contact sheets. For example, the Technical Supervisor was a role that was born in the 80s when the Mackintosh musicals made their way onto the scene with their chandeliers and barricades and heavyside layers, oh my!
Obviously, that position was a necessary addition to the team.
The only problem with adding new positions to rosters in any industry, is that once you add something, it’s usually hard to take it away.
I found myself at a cocktail party recently inhabited by a lot of industry vets, including Producers, General Managers, Designers, etc., so I started asking them for a list of Broadway jobs that are around today that weren’t around a few decades ago. Here are just a few that gigs that they told me weren’t on every show that they saw popping up more and more as the norm:
- Casting Director
- Marketing Director
- Internet Marketing Director
- Dance Music Arranger
- Technical Supervisor
- Physical Therapist
- Assistant Company Manager
- Make-Up Designers
- Music Supervisors
- Production Sound Person
- Production Assistants
Obviously, most shows produced in our modern times require the majority of if not all of these positions to make sure that we’re producing first class, top-notch, Broadway quality entertainment that we can charge $130+ for.
But do all of them?
It depends on the show, of course. If you’re doing a two person play versus a fifty person musical you’ve got some questions to ask.
Could someone that is on the team already be thrown a little more money to do the work required, thus saving half a salary? Could anything be done in house by the Producer? If you started work earlier on a show and paid people earlier, would everyone have more time, and therefore require less personnell support during crunch time?
I don’t know.
I do know that it’s a Producer’s job to never just accept what has been done before. In today’s world of ballooning budgets (which is the reason why ticket prices are what they are), It’s your job to ask the question . . . is this position, set piece, box of paperclips necessary for my production?
Are there any jobs that you think have been added to a show’s payroll that might not be needed on all shows? Comment below (email subscribers, click here to comment).
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