Trust me. There is an after-life. I’ve seen it.

This blog may fall under the category of “duh,” but I couldn’t help myself.  It’s a pretty basic concept, but I got slapped in the face with it again the other night, so I thought I’d share it this morning.

At the 3rd annual National High School Musical Theatre Awards (aka The Jimmys), the judges grouped the actors and actresses competing for the coveted prize of Best Actor and Best Actress into groups of 5.  These groups then sang medleys, with each performer getting a featured spot.  A typical group would be a Baker from Into The Woods, J. Pierrepont Finch from H2$, a couple of Tevye’s and a Bobby Child from Crazy For You.

Then there was a very special group of five . . . count ’em . . . five Millie’s.

That’s right, five of the twenty five girls in the competition had all played Thoroughly Modern Millie at their high school.  20%.  That’s a pretty high number, don’t you think?

Extrapolate that to give yourself some sense of the number of high schools that licensed that show last year, which will give you some sense of the amount of royalties paid to to the authors, which will give you some sense of the amount of money that trickled back to the original investors and producers.

“Everything today is Thoroughly . . . ”

I was the Company Manager of Millie on Broadway, and while I was watching the show come together, I don’t think I ever thought about the life that Millie would lead years after the Broadway show had closed.

But you can bet Millie’s bob that I think about it now on every show that I produce or invest in.  The after-life of a show is an essential part of evaluating the risk, and it can be the deciding factor in whether I get involved or not.

I’d bet that if you asked a Writer or Producer of a new show what their fantasy was they’d say, “My dream come true would be seeing my show on a Broadway stage.”

Ironically, the dream of a financial success might just be seeing the same show on a high school stage.

Oh, and if you missed The Jimmys this year, don’t worry.  You’ll be seeing these kids again very soon, I’m sure of it.


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  • Amyleigh1982 says:

    My first high school show, Bye, Bye, Birdie, is still rolling in the royalties AND getting a revival to boot! Some trains don’t stop.

  • Laurent says:

    Having been a high school senior Tevye, I can relate. Now being a tour operator specializing in drama school groups, I can tell you that Millie is indeed being done…a lot! I’m remembering that my junior musical was Godspell. Hmmm, might a Broadway revival spur school productions nationwide?….Time will tell!

  • Jeremy Wein says:

    The first show I did in high school (2006) was Millie I played the dishwasher and a party goer 🙂

  • Paul Mendenhall says:

    Absolutely. Any show that is “do-able” by schools is looking at a perpetual source of income.

  • A Birdie revival? Yay. Read in Charles Strouse’s memoir that it’s the most produced show of all time. Makes sense– it’s a show about teenagers, so high schools and junior high schools can do it over and over again. Kids get to play kids.
    That’s why I think the band camp musical by one of the Jonathan Larsen 2009 winners is a show that could do really well if it ever makes it to Broadway.

  • Bert Silverberg says:

    Just wanted to point out that “Birdie” and “Fiddler,” which, naturally, are produced all the time, were hits on Broadway. I think Ken’s main point is that shows that were NOT financial hits when first produced on Broadway (I believe “Millie” fits into that category, even though it won the Best musical Tony) can recoup over the long haul if they appeal to high school and community theatre groups. Currently, it seems as if “Curtains” could be a recent example of that phenomenon, as productions seem to be turning up with significant frequency. Needless to say, there are a good many musicals that have a great deal of merit, even though they flopped on Broadway, which may well have been the wrong choice of venue in the first place. One of my favorite examples of that circumstance is “Working,” a really fine show which pretty much had no chance of Broadway success, but which has been done countless times over the years, all over the country, to great success and acclaim.

  • The point you make today is precisely why producers should take an interest in helping to develop shows that will play well later on in high schools and community theaters! I’m still fighting the good fight… Hello out there!
    Lou Ann Behan
    Over The Boardwalk

  • janis says:

    The high school parent audiences need some NEW musicals. We’ve seen all the oldies on stages all over town and now it’s at the kids high school. We’ve seen Disney on DVD when the kids were small. Now it’s all on stage at our high schools too.
    Surely there’s something new that’s suitable for high schoolers.

  • Vanessa T. says:

    This is so true and definitely a “duh” concept specifically when comparing to the lifecycle of a hit film. Disney for example measures ROI of a film 10 years following it’s premiere. The film is manufactured into DVDs, music, toys, amusement park rides, candy, household items, sequels prequels equals, you name it, keeping the characters and story alive and as “current” as possible with the fans. Similarly, broadway musicals remanufactured for community theaters and schools not only keep the show feeling as current as possible with theatergoers and actors, but it makes that ROI % even just a little bit more becoming on the producer!

  • Michael Pizzi says:

    Re: PP survey. More than 27% of readers were NOT in the biz according to the stats – I am one who is both in and not part of the biz (I am also in healthcare). So I wondered who were/are those other folks? Thanks.

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