Is there a Producer Doctor in the house?

We’ve all heard the expression, “Show Doctor”, right?  You know, that Director or Writer who joins a troubled production out-of-town, or in previews, with the goal of providing the creative changes necessary to save a sinking show.

You ever wonder why some shows don’t have Producer doctors?  Imagine . . . six months after a show opens, a show is struggling.  Why not bring in a hired producing gun; an outsider with objectivity to shake up the team . . . fire some people, change marketing strategy, etc.  There’s no guarantee that a new CEO will take a company in a new direction, but it’s worth a shot, no?

Honestly, this probably won’t ever happen on independently produced shows.  But I can name quite a few shows produced by some big corps that could have used the medicine of some of our industry’s veteran producers.

But ego gets in the way . . . and honestly, a Broadway show can be as hard to turn as the Titanic.  They are so big and bulky, that when you are heading for an iceberg, it’s hard to avoid it.

Which is why we need to look into a different way to build them.


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– 31 Days to Godspell!  Read the day-by-day account of producing Godspell on Broadway here.

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  • Jake Orr says:

    Surely certain companies already operate something like this?
    I guess I’m speaking from a UK perspective, but my thoughts are that when it comes to the West End long-turn shows, they regularly breathe life into the shows by hiring resident this-or-that.
    I guess you’re talking more about the role of a producer as whole, the whole vision, in which case I guess this rarely happens.
    Makes me think of Spider-man though… surely that is an example of getting rid of the creative team and stirring things up? Or was that the original producing team?

  • I do this for small theater companies in Utah. They produce a flop, or don’t do as well as they’d like, and I come in. I take a look at their production model, marketing strategies, and mission statement. Then I propose changes on their next production. Thankfully, each company has seen marked improvements so far. I only have 5 clients right now, but that’s 4 more than last year. Step by step.

  • THoefner says:

    No, Spider-Man did this. Bono brought in a new producer from the music world. Forget his name…

  • Brilliant observations, as always, Ken.
    You’re right. Even the most skilled and experienced producers can sometimes get too close to a piece, and lose perspective. A production ‘doctor’ is sometimes just what’s needed.
    Thanks for your great insights.

  • A Contrarian says:

    Are you really talking about a “Marketing Doctor?” A true “Creative Producer” should be able to handle everything up to the opening, but perhaps needs significant help in order to bring in the crowds. Or do you think shows already open should revise, rewrite, rework as they play?

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