One thing producers can learn from politicians.

With all the chatter about the upcoming presidential election, you’d think it was tomorrow, not a year from now.  I’m sure I’ll write quite few blogs over the next twelve months about how running a political campaign is like running a Broadway show, but I had one simple observation that couldn’t wait another day.

Have you ever noticed how politicians ignore certain states while they hit the campaign trail?  Maybe your favorite democrat doesn’t take as many trips to Texas, or your favorite Republican ignores Oregon.


Well, history has shown that in both those cases, they are most likely going to come up empty on election day.

What does that have to do with what we do?

Well, as a producer/marketer, you’ve got to think of the electorate like your audience.  One of the smartest things you can do is realize that what you’re selling is not for everyone.  It’s not.  Face that fact, then focus on the people that it is right for, and especially those “swing voters” that are on the fence about buying a ticket or not.

For example, I’ve seen Producers of traditional shows talk about how they wanted to spend time and money getting the college audience to see their shows.  That’s like Michelle Bachman having a rally in The Castro in San Fran.  It ain’t going to happen.  And if it does, it ain’t going to be pretty.

Those politicians that skip those states aren’t being lazy (in those instances).  They’re being strategic.

So as scary as it sounds, if you want to be the most efficient Producer possible, you’ve got to act like a politician.

(Just promise me you won’t act like this).


(Got a comment?  I love ’em, so comment below!  Email subscribers, click here, then scroll down, to say what’s on your mind!)



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  • Clair Sedore says:

    Send President Obama to Canada, Canadians think very highly of him. In exchange you can have our prime minister, Stephen Harper, along with Toronto’s mayor Ford. Two for the price of one, not bad, and no exchanges or returns.

  • If you want to get a college audience to see your shows, take debit and credit cards at concessions! That’s how they expect to pay for things.
    Last weekend, I saw a bloody, slasher take on “The Revenger’s Tragedy.” The college-age people in the audience LOVED the blood spurting all over. FWIW.

  • Bryan David says:

    Dear Mr. Davenport, et al:
    What I learned about Politicians came from a musical:
    “Best Lil’ Whorehouse In Texas” ‘Doin’ A Little Sidestep’
    What I learned about people is things do not change, regardless of the decade or millennium we are in.
    “Whitechapel” ©
    The Life & Times
    ‘Jack The Ripper’
    A Musical Love Story! ™
    What I learned about faith came from a musical too:
    Ken Davenports Presents:

  • Margie says:

    So where’s the foreplay in GODSPELL, Ken? Unless you added it later, the preview I went to had no pre-video or audio or musicians or cast members walking around or ushers dressed differently (unless I’m forgetting) — none of the really fun cool stuff you just mentioned in your blog.
    Here’s an idea for some editorial: an interview of GODSPELL statistics: how many necklaces of beads do you toss to the audience nightly; how many pounds of graffiti do the actors gun out and how much comes down from the ceiling; how many cubic whatevers of water is there on that stage? I’d also like to see an interview with the head of Circle’s clean-up crew. How much “stuff” (confetti) do they sweep up? And is it recycled or tossed out?

  • joe giglio says:

    in olden days that was what the function of an overture.
    It seems we have gotten away from that in “modern” times.

  • Michael L. says:

    Oh, yes — I completely agree with your creative foreplay thoughts, Ken. For me as a director, the question is always: how can I make this show an “event”?

  • While it’s true that some shows aren’t relevant to certain segments, I think that we should continue to develop audiences. We have to encourage untraditional audiences to attend live theater so that there are audiences in 30 years. Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk was 96% sold in its first year on Broadway due to intense audience development efforts. The touring production was also extremely successful due to expansive promotional activities. Many other productions have successfully developed untraditional audiences. While it might not make the most financial sense, I think that marketers have a certain responsibility to reach out to these segments.

  • Reese Brashears

    I appreciate you sharing this article.Really thank you! Keep writing.

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