The Sunday Giveaway: Two tickets to Seminar starring Jeff Goldblum

You’d think I’d have moved to LA with all these So-Cal giveaways I’ve been gettin’.

This week, you’ve got a chance to win two tickets to essentially the same production of Seminar that was just on Broadway a few short months ago!  (Who says LA isn’t a theater town?)

The supes popular Seminar is back, just on the other coast . . . and starring the same “fly”-guy who closed the show here . . . Jeff Goldblum!  It’s at the Ahmanson for about six weeks . . . and one of you (or your West Coast buddy if you’re a NY’er and want to “re-giveaway” them) is going to see it for free.

Here’s how to win your tickets to Seminar:

I love LA weather.  I mean, come on!  Every year I circulate a petition to try and get Broadway moved to the West Coast, but no such luck.  😉

But seriously . . . what could we do to make LA more of a theater town?  What would it take to have more shows there?  More shows debut there?  More shows stay there?  With all those actors and all those directors (many of whom are ours, what’s the problemo?)

Comment below with your answer and I’ll pick one of you as a winner!  (Just leave 6 hours to get to the theater because of the traffic – I couldn’t make this entire blog a love letter to LA, now could I?)


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



– Broadway Investing 101 seminar coming up on 10/13!  Register here.

  • It seems to me the LA folk love to feel like they are closer to the action, closer to getting into whatever is going on…

    What about more talkbacks and post or pre-show receptions?

  • If you don’t think LA is a theatre town, you’re not looking hard enough. I go to live theatre *every* weekend, and if you look at the list of shows at LA Stage Alliance, Plays411, or Goldstar, you’ll have more shows than you can possibly see. LA Theatre is more than just the Ahmanson and Pantages. There are great shows — in the last 4 weeks, I’ve seen Justin Love at the Celebration, Xanadu at DOMA, and Silence! The Musical at Met. We need to educate people that theatre in LA is easily affordable — the same price as a movie and concessions, if you do it right. We need to get back some of the great mid-size theatres we’ve lost — the Montalban (formerly the Huntington Hartford) is an example. We need to get the big performing arts halls such as VPAC to have more live theatre and less concerts. But primarily we need to make people aware of the great diversity and wonderful talent throughout the Los Angeles basin.

    (Oh, and having a podcast that highlights LA theatre would be great as well)

    As for getting more shows to debut here: That’s a matter of getting artistic directors to work with the producers. I know that Sheldon Epps does this at the Pasadena Playhouse, and Barbara Beckley does it at the Colony occasionally. Justin Love at the Celebration is a world premiere, and you see new stuff originating all the time at the Rubicon in Ventura, down in San Diego, at the Geffen, at the Blank Theatre. It’s here — you just need to look. It doesn’t get the publicity when compared to the shine of Hollywood’s stars.

    Lastly, regarding traffic. It’s actually not a problem. I’m in the San Fernando Valley. I’ve driven up to 3 hours for theatre at the Chance in Anaheim or the Sierra Madre Playhouse; normally it is anywhere between 20 minutes (REP East, Colony in Burbank) to an hour (Ahmanson, Cabrillo, theatres in Hollywood). Driving isn’t an issue (although parking can be at some 99-seaters).

    So in short: We don’t have to make LA a theatre town — it already is a theatre town. We just need to make people aware of the great productions IN this town (which is one reason I write up EVERY theatre show I see on my blog: ).


  • Robert says:

    I think that using Los Angeles as a venue for out of town try-outs, and thinking of it as a large regional theater market will help to make the transition to more of a theater town as opposed to a national tour stop.

    Additionally, I think that partnerships between 99-seat theaters and larger venues (Geffen, Ahmanson, Pantages, Mark Taper Forum, etc.) would help to bring interest and revenue to these smaller innovative theatrical experiences.

    Los Angeles would also benefit from having the equivalent of New York’s channel 25, wherein the highlights of the current theater scene in the city could be promoted.

  • Alan B. says:

    Ken, you need to open Davenport Enterprises West and do the same things in LA that you have done so successfully for years in NYC. In no time at all LA will be known as the second Broadway!

  • Emily says:

    I happen to be in LA for a few months. To me, it seems like there is tons of theatre, but not enough people know about it, or what’s good. The only people who seem to know are the actors that are in the plays! I think tht if the plays that are out here got more publicity that would help people realize the high calibre of show they can see here. I think tht another way of eying people to recognize the great theatre out here is incorporating them with NY theatre for awards. Create a new drama desk award that includes out of state productions. Many people want to see good theatre out here, they are just not sure where to go. I we want to expand the theatre community out here, we have to show people where they should go and make it easy for the general public.

  • virginia vanderbilt says:


  • Eric says:

    As a student in LA, I try to see as much theatre as I can. The truth is, there is a LOT of theatre, but you have to find it. It’s a very diverse theatre town, but the many many shows here mostly take place in venues with fewer than 99 seats and the majority of them run on shoestring budgets (i.e. not much money to effectively get the word out). The broadway-sized (and larger than broadway-sized)houses run by Center Theatre group and the Pantages Theater are a little different… I think it’s about as close to LA Broadway as we’ll get for a long time.

    Nothing can beat New York because all of the houses are in such a concentrated location. Now, what if LA expanded the Music Center several blocks and added a couple dozen theaters to make its very own own theatre district? I’d love to see it! And I bet Los Angeles would have more people flocking to the city to see some great work. But first, how about some more subways?

  • Elan K. says:

    I think more effort needs to be made to engage students in the LA area. Student rush is not too popular or well advertised. Ticket prices are high…and college theatre students can’t always pay the steep price. When the youth have more access to LA theatre, it will cause a newer, fresher, younger audience to attend performances. They are the future of the industry, right? Also, the lack of public transportation is not particularly helpful!!

  • Brian P says:

    Develop a theatre district with theaters of various sizes. Cities with theater districts seem to have vibrant theater scenes – or is this a chicken- and-egg argument?

  • Product placement in the shows to get the budgets & promo up. Nobody likes ur, but that’s what the movie people do, so maybe when in Rome!

  • I meant nobody likes “it”

  • Michael W. says:

    Having spent 13 years in NYC in the 80’s & 90’s then spending the last 11 years in L.A. – I still don’t have the answer. Most theater here in LA is created either for a showcase for Tv/Film or “art for arts sake.” It’s not a commercial theater town. We just lost our only full AEA theater that does musicals this past year when Reprise closed. Commercial theater is what creates buzz and advertising etc. I wish there were more viable options for commercial theater, which would really help move L.A. into a real “theater destination.” We are lucky to get pre-Broadway try-outs at the Ahmanson regularly. But not since Wicked have we had a “sit-down” L.A. company stay in town. Come out Ken- we need you!

  • I was recently in L.A. – Book of Mormon was opening and there was not alot of marketing..alot of signs, but nothing much else. I know Wicked is opening in San Franscisco and is coming down to Orange County a short while after. I thimk there needs to be a Northern and Southern California marketing coalition with cross marketing, promotions, etc. There were also a lot of readings going on of plays in development when I was there which was a very pleasant surprise. An amzing Cirque Du soleil show based on the movies, was there that should definitely come to NY. BUT I don’t think the regions/cities are working together to create buzz/creating cross promotion, etc. The runs of shows in L.A. should defnitely be extended. La Jolla in San Diego has birthed alot of shows that have gone on to Bway. I think theatres could create a members(via dues, etc) only audience producers club, where the members weigh in and inform the producers, of what progess they have seen and provide input. It would be nice to have a TKT website for all of California along with the Ken Davenport app available to Californians. There is alot of work to be done in terms of marketing and creating a cohesive SOCAL/NOCAL theater scene (want me to write up a plan?). I could go on and on about this because i was amazed at the amount of theatre/readings, going on but it the advertising/mkting was so all over the place it was difficult to figure out what was where and when. The theater community could take a lesson from the Arts Education alliance they have – check out the website

  • Owen says:

    I agree with several of the above posters — there’s a glut of great theatre in this city. I’m an LA native, born and raised, and I’ve been in more than my fair share of great shows, both onstage and backstage. We just need to let people KNOW about it!

    Take, for instance, the recent revival of Follies. Eight Tony Award nominations, freah off of a great run on Broadway, and the last possible chance to see it — and the only advertisements were print, a few billboards hanging off of lightposts, and commercials on local stations at 2:00 in the morning. There is quite literally something for everybody in this town. I’m stage-managing the West Coast premiere of a fantastic comedy, “Shaking the Dew From the Lilies” (shameless plug), and we just did our second performance to an enthusiastic audience of nine (four of whom work for our company). We just need to get the word out. We need more grassroots support, more street teams, more advertising — we aren’t gonna get people’s butts in the seats if people don’t know what’s out there.

  • Carol M. Rice says:

    The last time I was in LA (admittedly, MANY years ago), I actually found it very easy to find and see some amazing theatre. I think it just gets a bad rap because theatre IS so overshadowed by film there.

    Just like everywhere: keep doing good work and do your best to get to word out – not just to the locals, but to those visiting LA. Make it a destination!

  • Alex Bernstein says:

    I don’t know if it’s really a problem, but unlike NYC, LA theatre is more spread out. It’s less a theatre town than a theatre area. There’s great stuff from Thousand Oaks all the way to San Diego. That’s a big area to cover.

  • Alli says:

    LA doesn’t need more shows – LA has a ton of theatre. I saw 10 shows in the month of September – 3 were world premieres – and I still didn’t make it to all of the shows I wanted to see. I’m directing a reading of a world premiere musical next month in Santa Monica, and so far I’m scheduled to see 4 shows in October, despite my busy rehearsal schedule.

    I agree wholeheartedly with Daniel Faigin that traffic isn’t the real issue. Well, sure, someone in Santa Monica, isn’t going to run to see a show in Silverlake – but there are ample theatres between Santa Monica and Silverlake (50? 75? 100?). In addition, NY traffic is far worse than LA traffic, and that doesn’t seem to be an issue.

    I do think that LA theatre needs to find a way to reach out to those who aren’t regular theatre goers. The budgets for most of LA theatre are so tight, that often there isn’t much (or any) money left for marketing beyond postcards, which results in lower attendance, which results in tight budgets, etc… Word-of-mouth is always the most persuasive advertisement, and I tell anyone and everyone I can what shows they need to go see. I just had that exact conversation in a bar last night – I enthusiastically recommended two shows to two people who rarely attend theatre. I also make it a point to invite friends to join me when I attend theatre. Friends who might not make the decision to attend theatre on their own.

    I agree with Daniel Faigin that LA IS a theatre town. We just need to do a better job of spreading the word. It’s my livelihood, so I make the effort to promote theatre in a grassroots way every day.

  • Daniel says:

    A few responses to the above: I saw comments that LA needed something like TKTS, or that students couldn’t get tickets because they are too expensive. While I agree that student rush programs are not well advertised, discount tickets are easy to get for most shows. I actually just recently wrote a post on how to get discount tickets in LA, so I’ll just point readers to it:

    One reason that LA does not get a lot of sit down shows is lack of suitable large venues. In terms of the large “Broadway” style venues, there are few: Ahmanson, Pantages, La Mirada, VPAC, Disney, Dorothy Chandler, and so on. Most have committments to companies and cannot support open ended runs. Los Angeles is much more of a “season” town; there aren’t theatres sitting open and available to rent (the last one we had of that ilk was the Shubert in Century City).

    I think it is important to realize that Los Angeles IS NOT New York. People don’t mind driving for big shows; there are theatre districts, but they are agglomerations of 99-seat theatres (North Hollywood, Hollywood). Larger theatres tend to program seasons, although smaller theatres are often rentable.

    What Los Angeles lacks is publicity about its wonderful theatre scene. The LA Times and Daily News give short shrift to theatre; the TV stations never cover it. There is no theatre vibe on radio or cable. Publicity is postcards, programs such as Footlights, services such as Goldstar or Plays411. The LA Theatre Alliance and a number of blogs make valient attempts to reach the audience. This is, perhaps, LA’s biggest failing.

    (But still, it is my home town, and I love the theatre here).

  • There are a lot of great shows in LA but it is hard to convince people to find time to come out and see them.

  • Robert L says:

    LA is a theatre town. On any given night, you could have over 100 hundred choices of waht to see from Claremont to Encino, Dinner theatre to Cirque shows.

    Personally, I like traveling all over to see shows but perhaps, if we had a smaller focused locale where theatre people could go, chat, buy half-price tix, dine and walk to the theatre, that would be nice. Also, the quality of shows could be greater. Although when even Book of Mormon can’t sell out…what does one do?

  • Holly says:

    Promote, promote, promote! If we don’t know about it, we can’t make plans to go see it.

  • James says:

    I’m a through-and-through New York theater person who’s been displaced to LA for the past year for some TV work and I’m surprised how much theatre there actually IS in Los Angeles – though it’s very small and often leaves a lot to be desired. And I’ve tried to rally the theatre-iest of theatre people to help produce a high-quality show out here, and getting them on board in a TV and Film town is near impossible.

    I think one of the biggest challenges, though, is with the codes and rules that AEA puts in place – particularly with producing in a house larger than 99 seats (if you can find one, that is!). It is near impossible to self-produce a professional-quality show (one that becomes a “destination” for people – and that is key) without the help/enhancement of a not-for-profit institution. Otherwise, face it, at a top ticket price of $34.99 in a 99 seat house (and–you’ve said it yourself, Ken–these days people EXPECT discounts), you’re just gonna lose money.

    People (performers and producers alike) realize it’s going to take 100,000 sold-out performances in a 99 seat house to reach as many people as a top second-rate cable network show reaches in one night. The stakes are different in LA – so people tend to focus more on those media than theatre. And that certainly doesn’t help. Sure there’s TV and Film in NYC, but Broadway is what distinguishes it from any other large city. In LA, it’s fame and the bright lights of Hollywood that distinguishes this town…not the charm of a hole-in-the-wall theatre where you have to crawl in through a vent.

  • Julie says:

    LA theatre seems to underuse its greatest asset: stars! Most celebrities live here, and could easily commit to, say, a monthlong show run between movies. And there’s nothing tourists in LA love more than seeing celebs, so those productions should be marketed more aggressively to them. Especially in the intimate venues LA offers, people would pay big bucks to be near someone famous.

  • Cheryl Dzubak says:

    There’s nothing like Broadway in NYC and so close to home, but the folks on the West Coast deserve their Broadway as well. The key to that is getting the stars and the unknowns to do the shows, although there are many great off Broadway shows with complete unknowns who do a superb job of acting. I have never even visited the West Coast so I cannot comment exactly what theater is like there, but we have so many great values here to get discount tickets from tkts to NYTimes Ticketwatch, 20 at 20, Audience Rewards, etc. I would not think in LA there would be the discounts we have to make theater more affordable. If there are discounts to be had, then more people would go and that should present a huge need which in turn, should bring in the stars and the unknown actors as well. Theater could flourish out there on the West Coast the way it has here on the East Coast. Just a thought.

  • J. Rand says:

    After ten years of essentially non-stop theatergoing while living in New York, I’ve seen far fewer plays since moving to Los Angeles. I blame myself, though — it’s not your fault, California.

  • kolpin says:

    i think West LA could benefit from having another large venue. i see far fewer shows at ahmanson b/c I dread the hour long trek, and geffen just doesn’t measure up to the ahmanson and pantages in production value.

  • Ellen Orchid says:

    Just as they had drive-in movies, how about creating drive-in theater? People could sit in their cars and the tickets would be cheap. Finding parking wouldn’t be an issue.

  • Daniel says:

    Cheryl said: “I would not think in LA there would be the discounts we have to make theater more affordable.”

    There are *loads* of programs for discount theatre in LA. I summarized them in my post “How to Attend Live Theatre On A Budget” (

    Kolpin: There are large venues on the Westside; they just aren’t being programmed for much theatre. The acoustics at the Broad stage are excellent; there’s the Wadsworth theatre, and there are the theatres on the UCLA Campus. Of course, there are numerous great small theatres on the westside, from the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, to the Edgemar in Santa Monica, to the Morgon-Wixson, to the small theatre on Pico (name escapes me).

    Ellen: The problem with drive-in theatre are the real-estate costs in Los Angeles — they would be cost prohibitive, plus there would be sound and sight line problems.

  • L.B. says:

    Festivals, city wide! Involve the school kids and enlist the Hollywood “names!” Utilize workshops and tutorials and live theatre. I love the idea of an LA theatre district, as well. Above all, however, get the kids interested at a young age, and you’ll hook them for life!

  • Daniel says:

    LA does have theatre festivals. Here are some:

    Festival of New American Musicals:

    LA Womens Theatre Festival:

    Hollywood Fringe Festival:

    No Ho Arts Festival:

    As for getting kids interested, there are numerous theatre programs within LA Unified. In addition to the well known one at the new school downtown, there are programs at Hollywood HS, the Performing Arts magnet at Van Nuys HS, and the new Valley Academy for Arts and Sciences, in addition to the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA). There are also numerous performing arts middle school magnets, and non-performing arts magnets with great arts programs, such as the theatre program at Nobel Middle School Math and Science magnet in Northridge. Alas, gone are the days when LA Unified could sponsor performances of the arts, and theatre companies rarely come out to campuses.

  • Cleaner theaters, better parking, casts that get paid more than $5, cast members that get paid more b/c they cross-promote through their social media profiles, newsletters, etc. not just waiting for the producers to get butts in seats. Oh! And producers that embrace social media, produce interviews with their cast, have a newsletter, etc. Last thing, no more god-awful 2 Buck Chuck (or other horrible wine equivalent) either producers get sponsors that get their logo on all PR materials, or the talent who is also producing gets better wine. Seriously I’d pay more for something tasty on a rare night out, I don’t want bad wine and I’ll gladly pay a few dollars more. There’s a lot of talent here in Los Angeles!

  • wendy Greenspan says:

    “Who says LA is not a theatre town?” Any of us who live in LA and love theatre would agree with that statement, and know I know that some New Yorkers feel the same way. The question is, though, can this be changed? LA has a few strikes against it for being a mecca for theatre. First, we have no good public transportation system. The city and its suburbs are very spread out, and with traffic, going to the theatre during the week is a chore most of us do not want to tackle. Second, we are a city that pays a ridiculous amount of attention to the Hollywood themes – movie stars, television stars and all things glamorous. In most peoples minds, the magic of theatare does not hold a candle to Hollywood glamour. Also, our tourist population can be found on Hollywood Blvd., checking for star sightings and stars footprints. Most would not even know that the Pantages Theatre is a block or two away from the famous footprints they are captaivated by.

    But, those of us that love theatre are not without hope that it can change. It does seem that we always have an opportunity to see the “big ticket shows” but, a greater variety of shows would be welcome. We usually must wait for touring companies of many shows, so a bit of enthusiasm is lost as we patiently wait for a show to arrive. More shows previewed would be most welcome also.

    As a diehard theatre fan, any opportunity to see a show in Los Angeles is welcome.

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