10 Questions for a Broadway Pro: The General Prepares for Battle
I’ve been looking to do a “10 Qs” post by a Broadway General Manager for a long time. But it’s taken a looooong a$$ time, because they are all so dang busy. Why? Well, because a General Manager oversees just about everything on a Broadway show. Nothing is out of their jurisdiction.
I often use a political or military analogy when describing the producing hierarchy on a show. The Producer is like the President, or the Commander in Chief. And when he goes to war, he gets the best General (Manager) he can to ensure victory aka recoupment.
I met Broadway GM Devin Keudell more than a decade ago, when I was just beginning my Company Management career . . . and since then I’ve worked with him a ton of times, most recently when his company General Managed by production of Macbeth.
Devin has a whole bunch of great skills that are perfect for his chosen career. But one of his greatest assets is his ability to say no to a request, and have the requestor still love him afterwards. It’s a tough thing to learn, but something that all of us should get better at.
And with that, I introduce you to General Manager, Devin Keudell!
1. What is your title?
General Manager and Partner at Bespoke Theatricals
2. What shows are you currently working on?
MAMMA MIA! and ROCKY for this season; our office is also managing MOTOWN, A NIGHT WITH JANIS JOPLIN, AFTER MIDNIGHT, and TWELFTH NIGHT/RICHARD III repertory plays.
3. In one sentence, describe your job.
From the beginning of production through the life of a show, I oversee every aspect of the day-to-day business operations, including marketing/advertising, sales, accounting/budgeting, contracting and more.
4. What skills are necessary for a person in your position?
Excellent interpersonal communication skills are important as well as a background in accounting and marketing.
5. What kind of training did you go through to get to your position?
I earned an advertising management BS (after three years in pre-med), became a theatre press agent and ultimately chose company management on the road which led to the same in NY and ultimately general management.
6. What was your first job in theatre?
My first job in theatre was working for a promoter in Portland OR who brought theatre and concerts to the city. I sold tickets at their office and did backstage catering for the stars that came through town.
7. Why do you think theater is important?
Theatre brings people together, into one space, to share an experience and witness theatre that is funny, emotional, beautiful, stimulating and more. Each of us sees a particular piece of theatre differently despite the collective viewing of it, something that feels important to me when most of us live in front of a computer screen for so much of our lives.
8. What is your profession’s greatest challenge today?
On Broadway, it is keeping costs of the productions under control without sacrificing the art of it.
9. If you could change just one thing about the industry with the wave of a magic wand, what would it be?
It would have to be about controlling costs again – gaining flexibility in all the work rules that we currently live by on Broadway.
10. What advice would you give to someone who wanted to do what you do?
Meet and observe as many people in different aspects of this industry when you are young and exploring theatre as a career so that you see what best fits. I also believe that traveling as a company manager on the road is an excellent place to begin a career in theatre management.
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