Why I decided to be a Producer on . . .

On Tuesday, I tweeted that I had just signed on to be an above-the-title Producer on a new Broadway show arriving this season (in just a few months actually).

Now that the ink is drying on the deal, I can tell you what that show is . . . and more importantly, why I’m producing it.

The show is . . . Bridges of Madison County.

The why is . . . as with anything, for a whole bunch of reasons.

First, I like to produce one show a year that I am not lead-producing . . . and this is something I strongly advise all of you out there looking at producing careers to do.  In addition to keeping you active while your own shows are developing (with gestation periods getting longer and longer, you might not produce anything before you get your own show off the ground), co-producing a Broadway show provides your investors opportunities to get into great shows and make money (fingers and toes and everything crossed), builds relationships with peers and industry pros who can help you with your shows, and, most importantly, provides you with an inside education of the building of a Broadway musical.  And I don’t care how many shows you have on your resume, you can never stop learning, especially since no two shows are alike.

So, for all of those reasons, I like to pick one show a year and partner with someone.  (And for what it’s worth, this strategy worked pretty well with last season’s Kinky Boots.)

How do I pick which show?

In my Broadway Investing 101 seminar, I teach a “journalistic approach” to asking yourself whether or not you should invest/produce a show on Broadway.  In other words, when I’m offered an opportunity like Bridges, I walk myself through the 5 Ws:  Who, What, When, Where, Why . . . oh, and one more . . . How Much.

And when I crunched the Ws on Bridges, my formula gave me the green light.

Frankly, the “Whos” could have turned it green alone.

I’ve been watching Bart Sher’s shows since he first came to town . . . wondering when, oh when, we’d get him away from the non-profit world and into the commercial sector.  And thankfully, we have . . . with Bridges.  Bart has created some of the most beautiful shows I’ve seen . . . from Piazza to South Pacific to Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, and I get the chills just thinking about the beautiful work he can do with beautiful source material like Bridges.

Add a creative team including Book Writer Marsha Norman (forget about the Pulitzer Prize she won for ‘night, Mother, I’m such a Secret Garden fan), and Jason Robert Brown, who is due a commercial success big time and I’m betting (duh) that this is it . . . and then toss in an acting company including Kelli O’Hara (who I knew was going to be a star the day I saw her play Christine in the Yeston/Kopit Phantom at the Downtown Cabaret Theater in Bridgeport, Connecticut) and Steven Pasquale, whose version of “The Streets of Dublin” from A Man of No Importance still rings in my ear, 11 years later . . . and this thing has more Broadway street cred than a Producer could ask for.

And not to mention, the lead producers Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, and Stacey Mindich, all of who I have worked with before, and who I respect as people as well as Producers.  They know how to deliver fantastic works of art . . . while working hard to ensure profitability.

And then there’s the “What”. . . the source material . . . a wonderful and yes, popular (read:  branded), property that while romantic in nature, is challenging in the same way that Once is.  Love is complicated.  And I think audiences are ready to deal with that on the stage.  Especially since so many of them are dealing with those complications in their everyday lives.

There’s the “When.” Performances start in January, which means the show is the first out of the gate of the now always crowded spring season.  Sensei says, “Strike first, strike hard!”

The “Where?” No better block than 45th between Broadway and 8th.  All those theaters mean lots of theatergoers passing by your marquee everyday.  Not to mention it’s a Times Square tributary, with tourists flowing in and out of the Square through the street (and adjacent to Shubert Alley).

The  “Why” I’ve discussed . . . and the “How Much” includes a longish and complicated-ish analysis of the budgets and of current market trends . . . and why I think we can recoup, which is always my #1 goal . . . to get my investors their money back.  Get them their money back?  And they’ll be more likely to do another show.

So there you have it . . . why I’m producing Bridges of Madison County on Broadway.  I’ll be talking about the journey from time to time right here on this blog-station, so stay tuned.

I hope to see you at the theater.  You can get your tickets now.  And you should come to a preview.  You’ll see me there somewhere, and you can tell me what you think.


(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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  • Michael R says:

    I’m so excited to see you as a producer on this, it’s one of the shows I’m most excited for this coming year! Good luck Ken and hope to see you at a preview.

  • Jim says:

    I just came back from NYC wishing this one was open. We’re headed toward a potentially exciting season–void of Hollywood name/no stage talents and full of talented writers. I’m rooting for you and BRIDGES!

  • Randi says:

    Wow, congratulations! This is a really exciting new project. I’ve been looking forward to this. I’ll have to see a preview now (in addition to a reg).

  • Andrea Jill says:

    If you had turned this one down, with all it has going for it, I would think you had lost your marbles! Congrats, and enjoy the journey!

  • Ed from CT says:

    Congratulations, Ken!
    It really sounds- as with Kinky Boots (which I loved)- that you’ve got another winner!
    All best wishes!
    Now please forgive me for putting in my 2 cents on this but I have to ask: Is there still time to change the logo for the show? 🙂

  • EllenFD says:

    I saw the show several weeks ago in Williamstown, and I think I’m still sighing. It is absolutely gorgeous. I hope Elena Shaddow can be O’Hara’s understudy; she was beyond brilliant, as was Steven Pasquale, whom I would love to have seen in MISS SAIGON in San Fran or as the original Fabrizio in PIAZZA, but alas, as an East Coaster, did not. The show was a little long, but I’m sure it will arrive a trim, taut hit, with none of its emotional power lost, at the Schoenfeld. This is one show I plan to revisit a few times next winter and spring. Best wishes on the production!

  • Scott says:

    With all the “analysis”, just wondering if you actually saw the show in Williamstown?

  • Stuart Green says:

    Congrats Ken – may this experience bridge gaps for you and bring with it new things learned that you could never previously have known.

  • Janet Wilber says:

    I saw the show in Williamstown a few weeks ago, and participated in the talk back. The show was lovely, and I can’t wait to see how it evolves on Broadway.

  • PattyK says:

    Hi Ken-so glad you are on board with a Bart Sher show. He is one of the BEST! I have a South Pacific program he signed, as his mother-in-law is good friends with my good friend in Davis, CA. I was thrilled! Patty

  • Donna Barasch says:

    I saw an early preview and thought it was wonderful, particularly the music and singing.

  • Donna Barasch says:

    I was an early preview and loved the show. The music and singing was wonderful.

  • I thoroughly enjoyed the Bridge experience. Without all of the bells and whistles (acrobatic performers, imported props, etc.), Bridge proves that less is more.

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