A Broadway opening night where you actually get to celebrate.

I’m writing this blog at 2 AM, just a few minutes after getting home from the opening night party of my latest Broadway show, The Bridges of Madison County.  It was a fantastic performance and a super fun party that was still rockin’ when I left.

And believe it or not, that’s rare for an opening night party.

Why?

Well, normally at about 10 PM or so at an opening night party, the attention of the partygoers turns away from the celebrity sighting or the fun theatrical gossip and goes right to their phones . . . as they wait to find out what the NY Times and the other reviewers thought of the show.

It’s an anxiety-filled downer that sucks the celebratory energy out of the party faster than a fleet of nuns.  And it doesn’t matter if the reviews are great or not . . .because everyone is usually on such edge just waiting to hear what the almighty reviewers have said, that they can’t focus on the incredible accomplishment of getting a Broadway show up in the first place.

It wasn’t always this way.  Because it wasn’t too long ago that you had to wait until the actual papers came out the next day to find out If He Liked It!  So the parties raged on!  Sometimes, until the wee hours when you could stumble out to your local newspaper stand and read the reviews hot off the presses.

But technology has changed the tone of our parties, especially if the reviews aren’t what you want – because in that case the party usually empties out as soon as the reviews make their way around the room.  Everyone goes home to cry into their pillows and gear up the courage to do the show the next night (movie casts and crews s don’t have to summon that strength, now do they?).

But we didn’t have that anxiety at the Bridges opening.  We had a blast and celebrated the magnificent performance we all just witnessed.

See, the Lead Producers, in convos with the creatives, decided to do something a little different with our opening – have two of them.

Last night was our opening.  That’s right . . . the opening for us.  The cast, staff, investors, ushers and everyone else who worked their tails off for the last 1, 2 and up to 10 years.

And tonight, we’ll have the official press opening . . . and the reviews will be posted tonight at the usual 10 PM. (Click here to register for your DidHeLikeIt email and be the first to know what Ben Brantley thought!)

We got press for last night, and we’ll get press again tonight.  Two openings, two major press hits.

Having two openings didn’t make sense to a lot of folks . . . including me when I first got wind of the idea.  But that’s because it just hadn’t been done before.

And just because something hasn’t been done before, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done, especially when the conditions around that tradition have changed.  In fact, my business mission is to do just that – to do things that haven’t been done, and I advise you to do the same.  Because that’s how you get attention, and in this case, allow people to celebrate their accomplishments.

What do you think of the two opening idea?  Think it’s the beginning of a trend?  If you were opening a Broadway show tomorrow, would you want two openings?  One?

Let me know . . . and don’t forget to sign up for DidHeLikeIt so you can read the reviews TONIGHT!

 

(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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Comments
  • Scott Briefer says:

    I think its a brilliant idea. Why shouldn’t the accomplishments of a company of artists celebrate without a cloud of judgement from outsiders who may or may not appreciate their work?

    I vote that this is the new trend.

  • Jared says:

    I saw the press for this pre-opening night before I saw this post, and quite honestly I found it confusing. I also think it diminishes from the allure of opening night by spreading it out over multiple dates.

    But I also understand and appreciate the logic behind it. I think you should still have your party for the cast and crew to just celebrate their work with the specter of negative reviews hanging over everyone’s heads, but don’t turn it into a publicity event. I think that cheapens the entire evening and makes it seem like a way to get double the press, instead of an actual celebration of the artists.

    • Brian S. says:

      I agree with Jared’s perspective here. When I heard that it was opening on the 19th and yet it stated the 20th on broadway.com I was a tad confused myself, especially when the 10pm reviews did not roll out like usual last night.

      I agree that in the digital world we live in most of us have become wired for immediate results, gratification and validation at our fingertips. The anticipation of that can be more anxiety promoting then the actual result itself. If I were apart of a Broadway show I think I would still have a lot of anxiety worrying about what the reviews would say the following evening, so I would not want to celebrate just yet.

      It would be interesting to hear what the cast of Bridges thought of the two openings after they have read all the reviews and were able to take one big exhale. Regardless of whether the reviews were positive and/or negative some sort of celebration is still in order for the weeks… months… and/or years for all the hard work that went into the production. It’s an accomplishment alone having a show make it to Broadway!

      I also did not realize the power and stature of Ben Brantley. I realized that the NY Times review was important, but I did not think it was just one person who wrote all the reviews and why people would want to hear what Mr. Brantley thought over what other critics thought. I did though subscribe to that unique website since I have found myself searching for reviews of shows after they opened. Now, I’ll just get the “immediate gratification” and won’t have to search the web. Thank You.

  • Mark says:

    So, then what makes tonight “Opening Night”? The reviews are not based on tonight’s performance (which I know is now the norm) and none of the pomp and circumstance is about tonight.

  • Nella Vera says:

    It HAS been done many times before. The non-profit theaters often do schedule different press openings as opening celebrations. They can’t compete with Broadway shows so they find an advantageous date to open a show when they might get good ink in the paper but they still plan the party for a night when the company can celebrate, such as the night before a day off.

  • Here in New Haven, theatres have an ‘opening night’ party the night before the “Opening Night” Party with the reviews.

    Granted, it’s not Broadway…but Long Wharf and Yale Rep and New Haven Rep all get NYTimes (and other)reviews.

  • The actors cant kick back with a few drinks if the press will be at the following nights show. That’s unfair.

    I think it’s imperative to celebrate the achievement, but I wish this were possible by people getting off their phones and being in the room a little more. (Obviously, This is a general gripe, not one specific to opening nights.)

    I saw Bridges last week and thought it was breathtakingly stunning.

  • David Olson says:

    There must not be much pressure at Opening Night anymore if the cast is out partying until 2 am the night before? Or am I just old fashioned?

  • I’d love to be the catering company. Twice as much work.

  • Randy Zeese says:

    Congratulations on another terrific show! I saw it last week and I still hear the music playing and songs being sung! And, the critics got it right!!!

  • Debbie Saville says:

    “Do things that have never been done”… That is the spark that generates “the buzz”.

    And my greatest moment in any production I have directed or performed in is that first audience reaction when the lights go up. The stillness of the audience in a scene that totally captures their attention, the roar of laughter when that first comedic line is delivered, or the audience responding when they hear great music and they can’t sit still.

    I understand the importance of “the review”, but I gage success when you can feel the audience is engaged during the performance.

    And then celebrate accomplishments!

    I am experiencing firsthand a three year journey towards creating an original production. And if everything I dream, can be a reality on stage,in that moment, in that opening night, before any reviewer offers an opinion, I will feel along with those who have been on this journey with me, a great feeling of success that will be celebrated!

  • Libby First says:

    I love the ambition and strategy of trying something new. Ken, with the 2 press openings, and getting/hoping for the media coverage… I’m curious if there is any perception from the media of “playing favorites” and “who is invited to which opening” since it’s so important to be “first” out with the reviews or report on “the latest”.

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