The Sunday Giveaway: A ticket to TEDxBroadway!

TEDxBroadway has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve helped get off the ground.  Every year, hundreds of people converge in a theater to hear how Broadway can be its best from some of the coolest speakers around.

At the end of each of the last two TEDxBroadways, I’ve left the conference not only filled with inspiration, but my pockets were filled with business cards.  Because like all great conferences, TEDxBroadway is a great networking event.  And who will you find in the audience of TEDxBroadway?  People like you . . . who understand that Broadway has its unique challenges, but who are excited to rise up and meet those challenges.  In other words, you know how this movie said “There’s no crying in Baseball?”  Well, there’s no griping at TEDxBroadway.

And the third annual TEDxBroadway, featuring speakers like Bobby Lopez, Diane Paulus, Lea DeLaria, and more is just 8 days away!

And one of you is going for freezies.

Here’s how.

At TEDx, we charge our speakers with this dilemma.  In your “talk,” answer this question . . . “What’s the best Broadway can be?”

So tell me, oh readers, in one sentence . . . what is the biggest obstacle you see preventing Broadway from being even better than it already is.  For example, “Lack of musical theater writing under graduate degrees.”  Oh, and before you say it . . . no one is allowed to say, “High ticket prices.”   That’s just too easy.

Got it?  Comment your one sentence below and one of you will come to TEDxBroadway on February 24th, on me!

Oh, and if you’re nervous you won’t win, make sure you buy your tickets to TEDx today.  I know it sounds like a marketing ploy, but we will sell out.  We’ve sold out every year, and there are only 50 tickets left.  Click here to get yours:  TEDxBroadway tickets.

And if you really want to help, become a Friend of TEDxBroadway.  Learn more here.


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

– – – –


– How to Nail Your Audition Workshop on Friday, February 27th.  Click here to register today and start the spring Audition season off right.

– Get Your Show Off The Ground seminar on 3/8.  Register today!

– Need something to do on a snowy night?  Get the Be A Broadway Star board game!

  • jing says:

    High production costs (lighting, sets) limit the products that come to Broadway, leaving mostly safe, sedate, saccharine offerings

  • Amanda Nelson says:

    Lack of support for new plays (transitioning from development to Broadway)

  • Lydia says:

    Not enough audience interaction.

  • Michael says:

    Lack of inspiring and revolutionary NEW ideas, themes, and plot, in order to appeal to the masses.

  • Lack of incentives to bring in new audiences and retain current ones.

  • Lisa B says:

    Less gimmick more heart. Less relying on celebrities who may not have the chops to do be on stage. Less spectacle unless it really enhances the story. The gimmick may work to get a person in the seat, but if the audience member who shelled out not so little money does not find the heart of the story in the telling, he may not choose to come back. If your content isn’t stand alone “heart”- really why bother? When Broadway is just rehashing popular movies and foregoing our base of promising, trained actors and singers for a celebrity name – then we are not that special. We become complicit in the decline of the American Theater. Sometimes smoke and mirrors are important, other times you feel like you’ve been taken. And please keep the art in the theater. As a collaborative art, we have to offer a product that is going to truly engage an audience, that will move them, give them the catharsis that they didn’t know they needed. Live performance – probably the oldest community communication – is more than just entertainment, it engages the human mind, heart and soul – for happy or sad. Less looking at our industry through a corporate lens – you end up with less art (i.e. Replacing live musicians with canned music). The best professionals in the world are at your doorstep. Let the art, not the money, not the gimmick, make the statement as to why Broadway is like no other place for theater in the world. That is my 2 cents.

  • Catherine Downey says:

    Much along the line of thought of current policies that can smother small business in America, the difficulty in the Broadway community is an atmosphere that does not encourage ‘entrepreneurs’ in theatre, but instead, promotes an environment wherein only the ‘big guys’ and the ‘big names’ can have a voice, while the ‘little guys’ (who really are the ones that take risks, artistically innovate, and thus push the art forward) get lost in the dust.

  • GingerLawson says:

    Biggest obstacles: poor leadership in storyline choices….business operations…customer service and personell (including cast members)…conclusion…excellence must prevail for the ticket price…the other day I spent 68.50 and was soooo pissed…

  • Andy Gordanier says:

    Creation of a joint Producer/Investor funded legit theater dedicated to the production of new works.

  • Jonathan Parker says:

    Risk averse producers and investors who need to trust that there is, in fact, an audience for serious, challenging new works.

  • Jacob says:

    I think the length of the development process for new works prevent them from capitalizing on cultural moments – perhaps why you haven’t seen any meme musicals yet – as a result, the shows that make it big may seem disconnected from the pop cultural lexicon.

  • David Olson says:

    risk aversion to trying new things to get more young people into the audience

  • Producers must unite in one location to sell tickets through a smart phone app, allowing profiles, reviews, social media post and purchase tickets with rewards!

  • Sue says:

    The biggest obstacle to improving Broadway is the lack of conveyance to prospective audience members that real moments of emotion, elation and understanding WILL be experienced, thereby making the time, commute, expense, logistics and opportunity cost of other forms of entertainment worthwhile.

  • Fiftyninth says:

    The decimation of the middle class.

  • Maria P says:

    The initial investment required and ongoing weekly costs to mount a commercial production.

  • John Fiorillo says:

    Broadway hasn’t figured out how to evolve beyond its mid-20th century “butts in seats” business model toward the “Market-of-one,on-demand” consumer model required for success in the 21st century.

    In one sentence, unlike other entries!

  • Solange De Santis says:

    Lack of HD broadcasts in order to build the customer base outside New York City.

  • Perri Yaniv says:

    The presumption that the majority of audiences need to be catered to or entertained at the expense of being thoughtfully and emotionally provoked and challenged.

  • I think there needs to be more guts. Don’t just go for what can sell, go for meaningful, innovative, incredibly well told stories. That’s how people become engaged. ‘The masses’ will respond to brilliant art if that is what we give them.We need to raise our expectations of our audience.

  • What’s holding Broadway back? Worthy productions! Too often the shows produced fall into adaptations from movies, especially for musicals — or — plays produced simply as a star vehicle (again) for some movie or TV star. Safe? Yes Innovative? No. Sustainable? For a while, as long as people are willing to pay the high prices, but will wane over time.

    What can save Broadway? Off-Broadway. Use it as the content feeder/testing grounds it can be. Yes, current Broadway depends on tourist dollars and tourists love the familiar.

    But, I tell you this. Put on great play, produce new, innovative musicals and the built-in audience, the 16 million people who live around here, will keep the box office humming.

  • Worthy productions as in lack thereof.

  • Rebecca says:

    I believe that Broadway needs more young blood and more opportunities for young adults to become involved. I have loved theater my whole life and have no idea what the channel is to get my foot in the door and I think a lot of people feel that way. I also think that it really is important we take risks with our work to not only entertain our audience and to make them think.



  • Gina N says:

    Diversifying the audience in every way, meaning race, age, class…if Broadway can’t attract a more diverse audience, I don’t know how it can continue to survive in the long term.

  • Katie O'Brien says:

    Personally, I think it’s the lack of advertisement. We’re in such a media-driven world today, might as well use it to our advantage (especially if we want to keep this classic, in-your-face and live entertainment going). There’s a lot of people who just know about Broadway through hearsay, but there hasn’t been anything else to really hook them into traveling to see a show. So they don’t know what they’re missing, and while that’s kinda the point of Broadway (of the show not being something you can watch over and over again like a prerecorded movie, of it not being predictable, etc) you still have to get it out there that, hey!, this is something to come spend money on and see! I will occasionally see a commercial for a big show, like Phantom of the Opera or Wicked, but rarely do I see ones for littler shows (that are just as important, or good, as others–and need to make money, too!). So honestly, advertisement should be what would make Broadway even better than it is.

    Also, after a show closes, the theatre should release a recorded version of the show– this way the bootleg industry is squashed, and the revival of said show, if there ever is one, eventually gets a big turnout because so many people had seen it on video and wished to see it live. And the profits could still maybe go towards the theatre? And after seeing the video hopefully more people will go, “Oh my goodness! Is this what I’m missing on Broadway? Lets go see a live show right now!”

  • Sara accardi says:

    Not enough room creative/artistic risk.

  • Bryan Austermann says:

    I think that we are in our own way. We being those who love the theater. I mostly enjoy everything I see recognizing problems in shows when I see them, but mostly accepting that no one is setting out to make bad theater. I think there is too much of those attending Broadway shows looking for things to criticize a musical for. I attended the first preview of Rocky the other night and a fellow audience member seemed bound and determined to spend all of intermission bad-mouthing all the shows he had seen recently. If those who love Broadway the most are finding some sort of joy in seeing it fail, or looking for it to fail, then how might it ever become better?

  • Micah McCain says:

    Q: What is the biggest obstacle you see preventing Broadway from being even better than it already is?

    A: People who are in the industry for the money and not the art. You WILL lose money, but you will never lose art.

  • Teri says:

    more accessibility For theatregoers who are hard of hearing or deaf, low vision or blind, who cannot climb stairs or who require aisle seating or wheelchair locations

  • Ian Yue says:

    What’s lacking? The commitment to developing Broadway-caliber productions at regional theaters. I feel Broadway producers should commit to putting more money into regional theaters that are currently unable to fund a Broadway production — but have the talent and heart to do so. Doing so only expands the pool of people that could help elevate Broadway to the next level!

  • Melissa says:

    The struggle of developing new audiences

  • Cash says:

    What’s the biggest obstacle? THE MOAT! Broadway is stuck on an island, practically cut off from the richest, most productive, most exciting country in the world. Build more bridges, not just to regional theaters and college programs, but to other industries as well. And the traffic needs to go both ways. Internships and exchange programs come to mind, and there must be a hundred other ideas as well.

  • Laurie B. says:

    The cost of producing a Broadway Show.

  • Victoria Medina says:

    The biggest obstacle preventing Broadway from being even better than it already is, is not money, it is the desire to be true to your audience, you cannot be true to your audience by playing safe, but by creating and speaking to the world they live in today, put that before money and you will find an audience who will find the money to pay, because you dared to think of them and lead them into an experience they could not have had without your desire to create something that speaks to their world today, not revivals, but their voice and time.

  • Fatima says:

    I took my dad to see a play a few years ago. Upon seeing the show I asked him why he never took the initiative to see theater for himself. He frankly said the prices were not right, which I called him out on. I quickly realized that he and many other working class families or minorities are unaware of the many discounted deals (Ex: Lottos, TDF, Rush, contests, etc) available to people. I personally have seen countless of plays and musicals either free or discounted because I am always on the look out for deals. I learned about rush and lotto policies from a learned friend. And I’ve been addicted to the game since. Basically, we need to promote discounted tickets to minorities and lower income families.

  • Christine Connallon says:

    The biggest obstacle is the ticking clock as a show tries valid panty to find its audience…

  • Ed Katz says:

    You said to do this in one sentence and not blame high ticket prices, so…

    The overly burdensome rules and regulations that make the cost of mounting a Broadway production (almost) cost prohibitive; particularly in comparison to mounting a comparably scaled production in London’s West End.

  • The disconnect between underbudgeted music education and the big industry receptors (antennas) who develop content.

    (by the way–if there had been a musical theatre writing degree program, I would have applied for it–and I looked (when applying for undergrad)!

  • Alexa says:

    The mindset of potential ticket buyers that Broadway is elitist.

  • John P. says:

    It always comes down to the writing and with Broadway musicals, there’s a premium on songwriting as well. Broadway needs more creative songwriters of the old school variety, who can write songs anyone with a voice can sing as opposed to the highly stylized pop songs of today closely identified with a single artist. There’s a reason why Cole a Porter songs will be performed forever. Where are the Cole Porters of today?

    • Howard says:

      The problem here is that songs aren’t written anymore, they are produced. Like Velveeta. It’s a lot of musical collage, covered with studio sauce. The actual music is barebones fingerpaintin’ simpleminded, a mere framework for vocal riffing. When you apply tools of musical analysis to many of todays popular songs, you come up with a 4/4 beat, as few as ONE chord total, and almost nothing else that another vocal “artist” would have reason to sing. Except the clichéd doggerel that passes for lyrics. Anything more sophisticated than that is looked on as hopelessly old-fashioned. Sorry for the rant, but it needs to be said and considered.

  • Lonnie Cooper says:

    Too much domination by corporate interests, not enough individual producers leading to less risk artistically and stifling innovation.

  • Lynne says:

    Not enough producers and marketers willing to throw the old plan away, take a risk and try something new with the sales/marketing plan.

  • Producing new and riskier work, instead of mounting (yet another) production of past successful titles.

  • Zach says:

    The understanding of jobs-to-be-done.

  • David Arthur says:

    Today audiences are leading producers as opposed to producers leading audiences, as was evident in the brilliance and success of say, David Merrick.

  • Rebecca Black says:

    What’s the best Broadway can be? We have to make sure we are creating anticipation for the next great show. Coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Duke Blue Devils (and as a UNC alum… he’s not my biggest fan) states: It’s the anticipation of the next great game… because you’ve watched this TV show, movie, etc. It’s produced all these thrills and all these moments that you think… when’s the next one going to be played.” I think this translate right to Broadway. We have to continuously be creating shows that are going to allow our audience to anticipate the next great hit.

  • Yosi Merves says:

    Lack of imagination and willingness on the part of audience members, and consequently artistic directors and producers, to give new works and new production ideas a chance. There is an over-reliance on familiar brands or bold-faced names than quality content.



  • Sam Hesslein says:

    Not allowing enough/not providing enough opportunities for new work playwrights ti have their work workshopped/produced/considered for possible broadway production. The industry is finding itself in a rut of producing what is going to sell/relatable (which is great) but has forgotten the thrill/challenge of taking a chance on a great piece of new work.

  • Mary M says:

    More contemporary styles of music. We need to have more pop, rock, hip-hop, etc. to make going to a show a place to hear great music that more people can relate to.

  • shirley says:

    I love to bring my daughter to any show I can ,I enter a lot of contests and if I win , I bring her its the only way I can afford to go ,the high cost of getting there is the problem, train, food,etc so if I win we go, but I noticed a lot of the shows have something to do with gay people or cursing which is not a issue but unless you go to a Disney show that’s all your going to get.

  • Mary Gannon says:

    Suffers from creative atrophy due to very old school notions in almost every aspect of the productions from scripts to production to delivery methods.

    Examples: I saw very young Irish theater group that acted out a single question they left up for thirty days on their web site something along the lines of “tell me about your life.” The group just read the responses. Quite profound.

    See the dramatic choreography in Lovesong by English theater group, Frantic Assembly, on Digital Theatre. Four actors play a couple, in youth and old age. Stunning.

  • Bob Degus says:

    Simply put, the lack of enough available venues, (see blog “What the Tuck is takin up our Broadway Theaters”) meaning there is, in reality, very limited space for new and exciting material that would energize and attract new audiences for Broadway, keeping it growing and healthy.

  • Michael says:

    More challenging content, less reliance on spectacle.

  • Lexi says:

    I think that not enough people are going to see Broadway anymore – it isn’t a national cause, or even a NYC cause. If you can’t get the public to rally around Broadway, how can producers take chances on new writers and unique musicals? If the public isn’t supporting Broadway, then selling tickets becomes the only thing that people think about, which in turn limits the quality of the theater.

  • Colleen V says:

    Not educating young people enough about the arts.

    Why education? Education is the core of acquiring new arts professionals and enthusiasts. If we don’t spend the time to get young people interested and excited about the arts or Broadway theatre through school, then we lose those audience members or professionals. The more the education system instills theatre in their lesson plans, the more Broadway theatre-goers we can certainly get.

  • Producers have to transition out of relying on celebrity driven pieces and find a way to make the show the star – that people all over the country have to come and see!


  • Luci DeVoy says:

    The new generation of musicians and actors not having had the same life long integration with the arts. The public education system cutting the arts has put many at a disadvantage. How do we play catch up while evolving the art itself to thrive.

  • Paula says:

    As a professional in the field of disabilities,
    I’ve commented before about access in the theater before. Some theaters have NO accessible bathroom. Carry a wheelchair up or down stairs to confront a standard size stall with the decal of
    a wheelchair on the front of the door. In addition, I know this requires money on the part of theater owners, but it is crucial. Some of the theaters have seats aligned in straight front to back rows. The newer theaters, as I have noticed, have staggered the seats. How many times have you sat behind a very tall or wide person or a person with voluminous hair – unable to see the show? I have many times. I’ve also sat behind couples who want to cuddle creating a wider block. In addition the width of the rows makes it necessary for everyone to move out of the row to allow for “later” comers
    instead of moving one’s legs to one side to allow that person or persons to pass. So, my
    point – theater renovations are necessary to make Broadway better.

  • Kerry Zukus says:

    “What is the biggest obstacle you see preventing Broadway from being even better than it already is?”

    Pandering to the same old audience. In fact, pandering is a terrible thing in general, as it insults even those who are being pandered to, let alone those not considered important enough to merit attention.

    I believe theater audiences are only as limited as producers make them to be. And even audiences who avidly support Broadway suffer fatigue from so much of the same old formulaic thing (pandering).

  • There needs to be news way to inspire and create original plays and musicals that can touch people deep inside and have them laugh, cry, dance, cheer, love, get angry, and get so wrapped up in the story being told they want to stay in the theatre forever and ever!!!

  • Laura Marsh says:

    The vast majority of the general public is ignorant about what Broadway is and what experiences live theater offers.

    [My fix? I’m still a fan of the idea for BWAY TV channel!]

  • Seth Duerr says:

    Yes, the ticket prices are certainly the main issue. But, since you point out such an argument is facile, I’ll argue that fostering new straight plays is really the issue at hand. While this nation invented and perfected the musical, we are still stuck importing the great straight plays (mostly from London and Chicago). Ultimately, this is part and parcel with ticket prices. Straight plays, particularly dramas, perform rather horribly compared to blockbuster musicals. So, I suppose my advice would be for Broadway producers to notice the intrinsic problem in their current paradigm: Broadway is not Hollywood. A single film can gross more in a month than all of Broadway’s gross receipts for every show brought in last year. If these folks are just in this for the tourist money, we’re too far gone.

  • Maria Spjøtvoll says:

    Not enough variety and difference between shows. We should have more new immersive shows like Sleep No More where the audience plays a big part.

  • ECP says:

    Unimaginative marketing is fossilizing Broadway theater-going as an event.

  • Adam says:

    There is constant pressure on producers to rely on the movie to musical to movie musical formula that is so popular these days. And adding a celebrity name above the title doesn’t hurt either. So how do we encourage young people to create new works when original content is becoming less and less the norm? We have to learn to cope with a name (actor, director, creator) only, as a start, in order to develop new works for future generations. Thus, ensuring the hope for an everlasting art form and business known as Broadway.

  • Queerbec says:

    There is a feeling among a good portion of the population west of say the Delaware River that there’s something feminine about theater and the arts or at least something hoity-tooth about it that threatens certain people’s comfort level; as well as the fear that as a member of the audience they wouldn’t understand what is going on because it may be too above them intellectually or culturally. (This latter is probably due to having been exposed to really poor and interminable high school or community productions of Shakespeare, Ibsen, Chekhov or even Albee, that confused them so much that they have eliminated theater as an option. My nephew from darkest western Pennsylvania–I grew up there so I know of what I speak–expressed that sentiment as we were passing through the theater district several years ago, but ultimately admitted that he might be able to understand “Legally Blond”. Also I think some people find listening or rather concentrating to be a chore!)

  • Karen Campbell says:

    What is the biggest obstacle I see preventing Broadway from being even better than it already is? An inspirational, collaborative, pride boosting campaign complete with a can’t-get-it-out-of-your-head theme song/jingle.

    The city of Buffalo experienced a turn around during a time of negativity in the 80’s with a “Buffalo’s Talking Proud” campaign….

    Couldn’t an amazing, collaborative marketing campaign do the same for Broadway by making everyone take pride in the great white way and feel as if they could be part of the magic?

  • Andrew B says:

    The fear of Producers/Investors losing their investment is the biggest obstacle preventing Broadway from being it’s best. If we were fearless, more risks would be taken in original shows, and less formula would brew. Producers could breath and let their original discovery be the star!

  • When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get several
    emails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service?

    Bless you!

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