UPDATED: What the heck does a General Manager do anyway?

A reader pinged me last week wanting me to clarify exactly what a General Manager’s job was on a Broadway show, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to explain it . . . using one of my favorite theatrical analogies.

I think the hierarchical leadership structure of a Broadway play or Broadway musical is similar to how our country structures its military leadership.

At the top of the upside-down pyramid, you have the President or the Commander-in-Chief.  He’s the guy (or, in two years, maybe a gal?) that decides whether or not he wants to go to war.  And that’s our Producer.  He or she decides whether or not to produce a show.

And when the Commander decides to go to war, he turns to a General.  That General is schooled in the Art of War.  Maybe even more so than the Commander-in-Chief himself.  The General plans the entire battle campaign: how many troops, who will lead them where, how much is it going to cost, etc.  They give that plan to the Commander-in-Chief, who may make a tweak or two, ask some questions, and then makes the decision to execute it or not.

The General is . . . you guessed it . . . just like a General Manager on a Broadway show.  They take a Producer’s vision and help strategize and plan the entire production.

Make sense?

You can even extend the metaphor to the Company Manager, who is like the foot soldier for the General.  The CM goes into battle (visits the theater) and reports back to the General on the day to day operations of the “war.”

So, when you’re picking your General Manager for your show, make sure it’s someone that you can trust . . . someone that is schooled in both the business and the art of the theatre.

Make sure it’s someone you’d march into battle with . . .

If you’re looking for a General Manager for your show, drop me an email for a recommendation.

Interested in learning more about our General Management department? Click here.

(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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Interested in getting your show to Broadway or Off-Broadway and need a recommendation for a General Manager?

Here’s who we recommend.  Tell ’em Ken sent you.

Architect Theatrical – Broadway and Off-Broadway General Managers

  • Stuart Green says:

    Thanks Corporal Ken – not just a fun read, but one that’ll stick around for while.

  • Ryan says:

    Great metaphor – helps explain the field to those who are totally removed from it.

  • Ray Ban G15 says:

    I’m not real superb with English but I locate this real straightforward to comprehend .

  • Ashley says:

    Hi, this is a question in response to what you said about someone being schooled in “the art of the theatre.” I was wondering, is it difficult to get a job on the business side or Broadway without any stage acting experience (even if such experience is high school theatre)? I’m in high school and I want to work on the business side of Broadway, but most people I heard of who work in this type of job had some acting experience. I do usher for the performing arts center in my area – does such qualify for theatre experience? Is acting experience necessary, helpful, or just something common to most people in this business? I hope this was not too confusing to understand what I am asking and thank you for any help you can offer.

  • Gian says:

    Hi Ken,
    Producer from Italy, would love to hear about general managers in USA and maybe chat if you have some time

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