10 Things this Producer is thankful for on Broadway this Thanksgiving.
This business is a b@tch. And it’s easy to complain about, which I sometimes do on this blog (I try to keep it positive, I try to keep it positive, I really try). But the fact is, as we celebrate the day of the Turkey (and not the flop kind), we all have a billion Broadway reasons to be thankful.
And here are ten of mine:
1. The Shuberts may save Commercial Off Broadway
Just last week, the deal that has been muttered about for months was finalized. The Shuberts purchased New World Stages, making them now the majority Off Broadway landlord with six houses (when you count the Little Shubert) under their control. What does it mean? Too soon to tell, but to me it represents a show of good faith, and a sign that the Shuberts believe commercial Off Broadway has a big, bright future. Now what will they name the place?
2. Times Square is under construction.
Hard to be thankful for this when you’re walking through it, but the massive renovation is getting close to being done, and when it is, Times Square will become a better place to be. And that means more tourists walking through it. And more tourists in the theater district, means more tourists in our theaters. And isn’t that what we all want?
3. On The Town opens up Broadway Investing.
Thanks to the JOBS act, Broadway shows can elect to advertise for investment when structured a certain way. On The Town opened up their capitalization to the public (as long as you were accredited) and I know several first time investors that jumped at the chance. If only I had this opportunity with Godspell. And if only the SEC would get on the stick and enact the rest of the JOBS acts regulations and allow crowdfunding.
4. A Theater that bears my name.
I’ve always wanted to have a theater . . . where I can do my own stuff, and provide opportunities for others to do theirs, at a reasonable rent. This year I took control of a theater on 45th Street which I renamed after my great-grandfather, Delbert Davenport (click here to read about Del). It’s not New World Stages, and I’m certainly not The Shuberts, but I intend to do what I can for commercial Off Broadway as well . . . and hope to have many of you as tenants.
5. Grosses and Attendance are up!
Broadway Grosses have been climbing every single year, thanks to premium pricing. So the fact that so far this year we’re up 13.3% in dollars is no big whoop. But we’re also up 13.6% in bodies! And that’s something to jump up and down about. More bodies mean more word-of-mouth, not just about shows, but about the theater experience in general. The best audience development tool we have is the people that actually see our shows. And this year, we’ve got a heck of a lot more.
6. My new wife!
Ok, so technically, she’s not a Broadway thing, but we did share a tap dance on Broadway on our first date. This year I got married, and she’s the bestest, and I’m thankful for her. So I’m putting her on this list. Sue me.
7. The Theaters are Full.
We’ve got a lot of hits these days, which is packing our theaters to the brim. While that can bug the heck out of people like me who have shows waiting on Broadway’s doorstep for a chance to come in, it’s important that we all take a step back and say a bunch of full theaters means overall business is good and that’s good for all of us. A rising tide lifts all boats, right? Even if that means some boats can’t hit the water just yet.
8. The Stars are still coming out.
One of the reasons the theaters are full is that massive Hollywood stars are coming to Broadway like crazy these days. From Hugh Jackman (back again) to Glenn Close to Bradley Cooper to the crew in It’s Only A Play of course, we’ve go more stars than a dark desert night. And lets face it, stars make Broadway cooler, and more attractive to our crowds. Why sure it would be great if we didn’t need them . . . but they, if Hugh Jackman said he wanted to come to your birthday party would you kick him out? Nope, you’d open your doors and ask him to bring his friends. Lets hope even more of those type of friends show up in the future.
9. There’s more filming going on these days.
Ok, ok, so this country hasn’t exactly caught up with it yet, and you heard me get nasty about that just a bit ago, but the truth is that more filming of live theater is happening all over the world. And shooting shows and delivering them to places that usually don’t get Broadway product is of the biggest marketing weapons we have. And when Broadway does catch up and start firing this weapon, well, attendance may just go up so much, we might need to build a couple new theaters.
I’ve been blogging for six years. There have been a bunch of times over the past 5000 posts where I’ve thought about giving it up. But your passion for this business keeps me going. We’re in this together. And I’ll keep writing as long as you keep reading.
Those are my ten things I’m thankful for. You got a list? Forget about a list, actually. Just give me one. One thing you’re thankful for on Broadway or off Broadway or in your community theater . . . and tell me in the comments below.
And enjoy your Turkey. And here’s hoping you never have one. 🙂
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