What I want from Santa Claus this Broadway Christmas.

My Mom is the best.

I’m in my 5th decade now, and still, every year right after Thanksgiving she shoots me an email and says, “What does my boy want from Santa this Christmas?”

Gone are the days I wanted the newest Nintendo game or the latest Dungeons and Dragons adventure.  Now mostly what I want for Christmas has to do with Broadway and how it can get better in the coming year decade. In the spirit of the old saying, “you can’t get what you don’t ask for,” (one of the simplest of lessons when raising money for your show, by the way), I thought I’d make public my Xmas wish list in the hopes that Santa or the Theater Gods would grant me one or two or all ten.  Because I’ve been a very, very good boy.  I promise.

Here goes, in no particular order.

1.  Tax Incentives for Broadway Investors

I gave the government one idea yesterday, and I know the Broadway League is lobbying away for something for the folks that fund our shows, but we could use this gift stat.  Otherwise, except London to start stealing some of our shows.

2.  A New Broadway Theater

With all of our Broadway theaters booked like tables at Per Se, thanks mostly to our long running shows, we could use another space for a medium to large scale musical.  Because right now, the line of shows waiting for theaters is longer than the line for the women’s restroom at a Broadway theater.  (And I’ve got 2 shows waiting, Shuberts, uh, I mean, Santa, so see what you can do about that parking lot you bought, will ya?)

3.  Profit Sharing Union Deals

Everyone knows the costs of some of our union deals is onerous.  Except when you’ve got a hit, then the deals look cheap, right?  (And in the unions’ defense,  that’s one of the reasons we’ll never scroll back these rates, because Producers can still make plenty when the stars align.)  That said, what about the shows that struggle to find an audience at first, that have to close too quickly because of the high costs of labor in our fair city?  Oh, Santa, I know it’s a dream, but wouldn’t a profit sharing deal that paid bonuses on the big weeks, and less on the little ones be beneficial for all?

4.  A Redo of the .045.

Speaking of onerous costs, one of the biggest budget bustin’ leftovers involves some tax and pension legislation from 1963 called The Burton Turkus Award.  I talked about some of the issues of this Award here, but just know this – because of the changes in the Broadway industry over the last 50+ years, the Award is all out of whack and has Producers paying more than they should into union benefit plans.  It’s time for fix it, although it will take a Christmas miracle.

5.  A new play by Aaron Sorkin 

Did you watch Newsroom like I did and dream of a new play by the words-slayer, Aaron Sorkin?  It’s hard to imagine that he’s only had two plays on Broadway, but it’s time for a third, Santa.

6.  Week long golf camp with Jim McClean

Sorry, Santa, but had to slip this one in.  All Broadway and no golf makes Ken a dull boy.

7.  A “Chatter” gets a reviewing post at a prominent NY paper

Sure, sure, chat rooms are chat rooms, and can be filled with a lots of bluster, gossip, and misinformation . . . and that’s just from the Producers who post!  Hey yo!  But if you read ’em thoroughly, you’ll also find some super-smart and insightful reviewers, who love the theater and who all stay for the second act!  Hey yo x2!  Wouldn’t it be great, Kris Kringle, and a sign of our shifting times, if one of the people got a job as a critic?  I’d be the first to want to know if he/she liked it.

8.  More diversity in our audience and on our stages.

Almost 80% of our audience is white.  While that’s just sad, it also means that one of the ways we can expand the Broadway audience is to get to the minority theatergoers out there.  You can help, Santa, because you speak all languages.  And so should we.

9.  Health Insurance Redo

Employee contributions to union health plans are too high.  Obamacare is too confusing, and no one wants to take it.  And small business insurance still keeps going up every year.  Oh Santa, what do you do when you’re feeling under the weather?  You know what I do?  I don’t go to the doctor.  And that’s not good for me or anyone around me.  Heal Health Insurance, Santa.

10.  All Broadway Discounts websites get hacked by North Korea.

Hehe.  I just wonder what would happen if discounts weren’t so easy to find.  A wealthy theatergoer just told me yesterday that she “never bought tickets to any Broadway show without getting a code from INSERT DISCOUNT SITE.”  Would she and all the others like her stop going?  I doubt it.  Only one way to find out.  Kim Jong-un?  Get this, Un!  I hear a few of our discount sites want to do a Broadway musical about your life.  It’s gonna be called, North Korean Cuckoo Bird The Musical, and it’s going to feature a song called, “In A Few Years, My Waist Line Is Going To Be Bigger Than My Country.”  Hack at it!


That’s my gift wish list . . . what are you wishin’ for this Christmas?  Comment below what you want for Broadway, and maybe, just maybe, Santa/Mom will slide it under your tree.

Merry, merry everybody.


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  • Alison Holman says:

    Mr. Davenport, as to #8, there are new writers like myself who have really good new material and can’t get big players like yourself to take a look… We’re out here writing for everyone but we need someone to give our work a chance! I think we all agree with number 8 but we have to be heard/seen for it to happen! I’d love for you to look at a new piece that covers this issue!

  • R.J. Lowe says:

    I would give almost anything to be a reviewer shows, both Broadway and Off. I was disgusted when I read that woman’s article, and thought like a lot of people that she should be barred from ever receiving press tickets again. It was my dream for a long time to be a performer, and since I feel that dream is passed me by, now my new dream would be to be a professional reviewer. I have the education, the love, the knowledge, and the passion to be a great, fair reviewer. Maybe Santa will grant both of our wishes this year.

  • Shauna Hagan says:

    Yes!! Number 8!!!

    I am so sad with the movie adaptation of Into the Woods. There is not a single actor of color in the entire cast. It’s amazing that the narrative around the imaginative and fresh casting of Annie is so negative, while no one questions an all-white cast.

    The musical theatre community really has a long way to go in this area.

  • Steven says:

    I was with you until your last comment. I get that you don’t want everyone getting discount tickets but maybe if tickets didn’t cost $150 for a relatively good seat (and that’s ignoring premium and secondary market sellers) then we wouldn’t have to get discounts.

    Producers and Broadway as a whole may be making more money now than ever, but it’s a smaller (and shrinking) audience.

    What about a $100 top price for previews so that shows can make it to opening, and prices that are more in line with the rest of the universe. For the price of a top price ticket, you can go on an all inclusive three day cruise including sleep quarters and three meals. That ain’t right.

    So I’m sorry that discounts hurt you producers but you guys did this to yourselves. You made theater exclusive for a certain (older, privileged and generally white audience) and you made the price something that “regular” people can afford only once a year instead of a couple of times. Foe every producer griping about a discounted ticket is another (or same) producer charging a premium price on an aisle seat, a center seat, a tenth row or closer seat, etc. and charging a $99 price for partial view. You guys are as rotten as the discount sites if not worse.

  • Cheryl says:

    Ken, regarding #5 – If you recall Aaron Sorkin was working on the book for the musical
    Houdini which was supposed to star Hugh Jackman. Mr. Sorkin dropped out of the project,
    due to other commitments. I wonder if a Broadway producer is willing to take a chance on Sorkin
    again, knowing that he might drop out again if a film or television project comes along.

  • Carvanpool says:

    1. No more giveaways to the rich, that’s what brought this country to heel. Short memories?
    2. Build one yourself, stop whining.
    3. No show closed because of labor costs. Lack of sales, every time.
    4. Adding sales tax to theater tickets is such a bad idea, maybe you shold just wash out your mouth.
    5. He’s a nice guy. Maybe a play about private emails hacked and made public?
    6. Ugly pants do not a sport make.
    7. Everyone’s a critic already. Don’t pander to the chattering horde.
    8. Put on shows that will appeal to minorities. Wait, they don’t buy tickets, wait, we need to appeal to minorities….
    9. Obama did the heavy lifting, everyone else stood aside. Don’t complain now, that’s just sour grapes.
    10. Is there anyone putting a gun to producers heads to create the discount culture we have now? Oh yeah, those ever lovin’ marketers. They’ve done such good work, haven’t they?

  • Momo says:

    I wish I can watch more Broadway musicals in Japan!!
    What difficulties are there to bring Broadway musical to foreign countries??

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