5-19-15

Why I’m producing Daddy Long Legs Off Broadway.

“What the heck was that?” I wondered silently.

“It feels like there’s a leak, coming from the corner of my eye.  There’s some sort of liquid coming . . . wait a minute.  Is this a . . . a . . . yep, well dangit, it is.  It’s a tear.”

It happened somewhere during the middle of Act I.  Me.  Cold-hearted Ken Davenport.  Tearing up at a musical about a young woman escaping the orphanage where she grew up, becoming a successful writer, and finding true love in the process.

Why did this show get me?  Was it the heroine’s against-all-odds journey?  Was it the heart-crushing performance of Megan McGinnis?  Was it the sweet and sweeping music of Paul Gordon (I was a huge fan of Jane Eyre)?

Answer?  Yes.  Yes.  And oh yes.

If you had told me that this was the reaction I was going to have the first time I saw Daddy Long Legs, I would have thought you had been smoking some of that stuff that is legal in Colorado and Washington.

But I did.  I cried.  I’m dude enough to admit it.

And that’s why I knew I had to produce it.

If this show could find it’s way into my heart, then I knew it could get into the hearts of thousands of others.  And the funny thing is, it already had!  By the time I saw Daddy Long Legs, it had already been produced across the country world, from Los Angeles to London (including its world premiere at the Rubicon Theatre), and at lots of theaters in between (including a couple stints in Tokyo!).  And it even generated reviews like this from The Huffington Post:

Whereas 2003’s Wicked may have been the most successful musical of the first decade of the 21st century, I’d be willing to bet that, in this century’s second decade, Daddy Long Legs will become much more deeply adored and cherished by women of all ages.

Add up all those productions, the reviews, direction by John Caird (of Les Miz fame), and then douse it with a few of my tear drops, and I knew it had to come to New York.  And I knew I had to be a part of it.

But how?

With so few Broadway theaters available, would a theater-owner take a chance on a two-person musical without a major star?  Doubtful.

So that leaves Off Broadway, where a show like this belongs.

Off Broadway is a riskier proposition for sure.  Unless.  Unless you can do something different.  Something unique that goes against conventional wisdom.  Something that also gives you great control.

The traditional approach would be to put a show like this in a 299 or 350 seat theater, to make the numbers look better on paper.  But one of Off Broadway’s biggest challenges today is that it doesn’t have the media dollars or the marketing power to compete with Broadway.   Or simply put, Off Broadway doesn’t have the dollars to fill those seats anymore.  So why try?

Why not put it in a smaller theater, and create a tighter ticket and a much more intimate experience (especially for a show like this)?

So forget 350, 299, or even 199.  How about something around 150?

And wait . . . I happen to have one of those.

So why not put it in my own theater, which is a heck of a lot cheaper than the other Off Broadway houses in town? As the theater operator, I can make it more efficient and economical since I control both sides.

I pitched this idea to my partner on the show, Michael Jackowitz, the authors of Daddy Long Legs (the aforementioned Paul Gordon and John Caird), and the darling Ms. McGinnis, and they were all for it.

So we’re doing it.  We start previews at the Davenport Theatre on September 10th, and open on September 27th.

It’s an intimate show, in an intimate theater, produced in an ultra-economic way.  You know, how Off Broadway started.  Kind of like . . . well . . . The Fantasticks.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could create the next one?

Come see it and find out if we do.

You can get tickets here . . . and with each ticket, you get tears for free.

And watch/hear Megan sing “The Secret of Happiness,” here.

 

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