What I learned from all those flippin’ houses reality shows.

I don’t like real estate.

But even I can’t help but slow down my channel surfin’ when I pass by an episode of House Hunters or Flip That House or Weekend Warriors.  I pin the success of these shows on the universality of real estate . . . everybody has a home or wants a home, and everyone would want that home to be worth a lot of money . . . so the potential audience is . . . well . . . everyone.  As opposed to something like Flip That Wigwam or Igloo Hunters.  See what I mean?

The most valuable lesson I learned from watching all these shows was where the “shoppers” go first when valuing a home.  Instead of getting stuck on how pretty the lawn is, or the beautiful brick facade, the best house hunters go straight to the basement . . . to examine the foundation.

And if the foundation isn’t in great shape, they walk away, no matter how good-lookin’ the rest of the house is.  They know that without a solid foundation, the rest of the house will come crashin’ down in a few years, no matter how good it looks up top.

The same is true for shows.

I don’t care how witty the dialogue is, or how funny the jokes are.  If the foundation of a play or a musical isn’t solid and strong, then I walk away too.  The foundation or the structure of a show is the thing on which everything else is built, and if it’s flimsy, then expect your show to flop.

I’ve read so many shows that have made me laugh, or that I’ve thought were super clever, but had to be ripped apart and put back together because what was underneath all that fun stuff couldn’t support it in the long term (and some of those shows are my own, by the way – you should have seen how many times Altar Boyz was pulled apart and pieced together again).

If your show isn’t quite working, then don’t be afraid to go deep down into the scary basement and examine the foundation.  I know.  It’s dark down there.  A little musty.  But that’s what’s keeping your show standing.

(Need a great book about the foundation and structure of great stories?  Read this one . . . or the Broadway equivalent.)


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  • I didn’t realize you produced Altar Boyz. I saw it three times. Loved it.,

  • Polly Meyer says:

    I just wanted to say I saw Daddy Long Legs Tuesday night and I thought it was FANTASTIC! I’m recommending it to everyone. (And yes we mailed the postcards!) I also noticed there was barely a dry eye in the house.

    We will see Spring Awakening hopefully on Sunday!

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