Why I don’t get nervous on opening night.

I’ve opened two shows in the last two days, Spring Awakening on Sunday night and Daddy Long Legs last night.  (And no, I didn’t plan it that way – but in today’s theatrical climate, when getting a theater, a director, a cast, etc. all signed on for the same time period is like trying to land the Space Shuttle – you take whatever window you get.)

And on each opening night I’ve had lots of folks ask me . . . no, tell me, “You must be so nervous!”

The truth is . . . I don’t get nervous on opening nights.

Am I nervous months before when I’m still searching for a star?  Surely.  First preview, when an actual paying audience tells you what they think by the sound of applause?  Yeppers.  When I have fundraising deadlines?  Oh yeah.

But the irony is . . . as I get closer to opening night, I get less and less nervous.  And on opening night, I’m just not.


Because at that point, it’s out of my control.

That’s tough for a control freak like me to say, but it’s true.  Producers have a lot to control before that magical opening night. You’ve got money to raise, sets to build, notes to give, relationships to manage, artists to support and a whole lot of advertising to do.  And it all leads to opening night.

And then, well, the show is frozen, the critics have filed their reviews . . . so what can you do?

Nothing.  For that one night, it’s up to the critics, the audience, and the man or woman upstairs.  The only reason to be nervous is if you haven’t done your job beforehand . . . and haven’t done everything you can to get the right star, make changes based on audience feedback, and of course, raise the money you need to raise.

But if you have, then try to relax on your opening night and enjoy what you and all of your partners have done.

Because the next day, a whole new chapter begins, and good reviews or bad reviews, you’re going to have a lot of work to do.


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  • Neil Danoff says:

    ….and that is why I trust and admire you.

  • Jed says:

    Down here on the ground, I feel that same way after writing a musical and recording all the songs. That’s all under my control. But the minute I submit it by putting it in the mail, my control has ended. It is then up to the Universe.

  • Bobbi Smith says:

    Hi, we were scheduled to see Steven Pasquale at Carnegie Hall on Friday, October 9th. Unfortunately, he had a scheduling conflict, so we returned the tickets. My friend was coming in from Massachusetts for this. So, I told her we would go see a show instead. I described “Daddy Long Legs” to her and she was thrilled. Just purchased the tickets and can’t wait for the 9th!! Congrats on both your shows!!

  • Paula says:

    I’m a Teacher of the Deaf, retired after 37 plus years, and I
    saw Spring Awakening on September 9. It’s a great production. You should be thrilled with the results. Congratulations!

  • Charles Garo Ashjian says:


  • Phyllis Drohan says:

    Hi Ken,

    Can you please tell me where & when I could see “The Bunny Hole”?
    Also, is Getting the Band Together going to be produced this year?
    Thanks, Phyllis

  • Diana Bartak Lipkus says:

    And then, Ken ,what did you do the day after? Please lead us through a Fly – on-the-wall view of life for the team the day after the show opens….for both productions.
    @DLipkus Dramaturg/associate producer

  • Ken Wydro says:

    The time to get nervous is the day the reviews come out and the box office does not double the wrap number of the day before opening. If the reviews don’t give the show an immediate bounce up in daily wraps, then you have to spend your reserve – what’s left of it after previews – in order to keep the show open. The opening night high doesn’t last all that long if the sales are not there. The show is locked in artistically. Now it’s a matter of business and getting the $$$ back to the investors. This is where the producer really earns his or her stripes. The show may be great, but the ticket sales will tell another story. And, sometimes, there is not a lot more you can do.

  • dall says:

    Well said. Organize the framework of things smartly to let the good times roll.

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