10 Things this Broadway Producer is thankful for this Thanksgiving.

The business of Broadway has been called a lot of things: The Great White Way, The Fabulous Invalid . . . and my favorite, which is what I overheard a fellow Broadway Producer of mine say recently when he was three vodka tonics deep, “A fickle b#tch.”

Despite how, ahem, challenging Broadway and the theater can be as a way to make a living or even just as a way to make some fun, letls face it, there are still so many things to be thankful for.  And it’s important that we remember how lucky we are to even be in a place where we can do theater . . . any kind of theater . . . whenever we want.

So here are ten things I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving:

1.  JOBS is a go!

The final piece of the JOBS Act puzzle was finally put in place just a few weeks ago, which means, after years of waiting, for-profit crowdfunding is a go.  Let this allow small businesses and small theaters everywhere to raise money with ease.

2.  My Guests de Podcast.

I started my podcast last year on a lark.  “Let me see who will agree to do it,” I remember saying.  And everyone I asked has said yes, from Jordan Roth to Tim Rice to Ben Brantley (!), it has been such a thrill to interview and learn from them all.  The fact that these super busy peeps have shared their time and wisdom with me and all of us is a reminder of how generous theater people are, and how dedicated they are to passing on their knowledge to the next generation of artists and business people.  So thanks to you all.  And to the ones coming.

3.  Hamilton‘s a Super Hit

While everyone who works in the theater has a little Hamiltonian-envy, we’re all thankful for this massive hit.  First and foremost, because a rising tide does raise all shows.  When there is this big a hit, people come running to Broadway, and hopefully will see other shows after they see this one (or instead of, since you can’t get a ticket to Hamilton until 2039).  Secondly, I’m super thankful that it’s a hit . . . and has no stars.  It’s a reminder to all of us that the key to a mega hit is making the show the star.

4.  O-ho, BroadwayCon is a comin’!

Another lark of mine was this post way back in 2011, when I dreamed about a BroadwayCon.  And lo and behold it was announced this year and it is now just two months away!  And news flash – I’ll be speaking on a panel or two at BroadwayCon, so I’ll see you there.  Fun times.  (It’s being held 1/22 – 1/24, which is the weekend that Spring Awakening closes – so come see two birds with a few stones).

5.  Deaf West Theatre

Producing Spring Awakening has been one of the most important things I’ve done in my life professionally and personally.  Not only has it pushed Broadway’s boundaries, but it has pushed my own.  I’m thankful that Deaf West Theatre has labored away for so long, doing this great and important work, so people like me could take notice and help show it to the rest of the world.

6.  Stream, stream, stream.

Oh we’re getting so close to breaking through the barriers of “video theater.”  This year, BroadwayHD announced a way to stream a whole bunch of shows Netflix-style, and Lincoln Center/Playbill is showcasing certain concerts and events online as well.  The fear Producers had of distributing their content via video is waning.  Now we just have to convince the unions that this isn’t a way to put lots of money in our pocket.  But this is a way to develop a new audience.  And it’s going to happen.  And, a little birdie told me that there’s going to be another big live-streaming announcement in the next seven days, so stay tuned.  And that little birdie just might work in my office.  And it might be me.

7.  My Co-Producers and Investors

Investing in the theater is always a risk.  But this year, I brought my investors some even riskier productions.  And they jumped at the chance.  Producers can only produce if they have people behind them, going along for the ride, which will without a doubt include ups and downs.  I couldn’t produce without the men and women who put their money where their passion is and support Broadway, knowing that the odds say they won’t get their money back.  But they believe in the art, and they believe in me, and I’ll always be so thankful for that.  And to those investors, I know I’ll have a Hamilton-like hit someday.  I just don’t know when.

8.  The Tony Voters vote with their hearts and their heads, not their wallets.

For years there has been talk about “the road vote,” and how so many voters check off certain ballot boxes because of what will make them the most money when that show comes to town.  Well, when Fun Home took the Best Musical Tony Award this year, that old theory was put to bed.  The truth is, those votes are precious to the Tony Voters, and they vote for what they think is best.  Period.  And I’m thankful for their artistic ethics.

9.  My Hard-Working Super Staff.

It was supposed to be a quiet summer.  Then, I saw Spring Awakening and we moved it to Broadway in 86 days.  Oh, and we opened Daddy Long Legs the very next day.  And those two shows are only about 20% of what my office works on.  Without my staff, my company wouldn’t function . . . and it also wouldn’t be any fun.  So thanks to each and every one of them.  Don’t know them?  Click here to learn more about ’em.

10.  You.  You.  You.

My wedding song was “You” by Chris Young.  But I asked my wife if I could loan our song to all of you.  She said yes, as long as she could get it back.  See, I love blogging.  I love writing about the theater.  I love the comments I get supporting what I have to say, and I even love the comments that hate what I have to say.  And while I’d probably still write even if I didn’t have one reader, I’m lucky enough to have all of you.  So thanks for reading, and for encouraging others to read as well.  The blog has grown a lot since we started together 8 years ago, and I’m excited to where it will go over the next 8 years.

 

What are you thankful for in the theater this year?  Let me know in the comments below.

And I wish you all a hearty and healthy Thanksgiving for you and your family.

 

(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

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FUN STUFF:

– Have a question about producing you’ve been dying to ask me?  Sign up for my free Town Hall Teleseminar on 12/2!  Click here.

– Only 68 performances left of Spring Awakening.  Get your tickets today!  Click here.

– Win two tickets to Sylvia on Broadway!  Click here.

 

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Comments
  • Kristi R-C says:

    Thank YOU Ken!

    I’ve learned a lot from you over these past several years and am a far more knowledgeable, confident, competent theatre practitioner because of the blog and educational outreach you do. That has enabled me to pass on the knowledge to my students, producing friends, Equity SM/actor colleagues, and IATSE fellow stagehand, film and TV crew members. Your generosity is appreciated!

  • Jennifer says:

    I’m thankful for YOU, Ken, for bringing me (and so many others) past the orchestra section thru the back stage, out the stage door, down the street into your office and most importantly, into your brilliant mind! You make Broadway so accessible and relatable, even to those of us who previously felt somewhat “in the know”! Happy Happy Gobble Gobble!!!

  • Michael DiGaetano says:

    I’m thankful for
    A. The fact that I love writing book and lyrics and don’t want to top
    B. The people I get to work with. Writing partner Danny, director friends, performers who sometimes can bring tears to my eyes more than a dog rescue video
    C. People like YOU, Ken, who are welcoming to people, your seminars, song writing contests, gatherings and hoping they have success because success breeds success
    D. Something Rotten – That show opened my eyes and made me remember how much fun a broadway musical is supposed to be.
    E. Everything else I don’t feel like typing after three glasses of wine in Thanksgiving Evening

  • Martha Zoller says:

    I’ve met many interesting people in my life and I’m thankful for that and that you are one of them. Had a wonderful day with family and friends. Life is good.

  • Keni Fine says:

    Grateful for those moments when the spell has started to wear off on the long (endless?) road to bringing a musical to life (Broadway?), and then you see something that makes you keep on truckin’… like…
    For FUN HOME. Broke my heart. Several times. Most moving experience I’ve had in many, many years.
    For HAMILTON. For dazzling me & letting people know that historical musicals (like mine!) are BIG TIME!
    For all of us who write, perform, dream, produce, work on, support, love Musical Theater.
    Grateful for you Ken, for sharing your endless enthusiasm & your words of wisdom & advice. We’re getting there… closer….
    Grateful in advance to those I am due to meet on this path who will See, Share & Love the Vision and help make it a powerful, impactful, rousing success! At long last. And last but not least,
    All my loved ones, family & friends who support and help sustain the dream…And Swami Pajamananda – @swamipj – you are a fountain of spiritual and creative energy… You know (who) you are. 😉

  • Sue Cohen says:

    I am thankful for this blog and for all you do, Ken Davenport, to include those of us from all walks of life who love all things Broadway. I am also grateful that I was the lucky winner on this blog of ten (10!) tickets to That Bachelorette Show earlier this year. I had SUCH A BLAST dancing the night away with my daughter, her friends, my husband, my girlfriend, and so many eligible bachelors!! Thanks again!

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