Podcast Episode 57 – From Caucus Country, Broadway Presenter Jeff Chelesvig

Iowa is one of the great political states in our union, thanks to the first big Presidential primary race (which is underway on the day this blog goes live!).

What most people don’t know is that Iowa is also one of the great theatrical states as well, thanks to Jeff Chelesvig and the work he does at Des Moines Performing Arts.

Jeff is one of the premier and most powerful independent Broadway Presenters in the country (a Broadway Presenter, for those who might not be familiar with that term, is someone who books National Tours of Broadway shows).  And on top of that, anyone who has ever played his home town with a show knows how gracious and generous of a guy he is.

Every time I talk to Jeff, I get so much insight into the touring market and what makes it tick, which is why I sucked him into doing my podcast.  And, as expected, my thirty minutes with Jeff taught me even more, including . . .

  • How he decides which Broadway shows to book (and would he ever book a show that wasn’t on Broadway first?).
  • Why he’s not a fan of the recent trend of having to book shows years in advance.
  • What he thinks will make a show a success on the road.
  • What’s the difference between marketing a show to a Broadway audience and marketing a show to a touring audience?
  • Why touring audience expectations are so much higher than they were 20 years ago.

If Broadway is the longest street in America, Jeff is one of the traffic cops.  Listen in to see what gets the go sign.

Click here to listen.

Listen to it on iTunes here.  (And give me a rating, while you’re there!)

Download it here.

Click here to read the transcript.


(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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– Listen to Podcast Episode #56 with Tony Award-winning Lighting Designer, Ken Billington!  Click here.

– Want to learn how to succeed in the arts . . . or anything?  Sign up for my teleseminar on 2/23!  Click here.

– Win 2 tickets to see Shear Madness Off Broadway!  Click here.

  • Howard Levitsky says:

    In touring with shows as a musician I have always been extremely impressed with Des Moines audiences. You can hear as the show goes on that they really GET it – every beat in the show lands right on the money. And in wandering through the post-performance crowds you hear very thoughtful, detailed and articulate comments being made about the show. Is it something in the water? If so, can Ken find a way to spread it around the country’s water supplies?

    Humor aside, I think producers should consider Des Moines as a pre-Broadway tryout market; much could be learned from those audiences as a show develops.

  • Robert Miller Jr. says:

    One subject I would like to hear commented from the Tour House Presenter’s such as Jeff, is if they book a Non-Equity tour in their season with Equity tours, do they feel that in honesty to their audience that they should notate that said tour is a Non-Equity tour?

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