This kills more shows than anything.

No, it’s not the book.

No, it’s not if you’ve got a star or not.

It’s not even whether you’re a totally original show, or based on a blockbuster.

The one thing that kills more shows (and makes more shows) is something that we can’t control.

It’s . . . . uh . . t-t . . .  timing.

The challenge in the theater is that we can’t time the market.  The development of our product takes years, mostly due to the collaborative nature of the art form (a novelist can sit in his house and write, a painter can grab an easel and paint, but you need an army to put on a musical).  And more recently we’ve become more timing-challenged due to our lack of a guaranteed distribution method (that’s fancy talk for the lack of theater availability).  If you want to make a movie, you can do it on the phone in your pocket, and even find a way to get it distributed on your own.  Heck, it’s even possible to make your little indie Oscar eligible.  Not so much with Broadway and the Tony Awards.

Television, book publishing even, and other art forms can respond immediately to what consumers are buzzing about and get something out there to satisfy them.  But not so much in the theater.  If we notice a trend or an audience appetite and try to make a show for that moment, by the time we get to opening night, our audience would be on to something else.

What sucks, is that too often I’ve seen great shows, that today’s audiences just aren’t ready for.  They just don’t have the hunger for that style of show or that subject matter . . . yet.

It’s like trying to feed someone a hot, oven fresh roasted turkey with stuffing and cranberry sauce . . . at 7:30 in the morning.


Just doesn’t sound right, does it?

It’s not that the turkey isn’t good.  Or that the stuffing isn’t scrumptious.

It’s just not the right time for a lot of people to digest that kind of meal.

So for all you creators out there, it’s important to remember that in the theater, your show may not work, because it’s just not the right time for it.

Should you worry about that?  Why? You can’t control it, so just forget about it.

Because I find the only thing that conquers the challenge of timing, is continuing to do shows, time after time after time after time.

Eventually it’ll be your time.

– – – – –

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  • Bunny13 says:

    What happened to Singing in the Rain? Derek Hough was even doing sample dances, then he reappeared on DWTS, has a sold out tour with his sister, and is doing some TV project with Jennifer Lopez, It sounded like a good vehicle with a popular star, then it vanished. The timing – or something else – must have whacked them in the back of the knees.

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Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

I'm on a mission to help 5000 shows get produced by 2025.

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