The three things I look for in a pitch.

Tell people that you produce Broadway shows, and you’re going to get a lot of people pitching you ideas.

Some of my peers may hate to hear an idea for a new jukebox musical from the guy they’re sitting next to on a red-eye from LA to NYC, but I love it.

First, you never know where the next great idea is going to come from.  And if you don’t have your eyes and ears open to everything, you could miss it.

Second, if someone is passionate about the theater the least we can do is listen.

So, alas/alack, I’ve heard a lot of pitches.  (And, of course, I’ve pitched a lot myself . . . especially when I’m raising money for a show, or trying to get a regional theater to take a shot on one of my shows.)

There are now three things I look for when I’m hearing a pitch . . . and when I say pitch, I really mean that one sentence description of what your show is, or what it will be.

Obviously, pitch meetings can dance around the subject and the show for hours, but every Writer or Producer should have a one sentence pitch of their show they can deliver in an elevator if we both got on at the lobby, and I was getting off at two!

Hollywood would call one of these sentences a log line (e.g. Speed = Die Hard on a bus), but since Hollywood has such a more commercial bent to what they do, I don’t want to lump us into their log.  That’s why I call our one-sentence pitch a . . . . well, I haven’t actually come up with the catchy phrase for it yet!  Maybe you can help!  (Comment your ideas below.)

But I do for sure know the three elements I want for each and every pitch that I listen to or create myself . . . and they are:

1. Tell me a STORY.

If there has been one consistent take away from every focus group I’ve ever done, it’s that our audiences won’t buy a ticket until they know (and are taken by) the story.  They want to know the journey your characters are on, and the journey they are going to go on themselves before they’ll engage.  And Producers and Investors are the same.  Every One Sentence Pitch (working title) has to give your audience a synopsis of not just what your show is about . . . but what happens.  (We need action, not just art.)

2. Tell me the TONE.

The OSP (One Sentence Pitch) has got to be constructed in a way that it tells the listener/reader the tone of your show.  Is it a wacky comedy? Use wacky comedy in your pitch.  Is it a drama?  Make it dramatic.  You want your audience to get a feel for what they’re going to experience when they see/read your show from this one sentence.  It’ll help manage expectations and hopefully, create excitement.

3. Tell it to me SUCCINCTLY.

Remember when I said I was getting off at floor two?  And remember when I said this was an OSP?  This isn’t a FSP (Five Sentence Pitch) and it isn’t even a ROOSP (Figure that out?  Go ahead, I’ll give you a sec . . . a Run-On One Sentence Pitch).  This is the hardest part of creating an OSP but it’s the most important part. Give me a taste, a short and sweet sample that makes me WANT more.You know how when you’re walking by Auntie Anne’s pretzel store they’ll have someone outside giving away little bites . . . and how it always gets you to go in the store?  Do THAT with your OSP.

With a short, story filled OSP told in the tone of your show, you’re much more likely to sell it to whoever your audience is.

I look forward to sitting next to you on a red-eye to hear yours.

(And I have this feeling that OSP may stick . . . but I’m still taking ideas in the comments below!)

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  • Ross Petty says:

    My OSP: A fractured version of A Christmas Carol, the Family Musical with a Scrooge Loose!

    As much entertainment for adults as for children.

    Gives The Nutcracker a run for its money.

    My 22nd production at Toronto’s 1500 seat Elgin Theatre. Come see it this December.

  • says:

    Verbal Storyboard VS or VSB

  • Two suggestions: an amuse bouche or how about: a tantalizer?

  • loreen says:

    Ken,(or anyone out there)

    How would you describe the musical “Peter Pan” in one sentence to grab a producer’s ear.
    There are lots going on with all the different characters so how would you make the one sentence interesting to a producer.

  • Brock Laplume says:

    My OSP: A take on a sort of sequel to Pokemon Mystery Dungeon where a man in a dull bleak world has to travel to a vibrant, colorful world with these crazy colorful creatures in a quest to find a long lost child of his that was kidnapped and taken there while he figures out why he is there in the first place and why everything about it seems so familiar…

    expect puppetry to be used (full scale puppets to be precise) to bring a fun kind of vibe to this fantastical world we are familiar yet not familiar with.

    if you think this has some potential. let me know! (this is my first pitch and i know i flubbed it…)

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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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