Hello and happy New Year, everybody!
As we all prepare to forge ahead . . . I’m still stuck in 2020! I mean, why not. It was soooo much fun, let’s hang out here a wee bit more, shall we?
Ok, ok. I get it. Stop throwing the e-tomatoes. I’ll be quick.
Today you get Part II of my “Top 10 Best Broadway Moments of 2020”. Then, I promise, we can move the eff on.
(To see Part I of my Top 10 Best Broadway Moments #1-5 click here.)
It took a pandemic for another network (besides our loyal friends at CBS) to give us an hour-long variety special . . . hosted by none other than Tina Fey! “One Night Only: The Best of Broadway” was a gift from the NBC gods. From the Jersey Boys opening to a number from Hamilton as well as performances from new shows like Jagged Little Pill, interviews with our stars like Rob McClure, a peek into the process of making a show, and more . . . this show did its job. It was a rest stop on this long highway of getting Broadway back up and running again. Now, NBC, what do we have to do to convince you to do this event next year??? (You can watch the special here on demand.)
7. The Shubert Theater Board Room Shake Up
The Shubert Organization is like the monarchy of the Broadway theater world. It’s the oldest. It’s steeped in tradition. It controls the most real estate. And with an institution that is as large and powerful as that, change often comes slowly. That’s why I was thrilled to see Pamela Newkirk, a journalist, scholar and Black woman, added to its board of directors. And just in case you thought this was a symbolic addition to its knights-of-the-round-table like board . . . read on. Pamela’s most famous work thus far is a book called . . . wait for it . . . Diversity Inc.: The Failed Promise of Billion-Dollar Business. So yeah, The Shuberts knew what they were getting into when they added her to their inner circle. And they’re obviously embracing it. It’s a leap ahead for the org and our industry.
8. The TheaterMakers Summit
I wasn’t going to put The Summit on this list, because obviously I’m a bit biased, having founded The TheaterMakers Studio and its yearly conference. But I did, because to be honest, the success of this year’s Summit had nothing to do with me.
The success was because of the 100 (!) speakers and 1000 attendees who came brimming with optimism and excitement about how Broadway could be even better when we come back. It was one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever seen, never mind helped put together! Even I walked away with 5 pages of notes from these A-list speakers on how I can make more theater and better theater!
So, I put it on the list. You can see the inspiring and action-initiating talks here.
Oh, and yes, we are doing it again next year. We already have a theme! Ready? It’s . . . “Places, please.” 🙂 Learn more here.
9. Prepare Ye for Godspell at The Berkshire Theater Group
Ok, let’s be honest. Producers and Theaters are still figuring out how they are going to do theater THIS coming summer! And yet Berkshire Theater Group and it’s formidable leader, Kate Maguire, pulled it off LAST summer!
Godspell was the first production in the country to receive approval for production by Actors Equity . . . and even though the show had to pivot 147 times (including a last-minute change to present it outside), they pulled it off. And they got multiple NY Times articles as a result! While press attention wasn’t the goal, it did prove again that figuring out how to do something when no one else can, can get you a lot of attention. Luckily, because of the leadership of Ms. Maguire, that attention was all positive.
We owe this theater and Kate a debt for not just dreaming about a production, but by doing one. It inspired us to all to figure out how we can do it too.
10. Diana . . . and we haven’t even seen it yet!
One of my most-liked posts on Instagram this year was this one
. . . a shot of me outside the Longacre theater as Diana
, a new musical that hasn’t even opened on Broadway, was performing for cameras inside.
Netflix has been our fairy godmother this year, giving us Boys in the Band, The Prom and more. But its biggest bet on Broadway this year was putting hundreds of TheaterMakers on a new musical BACK to work, and shooting Diana, on stage, for release in 2021. Before anyone knows if it’s going to be a hit or not! Not only could this help Diana build an audience before it opens, but if this works for Netflix, it could be the start of a brand new business model for developing new musicals. Yep, you heard it here first . . . the streamed show BEFORE that show opens, could become the new concept album (like Jesus Christ Superstar, Waitress, etc.), that develops a show’s fanbase and therefore a marketing foundation.
And there they are . . . my favorite moments of 2020! (Part I is here
if you need to go back.)
And now, let’s get the @#$% out of this year and make 2021 the best that anyone of us has ever seen. Broadway and the theater will be back. And boy oh boy are the ovations at those first shows going to be enormous.
See you there.
Happy New Year everyone.
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Speaking of “next,” my next blog will be on Tuesday, January 5th . . . and it’s going to be about a new survey about the vaccine and what that means for our start date. Click here to make sure you get it first.