Podcast Episode 193 – Broadway Funny Girl Julie Halston

And we’re baaaaaack!

Welcome to the start of the new ProducersPerspectivePodcast season, everybody!  Did you miss us?  Did you even know we were gone?

Well, even if you didn’t, we’re still back with a brand-spankin’ new season of TheProducersPerspectivePodcast!

It has been almost five years since we started getting Broadway A-listers into a room to talk about their start, their present, and where they believe Broadway is going to be in the future.  It seems like just yesterday when I asked Super-Power Press Agent Rick Miramontez to be my first guest, without any idea what I was doing (if I’m being totally honest).

But within about 15 seconds into his first answer, I knew we were on to something.  Because I was learning and laughing.  And what better combination is there!?

That’s why there have been 193 episodes since then.  And that’s why I’ve kept on harassing Broadway’s most powerful to spend 40 minutes with me so I can share their Wikipedia-like knowledge and Dali Lama-like inspiration with you.

And that’s why we’re back with a new season.  That’s why, like everything else I’ve done, I’m committed to getting even better with this new season.  So watch for tweaks to everything we’re doing, from even bigger guests to showcases on emerging writers to revealing tips to better production value too!  🙂

Because we know more about what we’re doing now, but we’re still learning.  And I honestly believe that this is YOUR podcast.  So tell us what you want, and we’ll keep shaping it as we go.

(Oh, and in the 193 interviews I’ve done, you know what the most commonly uttered phrase is from my guests as they talk about their way up in the industry?  “I didn’t know what I was doing.”  So, I realized I was in good company . . . and if you don’t know what you’re doing, but you are doing something, that’s not only OK . . . it’s a sure-fire indication that you’re on your way to something big.)

In fact, not knowing what you’re doing, but getting out there in front of people and being totally vulnerable is one of the keys to this week’s guest’s massive success.

If you don’t know Broadway Funny Girl Julie Halston, you are in for a treat.  She’s one of the fiercest comediennes we have, currently playing and flambaying a Producer (!) on Broadway in Tootsie, but has been in everything from Gypsy (where we met) to You Can’t Take It With You to Hairspray to Anything Goes and more.

But she got her start on one of the smallest stages in New York City.

And the story of her rise as a Broadway star, a writer, a producer, and more is a real inspiration and education for us all.  Listen to hear all about:

  • How Charles Busch forced her to write her first show in two weeks . . . and how she got the courage to do it.
  • Where she learned how to do dramatic readings of NY Times Wedding Announcements. (And yes, listen to her do a reading from the NY Times at the end of this podcast!)
  • Why she says “yes” to everything she can and why you should too.
  • Why, despite her big Broadway success, she still performs in her one-woman show (including a performance coming up on October 3rd at Birdland!  Go!)
  • How she creates unique characters, like the stripper in Gypsy, that are so memorable and so freakin’ funny and so beyond what’s just in the script.

If you’re an actor or a fan, then you should listen to this podcast.  If you’re a TheaterMaker of any other kind, then you MUST listen to this podcast.

And I apologize in advance for my laughter throughout the episode.  You try and hold it in when talking to Julie Halston!

Enjoy and thank you for coming back to our new season!

  • Click here to listen on our site!
  • Listen to it on iTunes here. (And if you like the podcast, give it a great review while you’re there!)
  • Download it here.

This week’s #SongwriterOfTheWeek is Zack Zadek! If you enjoyed the outro music in this episode, go on over to www.ZackZadek.com for more tunes.

This episode is sponsored by Sunlight Studios. Use the code DAVENPORT by October 10 to save on renting studio space.

We ask again: Why Do Some Broadway Ticket Buyers Show Up At The Theater So Early?

Broadway Producers and Marketers are constantly wondering what makes our audiences member tick . . .and buy tick-ets.

What we often forget is that something like 40,000 of our customers walk through Times Square almost every day, steps away from our offices, and they’re just waiting for us to ask them questions.

So, from time to time, when I’ve got a question burning in my craw (what does that even mean?), that’s exactly what I do.

In this case, the question was . . . Why do some (and so many) theatergoers get to the theater so early . . . so early that they have to line up outside the theater, because the doors aren’t open yet?!  You’ve seen this phenomenon, right?  Just walk by the Majestic Theater on 44th St on a Wednesday at 1 PM, and see how many folks are in line for the 2 PM show.  I mean, that’s early!  And we don’t even have movie-like previews!

(Side note: these long lines are huge security challenges for our theaters and our city – I’ll let you think about why.)

Last winter, I sent a team of interns TO those lines to ask folks what got them to queue up so dang early, but since it was like 8 degrees out, I thought the answers might have been a bit skewed.  So, I sent a new team of interns out this summer to collect more data . . . and we aggregated the results for you here!

So, below, please see the results of our survey.

What excites me about it is the responses; the desire for audience members to take in the entire Broadway experience (which means maybe we should add “previews” or something of extra value before the show begins) as well as the FOMO answer (because it means that seeing a show is still an event – even if they don’t dress up for it anymore!).

What trends do you see in the below?  And do you get to the theater early?

Check out these numbers!

Want to see all the details of polls for winter? Check out this link!

Broadway Grosses w/e 9/1/2019: Moulin Rouge! is taking over the box office!

The following are the Broadway grosses for the week ending September 1, 2019. The Broadway grosses are courtesy of The Broadway League.

What this Tracy Chapman song has to do with your show.

I wrote a letter to singer/songwriter Tracy Chapman in the mid-90s.  It was on early in my career and I was looking for popular artists who might have an idea for a musical.  And her 1988 hit, “Fast Car”, told me two things . . .

1 – She had a gift for melody.

2 – She wrote story songs.

Broadway wasn’t cool then, so my inquiry hit a wall (also known as a manager who couldn’t see that one day Elton John, Billy Joel, Paul Simon, Sara Bareilles, Sting, and more would have shows on Broadway).

Tracy had another hit song, that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, as I’m crotch deep in the development of six new musicals.  The song?  “Talkin’ About A Revolution.”


The biggest hit that Broadway has ever seen and may ever see is about a revolution:  The American Revolution (If you don’t know the show I’m talking about, then you should get out more . . . or just read this blog more.)

One of the other biggest hits that Broadway and the world has ever seen is also about a revolution:  The French Revolution.

And there’s another musical that’s coming back to Broadway in 2021 (in a very buzzy all-female version directed by Diane Paulus) that’s also set in Revolutionary times.

What makes revolutions such good settings for shows?

Revolutions are started by groups of the super passionate people who are willing to put their lives on the line (literally) to achieve their goal of rewriting history.

Can the stakes be any higher?

Like medical dramas or legal eagle shows on TV, revolutions just make a writer’s job a little easier, since the setting already has the baked-in requirements of a successful musical (passionate heroes and high stakes).

Am I suggesting you find an actual revolution to write about or produce?

No.  (Although it wouldn’t hurt – I still think there’s a good Civil War story to be told on a stage.)

What I am suggesting is that you find the revolution IN your story.

Doesn’t Billy Elliot start a revolution inside his household and in his town when he wants to dance?

Belle’s relationship with the Beast has the townspeople picking up arms against her new furry friend.

West Side Story, The Lion King, Little Shop of Horrors, Beautiful, etc, etc. all have revolutionary characteristics if you look closely enough.

And the shows that I’m working on . . . Joy (a single mom who starts a revolution when she fights to get herself on QVC to sell her own invention, after it failed with someone else, and changes the face of retail for herself and for women worldwide), Harry Belafonte (a singer who used his popularity to work with MLK, JFK, RFK, Eleanor Roosevelt, Malcolm X, Mandela, and more and fight for equality in this country and the world), Ma Vie En Rose (an 8-year-old child born a boy, who is a girl, and fights against his family and community who deny who he really is), and Harmony (about a singing group fighting starting a revolution against a revolution), etc.

When you are looking for shows to adapt for the stage, find a revolution, and your job will be that much easier.

Oh, and Tracy, if you’re reading this, the offer still stands.  You’ve got a musical in you.  I know it.

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If you want to hear what several Tony Award-winning writers look for when they adapt stories for the stage, click here.


Broadway Grosses w/e 8/25/2019: The Ups and Downs of Summer

The following are the Broadway grosses for the week ending August 25, 2019. The Broadway grosses are courtesy of The Broadway League.