Favorite Quotes Volume XXI: We lost one.

Broadway mourned the loss of Broadway producer Morton Gottlieb last week.  Although I never met Mr. Gottlieb, he was always close to my heart, because he came up like I did (or I came up like he did, whichever is more respectful), as a Company Manager first . . . in 1948 (I wonder what filling out house seat orders was like back then).

Morton’s biggest hit was Sleuth (which I hear may be on its way back to the boards in the next season or two – I’m just sorry, Morton won’t be able to see it).

He did leave us with this great quote about what it takes to do what we do, which is not much, and a helluva lot at the same time:

The Broadway Theater is the only place in the world where the easiest way to break in is by starting at the top.  You don’t need experience, you don’t need a license, you don’t need money.  All you need is chutzpah.  You call all the agents and say, “Here I am – a Producer!”

We’ll miss you, Mort.

Read the full obit here.

Please DO feed the animals.

I went to the zoo on Friday.  Right in front of the monkey pond there was a sign reminding zoo-goers like me not to throw food to the monkeys.

I went to a sushi restaurant on Saturday.  Right in front of the hostess there was an giant aquarium with a sign taped to the glass telling raw fish eaters like me “Please, do not tap on the glass.”
I went to a baseball game on Sunday.  There were a whole bunch of signs all over the place reminding fans of the fines for jumping on to the field (someone did it anyway).
It is a human being’s natural instinct to want to interact . . . especially with things put on display. It’s so much of the majority’s curiosity that we have to put up signs telling us not to, when it’s not appropriate or not safe.
I also went to see a show on Sunday.  This show took advantage of our natural curiosity and had actors handing out programs, had the star talking to the audience, and even had a couple of audience members on the stage.  And a better time was had by all as a result.
It’s simple, and not ground-breaking, but it works every time. Why?  Because it’s part of who we are.
We want to feed the animals.
So give your audience that chance in whatever way is appropriate for your show.  Maybe you can’t have audience members on stage. Maybe you can’t break the fourth wall.
But there’s gotta be something you can do.  And you’re creative enough to figure it out.

Broadway Grosses w/e 7/5/09

New Page 2

Show Name GrossGross TotalAttn %Cap AvgPaidAdm
9 TO 5 $675,136 9,671 75.04% $69.81
AVENUE Q $318,640 4,956 77.83% $64.29
BILLY ELLIOT: THE MUSICAL $1,351,026 11,369 100.01% $118.83
BLITHE SPIRIT $548,311 7,995 67.57% $68.58
CHICAGO $571,015 7,021 81.26% $81.33
GOD OF CARNAGE $933,436 8,680 100.65% $107.54
HAIR $999,471 10,956 96.99% $91.23
IN THE HEIGHTS $782,689 10,419 95.41% $75.12
JERSEY BOYS $1,101,363 9,719 99.42% $113.32
MAMMA MIA! $953,712 11,952 99.73% $79.80
MARY POPPINS $778,466 11,198 77.89% $69.52
MARY STUART $287,087 5,091 55.34% $56.39
NEXT TO NORMAL $418,644 5,974 96.73% $70.08
ROCK OF AGES $569,432 7,869 98.66% $72.36
SHREK THE MUSICAL $853,080 12,686 91.50% $67.25
SOUTH PACIFIC $745,970 7,519 90.29% $99.21
THE 39 STEPS $195,972 3,691 78.33% $53.09
THE LION KING $1,294,159 12,113 91.54% $106.84
THE LITTLE MERMAID $809,585 10,382 85.43% $77.98
THE NORMAN CONQUESTS $320,397 5,646 90.48% $56.75
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $873,236 11,390 88.16% $76.67
WAITING FOR GODOT $549,144 8,336 103.78% $65.88
WEST SIDE STORY $1,253,984 12,639 93.10% $99.22
WICKED $1,573,163 14,445 99.81% $108.91
TOTALS $18,757,116 $221,717 88.96% $81.25

Exactly who goes to Broadway TOURING shows anyway? Survey says . . .

Back in Feb., I posted a summary of the Broadway League’s annual survey of the Broadway audience.  Well guess, what?  The League also surveys touring audiences in their member theaters all over the country.

And guess what?  I’m going to summarize those results for you here:
  • In the 2007-2008 season, 15.3 million tickets were to sold.  This number has been declining for the last six years.
  • 70% of the tickets sold were purchased by women.
  • Average of of the theatergoer was 50 years old.
  • The vast majority of the theatergoers were Caucasian.
  • 73% of the audience held a college degree and 32% held a graduate degree.
  • 43% of the audience reported an annual income of more than $100,000.
  • 44% were “subscribers” to the local Broadway Series.
  • The average theatergoer saw 6 shows per season.
  • Local newspaper was still the primary source of information, but 40% of the audience looked online at the venue’s website for information.
  • The internet has surpassed phone sales and is now the most popular way to purchase tickets.
  • Single-ticket buyers (non-subscribers), generally bought their tickets a few weeks prior to a performance.
  • Personal recommendation was the most influential source for show selection (other than simply being included in the subscription series).
  • Television commercials were the most noted form of advertising.
  • 27% of the audience also attended a Broadway show in New York City.
So why are these numbers important to the NY producer?
Look at that last bullet point:
27% of the audience seeing shows at theaters across the country came to Broadway to see a show as well.  27% of 15.3 million is over 4.1 million people.  Last season, Broadway only had 12.1 million attendees.  That means that about 35% of our audience, or more than 1/3 is coming from these theaters.
Our relationship with the touring houses is a significant one (which is why the road presenter is a part of the Broaday League in the first place).  The touring audience is a stream that represents more than 1/3 of our audience here on Broadway, and the theaters where they see shows in their hometown is like a dam.
If that dam gets clogged up, and it looks like it has been for the last 6 years, then you’re going to hear a lot of producers (and the mayor of NYC) using the word “damn.”
Thanks to the League for their continued excellent quantitative analysis of what’s happening here in NYC and all over the country.
Now, if only we could survey the international tourist in their hometowns, since they represent another 16% of our Broadway audience.

It’s analogy Friday!

If you’ve been a reader for awhile, then you know that I like a good analogy.  I’ve compared Off Broadway to a rowboat, raising money to selling girl scout cookies, new businesses to kids, and I’ve used more baseball terminology than an ESPN announcer.

Because of my fondness (and my use) of both good (and bad) analogies, one of my favorite readers out there thought I’d get a kick out of the following.  I certainly did, and I thought you would too.  So today, on this Friday when so many folks are cutting out early, I thought we’d take a break from the Broadway talk and have a little fun.
Every year, English teachers from across the USA collect actual analogies and metaphors found in high school
essays.  Now, for your amusement, here are some of the best of the worst:

Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that
had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.

His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and
breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from
experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse
without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country
speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse
without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

She grew on him like she was a colony of E.
coli, and he was room temperature Canadian beef.

She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like
that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.

The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had
disintegrated because of his wife’s infidelity came as a rude shock, like a
surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine.

The little boat gently drifted across the pond
exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.

McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement
like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.

From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole
scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in another
city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.

Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair
after a sneeze.

The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just
like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.

Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed
lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains,
one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m.
traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at
4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood
with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan’s teeth.

John and Mary had never met. They were like two
hummingbirds who had also never met.

He fell for her like his heart was a mob
informant, and she was the East River.

Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like
a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.

Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.

The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law
Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.

The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind
you get from not eating for a while.

He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical
lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping
on a land mine or something.

The ballerina rose gracefully en Pointe and
extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

It was an American tradition, like fathers
chasing kids around with power tools.

He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he
thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.

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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