It wasn’t right.

The first copy was too big.

The second was too blurry.

The third copy was juuuuuussssst right.

And so went the Goldilocks-like journey of publishing my new book, CAST OF MENTORS:  SHORT SAGE ADVICE FROM 50 BROADWAY SUPERPOWERS.

You can order the “just right” version right here, just in time for the holidays.

One thing I do guarantee . . . the advice in this book, from A-listers like Terrence McNally, Joe Mantello, Mandy Gonzalez, Kenny Leon, Pasek & Paul, and so on is “juuuuuust perfect.”

There’s an answer in this book for every question a TheaterMaker might have, from a college student with a BA in theater graduating in the middle of a pandemic, to a professional producer with awards on his mantle who is still looking for his West Side Story (ok, ok, that might be me.)

Oh, and the hardcover version looks cool on a coffee table.

Get it here.  If it doesn’t help you, let me know.  We’ll give your money back to you.  And you don’t even have to return the book . . . you just have to give it to another TheaterMaker.  Because I know the words of these Mentors will inspire the right people to do great things . . . on and off the stage.

Get CAST OF MENTORS here.

10 Takeaways from The TheaterMakers Summit.

The title of this blog could have been 10,000 Takeaways from The TheaterMakers Summit.
 
But to be honest, I have so many action items from our 103 speakers myself, I want to get working on them right away.
 
So, you’ll have to forgive me if I only have time to type out 10 of the 10,000.
 
My hope is that one of the 10 below is the “thought domino” you need in your career or your life. Because, as I mentioned in my welcome speech, it only takes one.
 
The right takeaway, action item, thought, note, etc. can start your snowball rolling down the hill.
 
I know this. Because it happened to me.
 
My life changed when I heard ONE thing. I had been toiling away in a decent job. Dreaming about more. But not doing anything about it.
 
And then I heard my ONE THING. From Hal Prince. He ignited a fuse in me that is still burning to this day.
 
So enjoy these 10. And let one of them spark you to do amazing things in the theater. And beyond.
 
“We don’t have time to dither; we don’t have time to feel helpless; we don’t have time to wait for rescue. It’s up to us.” – Jim McCarthy
“Pick the thing you love to do and learn how to do it really well, do it with conviction with 100% esteem and all your heart, even  if it’s a small  thing, and that will translate to something else eventually.” – Stephanie Klemons
 “There only two things actors have any control over. Your attitude and how prepared you are, the rest is completely out of our control.” – Jenn Colella
“You have to have something that speaks to audiences of color and stories that are told by those people and those artists, and they must be involved from the beginning.” – Dr. Tawnya Pettiford-Wates
 “We are going to see an explosion of creativity in the next 10 years in the industry, we will be mentally prepared for it and our audience will demand it.” – Shele Williams
“One of things I hope will change in the future: what we think of as Broadway or mainstream theatre doesn’t have to be these big houses.” – Ben Brantley
“The path to systemic change is uncharted territory, it will take our collective power to map the way forward together, and this is a marathon we all need to be prepared to see through to the end.” – Naila McKenzie
“If there’s one thing the last nine months have taught us is that time is precious, and the things you’re working on better matter.” – Arvind Ethan David
“Recognizing we can grow as a community and be more thoughtful and engaged with the audiences that are to come. It gives us a chance to review… and we need to bring a little grace into the conversation.” – Thomas Schumacher
“The last time America faced a pandemic, the next 10 years were some of the most productive and foundational years in our art form. Broadway was essentially born during that time so I hope you are holding on to a sense of encouragement right now.”  – Christopher Jackson
 
And here’s my piece of advice to add to the above.
 
Seek out the wisdom of others who are where you want to go. Use their path, their words, their advice to springboard you to success.
 
It works.
 
– – – –
 
10 Takeaways not enough for you, you serious action-taker TheaterMakers? If you want to hear more of the 10,000 Takeaways from the TheaterMakers Summit, click here.
 
 
 

If I had a show running pre-pandemic that was going to come back, I’d do this.

Boy did I need something to distract me from CNN today.  You?

When I need some misdirection from something that is causing me a lot of anxiety, I play “Fantasy Broadway.”  I put myself in the hypothetical chair of a decision-maker on Broadway . . . a Producer, a Theater Owner, a Director or any kind of TheaterMaker . . . and then I put myself in a tough situation  . . . and  I ask myself, “What would I do?”

I’ve played this game for Tony Award campaigns (how would I convince voters to pick my show?), staffing questions (what designers do I think are best for this project?), and more.

Here’s what I toyed with today:

One of the things I am grateful for is that I didn’t have any shows running on Broadway when the covid-curtain came down.  (The four musicals that I have teed up- Broadway Vacation, Joy, The Neil Diamond Musical and Harmony- were just about to go into the workshop phase.)  So I asked myself, “If I did have a show running on Broadway, what would I do to keep that show top of mind before our return?”

I came up with a bunch of stuff, but here’s the one I liked the most.

I’d put it on sale.

“But how, Ken?  If you don’t know when Broadway is coming back, how would you know when to put the show back on sale?”

Let me be more specific.

I’d put ONE performance on sale.  And that performance wouldn’t have an exact date attached.  But it would be a guaranteed ticket to the VERY FIRST PERFORMANCE back.  🙂

See, at a time when so many things are unknown (including who will be our next President – although that seems to be relatively clear to everyone except ONE person), there is one certainty in my book . . .

When we’re given the “all clear” and Broadway reopens again?  The very first time a curtain is raised on a show is going to be one of the most magical nights in the theater . . . EVER.

Just imagine for a moment . . .you’re sitting in the audience of your favorite musical.  The house lights go out . . . the orchestra strikes up . . . the curtain rises and an actor appears.  And then she sings . . .

I mean, people are going to go ballistic!!!!

It’s going to be historic.  And fans are going to want to be a part of that incredible, sob-inducing, standing-ovation-that-may-last-an-hour, moment.  They’re going to want to be a part of it so badly, that they’d buy a ticket for it now.  Even without knowing exactly when it is!

Don’t you think?

And if you don’t think . . . tell me below why.  And then YOU PLAY THE GAME!  Come up with your own way that you’d keep your audience talking about your show while Broadway is shutdown and put it in the comments!

And then you can go back to watching CNN.

– – – – –

Marketing is going to change in the post-pandemic world.  That’s why we have a marketing panel at the TheaterMakers Summit, which starts in just SEVEN DAYS!  Get your ticket here and see some of the 100 (!) speakers we have ready to help you in your theatrical pursuits.  Click here and join us now.

Need some advice about the arts or anything? 50 Mentors in ONE book.

Confession time.
 
When I started my podcast over five years and two hundred (!) interviews ago, I told all the A-listers I interviewed that I was doing it for my listeners.
 
“They need your advice,” I said, “Your motivation, your mentorship. They want to hear your stories of success, so they can model their journey after yours.”
 
That was a fib.
 
In truth? I wanted to hear how these icons overcame obstacles, for me, as much as anyone else.
 
The good news?
 
I got away with the half-truth – because the interviews helped listeners AND me. Double-fecta.
 
And something interesting happened.
 
Over the years, I found myself listening to some of these podcasts again. Sometimes three times. I often used the most powerful quotes as #MyMorningWhiteBoardQuote on my Instagram.
 
And when faced with difficult decisions on my shows (and in my life), I often called up the wisdom of these A-listeners to help me make the right choice.
 
These hundreds of people became my mentors, whether they knew it or not.
 
And now, they are yours.
 
Here’s how . . .
 
Because I found elements of these conversations so valuable, I went back to Podcast Interview #1 ,and re-read every every single transcript.
 
Then I culled the BEST takeaways, action items, quotes and inspirational insights from 50 of those interviews and put them into a book entitled . . . Cast of Mentors. (Yes, an homage to a similar volume by Tim Ferris that I found so helpful in my entrepreneurial endeavors as well as the “Directors on Directing” and “Producers on Producing” books I loved when I was coming up.)
 
Inside the book, you’ll find a couple of pages per mentor, with key questions and answers about how to make better theater – that you can read in 5 minutes. Yep, I designed the book for you to read in bites. Got five minutes before a Zoom meeting starts? Read tips on directing from Kenny Leon. Or songwriting from Bobby Lopez. Or producing from Daryl Roth. Or life from Ali Stroker. Or . . . on and on and on. Because there are 50 of ’em in this volume alone. (See the full list of mentors below).
 
Want to see what the inside of the book looks like? Click here to read advice from multiple Tony Award winning Directors and Choreographers. (And when you are done – feel how you want to turn the page and read another one!)
 
The book, Cast of Mentors: Short Sage Advice From 50 Broadway Superpowers is available for pre-order NOW Click here to be first in line to get it (release date is November 19th – in time to grab as a holiday gift for the TheaterMaker in your life.)
 
Oh, and we made it a fancy hardcover. Because the advice in the book is worth it. I know you’ll find yourself consulting it over and over.
 
Grab Cast Of Mentors here.
 
And a huge thanks to the following 50 mentors for being a part of Volume I. (Yep – there will be a second one!)
Rick Miramontez
Charlotte St. Martin
Nina Lannan
Terrence McNally
Jordan Roth
Tim Rice
Ben Brantley
Michael Arden
Casey Nicholaw
David Henry Hwang
Ted Chapin
Susan Stroman
Daryl Roth
Joe Mantello
Stephen Schwartz
Lynn Ahrens
Diane Paulus
Jeanine Tesori
Benj Pasek & Justin Paul
Robert Lopez
Leigh Silverman
Stephen Byrd
Bartlett Sher
Sue Frost & Randy Adams
Tara Rubin
Rick Elice
Lynne Meadow
David Stone
Kenny Leon
Stacey Mindich
Kathleen Marshall
Eva Price
Kwame Kwei-Armah
Pam MacKinnon
Sergio Trujillo
Lisa Kron
Rebecca Taichman
John Weidman
Joe Iconis
Michael Greif
Kirsten Childs
Dominique Morisseau
Ali Stroker
Mara Isaacs
Alan Cumming
Asmeret Ghebremichael
Jamil Jude
Mandy Gonzalez
Robyn Goodman
Paul Tazewell
Get the advice on how you can achieve your theatrical aspirations from all these mentors here.

We give THIS away for free every year.

No BS.

This year’s TheaterMakers Summit is our biggest and best yet.

More speakers, more content, more everything.

We doubled down on it.  Because, well, our conference has always been about education, motivation and inspiration.

And we need those things now more than ever.

That’s why we secured over 100 speakers . . . everyone from Chris Jackson to Charlotte St. Martin to Alan Menken to Jessie Mueller to Michael Arden to Sonya Tayeh to David Henry Hwang to Justin Guarini to Asmeret Ghebremichael and even (ready for this?) . . . Ben Brantley.

There are panels on streaming, equality, safety in a post-pandemic world, what emerging producers want, and over 40 more.  All designed to help get you to your theatrical goals (or just learn more about what makes our business tick).

It’s going to be the biggest open-to-all gathering of TheaterMakers that we know of.  Like ever.  (One of the blessings of a virtual conference is that people can come from all over the world – without having to spend money on a plane ticket!)

There will be breakout rooms, networking opps, chat-as-we-conference, and more.

So if you care about making theater in the new world, then you gotta come.

And today, we’re announcing a FREE VIP ticket giveaway.

Click here, answer an easy trivia question about the conference, and you’re entered.  (And there are even ways to earn more entries.

And win or not, I hope to see you there.

Because my mission is to help inspire people like you to make more theater.  And I know, for a fact, that our conference is the one thing that inspires more people than anything else we do.

And that has nothing to do with me.

It has to do with the incredible speakers we get.  And the incredible people like you we get to show up.

Enter to win your free ticket here BEFORE 10/28 when the giveaway expires.  And the winner will be announced 48 hours after.

Learn more about the conference here.

 

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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