Episode 206 – The President of Disney Theatrical Group, Thomas Schumacher

Did you miss me?

Ok, maybe not.

But did you miss my guests???

That’s what I thought!

Well, the wait is over.  Welcome back to the brand new season of The Producer’s Perspective Podcast!

(Insert confetti cannons here)

Believe it or you-know-what, over the break, we celebrated five years of podcasting. Five freakin’ years. When I first started out, with my portable microphone and no idea of what I was doing, I never imagined we’d have over 200 episodes and that so many of our industry’s leaders would be so willing to sit and share their wisdom.  The generosity of theater folks is beyond.

And a perfect example of one of those folks is today’s guest . . .  Mr. Thomas Schumacher, the President and Producer of Disney Theatrical Productions, who oversees the development, creation, and execution of Disney’s legitimate stage entertainment worldwide.  Yeah, we’re talking the guy responsible for getting The Lion King to Broadway, not to mention Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Frozen and everything else under the Disney brand.

Tom and I sat down to talk about the role Disney has played in the building of the modern Broadway as well as . . .

  • How the film version of The Little Mermaid gave musicals back their voice
  • How theatre and Disney become part of your family heritage
  • What Broadway definitely needs to learn about diversity from Disney’s Mulan.
  • How Disney’s purchase of the New Amsterdam Theater helped revitalize Times Square.
  • A hint of what might be next for Disney on Broadway.

A lot of folks think that Disney is a big corporation.  Well, in this podcast, you’ll hear why its success is because it’s not run like a big corporation.  It’s run by one of the best independent producers in the business, who just happens to be backed by one heck of a big investor.

 

  • 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.

And this week’s #SongwriterOfTheWeek is Grace McLean! If you enjoyed the outro song in this episode, go on over to www.gracemclean.com or check her out on Instagram & Twitter @thatgracemclean.

Learn How To Write A Musical In Person from The Man Who Wrote The Book On It.

One of the first pieces of advice I give to writers struggling to improve their scripts is simple . . .

Read Jack Viertel’s The Secret Life of the American Musical.

It’s a genius book that breaks down the structure of the classic American musical.  It diagnoses problems in your own scripts by demonstrating how the masters did it.

I re-read it every year.

I’m also lucky enough to call Jack a peer and a friend.  And recently, while we were jawing over a new musical I was working on, I got to thinking . . . the book is great and all, but hearing him talk in person is priceless for anyone looking to get better.  And aren’t we all?

Since my mission is to help people like you get your shows off the ground, I asked Jack if he’d ever teach a LIVE workshop for my readers.

And he said yes.

So we’re doing it!

On Sunday, December 8th, from 2-6 PM, Mr. Jack Viertel, Broadway Producer, Writer, former Critic, now head of Encores (for a little while longer anyway) and so much more, will be teaching an intensive workshop on the structure of a musical.

It’s a four-hour class that will be split in two parts.  The first will be Jack deconstructing a musical for you like he does in his book, but more in-depth.

The second part . . . and oh this is where the fun begins . . . we’re hiring actors to play Julie Jordan and Billy Bigelow and they’re going to perform the famous “If I Loved You” scene.  Jack will go through it line by line, starting and stopping, to demonstrate why it is one of the most perfect scenes there is in all of musical theater . . . and how knowing why it’s so good, will help you write classic scenes of your own.

There will be time for questions, and a big networking opp as well.  So come!

This is a small workshop for the serious minded students of musical theater, so seats are limited.  Click here and get one today.

Whether you are a Producer, Director or of course, a writer . . . your career will thank you for it.

And I will see you there, and I can’t wait to learn more from this Musical Whisperer.

Date: December 8th

Time: 2pm-6pm

Location: Theater District

10 Takeaways from our Promote U Conference.

Last Friday, close to 100 Theater-Makers gathered in a sky-lit conference room to talk about the #1 thing that all business owners must master in 2019 . . . marketing.  (And yes, if you’re a Writer, Director, Actor, Producer, Designer, Usher, whatever . . . you are your own business owner.)

25 years ago, there were only a few ways to market yourself . . . letters, phone calls and ol’ school schmoozing.

Now?  Well, shoot, there are umpteen ways to promote yourself or your show . . . and when done well, you can get yourself a gig, an agent, investors, theaters, licensing deals, or whatever the heck you want.

Because good marketing is simple science.  Apply enough force to an object and the object will move.  Put marketing energy behind your “product” and you will see results.

And here’s the thing . . . if you’re not promoting yourself or your show, I can promise you there are a zillion other people out there promoting theirs.

Guess who will get ahead first?

I know, I know, you don’t like the thought of putting yourself out there.  news flash – most people don’t.

But the smart ones realize they have to.  News flash:  If you won’t promote yourself or your show . . . no one will.

So while it’s ok to sit back and hope that someone sweeps you off your feet to a land of big royalty checks and great reviews, I can promise you the chance of that happening is like the chance of there being a special bonus episode of Game of Thrones that the fans actually enjoy.

This was the overall message of my fantastic speakers at our first Promote U Conference (and yes, we are planning another next year), and I gotta say . . . I learned a ton myself (especially with my LinkedIn page.)

Since I know many of you couldn’t make it, I thought I’d blog you ten quick one-liner themes from our star speakers . . . and at the bottom of this blog, you’ll see a way to get the entire takeaway-laden tips.

Enjoy these 10 Takeaways from our first ever Promote U (and make sure you click on the links of each speaker to learn more about what they do and how they can help you).

Photo by Daniel Rader

Karen Tiber Leland (Growing Your Fan Base on Facebook): “Creating consistent on-brand content that contributes knowledge, as opposed to promoting it, will win in the long haul.”

Rodrick Covington (The Pillars of Productivity): “When you are clear about your identity, you become limitless.”

Ryan Scott Oliver (Getting Discovered on Youtube): “Don’t worry about going viral, just create quality content.”

Sierra Boggess (How To Be Your Authentic Self On Social): “You are enough, you are so enough, it’s unbelievable how enough you are!”  Get Sierra’s Light Lessons here.

Thomas Heath (How To Build Your Network on LinkedIn): “Claim your personal brand and make authentic connections.”

Tony Howell (Creating a Website That Tells And Sells Your Story): “Connect. Collect. Convert.”

Tyler Mount (How To Build Your Brand & Building Raving Fans on Instagram): “Authenticity and consistency are key.”

And one from me . . .

Ken Davenport (How I Generated Millions of Dollars in Free Advertising Without Spending a Dime): ”If you build it, they will come’ is bull@#S%!”

Photo by Daniel Rader

The irony is . . .  I used to think “building it” was enough.  And frankly?  25 years ago?  It probably was.  But not anymore.

If you build it, and no one sees it, you wasted your time.  Theatre is meant to be seen.  Not read.  Not sit on a shelf.  It NEEDS an audience.  You need an audience.

Master marketing . . . or heck, just get even a little bit better at it . . . and you’ll find one.

Enjoy these takeaways?  Want to see the complete talks from all the speakers above, including one from me where I reveal some of my secrets from my most successful marketing initiatives?  Click here.

How to get yourself out there and Promote Urself (even if you don’t want to) and why you must.

If you follow the blog, then you know that last year I set a pretty ambitious of a goal, to help get 5000 shows produced by the year 2025 (#5000By2025).

Things are going along swimmingly with some amazing success stories so far.   But the more Theater Makers I talk to along our journey, the more I realize some of the things holding them back.

And that’s when we kick into high gear to try and come up with a solution to help them break through to the other side.

One trend that I’ve noticed is this fear of promoting oneself or just the lack of knowledge of how to do it.  And who can blame anyone for getting lost in the sea of social media, hashtags, websites, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc., etc . . . and there’s probably a new platform called etc.!

And how the heck do you even find the time to do it all?

But here’s the one thing I know for a fact . . . if you’re not promoting yourself . . . no one will.

And, if you’re not promoting yourself, someone else is certainly promoting themselves, and they will, without a doubt, have an advantage over you in this business.

Period.

How do I know this?

Oh, because I’ve been known to google an actor’s name during an audition to check on the number of social media followers they have (and this is a super common practice in Hollywood).  I’ve come to like the work of a designer through an Instagram account.  YouTube videos from songwriters have gotten me to reach out and find out what show the writers were working on next.

Years ago, before all this stuff existed, everyone was on the same playing field.  Everyone had the same basic marketing tools in their toolbox.  A resume.  A phone.  The mail.  And their work.

Now, that toolbox is ever-expanding, and when you know how to work all those tools, you can get to your goals so much faster.

But you have to do three things . . .

  1.  Acknowledge that marketing is essential.
  2.  Admit what you know and what you don’t.
  3.  Take action today to improve.

Since we’ve got a lot of shows to help get on in the next six years, we decided to put together a conference on exactly this subject.  Introducing PromoteU:  The Marketing and Productivity Conference for Theatre-Makers.

On Friday, May 17th, join me and some superstar speakers including Broadway Star Sierra Boggess, YouTube sensation Tyler Mount, Branding Guru Tony Howell, and more to be announced when we spend a day breaking down how you can get yourself out there, get more gigs, and enjoy it in the process.

We’re going to have sessions all about:

  • Finding Your Brand: Creating Your Branding Toolkit
  • How to Use Social Media to Gain Loyal Fans
  • Creating a Website that Tells (and Sells) Your Story
  • Lightning Round Deep-Dives on Specific Social Media Platforms
  • Productivity and Accountability Tools for Artists
  • And Much More.

And, the conference will also include:

  • Expert Keynotes and Presentations from Marketing, Branding and Creative Experts
  • Valuable Networking Opportunities in Our Private Facebook Group AND at Our 2-Hour Networking Open-Bar Party
  • 3 Months of Follow-Up Accountability Training from Our Team of Experts

You’ll leave armed with a specific plan of attack and all the tools necessary to build your own marketing campaign for whatever kind of Theatre Maker you are . . . Writer, Director, Actor, Producer, and more.

And we’re even adding in three months of accountability check-ins after the conference to make sure you stay productive and focused.

You can learn more about it and register here.  Just do so quickly, as we’re in a theater half the size of our Super Conference, so the seats won’t last.

I hope you’ll come.  Because I know what we’re going to share with you is going to work.  Because marketing always works.

And everything and everyone requires marketing to get ahead in 2019.  And the unfortunate truth is, if you’re not marketing your brand, then you’re not just standing still . . . you’re falling behind.  Sorry to have to say it like that.

But this conference will help.  In fact, here’s a promise for you . . . if you’re not in a better position with your career after the conference and the built-in coaching, just drop me a note, and I’ll refund you the price of your conference ticket.  Simple.

Register here.  And prepare to be a productive promoting machine . . . without even looking like you’re promoting anything.

See you at PromoteU on May 17th!

 

What Marie Kondo can teach you about rewriting your script.

If you don’t know who Marie Kondo is, then you’re probably living under a very untidy rock.

Marie Kondo is the author of the bestselling The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and the star of the new Netflix series “Tidying Up” which has become the hot water-cooler conversation of late.

Ms. Kondo is an organizational guru who changes lives by changing how you keep your home clean.

So, my Type A peeps out there?  You’re going to love her.  And the non-Type A’s?  She’s just what your cluttered closet ordered.

Her basic principle of “tidying” is pretty simple.  Instead of looking at what is in your closet and saying, “What should I throw away,” she turns the question around to ask a positive one . . . “What should I keep?”  And her rule about what stays around is . . .

Only hold on to items that “spark joy.”

So vivid, right?

A sweater that sparks joy stays.  If you don’t feel joyous when you put on those jeans, out they go.  Same with trinkets or books . . .  or even people.  🙂

This got me to thinking about how to apply it to the development of shows and more specifically, how Authors should deal with the notes they get on a script.

If you’re a writer then you know . . . everyone has an idea on how to rewrite your script, right?  And every time you do a reading or send it around, you probably get so many notes, you don’t know where to start . . . and end up not starting at all.

Feedback can be overwhelming, which is why I suggest following the Marie Kondo approach.

See, too many writers I know (especially new ones) take ALL the notes they are given by all the various people who give them . . . and the next draft ends up looking like some kind of collage of a show with no singular vision.

Writers need to know how to filter the feedback they receive, so the show gets better and remains the same show the writer wants to write.

How do you filter?

You Kondo your feedback.

Writers should only take notes that “spark joy.”

When you get a note, you should think about it, roll it around, debate it if you must, and wait for it to give you a burning desire to get back to the keyboard to make the change.

If it doesn’t even get you excited about doing the rewrite?  Forget the note altogether.  Because even if you take it, you won’t write it well, so why bother?

To be a successful rewriter, you must be enthusiastic about the process if you’re going to improve your script.

But you should never sacrifice the story that you want to tell just because someone else has ideas on how they would write it.

They are not you.  The script is not theirs.  It’s yours.

So write the show you want to write, and let Marie Kondo make it even tidier.

– – – – –

Want to learn how to self-diagnose your own script so you don’t have to hear from anyone else? 🙂  Download our “How To Self Diagnosis Your Script” execution plan today and get your script better by tonight! Click here.

Looking for expert feedback on your script from my Director of Creative Development or Ken Davenport? Click here to apply for our script coverage services.

 

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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