Top 10 Holiday Gifts for the Producer In Your Life . . . or YOU! [UPDATED]

We’ve updated this blog with the best Broadway gifts on the market in 2018. Enjoy!

‘Tis the season!  Turkey and Trimmings . . . and Tourists!

And . . . of course, gifts!

If shopping for that special Producer in your life has got your spreadsheets in a knot, fear not, below you’ll find 10 Great Gift ideas, well, that I’d love to get . . . so I figured they’d love to get them too!

And if you are a Producer or Want-To-Be-A-Producer, well, here’s where that “share” button comes in real handy.  Just email this blog to your special Santa Clause and say, “If you love me, you’ll get me everything!”

And if that doesn’t work, you can just do what I do.  Buy stuff for myself and justify it by saying, “I’m doing my part to stimulate the economy!”  🙂

1. Be A Broadway Star Board Game

Take Monopoly, mix it with Life and add a dash of Show Tune Charades and you get Be A Broadway Star (or BABS for short).  A recent price reduction (now only $29.99) makes this the perfect holiday stocking stuffer for your Broadway lover.  And yes, full disclosure, I created it.  Buy it for $29.99 here.

2. A Playbill Binder

Playbills are probably the one thing on the planet that is given away free, yet is priceless to a Broadway fan (especially a NEW Broadway fan). Protect them in this binder that includes free sheet protectors!

3. A Broadway Puzzle

If you’re like me, then holiday times at the parents’ house includes puzzles. So forget about the ones with windmills and skylines, how about one featuring Broadway stars!

4. Broadway Nail Decals

Need a stocking stuffer or a Broadway Secret Santa gift? This is it because it’ll come in under ANY budget.

5. A Montblanc Pen

The pen truly is mightier than the sword, especially when it’s a fancy pen.  Seriously, whip out one of these suckers at a meeting and people will know you mean business.  Broadway business.  Most people wouldn’t buy them on their own, which is why they sure make great gifts.  Buy it for about $300 on Amazon.

6. Final Draft Software

Take it from someone who didn’t use Final Draft who now does.  You write faster with it.  Period.  Make your Writer/Producer more effective.

7. A Ticket to TEDx Broadway

Show your Producer-to-be that you think they are part of the future, by getting him or her into the Broadway conference of the future, TEDxBroadway.  It’s the ultimate educational and networking gift on this list, as the audience will be full of boldfaced names.  Buy it for $100 from

8. A Membership to Pro for your Pro!

If your Broadway fan wants to be more than a fan, then check out our membership site, which will teach him or her how to get from an idea to the page to the stage.

9. Playbill PJs

These adorable pajamas make me long for my days of sleepovers. And just look who they got to model them! (Can you name the Broadway star and her husband?)

10.  Tickets, tickets and more tickets.

Theater tickets are expensive.  Which is why they make great gifts.  Give a gift card, and your Producer picks what they want to see.  And you’ll be giving back to the biz at the same time.  Gift cards can be a small part of your own personal Broadway stimulus package.  Buy it from $25 at

In case nothing suits your fancy on the above list, then check out some of these honorable mentions:

  • Microsoft Excel for Dummies
  • Once On This Island Cast Album: If you love Ahrens and Flaherty, if you love great musical theater period, you’ll love this Tony-award winning cast, and so will the theater lover in your life.
  • The Broadway Coloring Book: Created by my own Director of Marketing, Monica Hammond (I have such a multi-talented staff), The Broadway Coloring Book is available as an instant download PDF for you to print, color and enjoy right away or gift to friends! This 10-page coloring book features hand-drawn scenes from some classic Broadway shows, including Mamma MiaChicagoCabaretGypsy and more! Color the costumes and sets of Broadway as many times as you like! Download your copy now!
  • Fancy business cards
  • Gift certificates to any Broadway eatery like Sardi’s, Joe Allen’s, Bond 45 or Angus

Got a great idea for a gift for a Producer?  Let me hear it in the comments below.  And happy shopping!

Letting the fans write your shows future . . . literally

Yesterday I e-talked about how some of the most entertaining entertainment opened a door to a world that an audience had never seen before.

Well, while researching that blog (which was about 50 Shades of Grey), a giant door was opened to me which led me to a wormhole of a world that I knew absolutely jack about.  (Side note: one of the reasons I love writing this blog, is I learn a crap load while prodding and poking blog ideas – which is why I recommend blogging to all those curious cats out there.)

What was waiting for me on the other side of that door?

Our fans.

First, back story.  That super-novel known as 50 Shades of Grey was written by E.L. James (a J.K. Rowling-type pseudonym for Erika Mitchell), who has only been writing since 2009.  How did she start?

She wrote fanfic.

What’s fanfic (aka FF or fic for short)?  Good question (and I’m sure a common one, if you’re above the age of 30).

Fanfic = fan fiction.  Stories written by fans using the characters and basic premises from popular source material (in a way, Wicked might be the ultimate fanfic).

Cool, right?  Fans so passionate about a book, that they can’t get enough . . . so they write more to satisfy their burning desire to stay in the story (Twilight inspires a lot of fanfic – and was what inspired E.L. James to start writing).

E.L. James posted her early FF on the most popular fanfic site on the web . . .  I trolled on that site for a while yesterday, learning more about this amazing community of super-fans.  And it was like a supermarket of FF.  There was fanfic about books.  About movies.  And . . .

Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit . . .

They have fanfic about musicals!

And a whole ton of it!!!

I know, for some of you this will be like, “duh.”  And when I found it, I was like, “Duh.”  Of course there’s fanfic about musicals.  We’re a major art form.  People are uber passionate about what we do.  Musicals and plays are inspiring.

But look at it all!  There is fanfic about Rent, Wicked, Hairspray .  . . but also fanfic about less likely shows like John & Jen, Journey’s End . . . Zanna, Don’t!  Click here to see it all.

Once I got over my shock and awe about the depth of the material, I started to try and think like a marketer.  See, when fans self-generate this type of material, with no push from the marketing department, imagine how much they might create if you threw a little marketing fuel on the fire.  Yes, it’s a younger audience, but that’s also tomorrow’s audience, and if we could encourage more fanfic today (perhaps in a more official environment of our own and not just on another website), perhaps we’d be encouraging more audiences for tomorrow.

Excuse me now, I’m going to read a story about what happened when Dainty June returned to see her sister after Gypsy became a star.  I wonder if she and Tulsa are still together, don’t you?


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10 Negotiating Tips for Theater Professionals: Part II

Ready to jump back into the negotiating fray?

As promised, here are five more Negotiating Tips for Theater Professionals

6.  Listen up.

One of the most important things you can do in any negotiation is actually not negotiate.  Just listen.  Listen to what they want.  When you have a counter argument, don’t interrupt, just write it down and come back to it later.  Sometimes I find that folks want/need to get their emotions out about why they need more, deserve more, etc . . . and often when that’s over and they get it out . . . and when I’ve shut up, listened, and agreed with them . . . and then simply explained that because of the constructs of the project, what I’ve offered is the best I can do, they agree. (One of my favorite things to say when someone tells me how talented, important, etc. someone I want to hire is, I usually say, “I know . . . I called you remember?”)

7.  Know when to walk away.

Sometimes deals don’t come together.  And honestly?  I can’t think of a time when a deal hasn’t come together that I’ve regretted it.  You know the saying, “Things happen for a reason?”  Well, things DON’T happen for a reason too. If you aren’t getting a good vibe, if your negotiating partner is asking more than the project can bear unreasonably, and, most importantly, if you don’t feel there is a strong desire for the person/theater/etc. to make the project happen, then walk away.  And find a person/theater/etc. who does.  Creating great theater and producing great theater to financial success is waaaaay too hard to go into it feeling like you’ve been taken advantage of, or that the other party is doing it just for the gig.  There are other fish in the sea of theater.   Cut bait and “cast” again.  (Bonus tip on the same subject – if you say, “If you don’t get back to me by XX day and time, we are moving on,” you better mean it.  If you say you’re going to walk, you gotta be prepared to walk . . . otherwise it has the opposite effect.)

8.  You can handle the truth.

And you should always tell the truth.  And this goes for both sides.  There is nothing that destroys credibility for a negotiation and future negotiations more than making something up . . . and then getting busted.  Because you will get busted.  I’ve seen people lie about other people on projects, figures, etc.  It’s fine if you don’t want to reveal information, but don’t just make up something to prove your point.  Remember, you’re in this business for the long haul – the best way to get the best deal “now and forever” is to be honest and respectful.  Lying may seem like the “sharky” thing to do, but no one wants to do business with sharks.

9.  Negotiate as high up as you can.

It’s always better to get the decision maker on the phone.  You want to deal with the top rung of the ladder if possible.  It’s not always possible, but do try . . . at the same time, be careful of insulting the person who is a rung or two below when you ask.  But don’t hesitate to appeal to a higher power if you aren’t getting what you want along the way.  And I don’t mean, “Will you ask SO-AND-SO to please consider this?”  I mean, “I would like to speak to SO-AND-SO.  Can we arrange a call?”  It’s kind of like asking for a supervisor when you’re dealing with AT&T and not getting anywhere.

 10.  Don’t be afraid.  And have fun.

This is the most important tip of all.  Too many people dread getting on the phone or negotiating in person (which – and here’s another bonus tip – is the best way to negotiate) and that sets the wrong tone for the discussion.  First, remember, that most people feel the same way you do about negotiating . . . including the person you’re dealing with.    It’s a necessary part of business, but we all wish we could just skip over it and get to the good stuff of making the play.  But we can’t.  So embrace it.  Don’t get nervous.  Have fun.  If ever you do feel a little flummoxed . . . take a break, ask to call back, leave the room, “press your pause button” (a simple tip I learned from this book) . . . and then go back in.  Negotiating can actually be a blast, especially if you keep your eye on its purpose and remember that you’re doing it to produce something wonderful.  In fact . . . oh boy, here comes an analogy I may regret someday, but I’m going for it anyway . . . think of it like sex when you’re trying to have a baby.  If you put that image in your mind, you’re bound to have a good time.  🙂
Happy negotiating, everyone!

If you’re looking for another book on negotiating, because you already devoured this one, try this.

And if you’ve got tips for negotiating that you’d like to share, please comment below!


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10 Negotiating Tips for Theater Professionals: Part I

Ahhh, negotiating.  It’s an essential part of business and an essential part of life.  Whether we know it or not (or want to or not), we negotiate all day long . . . with agents, with employees . . . with spouses.  Because the bottom line is, if you want something . . . anything . . . you gotta negotiate.

A lot of folks I tell me that they are “bad” negotiators, especially theater peeps, since most of them didn’t get in the biz thinking that’s what they were going to have to do.  The good news is that while it’s true that some people are born blessed with a natural negotiating ability, just like some folks are blessed with a beautiful singing voice or a great golf swing . . . negotiating is a skill that can be learned . . . just like singing . . . and just like swinging a nine iron.

Negotiating in the theater is a little different than other industries, because of our small structure, unique deals and unique personalities. So, I put together this list of 10 Negotiating Tips for Theater Pros that you can use to help you get what you want.

Here are the first five:

1.  What you want is what they want.

Speaking of “what you want,” remember first and foremost that the best negotiation results in both sides feeling not only satisfied that their needs have been met, but both sides should also be excited about the endeavor they are about to embark on.  Negotiating is not a guilty/not guilty trial.  And you’re not a prosecutor or a defense attorney.  I’ve talked to so many people who have come away from a negotiation saying, “I got that guy for a song,” or “I beat them up and saved a ton,” and I can guarantee you that whatever they saved, they lost in morale from the other side of the negotiation feeling “beat up.”  Saving money is important, and often essential to a project’s life.  Just remember, that the only winner at the end of a negotiation should be the project, not a person.

2.  Go easy on the emotion.

This is one of the hardest tips to remember for us in the arts.  We’re emotional people, so we get emotionally involved.  When someone wants more money, or doesn’t want to do a project on your timeline, it can get under your skin, especially since you’re most likely producing it or writing it because you LOVE it.  And their semi-rejection may make you feel like they don’t love it.  And unrequited love is a bitch.  Remember that this is a business and try to check your emotions at the door.  Look at practical ways to solve the problems that have been brought up.  A big heart got you into this business.  Let your head lead you through it.

3.  Who you negotiate with today, you will probably negotiate with tomorrow.

Boy did I learn this the hard way.  I literally went off on someone very early in my career and then had to call them the next day and try and negotiate another deal for another project.  It didn’t go well.  The theater industry is a small one.  A very, very small one.  And the people you are on the phone with about a show today are most likely going to be involved with other shows throughout your career.  So, blowing up at someone and screaming at them in a negotiation may not only cost you that negotiation, but it might sour your relationship so much, that it’ll cost you many more down the road.   Luckily, in my case, the other guy had done the same thing when he was starting out.

4.  Earn a Boy Scout Negotiating Badge and be prepared.  

Let’s face it, when we decide we want to do a project, we want it open like yesterday, so we’ll rush to try and get the right people involved.  First, re-read Tip #2, take a breath, and then, before negotiating with anyone, prepare for that negotiation like you’re studying for a final.  Who will you be negotiating with?  Do you know enough about the person you want to hire?  Try to find out what is important to them.  What other projects have they worked on?  What did they want/get on those projects?  The more you can learn in advance, the more time you’ll save on the actual negotiation, which will help get your curtain up that much faster.  And never, ever, rush your negotiation.  Rushing will always force you to give up more than you can.  If you’ve got a fast approaching deadline, and the other side doesn’t, then you’re dead.

5.  Keep notes like you’re a stenographer.

A lot of negotiating these days takes place over email, which I’m not actually a fan of (you can’t hear tone, emails can be forwarded and BCCed without knowing, etc.) so I advocate to my consulting clients that they always negotiate over the phone.  But if you’re talking and not typing your negotiating, then you’ve got to keep notes.  I keep a whole separate negotiating book, and I write down details as we discuss . . . what I say, what they say, and what the next steps are.  Not only does this help me remember what has transpired and help resolve any future issues, it also helps my next set of negotiations with the same negotiator.


Part II of this post with the next five tips will be up tomorrow.  In the meantime, if you want to learn more about negotiating, I strongly suggest you start with this book.  It improved my skills ten fold in about ten days.


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My fourth book is out and available.

Until they figure out how to make megabytes look pretty on a shelf, books will never go out of style.  It might be cooler, cheaper and easier to read a blog on a computer, but it ain’t tangible.  And sometimes people just want to own something.

That’s why I publish The Producers Perspective in book form every year.  And shockingly enough, we’re on volume/year #4.

The book is available here, as are the other 3 volumes, in case you missed entries from years passed.  All proceeds from the book(s) go to funding our reading series, so the up-and-coming authors that we work with thank you.

Get the book here.

And get the eBook here.


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