My 5 Friday Finds: Guess what show is immersive now?

Happy Fall Friday and welcome to my 5 Friday Finds of the week! Here is what was on my radar this week, and what I think should be on yours.

  1. Immersive Theater Coming to a Car Dealership Near You.

The short-lived but well-reviewed musical Hands on a Hardbody (based on this fascinating documentary about a car dealership that gives away a truck as part of a promotion) will get a new production at an actual car dealership. There are three things to pick up from this:

1. A unique presentation of lesser known material will always get attention.
2. The immersive revolution is only expanding.
3. The barrier to entry for theater companies and writers is getting lower because theater rental costs are typically the biggest line item on a budget.

  1. Fringe is back, baby!

After a year off, the NYC Fringe festival is back, in a much different format and at a different time of year. One thing that remains the same? The crazy titles and adventuresome productions like James Franco and Me: An Unauthorized Satire and Simple Math: Solving for the Neurobiology of AssaultCheck out all the shows here.

  1. Hamilton Charges a Hamilton for Halloween.

One of the worst nights of the year for Broadway shows, and all live entertainment, restaurants, etc. is Halloween. While I’m sure Hamilton would have been just fine, they’re choosing to take this box office-spooking holiday and offer a $10 ticket promotion. Learn how to pick up that treat by clicking here.

  1. Real Estate in NYC is . . . down.

Last quarter, real estate sales were off in NYC over 11% from a year ago. Seems odd for me to be talking real estate, but since everyone assumes real estate in NYC always goes up, this article that mentioned the “correction” jumped out at me. Whenever something so rock solid shows a crack, something has to be up. How does that affect us on Broadway? And is it a coincidence that the stock market took a couple of nosedives this month as well, including yesterday?

  1. We’re getting younger.

The Broadway league demographic study for last year was released this week and once again, we saw an increase in our guests under 18. Obviously, this is a result of our increase in family fare on Broadway, from Mean Girls to Spongebob, and it means wonderful things for those of us who will be in the business 25 years from now because those kids are more likely to be theatergoers and theater patrons in the future. I did hear a cynic say at a meeting the other day that when they heard we had more teens and tweens, “Told you we were becoming more like a theme park.”

Enjoy your weekend and comment below if anything jumped out at YOU this week!

GUEST BLOG: A Day in the Life of a Broadway Publicist by Emily McGill

Ok, the title is a bit misleading as no two days are alike for a Broadway publicist, but a general idea of how we spend our time can be really helpful when you’re working with your rep or looking to get the word out about your own project.

From the moment my eyes flash open in the morning, I’m checking emails and Google Alerts (I prefer Talkwalker, but either will do) and catching up on the news.  As someone who works with and around the media, it is vitally important to know what is happening in the news cycle, what stories are being told, and who is telling them. A lot of my time is spent reading – whether it is news stories, information on a new show or project, or emails (there are a LOT of emails).

If there is an opportunity to tastefully inject a client’s project into the current news cycle based on coverage that is trending, we have to jump on it. Suppose your show tells the story of a timely topic, you need to leverage that into conversations and possible opportunities.

A typical day always starts with catching up on news, sharing coverage with clients, and reviewing my to-do list. Then I move on to writing media pitches to share with contacts that might be interested in telling a story about my client or calling a writer/editor/producer/journalist to pitch them. I can’t stress enough how important relationships are in this aspect of the industry (or, let’s face it, ANY aspect of this industry!). It is vital to get to know the people that you’re asking to cover your story. When you know what they cover and how they work, you are more likely to get a response, even if that response is a no.

In order to effectively do our jobs, we spend a lot of time cultivating relationships and networking. From coffee or cocktails with a journalist to lunches with a segment booker or producer to conversations with prospective clients, relationship building is vital to a press rep doing their job well. Equally vital is managing expectations. Every writer or producer believes in their show, you have to in order to get it up!  But the expectations of those who are most passionate about a show are not always realistic and so it often falls to your press rep to temper those expectations with a dose of reality. There are ways to do this gently, but ultimately it comes down to awareness around who in the media (and that outlet’s audience) will connect with the story and what that outlet is able to do with that story for coverage purposes.

I also spend a lot of time connecting with existing clients over phone, email or in person. They need to know that I’m out there advocating for them with the media and working hard to help them tell their story. It is important to update clients about conversations that I’m having with writers, editors, producers and journalists, or with other press reps in the industry who might be working on something similar (you never know when an opportunity for a trend story could appear, and by working with other reps we can help journalists formulate those stories).

Of course the exciting things like television appearances and opening nights and awards season events are what have the most visibility, but you don’t see all of the hard work that goes into making them happen. There are countless phone calls and emails and booking cars and writing memos and handling logistics and juggling schedules.

Broadway press reps also have responsibilities that many folks don’t think about. Has it ever crossed your mind who built that Playbill in your hand? (Yup!) Or who scheduled the production photo shoot, selected and refined production photos, or produced a b-roll shoot? We all know that ultimately – like everything else in the theatre – it is a collaboration, but the heavy lifting of each of these falls to your press rep.

At the end of the day, communication is really what we do. We communicate the story that a client has to tell with the wider world, we communicate the status of conversations to clients, and we communicate with audiences to help tell stories.


Emily McGill is the founder of Press Play, a boutique public relations firm. Emily has represented the Tony Award-winning productions of A Raisin in the Sun starring Denzel Washington, Memphis, and Billy Elliot, as well as Disney’s The Lion King and Aladdin, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s School of Rock and CATS, George Takei’s Allegiance, along with the Broadway productions of This Is Our YouthRock of AgesGhostElf, and First Date. Since her start in theatre, she’s expanded out to other forms of entertainment including music, live entertainment, film and television, and corporations. Clients have included companies of all sizes (from Disney, HBO and Fathom Events, to Abrams Artists Talent Agency and BroadwayHD), individuals, musical acts, and male strippers. Yes, male strippers.

For more information, visit PressPlayPro.Rocks.

Broadway Grosses w/e 10/14/2018: Leaves Are Falling, Grosses Remain Steady

Overall grosses remained steady at $33M this week. Coming off of the three day weekend, many individual shows saw decreases, but the addition of Torch Song and a few extra previews for new fall shows meant that the overall numbers were stable.

The autumn season is now fully underway with 8 new productions recently opening or in previews. The tightest tickets seem to be The Ferryman and King Kong, moving 94% and 100% of tickets respectively. The highest average paid ticket among the new productions was The Lifespan of a Fact at $124.

You can find the rest of the figures below, courtesy of The Broadway League:

Show Name GrossGross  TotalAttn %Capacity AvgPdAdm
ALADDIN $1,281,351.70 13,074 94.63% $98.01
AMERICAN SON $514,930.57 4,826 77.94% $106.70
ANASTASIA $742,381.80 7,863 85.99% $94.41
BEAUTIFUL $807,677.00 7,462 90.91% $108.24
BERNHARDT/HAMLET $366,680.10 4,368 74.18% $83.95
CHICAGO $762,454.40 8,245 95.43% $92.47
COME FROM AWAY $1,125,197.00 8,529 101.92% $131.93
DEAR EVAN HANSEN $1,515,204.45 7,989 101.49% $189.66
FROZEN $1,573,450.80 12,604 93.56% $124.84
HAMILTON $3,245,544.00 10,755 101.77% $301.77
HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD, PARTS ONE AND TWO $2,054,500.00 12,976 100.00% $158.33
HEAD OVER HEELS $219,034.50 3,144 40.81% $69.67
KING KONG $832,523.75 10,428 100.00% $79.84
KINKY BOOTS $717,013.60 7,922 69.54% $90.51
MEAN GIRLS $1,386,133.55 9,754 99.53% $142.11
MY FAIR LADY $1,093,904.00 7,576 88.59% $144.39
ONCE ON THIS ISLAND $430,394.10 4,757 85.43% $90.48
PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL $1,193,965.20 9,092 97.30% $131.32
SCHOOL OF ROCK $672,027.00 7,833 64.29% $85.79
SPRINGSTEEN ON BROADWAY $1,929,795.00 3,792 100.00% $508.91
SUMMER $690,915.50 7,320 62.24% $94.39
THE BAND’S VISIT $902,312.54 7,705 92.70% $117.11
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,180,831.00 8,682 103.65% $136.01
THE FERRYMAN $693,826.30 6,673 93.55% $103.98
THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT $803,054.00 6,476 80.63% $124.00
THE LION KING $2,156,939.00 13,427 98.96% $160.64
THE NAP $204,865.60 3,723 72.38% $55.03
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $1,055,232.51 11,602 90.36% $90.95
THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG $300,431.50 4,640 67.92% $64.75
THE WAVERLY GALLERY $379,302.00 5,002 79.45% $75.83
TORCH SONG $238,956.50 3,498 86.01% $68.31
WAITRESS $667,453.50 6,755 80.80% $98.81
WICKED $1,649,536.00 13,749 95.11% $119.97
TOTALS $33,387,818.47 262,241 86.88% $125.55
+/- THIS WEEK LAST SEASON +$3,459,323.11      


Today’s blog was guest-written by Ryan Conway, General Manager for DTE Management. Find out more here!

My 5 Friday Finds: A sneak peek at a puppet and more.

Here are five things that fancied me this week:

  1. Why have one mentor when you can have a tribe. Tim Ferris shook up the productivity world with his Four Hour Work Week and then he went on a podcast tear, talking to everyone from Schwarzenegger to Jamie Foxx to Tony Robbins.

Then, smart biz guy that he is . . . he took key excerpts from all of those interviews and put them in a book called Tribe of Mentors. Yep, he just repurposed his own content. No additional work, but yet it’s super valuable. One sits on my desk. I read a new excerpt a day (they’re a few pages) and learn something new.

  1. The stock market sucked this week. I’m reminded of this Warren Buffet quote:  “Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.”
  2. The next Bedlam.

Downtown theater company, Wheelhouse, has been making waves over the past few years and is taking their NY Times Critic’s Pick, Kurt Vonnegut’s Happy Birthday Wanda June, uptown to the Duke starting 10/18. Disclaimer, I’m on the Advisory Board. But there’s a reason. I think they are the next Bedlam.

  1. Speaking of Bed . . . Have you tried the “Bedtime” feature on your iPhone? It’s better than an alarm because it doesn’t just tell you when to get up, it tells you when to go to bed (but nicer than your mom). It got me more sleep this week, which allows me to get more work done, which . . .
  2. Maybe I’m not supposed to say this . . . But the Producers of King Kong invited industry folks to a special behind the curtain, sneak peek of Kong himself this week. That’s right, we get an up close and personal view of the puppet, the thing we’re all curious about. So smart. Taking people behind the ropes, where other people can’t go, is a great way to get them on your side.

Why you need to get OFF-line every once in a while.

No one is more of an advocate of technology in the industry than me.

But just like a diet . . . you can’t just eat one food and expect to be healthy.

Diet, exercise, and building a business are all about a balanced approach.

And online marketing and professional development must be balanced with offline initiatives.

While online is easier and faster to execute, offline or in-person connections are still much, much stronger.

That’s why last year I held my first Producer’s Perspective Super Conference . . . as a way to get passionate people who want to make theater in a room.

Like most of the things I do, I had no idea what would happen when we announced it. A few months later, we sold out, with 150 people gathered at Playwrights Horizons to hear from expert speakers in our industry on all subjects, from raising money to social media and more.

I know of at least a dozen productions that were jump-started at that conference, and about a hundred other networking connections that were made.

So, of course, when something works like that, we do it again . . . and we try to make it even better.

Introducing Super Conference II . . . coming up in less than 30 days, on November 10th and 11th. We’re at a bigger venue this time (and we’ve already sold more tickets than last year) and more speakers, including Tony Winners Itamar Moses, Lisa Kron, and Des McAnuff, plus Sergio Trujillo, Stephen Byrd, Neil Pepe and more, talking about subjects like:

  • Demystifying Show Biz Law: Everything You Should Know to Save Time and Money
  • Sure-Fire Tips on Raising The Money You Need to Get to Broadway
  • Media Blitz: How to Get Press That Sells Tickets
  • License to Sell: How to Make $$$ Beyond Broadway
  • Building Your Brand: How to Be An Artists & a CEO

And a keynote by one of the most produced playwrights in the country, John Cariani.

It’s the only conference dedicated to giving theater artists the tools they need to get their shows off the ground.

You can see the full roundup of killer speakers and their subjects here.

We’ve only got about 70 seats left . . . and based on the sales velocity, we’re going to sell out pretty soon, so if you’re interested in learning about the biz and how you can make your mark, click here and sign up now. 

I have no doubt you’ll walk away inspired and infused with an energy to make whatever theatrical goal you have happen . . . and fast.

So close your computer, put down your phone, and come meet people in person.

After all, we work in the theater . . . if you’re not willing to come meet people in a room, how do you expect to get people to come to your room when you’ve got a show?

Register for The Super Conference here.