Who I’m having over this Thanksgiving Weekend.

 I couldn’t ask for better guests.
 
They are sweet. They are funny.
 
They are going to sing for their supper.
 
And what’s cool is, they can come to your house too!
 
 
And, of course, it’s a livestream!
 
Mat and Savanna are YouTube superstars. Their videos have racked up 40mm views . . . in only seven months!
 
This daddy-daughter duo recorded a song at the beginning of the pandemic to share their message of hope and love with their friends.
 
Turns out, they have a LOT of friends. Or they do now!
 
But that’s what happens when you have an incredible message and TWO incredible voices.
 
I had them on my livestream last spring (and introduced them to Broadway star, Sierra Boggess, who is directing the concert). And, over the summer, I found myself listening to them all the time. And they always put a smile on my face.
 
Since we could all use a few more smiles these days, I called them and asked if I could have the honor of producing their first EVER concert, and they said yes!
 
And tomorrow night is the big day.
 
I hope you’ll join us. You’ll hear the classic covers that got them fans like Kelly Clarkson and got them on TV shows all over the country. And you’ll also hear some holiday tunes, and yep, some Broadway stuff as well.  (Savanna’s dream is to be on Broadway – and well, I think you’ll see that she’s well on her way.)
 
The concert is TOMORROW night, Saturday, November 28th at 8 PM Eastern. You can get your livestream ticket here.
 
You can’t ask for better socially distanced guests than these two.  🙂
 
Mat and Savannah Shaw
“What The World Needs Now”
Saturday, November 28th
8 PM Eastern
LIVE!
 
 

 

My Official 2020 Broadway Holiday Gift Guide for TheaterMakers and TheaterFans alike!

Usually, I publish my holiday gift guide on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

But since you probably have a little more time on your hands this Turkey Day, I thought you might want to start your e-shopping early.

As always, here are my top ten (pandemic-friendly) Broadway-themed gifts of 2020 that every TheaterMaker and Theater Fanatic will love. 

 

1) Broadway Face Masks

Masks are a thing.  And even with a vaccine coming, they’re going to be a thing.  Even years AFTER this pandemic has been crushed, they will STILL be a thing.  (If you have a cold, you’ll wear a mask – just like they do in other parts of the world.)  So, if you’re going to wear something, you might as well show your Broadway pride.  Here are some great places (including some TheaterMaker small business artisans on Etsy) to pick up a Broadway-themed mask.

 

2) Working On A Song

Hadestown was one of the most exciting, successful new shows on Broadway last year, raking in eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Now you can hear from the creator herself (who also happens to be one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020) as she takes you along on the decade-long journey of bringing Hadestown to Broadway. Get your copy of Working on a Song: The Lyrics of HADESTOWN by Anaïs Mitchell today!

 

3) BE A BROADWAY STAR – The Board Game

Yes, yes, we created this game.  But for those of you who think we’re just stumping for our own stuff, click here and look at all the amazing reviews.  Be A Broadway Star is the ONLY Broadway board game.  It’s a mashup between charades and “Life” and is a ton of fun (and yes, adults, there is also a drinking version).  IMPORTANT:  We sell out of these EVERY holiday season.  And with board games all the rage during the pandemic, we predict we will sell out faster.  Get Broadway’s only board game on Amazon here.

 

4) CAST OF MENTORS: Short Sage Advice from 50 of Broadway’s Best 

Yep, this one is also mine, but it’s the type of gift that I would have wanted under my tree when I was coming up in this biz so I had to recommend it. 

Have you or your special TheaterMaker ever wanted advice from your favorite Broadway mentor? How about 50 Broadway mentors? In Cast of Mentors: Short Sage Advice from 50 Broadway Superpowers you’ll get more than you paid for in this collection of truths from high-achieving Tony winners, Oscar winners and Pulitzer Prize winners (!) including Terrence McNally, Dominique Morriseau, David Henry Hwang, Daryl Roth, Kathleen Marshall, Stephen C. Byrd and more.   Get your copy of Cast of Mentors for your favorite TheaterMaker here.

 

5)  “Will You Light My Candle?” candles and more. 

We can all use a little soothing scent from a sweet candle, not to mention a little ‘light’ to remind us there is light at the end of this tunnel!  A candle from this Etsy shop will transport you into the world of all your favorite shows!

 

6) The TheatreMakers Studio Membership

Know the site Masterclass.com?  TMS is like Masterclass.com but for theater.  It’s a a digital training program and community for TheaterMakers at all stages in the process.  If you’re a writer, producer, director, or actor and you want to get a show on a stage, find a producer, meet other writers, and more . . . this is the place for you.

As a member, you’ll have access to our certification courses, monthly group coaching calls with my team of experts, access to our Private Facebook Community, a literal treasure trove of resources, checklists, execution plans, and a ton more! This is a perfect way to show the TheaterMakers in your life that you’re invested in their careers and want to see them thrive.

Oh, and you also get me once a month on a coaching call, since I founded the place.

 

7) These Work-From-Home Pajamas You Deserve

Okay, be honest. How many days this year have you spent in your pajamas? Pajamas have become the new business casual as many of us have shifted to work from home during the pandemic. Why not bring the spirit of Broadway to your work from home with these festive pajamas from Playbill?

 

8) MY BROADWAY BINDER

With all the free time quarantine has given us, why not organize that Playbill collection like we’ve all been saying we would do for years? This is my personal favorite way to do that, and I’m sure any Broadway lover would feel the same. Start organizing your playbills and memories here.

 

9) A SUBSCRIPTION TO THESE STREAMING SITES

All the cool kids are streaming it. So shouldn’t you?  Check out BroadwayHD and BroadwayOnDemand to get great theater content right on your phone, desktop or big screen tv.  And there are free trials or free content on both!  (And make sure you watch Daddy Long Legs, while you’re there.)

 

10)  SINGULAR SENSATION by Michael Riedel

It’s a real battle between who writes better books about Broadway:  Jen Tepper and her “Untold Stories of Broadway Series” or Michael Riedel.  Michael follows up his first and fantastic book, Razzle Dazzle, with this new one, Singular Sensation, which has his usual flair of history, drenched in gossip.

 

If you’re looking for more gift ideas for the Broadway theater lover in your life, click here to see past years guides.

If you have someone in your life who dreams about being on Broadway or creating shows for Broadway, check out this specialty guide 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.
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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