Darren DeVerna: He made Broadway a whole lot brighter.

Broadway lost someone this week who most people outside of Broadway’s Inner Circle wouldn’t know.

But if you ask me, Darren DeVerna was one of the pillars that Broadway was built on, and one of the reasons it was still standing.

He wasn’t a bold-faced name, despite the fact that he knew everyone, having come into the biz as a stagehand in 1977 (and having been born into a stagehand royalty family), and that his company, PRG, supplied the lighting equipment for 75% of the shows on Broadway.

He was often called on for advice, for counsel, to mediate disagreements, for “relief” (reductions in rental costs when a show wasn’t doing well), investment, and much, much more.

And he always helped.  Somehow.  Always.

And don’t even get me started at how he relentlessly picked up the check, or sent the most glorious holiday gifts, or always wore a suit, or . . .

I could go on and on, but I guess it’s easier to say that he was Broadway’s finest gentleman.

He ended every one of the many lunches we had at Joe Allen’s or golf games at his club, with a giant bear hug (and he was a big guy), and a “Love you, pal!” and a “Keep grinding!” or a “Just tell me what you need and we will work it out!”

In fact, I just scrolled through the emails I got from him over the last year, after he got his diagnosis with cancer and was in treatment,  and this was just a sample of how he signed off:

“I may be a tad slow on the response on certain days but I will be there for you!!!”

“Love ya!”

“I will be back in the saddle shortly!”

We were supposed to have lunch right as this COVID nonsense was beginning, and now I have another reason to hate this virus.  Yeah, today, I’m truly angry.

But he wouldn’t want me to be. He’d just want me to keep grinding.  Especially now.

So I will.

Darren, you were a friend, a mentor, and an inspiration.  You taught me about lighting . . . but more importantly about loyalty.

And Broadway will never be the same without you.

Thank you for making it a better place to do business.

 

Tonight on the Livestream: Broadway Choreographer, Kelly Devine

I’m still riding the wave of positivity after last night’s episode. Big thanks to Mat and Savanna for joining us last night, and for Sierra Boggess for being our ultimate surprise guest!  And of course, I’m grateful to Lisa Kron for coming on and sharing her tips for writing new stories – even sharing her favorite lyrics and lyricists on Broadway. If you missed this jam-packed episode, make sure you check it out.

And don’t forget, you can go back and replay all your favorite episodes here!

Tonight, I’m sitting down with Kelly Devine, Broadway Choreographer who was in the middle of previews for Diana on Broadway when Broadway shutdown. I’m eager to find out what Diana’s creative team is doing with the show during this ‘extended intermission’.

Tune at 8pm EDT tonight to find out what Kelly is working on. And click here to set your e-reminder.

 

To see the full line-up of guests for the next few weeks visit www.theproducersperspective.com/LIVE.

———–

(If any of you are interested in streaming your concert, workshop, reading . . . or even starting your own livestream series, I highly recommend the platform we’ve been using – StreamYard.  Click here to check them out.)

BROADWAY’S RECOVERY PART II: 3 Reasons Broadway Will Bounce Back . . . FAST.

Yesterday, I postulated that Broadway will come back fast and strong . . . whenever the @#$% we actually come back.

If that sounds like I’m frustrated, it’s because I @#$%ing am.

I mean, Broadway was booming like never before when COVID reared her ugly invisible head.  And not only will the theater be one of the last industries to return to full operation, but it has more hurdles than many of the other industries struggling to get back on their feet.  (I’ve actually said to myself a few times, “Why couldn’t I have fallen in love with making movies instead?”  FYI, right after I said that, I made my wife punch me in the face, so I’m fine now.)

All that said, I not only believe we’ll bounce back . . . but as I said (and drew!) yesterday, I believe we’re going to have a very swift comeback story . . . a story so good that it might be worthy of a musical itself.

Why am I so bullish?

Well, just like you, I’m pretty damn frustrated with how long we’ve been down.

But the fact is . . . the longer we are out, the stronger we’ll be when we return.

That’s right . . . #LongerIsStronger.

Here are three reasons why I believe we’re gonna bounce back fast:

1. We can watch the rest of the world.

As NYC remains on lockdown, other cities, states, and countries are loosening their lockdowns.  And we’ve got a front-row seat for their “opening night.”  We’re able to watch what works.  We’ll see what doesn’t.  We’ll learn from shows in Seoul, churches in Texas, and other gatherings all over the world.  It’s like a movie, where there’s a group of people staring into a dark cave . . . and we get to insist everyone else goes first.

Not only will this education assist us in making our shows the safest they can possibly be for audiences and for our employees, but as people gather around the world, they’ll start to become more comfortable with the thought . . . so seeing a show won’t be the first time they are in a group with others who they don’t know.

2. Making our audience wait, makes them hungrier.

While I’m concerned that we’ve got a “habit-problem” to address with our avids, our delayed return is also creating pent up demand for live entertainment.  Streaming can only go so far to satisfy our craving.

Scarcity of a product can make people want it even more (provided you stoke that scarcity with marketing – which the smart folks at the Broadway League are already doing with great skill, and they’ve only just begun).

How many of you have been drooling for a Starbucks?  Or just to sit in a Starbucks?  Same thing . . . but oh so much better.  Or remember how frustrating it was to wait for Game of Thrones to return?  People were legit angry . . . and they tuned in anyway.  When we return, Theater Fans are going to want to be at that first night of theatergoing more than any other place in the country world.

Which that brings me to . . .

3. We’re a word of mouth industry.

This is the big one.  See, by waiting longer, whether that’s September or later, we’re making sure that we can come back when we can fill our theaters, and ensure everyone the communal captivating experience that they want from a Broadway show. And that first night back is going to be one of the most thrilling in the theater’s history.

Can you imagine it?  Think for a moment . . . the curtain going up for the first time . . . and Rob McClure from Mrs. Doubtfire stepping on stage . . . or the wives from Six . . . or Evan from DEH or the ensemble from Hamilton . . . you can hear the ovation now, can’t you?

Now think about that . . . for fifteen minutes.  Because it will still be going on that long.

There will be tears.  And cheers.  And standing.  And many an actor breaking the fourth wall in the best way, and probably breaking down.

Have the chills yet?

It’s going to be magical.

And remember, we’re a word of mouth industry.

And everyone who is in a theater that night is going to tell EVERYONE they know they were there.  And that it was sensational.  And they felt safe.  And that they are healthy.

And that word will spread faster than a virus can.   (And imagine the press attention!)

And those people will want to be in a theater too.  They’ll want to experience that same joy.  That same thrill.

And they will.  We may not sell premium tickets like we did.  But we sell lots of tickets.

 

And that’s why the industry will bounce back and fast.

Because it’s a primal need to gather in groups and hear a great story told from master storytellers.

And by staying out longer, we’re guaranteeing our fans that we’ll be able to get back to the Broadway they know and love, rather than a streamin’ substitution.

So as much as I am drooling to get in a theater tomorrow, I can wait as long as it takes, because I know . . .

#LongerIsStronger

And I just can’t stop thinking about that first night.  I wonder what show I’ll see.  What show will you want to see that night?

Kind of makes you want to buy tickets now, doesn’t it?

🙂


TONIGHT ON THE LIVESTREAM: I’m sitting down with Playwright and Bookwriter Lisa Kron (Fun Home & Well) at 8pm EDT. We also invited Youtube Sensations Mat and Savanna Shaw to be the Special Guests. You can now watch on my Facebook page or Twitter, on Broadway Podcast Network’s Youtube channel, or Broadway On Demand.

Tonight on the Livestream: Lisa Kron with Special Guests Mat & Savanna Shaw

Big thanks to Lynn Ahrens for joining me last night. I’m still thinking about the moment when Lynn pranked me . . . LIVE, and in front of everyone! If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, catch the replay here.  (And you’ll also get a master class in lyric writing – Lynn told me how I could become a better lyricist in the next 30 days – curriculum and all!)

And don’t forget, you can go back and replay all your favorite episodes here!

Tonight, I’m sitting down with Playwright and Bookwriter, Lisa Kron (Fun Home, Well), and chatting about writing new works during these challenging times.

And we have a special treat for all of you tonight. I’ll also be sitting down with Daddy-Daughter Duo, Mat and Savanna Shaw. If you watched last Monday’s episode with Mara Isaacs, you’ll recognize these Youtube sensations . . . and as soon as I saw they were Broadway fans, I knew I wanted to get them on the livestream and we made it happen in less than 10 days!

Tune at 8pm EDT tonight and hang out with me, Lisa Kron, and the Shaw’s. And click here to set your e-reminder.

 

To see the full line-up of guests for the next few weeks visit www.theproducersperspective.com/LIVE.

———–

(If any of you are interested in streaming your concert, workshop, reading . . . or even starting your own livestream series, I highly recommend the platform we’ve been using – StreamYard.  Click here to check them out.)

BROADWAY’S RECOVERY PART I: What Will It Look Like?

Since the pandemic began, Economists have been obsessing about how quickly the economy is going to bounce back after this sucker is over (or . . . over “enough.”)

Will we have a “V” shaped recovery?  Or a “U” shaped?  Or my favorite . . . a Nike Swoosh shape?

Since the pandemic began, Broadway Producers (including the one composing this hypothesis right now) have been obsessing about how quickly Broadway is going to bounce back.

My prediction . . .

Broadway is going to bounce back . . . and fast.

What’s unique about our industry is that it doesn’t follow any of the typical shapes of recovery because we went from 100 mph to zero in NO seconds flat.  We were grossing $30 million a week on Broadway alone . . . and then we were zero dollars the next week.  We slammed into a COVID-19 wall.

Even restaurants have take-out options.  Bands that can’t give concerts can sell albums.  Broadway shows?  We got nothing.  (Hint for next time – and there will be a next time, as I’ll talk about next week  –  all shows should be captured for potential streaming opportunities.)

So if I had to give our recovery a shape, I guess it would look something like this . . .

(FYI, I spent about an hour trying to figure out what to call that shape.  I tried everything from “Deformed Bucket Recovery” to “The Fishing Hook Recovery” . . . what would you call it?)

You can see that we had that immediate wall-smacking drop off on 3/12 . . . and of course, an immediate and completely 90% vertical BLAST OFF when(ever) our curtains go back up.

Now, the more interesting part . . . what happens AFTER that straight-into-the-sky return.  Well, you’ll see that I’m not predicting we’re going to start grossing $30mm a week like we were when we shut down.  For one, there will probably be fewer shows, which means less of a gross potential, never mind fewer tourists to see those shows.  (PS – That diagram above is definitely NOT to scale)

So we’re going to start off earning less than when we were.

How much less?

That depends on what I call The Three Ts:

  1. Testing
  2. Treatment
  3. TIME (How many weeks/months do we have from knowing when we can come back to the actual day we come back.)

Nevertheless, I do believe we will see a quick upward trajectory after we return.  (The stock market is having that sort of bounce – and believe it or not, we do tend to follow the dow’s chart, as I showed here.)

But my belief in a quick Broadway bounce back is not some hunch.  I have THREE reasons why I think we’re in store for a quick recovery.

What are they?

I’ll tell you tomorrow in PART II!

– – – – –

(Can’t wait to read PART II?  Want it now?  I already wrote it.  Click here to get it to emailed to you NOW.)









Tonight on the Livestream: I’m sitting down with Lynn Ahrens (Lyricist of Once On This Island, Ragtime, Anastasia) at 8pm EDT. You can now watch on my Facebook pageTwitter, Broadway Podcast Network’s Youtube channel, or Broadway On Demand.

Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

I'm on a mission to help 5000 shows get produced by 2025.

Featured Program
The TheaterMakers Studio
Featured Product
Be A Broadway Star
Featured Book
Broadway Investing 101
All Upcoming Events

may, 2020

No Events

Featured Webinar
Path to Production Webinar
Advertisement
X