Farewell To The Leader and Legend, Liz McCann (1931-2021)

What we forget about the theater, and especially Broadway, is that it’s not that old of an industry.

And the people who built it are still among us.

Sadly, we lost one of the pioneering leaders that made the theater a better place for audiences, artists, and for other people just like her.

Liz McCann, winner of 9 Tony Awards, and one of the first female Producers on the boards, passed away yesterday.

She was a producing giant. Starting her career as a production assistant and working her way into rooms where people told her she didn’t below. And then proving to them and to the world, that not only did she below, but she deserved to rule the room.

Her IBDB page reads like a menu at a diner . . . it goes on and on. From The Dresser to Indecent to A View From The Bridge and her many plays with Albee . . . she forever changed the theater with who and what she supported.

I never worked with her directly. And we weren’t close by any means. But that didn’t stop her from sending me an encouraging email now and then. Especially when things weren’t going well.

When we announced the premature closure of Gettin’ The Band Back Together, I got this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was as if she was saying, “Hey – you did good. It happens to all of us. Some shows will work.  Some shows won’t. It has happened to me 100 times. Keep going.”

And I remember exactly where I was when I got that email. And it was like a steroid shot to my day . . . and was one of the many ways Liz and her incredible career has inspired me to, well, keep going.

I can only hope that one day I have 10% of the impact that Liz did on the theater.

Rest in Peace, dear Liz.

But something tells me you’re not resting at all . . . something tells me you’re ruling that room up there as well.

As you should.
To read more about Liz’s career, read her NY Times obituary here.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s 50 Broadway Mentors . . . in Paperback!

You asked for it, so you got it.

Cast of Mentors: Short Sage Advice from 50 Broadway Superpowers was a quick best-seller when we launched it last holiday season.  And while my name is on the cover, the best-seller status of this compilation didn’t have anything to do with me.

It’s all because of the advice from the Broadway A-listers like Director Kenny Leon, composer Bobby Lopez, Actress/Author Ali Stroker and so many more.

And while the hardcover, coffee table book was a bit hit (and apparently was a hot gift), we got a ton of requests for a paperback and an e-book version.

So, we made ’em.  And you can pre-order the ebook now for only $9.99.

Don’t know what Cast of Mentors is?  It’s bite-sized advice from an incredible group of mentors (see the full list below) on how to succeed in this biz . . . and in life!

But why should I tell you what it is, when you can see for yourself!  Click here to read Tony Award-winning Director and Choreographer’s Susan Stroman’s entry!

And then pre-order the ebook for yourself . . . or for a gift (I hear graduations are coming up real soon!).

Cast of Mentors: Short Sage Advice From 50 Broadway Superpowers Ebook is available for pre-order NOW and Paperbacks will be available on June 16th,

And, of course, the Hardcover is still available for those who have an empty space on your coffee table.

And a huge thanks, again, to the following 50 mentors for being a part of Volume I. (Yep – there will be a second one!)  

 

The Cast of Cast Of Mentors:

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.

10 Inspiring Books By TheaterMakers To Read Right Now (And how to win them all!)

So, who doesn’t need a little inspirational pick-up right now?

And who better than to inspire you than some of the most successful TheaterMakers?

Below is a list of 10 Inspiring Books written by your favorite TheaterMakers, that will help inspire, entertain and educate . . . at the same time. 

And get this – we’re going to give away ALL TEN to one lucky person!  Keep reading, and at the end of the list, I’ll explain how.

I hope you’ll support the incredible hard of these TheaterMakers by picking up a copy.  Or two (I like to buy two copies of books – one for myself and one to give to someone who I know would enjoy it.)

  1. Take You Wherever You Go  by Kenny Leon
  2. A Little Bit Wicked: Life, Love, and Faith in Stage by Kristen Chenoweth
  3. Born Standing Up by Steve Martin
  4. Failing Up: How to Take Risks, Aim Higher, and Never Stop Learning by Leslie Odom Jr.
  5. Fearless by Mandy Gonzalez
  6. The Chance to Fly by Ali Stroker
  7. Too Much Is Not Enough: A Memoir of Fumbling Toward Adulthood by Andrew Rannells
  8. They Called Us Enemy by George Takei
  9. Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You by Lin-Manuel Miranda
  10. The Backstagers and The Ghostlight by Andy Mientus

 

Ok, to win this basket of books, here’s what to do!

  • Head over to my Instagram post about the books.
  • SHARE this post to your story and TAG me @kendavenportbway.
  • I will BUY all 10 of these books for the winner (to be announced tomorrow on my Instagram).

 

Good luck and happy reading!!!

 

UPDATE: This giveaway is now closed. Congrats to Anne-Lise Koyabe for winning this collection of books by these incredible theatermakers.

 

Last chance to join 1,500 other TheaterMakers in our challenge.

Facts:

  • It starts in 24 hours.
  • 5 days.
  • 10+ Broadway A-listers including Mandy Gonzalez, Justin Guarini, Telly Leung, James Snyder, Vivek J. Tiwary, Ryan Scott Oliver, Rodrick Covington, Susan Blackwell, Laura Camien, Amber Iman, Tony Howell, Kate Rockwell, and more.
  • 20+ actual strategies you can start using today that will help you have your best year of theatermaking yet, no matter if you’re a Writer, Producer, Director, Actor, etc.
  • There are 1,500 people signed up as I type this.
  • 1 hour per day from noon – 1 PM Eastern Standard Time.  (With on-demand replays available in case you can’t participate live.)
  • We’re giving away tons of prizes including an iPad.
  • It’s free.
  • You can sign up here.
  • Did I say it starts in less than 24 hours?

Oh, one more thing . . .

  • While there are going to be 20+ strategies discussed, it only takes one . . . one idea, thought, action item . . . that breaks you through in this biz.  The right play, role, investor . . . and bam. So there’s no reason to not sign up . . . unless you don’t want it as bad as you say you do.

See you there.  Noon tomorrow.

Sign up here.

(If you have ALREADY signed up, make sure you join our private FACEBOOK GROUP – where the event will be streamed.  Check your email for instructions.  Because the Facebook Group is where it’s all going to happen!)

The Top 10 FAQ About Our Theatermakers Challenge (that starts next week!)

Ok, sooooo, you like this challenge idea, don’t you?

How do I know you like it?

Well, we announced it a week ago, and we already have enough people signed up to fill a Broadway theater!  Truly!  (Haven’t signed up yet? Click here.)

Already our private Facebook group is poppin’ with TheaterMakers like you. And they’re all ready to charge ahead and take charge.

To those of you who already signed up; your passion for making this your best year of theatermaking yet is so inspiring to me.  So, we’re doubling down on the challenge. We’re adding more content, more strategies, and some surprises along the way.

Oh and prizes. Lots of prizes.

We will be giving away something theatermaking-related every single day of the challenge.

Like . . .

  1. Final Draft 11 Scriptwriting software! ($249 value)
  2. Headshot package with Photographer Jeremy Daniel ($450 value)
  3. Promotional Blast from The Streaming Stage Company to Promote Your Work to over 50k people ($995 value)
  4. Get your video edited together professionally with Video Editor Katie Goffman ($599 value)

And even . . .

The Work From Home package of your dreams including:

Video Conference Selfie Ring Light ($24.99 value)
Blue Yeti Nano Professional Condenser USB Microphone for Recording/Streaming on PC/Mac ($99 value)

and, drumroll please . . .

A BRAND NEW iPad Pro ($999 value)!!!

Oh, and you’ll also get the most valuable thing of all . . .advice that can help you achieve the things you want to achieve in the theater . . . you know the things you see when you close your eyes and dream.

That advice will be delivered by a team of “Broadway Avengers” – 10+ super successful TheaterMakers who will be your mentors through the challenge (and maybe even beyond?).

So get ready.

If you haven’t signed up . . . click here.

Now, since we announced the challenge, some questions have come up and I wanted to make sure I answered them . . . so here they go!

 

1. How much is The Challenge?

The challenge is free. It’s sponsored by The TheaterMakers Studio, the masterclass-like community of TheaterMakers I founded five years ago. You do NOT have to be a member of TheaterMakers Studio to join. TMS uses events like the challenge to let TheaterMakers know how it helps TheaterMakers.

 

2. What time is The Challenge?

The Challenge will take place from 1/18 – 1/22 from 12-1pm ET/ 11am-12pm CT/ 10-11am MT/ 9am-10am PT.

That’s 5-6 pm in London, 2-3 am in Japan, 4-5 am in Australia, for our international TheaterMakers.

 

3. What if I can’t make those times?

We WILL have replays of the video for those of you who can’t tune in during those times. While we strongly suggest you show up LIVE (so you can participate in the comments, ask questions, etc) we realize this is impossible to mandate. So, we will have replays! (But we suggest you add the challenge to your daily calendar NOW to reserve the time.)

 

4. Where does it take place?

It’s all online . . . and on Facebook.

You’ll be invited to join a private Facebook group of TheaterMakers like you. There you’ll get access to the private livestreams with me and the speakers . . . and you’ll also be able to talk with your fellow Challengers. This is where some of our biggest success stories come from! We’ve had bookwriters meet composers, directors meet writers and producers meet playwrights.

Don’t have a Facebook page?  Get one! There, you’re already going to have a more successful 2021.

 

5. Who are the speakers again?

You’ll get advice from Susan Blackwell, Laura Camien, Rodrick Covington, Mandy Gonzalez, Justin Guarini, Tony Howell, Amber Iman, Telly Leung, Ryan Scott Oliver, James Snyder, Vivek Tiwary, as well as a few surprise guests as well.

 

6. Who is it for?

It’s for anyone who wants to make theater or wants to make more theater. Whether you are just starting out or you’re a veteran TheaterMaker, this challenge will jump start your 2021 so you’ll be doing more of what you want to do. It’s for Writers, Producers, Directors, Actors . . . and yes, even Fans.  So sign up.  If you don’t like it, you can get your money back. Oh, wait.

 

7. What does the “challenge” part mean?

Great question.

So, this isn’t my livestream. This isn’t the Summit . This is a challenge.

That means you WILL have homework! You will have assignments. Of course, you can choose NOT to do them. No one is getting graded (hmmmm, there’s an idea for next time!).
But if you don’t do them, you won’t go as far this year as you will if you DO do them. Period.
So get ready to work.
8. How do we take charge of our TheaterMaking during Covid?
Some of the people on our speaker list had one of their most successful years ever in 2020. Is it harder to do? Sure. But that’s why learning strategies from those who have been successful are more important.
Oh, and Dr. Fauci expects theater to be up and running by the fall.  So this is the time when you get ahead.
9. Are you running The Challenge again soon?
No. Talk to us in 2022.
10. Will I feel out of my league if I haven’t started my theater career yet? It’s still just a dream?
Everyone starts somewhere. It’s just important to start. And this Challenge is a great way to do just that.
11. Where do I sign up?
See you at The Challenge in . . . 6 days!
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