Which Broadway show would you rather invest in?

“So . . . who’s in it?”

This is the most common question I get whenever I’m raising money for a Broadway show . . .  whether I’m talking to a new Broadway Investor or a seasoned angel.

And it’s a good question.

But it’s not a great question.

When I’m evaluating a Broadway Investment opportunity, I have a very specific due diligence process that I go through to rate the risk of the production.  Because all opportunities carry risk . . . including walking down the street.  The real question is how risky is each opportunity . . . and what’s the upside?   (Is there a Pinkberry across that street???)

And the “Who” in this moneyball-like equation is a factor, for sure, but it’s not the most important one.

So when I get this question these days, I usually return the question with a question.

“Let me ask you,” I say, “Which of these Broadway shows would you rather have invested in:  Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, Come From Away, Rent, Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, A Chorus Line, etc . . . or . . . INSERT NAME OF STAR-DRIVEN VEHICLE HERE.”

Who’s in a show may give an investor some comfort when a show is launched, but since all shows carry risk, and since the upside on star vehicles can be so limited thanks to the shorter runs and the higher salaries, the savvy investors go drilling for the real oil, which isn’t located in Star Town.

The gushers aren’t dependent on stars.  In those cases, which are the ones we all want, the ones that send out double-digit distribution checks every month, the show is the only star.

So the next time you’re raising money, remind your prospect that having Madonna in your show may make it easier for them to write a check, but it will mean they won’t get many back.

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Miss Daddy Long Legs? It’s baaaaaack!

Remember that time we live streamed Daddy Long Legs, and it was the first ever Broadway or Off Broadway show to get that digital treatment . . . ever?

And remember when over 150,000 people tuned in from over 130 countries around the world?

If you were one of the folks that missed it, or if you saw it on the live stream or live-live at my theater and just miss that super-sweet musical (and the amazing performances from real-life married couple (and now new parents!) Megan McGinnis and Adam Halpin), guess what …we’ve brought it back for you.

The folks at BroadwayHD were fans of the live stream, so they reached out and made it possible for you to see it on their network (big props to Stewart Lane and Bonnie Comley for adding us to their catalog and building BroadwayHD in the first place).

And it’s available NOW.

Click here to see it.

And for you theater companies out there . . . after you watch it, I have a feeling you’ll want to DO it (it’s 2 people, a unit set, and features a gorgeous score by Paul Gordon and a Drama Desk Award-winning book by John Caird), click here for info on how to perform it in your town . . . because (insert trumpet sounds), the rights are now fully available all over the world!

Enjoy it on HD.


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What George Costanza taught me about marketing.

Syndication.

It’s the stock and amateur of the television industry.  The shows keep running and running on various other networks, long after the original has “closed.”

I caught one of my favorite episodes of Seinfeld in syndication last night, and not only did I laugh so hard I had club soda coming through my nose (I’ve given up Coke!), I also got a great reminder of how to come up with a great marketing idea in the 21st Century.

Maybe you’ve seen the episode.  It’s the one where George Costanza (played by Broadway baby and the director of a show I’ve got coming up, Mr. Jason Alexander) realizes that all of his gut instincts are . . . well, wrong . . . and they just keep getting him into trouble.

So, in an effort to change his destiny, he decides to do the opposite of what his brain tells him to do first.

And, wouldn’t you know it, but money, respect, women, and so much more, fall into his lap the moment he rejects his first instinct and goes with the opposite.

The “opposite” exercise is something I do for marketing all the time.  See, first instincts are usually “easy” instincts.  They are at the top of your mind, which generally means they are the road more traveled, and they are what everyone, including your competitors, will do.

When faced with a decision about marketing, or when trying to come up with a unique marketing idea for my shows, I ask myself, “What would my competitors do?” And then I do the opposite.

You can choose to jump on the bandwagon of the common, easy choice . . . and hey, if you’ve got enough marketing dollars or some super-sized brand . . . that might just work.

But if you’re looking to stand out, then Do The Costanza.

 

Sure you get a refund if an above-the-title star is out, but what about . . .

Although it’s not a publicized policy (and why isn’t it again?), if a star that is billed above-the-title in a Broadway show is out due to illness, vacation or a b.s. claim of mercury poisoning, a ticket holder is entitled to a full refund or exchange.

But in today’s social media-infused world, a chorus boy could have more twitter followers than an above-the-title star, and could have quite the die-hard fan girl following.  What happens when one of our avid Broadway theatergoers buys a ticket to a show to see that chorus boy, or that chorus girl, or a certain actor playing a secondary character, and that actor is out.  Do we offer them a refund?

No.  Or more appropriately . . . NEIN!

This isn’t a hypothetical situation, by the way.  I got an email recently from a young lady who bought tickets to see a certain Tony Award winning musical for the 4th time, just because she wanted to see a specific replacement actor in a small role – because she had followed him for years.  He was out, and she was out $140 smackeroos.  And this was a girl who had seen the show three times already!

Isn’t she the type we should be rewarding, not penalizing?

Why are we drawing the line above the title?  If you buy a ticket to see a specific element of that production and that element doesn’t appear, shouldn’t you get some recompense?

Ok, maybe you shouldn’t get a refund (our business, like our perishable inventory sister biz, the airline industry, might spring a leak with an open refund policy), but what’s the harm in an exchange?

Especially when you are not getting what you paid for?

Instead, it has been our policy to send the audience member home with a feeling of disappointment, or worse, the feeling of, “Next time I won’t buy my tickets in advance . . . I’ll just wait until the last minute to make sure everyone that I want to see is in the show that day.”

If any cast member is out, we should allow an exchange.

Wait a minute.  That’s not what I wanted to say at all.  Now that I think about it . . .

For any reason, whatsoever, we should allow an exchange.

The no refunds/no exchange policy is a thing of the 70s.  It’s time we join the rest of the best retailers in the world . . . and it’s time we lead the way in the entertainment industry (wouldn’t that be a change – us leading the way), and offer exchanges for our customers when they want one.

We ask them to risk so much when they buy that ticket.  It’s time we reduced that risk just a smidge.

And maybe they’ll reward us for buying more often . . . and more in advance.

 

(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)
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Fun on a Friday: Ever wonder what Marlon Brandon put in his Bio?

Sometimes I think choosing what to put in your bio for a new show can be more stressful than the opening itself!  Do you include that Off Off Broadway show?  Do you thank your parents?  Do you add a ILYKD???

A little known fact – the reason that actor bios in Playbills are so short is that every show gets a set amount of pages from Playbill for free, and once those pages are used up, the Producer gets charged.  Take a big show with a big cast, and a lot of Producers, and you’ve added an unbudgeted expense to your weekly nut.  No good.  And that’s why you see so many 30 word bios.  And that’s why so many people stress out about ’em.

A fun little website called Trivia Happy wondered if some future famous actors stressed out about their first bios, so they dug ’em up and posted ’em here.   Included were the likes of Al Pacino, Charlton Heston, John Travolta and .  . . Marlon Brando’s, which went something like this:

Marlon Brando (Stanley Kowalski) made his first appearance on Broadway three seasons ago as Nels in “I Remember Mama.” He went from that to a leading role in Maxwell Anderson’s “Truckline Cafe” when he was first singled out by the critics for his performance in the role of Sage. Also impressed was Guthrie McClintic, who chose him to play Marchbanks in Katharine Cornell’s revival of “Candida.” He next appeared in Ben Hecht’s “A Flag is Born.” Born in Omaha, Neb., Brando spent his school years in Evanston, Ill., California and Minnesota. The choice of the stage as a career had never entered his mind until after he had come to New York and spent several months engaged in such odd jobs as running an elevator and operating a switchboard. When he did decide to go on stage he spent a year studying with Stella Adler and followed that with a summer season of stock at Sayville, L.I. It was there that a New York actors’ agent saw him and helped him get his first acting job with “I remember Mama.

Read the other actors’ bios here.

And then start working on your bio.  And yes, include the Off Broadway show, your parents, your website, and ILY2.

 

(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)
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