The wizards behind our curtains.

Yesterday marked the last day of the annual Broadway League Spring Road Conference, the four-day-long conference for Producers and Presenters from all over the country that’s filled with keynotes, cocktail parties, and lots of Tony lobbying. (This is when a ton of the voters from outside the tri-state see the shows and make their decisions.)

There are always discussions about digital marketing, how to save the subscription model, how we educate the touring market about new Broadway shows and so on.

But by far, the most popular sessions every year are these fantastic Creative Conversations panels that feature interviews with teams from a show.  There’s the Book of Mormon CC, the Sister Act CC, etc.

And when I say “teams,” I mean they pull out the first-stringers for these convos. Daniel Radcliffe, Whoopi Goldberg, Chris Rock, The South Park Boys, and so on were the headliners of the Creative Conversation for their specific shows.  And they were flanked by the authors, directors, and other VIPs.   As you can guess, these panels are super educational and supremely entertaining.

So much so that each one garnered a standing ovation.  At a conference!

Some of the shows themselves didn’t get ovations like these panels!

Why?

Yes, because of the star power that is sitting just a few feet away, but also because this theater-loving audience likes hearing the stories behind the shows.

If you like cars, you’re going to want to know what’s under the hood of any car you see and how it works.  If you like food, you’d probably love to tour the kitchen of your favorite restaurant and hear how the chef prepares your favorite dish.

And theater fans, whether they are in the industry or not, love to hear about how it all came together.

There was some talk about taping and pod-casting these Convos, and while I don’t think that will happen (nor should they – because the fun of these sessions is that they are “off-the-record”), but the interest in them did remind me that having video footage, podcasts, blogs and more from your creative team is an essential part of marketing to your core fan.

Because if you show them who and what is behind the curtain, they just may pay to sit in front of it again and again.

 

(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 STUFF

– LAST CALL for the Seminars and Social in Minneapolis!  Click the link and RSVP today!

– Enter my Tony Pool!  You can win an iPad!  Enter today!

– Enter to win 2 tickets to see Lombardi on Broadway!  Click here.

Who won the tix to Chicago on Broadway?

Oprah300 You guys had fun casting Chicago, didn't you?

I love fantasy casting.  And maybe, like in Peter Pan, if we all really believe, some of our casting dreams will come true!

Like . . . J.S Fauquet's fantasy of Oprah as Mama Morton in Chicago!  

I loved that idea . . . so J.S., you're going to see Chicago on Broadway.  Email me for the details.

Christie Brinkley is in it now.  She's not Oprah Winfrey, but a little secret . . . she rehearsed in my studio.  You're going to want to see her in the show.

More to give away tomorrow.  See you then!

 

(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 STUFF

– Enter my Tony Pool!  You can win an iPad!  Enter today!

– Take the Broadway Investing 101 Seminar in NYC and in Minneapolis!  Click here! 

– Take the Get Your Show Off the Ground Seminar in Minneapolis on May 15th.  Click here!

– Come to the Social in Minneapolis.  Click here!

 

A star above the title . . . but not how you think.

Last week, in one of the biggest surprise announcements of the year, Elton John and partner David Furnish announced that they were joining the Broadway producing team of Next Fall.

Before this announcement, many of us on the inside were wondering just how Next Fall, which lacks the marquee wattage of a Scarlett or a Denzel, would stand out in the year’s busy Spring season.

Nabbing one of the biggest names in the entertainment industry is one way, that’s for sure.

Celebrity producers have been around before, but ever since Oprah put her name above the title on The Color Purple (which put a lot of butts in the seats), putting the right producer on the right project has become a more sought-after way of gaining attention for our shows.

This fall, Fela! did it with Jay-Z and Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith (who have received a little critical drubbing for not stumping for the show like some of their counterparts).  Yet it still got a lot more attention for that show than it could have gotten on its own.

Whoopi Goldberg, who was a producer on Thoroughly Modern Millie, is also a Producer on the London and Broadway Bound Sister Act, which couldn’t make more sense.

Are these celebs investing actual dollars in the show?  Or are they investing the value of their names and their appearance at parties?  Only the show insiders know for sure, but I’d bet it’s a little of both, depending on the project.

And whatever the case, as long as it’s helping attract positive attention for your show and helping you break through the cluttered environment we work in, it’s a win for all parties involved.

So when you’re selling off places above your title, think about other names that might make sense for you and get you in a news cycle.

And it doesn’t have to be the name of a person.

It was no secret that I was interested in moving the magnificent Our Town from Off-Broadway to Broadway last Fall.  One of my ideas was to get a bunch of small New England towns to go above the title.  Imagine . . . Sturbridge, Massachusetts, Brunswick, Maine and Stowe, Vermont present Our Town.  We would have had whole towns behind us!

Got a musical about Ice Cream?  You and Ben and Jerry present . . .

Got a play about Golf?  You and Tiger Woods present . . .

Wait.  Scratch that.  Never mind.

There are more and more places on your production that you can turn into a marketing initiative than you can imagine.  Sometimes they’re just not out in the open.

The great Producers never stop looking for them.

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PLAY “WILL IT RECOUP” TODAY!  Only 3 days left!

Click here to play!

Gotta problem with star casting? Talk to Hugh Jackman.

I’m one of the lucky folk that got a couple of tickets to see A Steady Rain, and to be honest, that’s only because I’m a Tony Voter. If I weren’t a TV, I’m not sure I would have even tried to score seats to what is one of the most difficult tickets of the decade.

(I mean, each one of these guys could have sold out a play on their own. Sort of seems like a waste having them in the same play!)

At the end of this 90 minute Hunk-O-Mania, Hugh stopped the thunderous ovation to begin his BC/EFA fundraising speech.

He started it with this question . . .

“How many of you are here tonight seeing your very first Broadway show?”

At least 100 hands shot up.

Star casting has taken a lot of swipes over the years, and believe me, I’ve had my issue with a number of no-talents that have struggled their way through a Broadway play or musical.

But the right stars could be doing more to develop new audiences than we could ever do on our own.

What happened after Hugh’s question?  He and Daniel proceeded to live-auction-off signed t-shirts and backstage visits and photos, all to benefit BC/EFA.  They raised over $20k in about 10 minutes.

Thanks for joining us on Broadway, guys.  And thanks for your incredible generosity to the community.

Today’s audiences are lucky to have you . . . and so are tomorrow’s.

Three reasons why Glee is great.

There is no question that Glee is great for Broadway.  Here are three reasons why I love it:

1.  IT PUTS BROADWAY PEEPS TO WORK

The transition from theater to television is a lot more difficult now than it was in the early days of both industries.  Look at how many great Broadway actors are out there that you haven’t seen headlining in movies and piloting pilots.

And then along comes a show like Glee, and the casting directors can’t get enough from our pool: Lea Michele, Matt Morrison, Jonathan Groff, John Lloyd Young, Debra Monk and more.

The longer it runs, the more our folks will get a chance to lend their talents and their pipes to that program.  And then they’ll hopefully come back to Broadway and bring some fans with them.

2.  IT PUTS SHOWTUNES NEXT TO POP TUNES

“Where Is Love,” “Tonight,” “I Could Have Danced All Night,” and “Sit Down You’re Rockin’ The Boat,” are just a few of the showtunes featured on Glee, and these classics are smacked right up next to songs like “Can’t Fight This Feeling,” “Rehab,” and “Single Ladies.”

The line between pop and showtunes is being blurred.

Who knows, maybe we’ll go back to the days when major rock bands like, oh, I don’t know, The Beatles, sang showtunes when looking to make a big splash on television.

3.  IT PUTS SINGING INTO STORIES

So often I hear people say, “I just don’t get musicals.  People start singing.  What the?  People just don’t do that!”

For the most part, Glee chose the Jersey Boys model (or Altar Boyz model, for that matter) where the musical numbers are actual performances and not “sung scenes.”  Still, having a show like Glee helps audiences get used to the fact that music can be incorporated seamlessly into entertainment.
The movie musical has helped Broadway significantly over the past decade, with shows like Hairspray, Chicago, Phantom and Rent ALL adding years to their runs (and millions to their box offices) thanks to their movie counterparts.

Broadway now seems to be making its way into television, in a subtler way, but in a way nonetheless.

Let’s hope shows like Glee continue to merge the two mediums.

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