How often do the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Winners predict the Tony Award winners?

It’s inevitable.

When you have a set of awards that precede a bigger set of awards, people start asking . . . “Does the winner of the first mean that they are a shoe-in for the second?”

The Oscars have The Golden Globes.

And The Tonys have The Drama Desks.  And the Outer Critics.

Now that both of those trophies have been given out, I couldn’t help but wonder, how often do the winners of those awards go on to win the Tony Award???

In other words, I’m handicapping this race like this Saturday’s Belmont Stakes!

To figure out the odds, I looked back at the winners for the past 15 years of The Big Four Awards:  Best Musical, Best Play, Best Revival of a Play, and Best Revival of a Musical.

Here’s what I found out:

BEST MUSICAL

  • 66.7% of the Drama Desk Award Winners for Best Musical also went on to win the Tony Award for Best Musical.
  • 80% of the Outer Critics Circle Award Winners for Best Musical also went on to win the Tony Award for Best Musical.

BEST PLAY

  • 80% of the Drama Desk Winners for Best Play also went on to win the Tony Award for Best Play.
  • 86.7% of the Outer Critics Circle Award Winners for Best Play also went on to win the Tony Award for Best Play.

So, a big couple of trends are already showing up just by looking at these two categories.

First, in the grand scheme of things, winners of both awards do go on to win The Tony the majority of the time, so it does give you an odds-edge to take home one of these awards.

More specifically, both the Drama Desk Awards and The Outer Critics Awards are better predictors of the Play category than the Musical Category.

And, surprise, surprise, the Outer Critics Award is a better predictor of the Best Musical Tony Award by a significant margin.

Let’s take a look at the revival categories:

BEST REVIVAL OF A MUSICAL

  • 80% of the Drama Desk Winners for Best Revival of a Musical also went on to win the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical.
  • 73.3% of the Outer Critics Circle Award Winners for Best Revival of a Musical also went on to win the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical.

BEST REVIVAL OF A PLAY

  • 80% of the Drama Desk Winners for Best Revival of a Play also went on to win the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play.
  • 53.3% of the Outer Critics Circle Award Winners for Best Revival of a Play also went on to win the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play.

Fascinating.

First off, same thing as the originals . . . the winners in these categories do go on to take home the big prize on Tony night more often than not.

But, in the case of the revivals, the Drama Desks are the much better predictors of both the Musical and the Play category.

Now, sure, all three sets of awards are not identical – the DDs merge Off Broadway and Broadway shows together, shows that were eligible Off Broadway last year and then transfer to Broadway the next year, can’t be eligible again, but those differences don’t actually matter . . . because we’re just calculating how many times one winner goes on to win the other, with all those idiocracies intact.

What does this mean for this year’s awards?

Well, obviously the above gives you an indication of which shows are favorites for the Tony . . . but there is one other stat that applies specifically to this year’s awards.  And it’s a doozy!

See, this year, the same show won the Drama Desk Award for Best Musical and the Outer Critics Award for Best Musical (Gentleman’s Guide).  And the same show won the Drama Desk Award for Best Play and the Outer Critics Award for Best Play (All The Way).

So I couldn’t help but wonder . . . how many times has that happened, and how often does the same show go on to win the Tony?  Does a two-time winner before the Tonys indicate a high probability for the Broadway Triple Crown?

First, let’s look at the Best Musical award.

Well, it turns out that in the last 15 years, the same musical has won the DD and the OC Best Musical prize 10 times.  That’s a lot.
But get this, of those ten, 9 of them or 90% went on to win the Tony.  (If that doesn’t make the Producers of Gentleman’s Guide  prep their speech, I don’t know what will.)
But wait, there’s more.

In the last 15 years, the same play has won both awards a whopping 12 times!  And, of those 12, all of them, or a perfect 100% have gone on to win the Tony Award.  100%.  That’s a pretty startling stat.

Interestingly enough, the revivals aren’t as on target:

84.6% of the Revival Musicals that won both awards went on to win the Tony.

72.7% of the Revival Plays that won both awards went on to win the Tony.

Why does this happen?  Is it because the Tony Voters think the same shows are actually the best of the season?  Or, is it because the Tony Voters are influenced by the announcements of the previous awards winners?  Should these shows be winning just because they won before?

I’ll let you draw your own conclusions (and feel free to comment them!), and feel free to use these statistics as you make your Tony picks (have you entered my Tony pool yet?).

But do remember, that even though these stats certainly can’t be ignored, a 15 year sample size isn’t the biggest on the planet of statistics, and . . . a trend is only a trend until it isn’t.

Tune in to The Tonys this Sunday to find out if the trends will hold.  Because I’m not so sure.

 

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End of Q4 and FINAL results for Broadway’s 2013-14 season.

To quote Queen, “Another one bites the dust!  And another one gone, and another one gone, another one bites the dust!”

The one I’m referring to, of course, is the Broadway season.

The 2013-14 Broadway season has come to an end, which means you and I and all the other number crunchers out there can take a look at where we started, where we ended up and what that means about where we’re going.

Without any further Queen lyrics, here are the results:

GROSSES

  • Final gross for the season was $1,268,881,236
  • Last season we grossed $1,138,734,331
  • That’s an increase of 11.4% (!) from last season.

ATTENDANCE

  • 12,214,823 people saw Broadway shows in the 2013-14 season.
  • 11,569,711 people saw Broadway shows last season.
  • That’s a 5.6% increase from last season.
PLAYING WEEKS
  • There were 1,496 playing weeks this season.
  • There were 1,430 playing weeks last season
  • That’s a increase of 4.6% from last season.

Not bad, huh?  Not bad at all!

First about those grosses.  I mean, have you ever?  No, never.  Because it’s a brand new record for Broadway business.  What brought up these numbers so dramatically this season?  We continue and continue and continue to get better at variable and premium pricing which is driving up our grosses, and, of course, the playing weeks increase didn’t hurt.  And remember, last year was the first year since 2008 that we dropped some dollars, so it’s good to get them back.

Happy to see attendance bounce back and almost entirely erase the 6% drop that happened last year (remember that?).  Now, I’d like to see it grow for three years in a row at about a 2% clip.  That possible?  Possible yes, likely, no.

And playing weeks – well, you know all that talk about how there are no theaters available?  Here’s an actual stat to back it up.  To put this number in perspective (which no one ever does for some reason), there are a max of 2,080 total playing weeks available each year (40 Broadway Theaters x 52).  So, this year saw an occupancy rate of 72%.  (I’m lobbying for this occupancy percentage rate to be used instead of playing weeks – just seems easier to me).  That 72% may seem a bit low considering the log jam, but remember, 2,080 playing weeks would be all long-runners.  Load-ins, load-outs, etc. all take up weeks, so 2,080 could never be achieved.  So 72% has a much higher actual value than it indicates.

Overall, a very healthy “rebuilding year” for Broadway, and I’m glad to see us headed in a more positive direction.

Now, if we could only get recoupment rates to rise as well . . .

What do you think next year will bring?  Can we add to these numbers again?  What are your predictions for the ’14-15 Broadway season?

 

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What the heck does a General Manager do anyway?

A reader pinged me last week wanting me to clarify exactly what a General Manager’s job was on a Broadway show, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to explain it . . . using one of my favorite theatrical analogies.

I think the hierarchical leadership structure of a Broadway play or Broadway musical is similar to how our country structures its military leadership.

At the top of the upside down pyramid you have the President, or the Commander-in-Chief.  He’s the guy (or, in two years, maybe a gal?) that decides whether or not he wants to go to war.  And that’s our Producer.  He or she decides whether or not to produce a show.

And when the Commander decides to go to war, he turns to a General.  That General is schooled in the art of War.  Maybe even more so than the Commander-in-Chief himself.  The General plans the entire battle campaign: how many troops, who will lead them where, how much is it going to cost, etc.  They give that plan to the Commander-in-Chief, who may make a tweak or two, ask some questions, and then makes the decision to execute it or not.

The General is . . . you guessed it . . . just like a General Manager on a Broadway show.  They take a Producer’s vision, and help strategize and plan the entire production.

Make sense?

You can even extend the metaphor to the Company Manager, who is like the foot soldier for the General.  The CM goes into battle (visits the theater) and reports back to the General on the day to day operations of the “war.”

So, when you’re picking your General Manager for your show, make sure it’s someone that you can trust . . . someone that is schooled in both the business and the art of the theatre.

Make sure it’s someone you’d march into battle with . . .

If you’re looking for a General Manager for your show, drop me an email for a recommendation.

 

Interested in learning more about our General Management department? Click here.

 

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Why I celebrate Labor Day.

Happy L-Day, PPers.

It’s easy to believe the old cliché out there that all Producers are union-hating organizer-busters.  And it’s easy to believe that all card carrying members of any of our theatrical unions hate the Producers that hire them.

And it just ain’t true.

Years and decades and yes, a century ago, some short-sighted Producers took advantage of the hard-working folks that helped build Broadway and the modern theater as we know it today.  And thankfully, those workers got together with their brothers to establish fair wages and working conditions so that both sides could prosper when shows were successful.

And today, on Labor Day, myself, and I’m sure all of my peers, tip our hats to those that work on Broadway . . . whether backstage, in a box office, or in a dressing room wrangling a kid.   

I’m sure you do too.

Cuz it ain’t a hundred years ago, folks.  And there’s just no reason to believe that any union and any Producer are as much at odds as we sometimes like to pretend we are.

We’re in this together.  And if we could throw off the chains of old clichés and remember that, then the next several years, decades, and yes centuries could be even more successful than the ones past . . . for us both.

As a Broadway Producer, and a proud card carrying member of two theatrical unions, let me say thank you to all of the members of our Broadway unions.  You’re the best around, and I wouldn’t want to produce without you.

Happy Labor Day.

 

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The mission of music in a musical is . . .

I went to see a show the other night and found myself sitting right next to an old fuddy-duddy (I do realize that by using the term “fuddy-duddy,” I am probably now one myself).  He was buttoned-up and scowling from the moment he walked into the hallowed halls of the theater.

He was absolutely silent during Act I.  He didn’t laugh.  Didn’t slump.  Just kind of stared ahead like he was preparing for a role in the musical version of Awakenings.

And then, during the middle of the first act finale, Mr. Duddy started shifting around in his seat a bit.  At first I thought he was preparing for an early exit to the bathroom and to secure a place in the front of the line for a $9 coke.  But then I realized he wasn’t shifting at all.

He was tapping his foot.

Yep, like Robert De Niro in Awakenings, Mr. Duddy started to wake up slowly.  You see, the music was rockin’ at this point . . . more than it had the entire first act, and the musical was starting to really take off (a little late, of course).  And somehow it had melted Mr. Duddy’s wax figure state, and his foot was moving to the beat.  I stopped watching the show for a moment, as I watched Duddy’s foot move, and then slowly but surely that energy crept up his entire body, practically loosened his tie for him and then . . . well would you look at that . . . a smile.

The music literally got into his body.  It moved him.  And that, my friends, is the mission of music in a musical.

It has to move you.  Obviously it doesn’t have to physically move you all the time . . . but when it gets you tapping your feet, bobbing your head, or moves you to tears, you know that you are literally synced up with what is happening on that stage.

And of course there is a way to emotionally move you as well . . . when the sound of what is being sung has you moving like a tornado, but it’s all happening inside the audience member.  When actually they are moved so much . . . they can’t physically move.  You know what I’m talking about, right?

I read and listen to too many musicals where the music doesn’t move me at all.  It’s just there, trying to tell a story, but falling short because it doesn’t reach out and grab me and pull me in.  And worse than that?  When the music is trying to “teach” . . . or be smart.  The Sondheim Syndrome, I call it.  You can’t be smart.  And you can’t try to teach.  You can just tell your story and move your audience, and if you’re Sondheim, great . . . but I’d rather you just be you.  (Rent is one of the simplest musicals written in the last two decades, and one of the best and most moving.)

I’ve said this before, but I will say it again . . . It’s called a musical.  It’s not a book-ical or even a lyric-ical.  It’s a MUSIC-al.  And that means that your music just may be the biggest weapon you have to snare that audience and make them fall in love with your story.

But if you’re not moving them . . . they’ll move on to something else.

 

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