Howell Binkley: He lit up Broadway Stages and every room he was in.

The first time I saw a run-through of “Greased Lightning” from the 1994 revival of Grease was in a rehearsal studio.
I was the Production Assistant . . . and would later Stage Manage, Assistant Company Manage, walk dogs, and learn about AOL chat rooms from Rosie O’Donnell – but that’s another story.
After the number in that fluorescently-lit room was over, I thought . . . “That was fun.”
Flash forward weeks later when I saw it for the first time, lit by Howell Binkley and I thought, “Holy @#$%, that was amazing!”
In fact, I decided that I did NOT want to be a Stage Manager ever again after that show . . . because I never wanted to “call it” – it had so many damn light cues!
And beautiful cues at that.
Almost as beautiful as the kind, departed soul that came up with them.
I was an intern when we first met . . . got him coffee, made sure he had his hotel reservation, etc. Yet he treated me like we had been peers for years.
That’s why I loved every time our paths crossed over the years. “Hey, buddy!” he’d always say, like not a day had passed since the last time we sat down.
In fact, I was talking to him about a new show just weeks ago. And he never knew he was sick, nor did he hint at it.
But that was Howell.
He was all about light.
And all about LIGHT.
Thank you, buddy, for your kindness, energy and your passion for our stages. They’ll forever be dimmer without your work and that great bit grin of yours.

Is Diana the Musical the first domino in the straight-to-streaming market?

Is Diana the first domino in the straight-to-streaming market?
And you thought Princess Diana’s actual story was dramatic?
In one of the biggest stories to hit the Covid-infused airwaves of late, the Producers of the new Broadway musical Diana announced they’d be doing a performance in the next few weeks . . . for no audience . . . but a ton of cameras.
That’s right, Diana is going to Netflix. It will premiere on the streaming network before Diana’s (currently scheduled) May 25th, 2021 Broadway opening.
A lot of people have been floating the idea of shooting a show as we wait out the pandemic. After all, the sets are sitting right there in the theaters . . . and the actors are sitting right there at home.
It makes sense why Netflix wanted this specific show. Diana is a big brand and a documentary – two things Netflix audiences love. And, Netflix makes decisions on data. I’m sure they know how many people will watch the musical based on how many people have devoured other Diana content on their site. (Ahhh, digital stats – aren’t they great?)
Now, the question is . . . will other shows follow? Which ones? And will it happen during the pandemic? Or when Broadway comes back? And will Diana sell more tickets because of this stream?
So many questions . . . because it’s such an exciting idea.
What’s awesome to me is that Broadway is a business that does NOT like to take risks. But as I mentioned in this blog, now is not a time for a “We can’t” about anything.
And major kudos to the Producers and Creative Team and all the unions involved for going for it.
Because first, a whole bunch of people are going to get paid. And right now, our artists, musicians, stagehands and everyone needs the work.
And second, once one show does something like this, a whole host of others will follow.
Yep, a new model just got made. And it’s a good one.
Because it will raise the awareness for a new title before the show arrives on Broadway, which is the hardest thing for any new show to do.  It’s like releasing a cast album before the show opens.  (Waitress did this successfully in recent years, and of course, Jesus Christ Superstar was the first and best example of making a brand before Broadway.)
That’s right, I think streaming is the new cast album.
And I’ll predict it right now . . . regardless of how the Broadway show performs (and I’m hearing great things) . . . it will do better on Broadway, on tour, and for the rest of its licensing life, because they made this deal.
Now . . . what show will Netflix go after next?
– – – – –
We posted a survey about streaming on Monday . . . did you see it? Click here to ask your question about this emerging model for Broadway or for your show!

Tonight on the Livestream: TAKE 2!!! 4-Time Tony Award-Winning Producer, Dori Berinstein

Alright, let’s try this again!

Tony Award winner, Dori Berinstein, was all set to appear on our livestream last week . . . until that little brat of a tropical storm played with the power, and she lost her internet! (I could go days without water, but not internet? Forget it.)

The storm has passed, the power is back, and Dori WILL be joining us, if I have to walk to her house in Westchester and socially distance interview her with my phone.

If you don’t know Dori, she’s a producing powerhouse . . . first in movies (yes, that is HER on the Netflix documentary about the making of Dirty Dancing – a must watch) . . . and then on Broadway. We met on Thoroughly Modern Millie, produced a show at NYMF together, and we will be doing something again soon, I know it.

Tune in tonight to hear how she transitioned from film to Broadway, how she is keeping all her projects going, and all about the Broadway Podcast Network (of which I’m a proud member).

Set your reminder for tonight’s episode here.

And look who’s joining me over the next few weeks:

Tuesday, August 18th – Brian Stokes Mitchell (Actor – Kiss Me, Kate; Man of La Mancha; Shuffle Along, or, the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed)

Tuesday, August 25th – Patrick Page (Actor – Hadestown, Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark, The Hunchback of Notredame)

You can catch me every TUESDAY at 8pm EDT (7pm CDT/ 6pm MDT/ 5pm PDT) on my Facebook, on my Twitter, on Broadway Podcast Network’s Youtube Channel, and on Broadway on Demand.

To learn more about our guests and the organizations for which we are raising money, visit

Your questions about going virtual, streaming, and putting shows online.

My first gig as a Company Manager was the 1st National Tour of Jekyll & Hyde in 1999. I was a rookie, and I made a lot of mistakes.
The biggest mistake I made was not answering questions before someone asked.
I would get asked about housing in an upcoming city, opening night tickets, and much more.
And often, I got frustrated and thought, “I’m so busy trying to get us to the next city. I’ll get those answers to everyone when I have them!”
Then I realized something . . . if these questions were coming up over and over, then they were important to my company. And it was my job to get them answers, even if I didn’t think they needed them!
Because if I wasn’t providing the proper information to my company then I wasn’t doing the best job. (Company Managers, Producers, Directors, and leaders of all types need to “read the minds” of the people they lead.)
After getting some great feedback from a mentor, I established a principle:
If I received the same question 2x then I had to provide the answer immediately . . . because if I got the same question 3x, I failed.
Well, I’ve gotten about 300 questions about Broadway shows, Off Broadway shows, high school shows, community theater shows, and ALL types of shows going virtual in the past 3 months. And with greater frequency in the last 3 weeks!
That means I haven’t provided you with enough answers.
So, I failed you. I started this blog to help with issues like this, so I fall on my sword and say only this . .
I’m going to get you the answers now. Whether I have them or not, or if I have to go to some more experts to help.
But here’s where you can help. I want to make sure I answer your TOP questions about streaming, going virtual, online readings, on demand, virtual concerts, and more. Are your questions technical, artistic, how to charge money . . . what?
If you are even thinking about going virtual with a show of yours or curious about how it’s done and have questions . . . click here to answer this ONE question survey about your biggest question.
Give me these 10 seconds, and I promise to give you a @#$% ton of information.
Because that’s my job.
Click here to take the survey and get the answers you want.

The Top 6 Most Important Skills A Producer Must Have. Part II

Did you enjoy your intermission?
Yesterday, I gave you Act I of this two-parter with 3 of the 6 top skills Broadway Producers must have now . . . and forever.
To give you a recap, that trio of traits is:
1. Imagination
2. Optimism
3. Objectivity
Now, we resume this e-performance with Act II and three more mad skillz you need to produce on Broadway:
4. Thick-skinness
Here’s a fact. If you put something out in the world, someone will throw tomatoes at you. Robert Kennedy once said, “One-fifth of the people are against everything all the time.” That’s right, 20% of the audience that sees your show won’t like it or YOU . . . no matter what you do.
So you best have the skin of a politician to brave the critics, audiences, and even some of your peers! Especially after your first big success. One Hollywood and Broadway A-list superstar once told me, “When you achieve something great, you can bet money that people will try to bring you down.”
Don’t let it surprise you. And don’t let it bother you.
5. Collaborative
I often say that creating a new musical is like trying to get fifteen people to paint the Mona Lisa. Someone wants this shade of color. Another wants this texture of brush stroke. And what about the frame? And maybe she should frown?
Creating a musical or a play is one of the most collaborative processes on the planet. So you better be good at it AND you best be good at facilitating it. Because when people fight, as the Producer, you’ll need to suss it out. Because you’ve got the most at risk if the show doesn’t turn out the best it can be. (And rest assured, your team will fight, even on successful shows. And sometimes even MORE on successful shows! Read this book for an example of that!)
6. The Action-ator
Like Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator, all Broadway Producers need to be relentless in their pursuit.
They need to take action, and massive amounts of it, every day, to get their show up the Broadway hill.
They can’t wait for someone else to pick up the ball. Because no one will. No one cares as much. It’s up to you. Become The Action-ator and you’ll get to where you want to go, without even knowing how you got there.
I started this post thinking it was for TheaterMakers who wanted to be Producers. And somewhere during that intermission, I realized that these traits are essential for ALL TheaterMakers. So whether you’re a Producer, Playwright, Director or Actor, infuse your work with these six traits: Imagination, Optimism, Objectivity, Thick-skinness, Collaboration and Action-Taking, and you’ll get through this strange period we’re in and ANY strange period we’re ever in.
Need some examples of the action I take to get me and my projects going? Click here for 19 daily actionable tasks that help me get my shows off the ground.
Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

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

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