Top 10 Takeaways from our TheaterMaker Super Conference

In case you haven’t heard, we had a giant TheaterMaker conference this past weekend.

(And in case you didn’t get that joke – you probably aren’t on our email list – because we sent a whole bunch of emails about it.)

The reason why we so passionately encourage all you Writers, Producers, Investors, Directors, Designers and anyone who makes theater to come is simple.  We know for a fact that as a result of getting together in the room with other like-minded TheaterMakers . . . more theater gets made.  Period.  We know this.  Because people who come to the conference tell us.

One of our greatest success stories yet happened DURING this conference!  A TheaterMaker from New Hampshire asked me a question about how to get her middle school musical produced, and I gave her a couple of tips . . . and this action-fueled artrepreneur called someone on the next networking break . . . and boom . . . she got her show BOOKED!  I mean . . . mic drop!!!

The conference included Broadway A-list Producers, Directors, Press Reps, and more on panels like Dramaturgy, Readings, and Diversity (which I am so proud to say was one of the most heavily attended panels AND the longest – what a conversation).

In case you missed the conference, I pulled 10 Takeaway from some of the talks which are below.   And while reading them will never be the same as hearing them live, seated next to more than 400 fellow TheaterMakers, I hope they give you a little steroid shot of inspiration and education to get you to go out there and make more theater.

Enjoy!

  1. “With ‘yes and…’ we get to create what comes next.” – Stephanie J. Block
  2. “You deserve a place at the table.” – Joe Iconis
  3. “Remember to stay calm. Getting angry does not help anyone hear your point. Educate with kindness.” – Arvind Ethan David, Diversity In The Arts
  4. “Casting Directors are in service of the collective imagination of the creative team. They are only trying to help bring your ideas and visions to life.” – Tara Rubin, Casting Superpowers Share How They Cast a Project And What the Right Cast Can Do For You
  5. “There’s never going to be a “perfect piece” so readjust the weight you give critics’ opinions.” – Jamil Jude, Navigating the Collaborative Process
  6. “When it comes to branding, remain consistent. Stay SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely).” – Lori Rosolowsky, How To Market Your Project To Regional Theaters Across The Country
  7. “Don’t be intimidated to introduce yourself to someone in the creative field. We’re all trying to do the same thing – create great art!” – Ken Davenport, Get Your Show Off The Ground
  8. “Know your WHY. Trust yourself. Believe in your material. And be concise in your pitch.” – Larry Rogowsky, Practice Your Pitch Session
  9. “Every play is different. Every playwright is different. In order to have the most productive partnership, it is the dramaturg’s job to know what the needs of the playwright are and how/when to deliver feedback.” – Jill Rafson, What is a Dramaturg and When/Why You Need One
  10. “No more waiting to sit at the table. Show up and take your seat at the table.” – David Caparelliotis, Casting Superpowers Share How They Cast a Project And What the Right Cast Can Do For You

Want to hear and see some of the panels that folks were raving about it?  We recorded them!  Click here to see how you can get them.

And we will see you next year!!!

How Evita Had A Tryout In NYC And Gave College Kids The Chance of a Lifetime.

Evita, this year’s City Center’s Gala musical opened last night to a fantastic response, including a ton of love for Solea Pfeiffer (who one can only hope doesn’t get sucked up by Hollywood too fast) and twenty-something director Sammi Cannold, who did what great Directors do – add a simple concept to make us look at the show in a whole new way.  (I’m proud to say I recognized her as future-force when I blogged about her “Violet on a bus” back in 2013!)

As I watched the show, I was reminded of how amazing it is that City Center shows turn out such stellar productions, when they rehearse for about a minute and a half.

And the expectation for these productions are a lot higher now than when City Center started!  (Originating the 2nd longest running Broadway show of all time (Chicago) will do that to you).

But this production of Evita had even more challenges than the others.  It was an entirely new production, with a new Cannold-concept (featuring two Evas) that made a limited rehearsal period even more challenging (two Evas for starters).

What’s a company like City Center to do?

Inspired by Cannold’s own hands-on experience in college (like the aforementioned, site-specific Violet), the folks at City Center came up with a program that gave some college theater kids an experience that out-of-college theater kids would have killed for, and get a “try-out” in the process.

Enter Pace University’s Musical Theater Department, which supplied the creative team with a full musical theater department, including actors, for a workshop of the show.

Here’s what the school got:

  • Every one of its 100 musical theater majors got to audition for the actual Evita creative team.
  • A FULL process of staging, choreography and music with that creative team culminating in 2 showings for City Center’s community of artists and the Pace Musical Theater Department.
  • 5 Interactive Master Classes on everything from dramaturgy to marketing to accessibility.
  • Tickets to the invited dress of Evita.

And City Center got a workshop of Evita that it never could have afforded (a limited run with limited seats for a non profit has a budgetary box built around it).  And that workshop 1000% resulted in a better production.

This is what we call a win-effin’-win.

I’ve blogged about college programs getting involved in the musical development game before, because I don’t think there is any training process better than working on a new musical (or revival) with a Broadway team.  And the students get the bonus of monster networking connections as a result!

But this City Center-Pace “Institution in Residence” partnership is one of the best examples I’ve ever heard, and major props to the people who put it together, including Evita line producer, Darren Biggart, and the Director and Founder of the PACE Musical Theater program, Amy Rogers Schwartzreich.  (And I’d expect Pace’s applications for their program to JUMP after word gets out about the Evita experience.  Who wouldn’t want to go for this kind of opportunity?  Come on, my alma mater – time for you to join the class?)

“Research and Development” is hard and expensive in any business, from biotech to Broadway.  Finding a creative solution like this is one way we can guarantee better products, and give opportunities to the next generation that they wouldn’t get any other way.

College programs?  If you want to get in on this . . . email me. I’ve got a few shows for you.

And go see Evita!

Learn How To Write A Musical In Person from The Man Who Wrote The Book On It.

One of the first pieces of advice I give to writers struggling to improve their scripts is simple . . .

Read Jack Viertel’s The Secret Life of the American Musical.

It’s a genius book that breaks down the structure of the classic American musical.  It diagnoses problems in your own scripts by demonstrating how the masters did it.

I re-read it every year.

I’m also lucky enough to call Jack a peer and a friend.  And recently, while we were jawing over a new musical I was working on, I got to thinking . . . the book is great and all, but hearing him talk in person is priceless for anyone looking to get better.  And aren’t we all?

Since my mission is to help people like you get your shows off the ground, I asked Jack if he’d ever teach a LIVE workshop for my readers.

And he said yes.

So we’re doing it!

On Sunday, December 8th, from 2-6 PM, Mr. Jack Viertel, Broadway Producer, Writer, former Critic, now head of Encores (for a little while longer anyway) and so much more, will be teaching an intensive workshop on the structure of a musical.

It’s a four-hour class that will be split in two parts.  The first will be Jack deconstructing a musical for you like he does in his book, but more in-depth.

The second part . . . and oh this is where the fun begins . . . we’re hiring actors to play Julie Jordan and Billy Bigelow and they’re going to perform the famous “If I Loved You” scene.  Jack will go through it line by line, starting and stopping, to demonstrate why it is one of the most perfect scenes there is in all of musical theater . . . and how knowing why it’s so good, will help you write classic scenes of your own.

There will be time for questions, and a big networking opp as well.  So come!

This is a small workshop for the serious minded students of musical theater, so seats are limited.  Click here and get one today.

Whether you are a Producer, Director or of course, a writer . . . your career will thank you for it.

And I will see you there, and I can’t wait to learn more from this Musical Whisperer.

Date: December 8th

Time: 2pm-6pm

Location: Theater District

Last minute alert: A Panel about Theater Festivals 2Morrow and more and I’m on it!

Hey Producer’sPerspectivePro readers!

If you’re in the NY area tomorrow, Saturday, September 20th, and are interested in hearing the dos and don’ts of writing, producing or directing a show for a theater festival (like this one), then you must come to this panel, brought to you by The Off Broadway Alliance!

You’ll hear from me (and how we started Rave as well as my experience with producing Altar Boyz the very first year of NYMF) and other festival experts including Producer and General Manager Sharon Fallon (Indecent), Producing Artistic Director of NYMF West Hyler (Paramour, Georama), and writer/director Rebecca Aparicio (Pedro Pan, Gloria: A Life) and Producer Robert Driemeyer (La Cage aux Folles, Tennessee Williams’ The Two-Character Play).

And there will be tons of networking opportunities with other people just like you (and even some free bagels and coffee), so come!

All the details are here.

See you there!

It was all a Rave.

And just like that . . . we’ve wrapped up our first year of Rave.

Our brand new theater festival had its last performance of its inaugural year last night.

And I couldn’t be happier with how the whole thing went.

Let me do what I love to do, and give you some numbers:

  • 19 productions and 3 readings were produced for a total of 101 performances of brand-spankin’ new theater.
  • Over 4,500 audience members attended performances by these emerging TheaterMakers.  4,500!!!
  • Over 200 Artists helped make these shows happen, both on stage, off stage, in the wings, in the booths, and a bunch behind a desk.
  • There were thousands of social media mentions and reviews, resulting in hundreds of thousands of impressions for those Artists.
  • And there was one, very proud founder/Broadway Producer/Blogger.

I had the easy job for this festival.  Seven months ago I had an idea.  And I posed it to my staff, who looked at me a little bug-eyed and then said, “We’re in.”

See, like me, they believe the world is a better place if there’s more theater in it.  So when I said that we should make a festival happen as part of our 5000By2025 mission, to work they went in order to make this festival happen.

And there’s no way it would have happened without them.

Special thanks to Valerie Novakoff, Britt Lafield, Monica Hammond, Mary Dina, Erica Fallon, Emily McGill, Jenna Lazar, Parrish Salyers, and Kellie Williams for their passion and for taking my idea and executing it with excellence to the Nth degree

And to the Producers, Writers, Actors, Designers, Musicians, and all the Artprerenuers who made their shows happen . . . this thing was nothing . . . absolutely nothing . . . without you.

Your passion is inspiring.

So inspiring, in fact, that you’ve inspired us to do this again.

Yep, Rave will return next summer.   Rave 2.0 in 2020.  🙂

So sign up here to be the first to know when we’re taking submissions and when the tickets for the next set of shows-to-be will go on sale.

Because if this season proved anything, it’s that there are a whole group of TheaterMakers out there who you may not know today . . . but you will tomorrow.


UPDATE ALERT!  We’ve just announced the winners of our Outstanding Musical, Outstanding Play, and many others:

Outstanding Production

Noirtown by Michael Bontatibus

Outstanding Musical

Just Laugh, with a book and lyrics by Lauren Gundrum and Brandon Lambert, the latter also contributing music.

Outstanding Play

Fancy Maids by Harold Hodge Jr.

Outstanding Performances

PJ Adzima in The Tycoons!
Madeline Grey DeFreece in Fancy Maids
Kayland Jordan in Fancy Maids
Julia Knitel in The Tycoons!
Terra Mackintosh in Back
Amy Penston in Big Shot
Arturo Luis Soria in Ni Mi Madre
Donna Vivino in Waiting For Johnny Depp

Outstanding Ensemble

The Perfect Fit

Outstanding Original Score

Mhairi Cameron, Oceanborn

Outstanding Book of a Musical

Joshua Turchin, The Perfect Fit

Outstanding Direction

Max Friedman, The Tycoons!

Outstanding Choreography

Sally Dashwood, Girls On Tap

Outstanding Design

Back with sound design by Andrew Fox, scenic design by Tim McMath, and lighting design by Greg Solomon

Outstanding Marketing

Oceanborn


Are you a Producer, Writer or other TheaterMaker?  Got a show?  Make it a goal of yours to submit your show for next year’s Rave!  Click here and sign up to know when we’re taking submissions.

Don’t have a show yet?  Start working on one today!  One of the biggest hits of the festival was written AFTER we announced the festival.  12-year-old Joshua Turchin wrote his show just to submit it.  And then this happened.  It can happen to you too.  Click here.

 

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