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.

 

He was not a Prince. He was THE King. Harold Prince (1928 – 2019)

In a corner of my office, in a spot where no one else can see, hangs a letter addressed to me dated May 17, 2000 “from the desk of Harold Prince.”

It reminds me of two things . . . the day that changed my life . . . and the man who changed my life.

That man was that master theatermaker Harold Prince, who has just passed away at the age of 91.

I was lucky enough to be ‘in the room where Hal happens’ three times in my career . . . the revivals of Show Boat and Candide and the early workshops of Parade.

And I remember being dumbstruck by his ability to see things that weren’t there . . . yet.  He conducted his shows like they were orchestras, but instead of instruments, he waved his arms at scenery, singers, songs, and the most important element . . . story.  And oh, what art emerged . . . .

Art like Sweeney, Company, and Cabaret, to mention just a few of the titles that won him his record-breaking 21 Tony Awards . . . and of course, Phantom, which may outlast us all.

Many may not remember that he was a Producer first, helping to make hits out of Pajama Game, Damn Yankees, and West Side Story.  And he was a Stage Manager before that . . . even during that!  (I think it was the Pajama Game where his name was above the title and he was on the deck as an ASM!)

In the 90s, Hal wrote an article about how there were no more creative producers anymore . . . which is when I reached out and said, “That’s what I want to be!  Can you help me?”

He invited me to his office to talk.  Actually, first, he just wanted to listen . . . to my ideas!  Can you believe that?  Hal effin’ Prince wanted to hear from me!  (And in that letter he wrote me that hangs on my wall, he told me that my ideas were “on the mark,” – something that I re-read often – especially when an idea I have doesn’t work. He reminds me that I’ll have another one that will soon enough.)

But what changed my life in that meeting was him telling me to STOP talking.  And start doing.  If I wanted to be a Producer, I needed to produce . . . something . . . anything.  “DO something,” he said.  “Don’t come out of the box trying to produce West Side Story.  Be happy if your first show is The Pajama Game.  But produce something.”

So I did.  I started on a little show THAT afternoon, which became The Awesome 80s Prom and started the snowball rolling down the hill of my entire career (I write a lot about this whole story here.)

I’ll be forever grateful to Hal for changing the American Theater into what it is today.  He revolutionized our art form.  He revolutionized our business.  He was a true Art-reprenuer.

But I’ll be even more grateful for changing my life . . . as he did for so many of us that have grown up in this business.

I won’t say rest in peace, because I know he won’t.  What I do know is that there is going to be one helluva new show in heaven.

Oh, and if you admire Hal’s work, and want to honor him . . . I’d suggest that you take the advice he gave me.  And do something.  I bet he’ll know.

To the King.


If you would like to learn more about the legend and be inspired to make great theater or great anything of your own, I urge you to read his memoir.

Podcast Episode 188 – Tony Nominated Choreographer, Josh Bergasse

Josh Bergasse’s life could be a musical. He started dancing every day in his mom’s studio since he was barely out of diapers.
And in his own words, ten years and 10,000 hours later, he actually got pretty good.
He could have danced his way up and down Broadway as a performer for years, but he made the early transition to choreography and is already one of the most sought after step-makers on the block.  (If you saw On The Town, you know why.)

Josh and I talked about creating your own luck and that to become a success you have to “never stop dancing,” as well as . . .

  • Why the lack of pressure on himself landed him his first gig and so many more.
  • How that pressure increases when you’ve achieved more and how you deal with it to keep moving ahead.
  • Why choreographers should be engaged early on in musicals (this one changed my thinking about hiring altogether).
  • The process of making a “dance” and what the most important elements are.
  • His experience on the TV show Smash and why it isn’t still running today.

Dance is more of an essential element in musicals than most of us non-dancers realize.  That’s why it’s important for us un-coordinated types to listen to experts like Josh to make sure we’re incorporating it into what we do.

So, 5, 6, 7, 8, click here for my podcast with Josh!

Listen to it on iTunes here. (And if you like the podcast, give it a great review while you’re there!)

Download it here.


This episode of The Producer’s Perspective podcast is sponsored by Sunlight Studios – the newest studio space in the theater district. Use code DAVENPORT to get 5% off all bookings for the next four weeks! www.SunlightStudios.com

Podcast Episode 187 – Tony-Award Winning Director, Michael Mayer

A flood brought us together.

It was crunch time during tech at Thoroughly Modern Millie when the deluge curtain opened up and flooded the stage and the Director, Michael Mayer, had to figure out what to do.

As the Company Manager, I’ll never forget the look on everyone’s faces when they found out that costumes were ruined, the stage couldn’t be used, etc.

And under Michael’s leadership, everyone buckled down, mopped up the mess, and went on to create a Tony Award-winning musical.

Michael has put a few more Tony-Award winning shows on his resume, including Spring Awakening, and we talked about all the show(s) he has captained, as well as . . .

  • The GOOD review that made him stop reading reviews altogether.
  • Why he convinced everyone to wait for Neil Patrick Harris to be available for Hedwig and how we got that performance out of him.
  • How he can still feel like a fraud, even with a Tony Award on his shelf, and how he gets through that when he starts a new show.
  • Plays versus musicals and the skills you need for both.
  • The day he knew to hang it up as a performer because there were bigger things that he could do.
Let the flood waters part and enjoy Michael Mayer!

 

Click here for my podcast with Michael!

Listen to it on iTunes here. (And if you like the podcast, give it a great review while you’re there!)

Download it here.

 

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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