An out-of-town tryout . . . in town.

Here are the hard facts about looking for a regional theater for your out-of-town tryout in the teen 2000s:

  1. They are hard to get. Just like a lot of shows are waiting to land a Broadway house, even more shows are waiting for their close-up out-of-town.  That means it’s getting even harder to secure one of the hotter tryout spots across the country thanks to the sheer volume of competition.
  2. You may have to wait for years. Regional theaters plan seasons well in advance, and from what I hear, they’re starting to do this further and further out, especially with their enhancement slots.  That means even if you are lucky enough to snag a coveted spot, you might be waiting two or three years for it to happen.  That means your option agreements may expire, your team may drift away, your cast may age out (!), etc.
  3. They are more expensive than ever. On my podcast, Des McAnuff, who helped build the whole idea of tryouts at regional theaters, called the current financial enhancement model around the country “dangerous.”  That’s because so many theaters are relying on these supplemented shows to help balance their budget.  And, like any smart business owner, as regional theaters have gotten more in-demand, their prices have gone up.  Can’t blame them, but it doesn’t stop your budget from ballooning.

So that’s just the way it is, right?

Wrong.

We’re never satisfied here at TPP and you shouldn’t be either.  The enhancement path was and still is, at times, a great one . . . but it may be time for a little innovation and a whole lotta disruption.

So, what do we do?

Here’s one idea.

Off Broadway is super challenging and unfortunately, much riskier than Broadway.  But, since the price of a first-class Off Broadway musical can be as much as a regional theater enhancement . . . why not produce it Off Broadway?  

You get the trial audience.  You get the reviews.  You get elements of the physical production you can take to the next step.

And it’s even easier for the Broadway theater owners to check you out if they’re interested.

And if it doesn’t work?  Well, your show is much more likely to be licensed or even go on tour if it’s played New York, rather than just played an out-of-town tryout.

Here’s the bonus . . . you won’t owe a regional theater 1-1.5%.

So, for the same budget, you actually own more of the show.  That makes it actually cheaper!

Downside?  You expose it to the critics early . . . but you’d be doing the same thing if you were trying out at The Public or any of the city-based Non-Profits.  And you’d take one of those if they came up, right?

With rising costs and a logjam of titles, producing your show in-town might be the only way to get your show up with a shot at Broadway, which makes it worth the risk in my book.

And it just might save Off Broadway in the process.

Broadway Grosses w/e 4/22/2018: It’s coming down to the wire.

The following are the Broadway grosses for the week ending April 22, 2018.
The Broadway grosses are courtesy of The Broadway League
Read more here:

Why movie attendance has dropped, while Broadway’s has risen.

Movie attendance dropped by almost 6% last year, returning it to a number that hasn’t been seen since 1992. (No wonder why so many Hollywood stars are looking to Broadway to make a buck.)

Butts in seats at your local cineplex has been on a decline for years . . . while Broadway’s jumped a few year’s back and has been holding steady for the past few.

What’s the problem with movies that super-expensive Broadway seems to avoid?

Two things:

First, movie theaters got pummeled by other distribution methods for their content.  Here comes YouTube, Netflix, iTunes, OnDemand, and more delivering an endless supply of movies for your enjoyment in your own home, or on your laptop, or on that 2×2 inch screen in your pocket.  Sure, sure, you may not get the absolute latest release, but with the “long tail” of content available, consumers had plenty to keep their nights busy.

Second, the technology of home theaters and those laptops and yeah, those even ‘smarter’ phones in your pocket has advanced at such a rapid pace, the viewing experience at home can rival that in the theater.  So “seeing it on a big screen” isn’t as much of an argument to get your a$$ to the multiplex.

What’s the takeaway for the theater?

Spoiler alert, it’s a good one.

See, as more and more distribution methods for Hollywood’s content pop up, and as technology for the consumption of that content advances, our content, live content, becomes even rarer.  And when something is rarer, it becomes more valuable.

There is no alternative distribution method for live.

There is no technology to replace the live actor, on stage, crying her eyes out while belting out a tune.

Nothing beats it.  And nothing ever will.

It’s why the theater is still hopping after thousands and thousands of years, and the invention of the radio, the TV, and yeah, the internet.

So theater ain’t no “fabulous invalid” anymore.

We just might be saying that about Hollywood soon enough.

 

P.S. Want to learn how to write a musical? Click here for all the tips, tools and training you need.

GUEST BLOG by Mike Rafael: Broadway by the numbers: the company you keep.

10 Years ago, Ticketing Analyst wasn’t even a job on Broadway.  Now, every show has one.

One of those analysts is Mike Rafael, who I interviewed here, and who is the number-crunching author of this week’s guest blog.

Enjoy the stats, and be prepared to hear a lot more from people like Mike in the next 10 years.  And kids, if you want a stable career?  Look into ticketing analyst school.

– – – – –

Broadway by the numbers: the company you keep.

For the week ending March 4th, 2018 there were 30 shows running on Broadway.

  • 10 of these grossed at least $1,000,000.
  • 10 grossed between $600,000 and $1,000,000.
  • The last 10 grossed between $250,000 and $600,000.

If 1/3rd of your business is in the “millionaires club,” the 1st week in March, you’re in good shape.

By comparison, for the same week in 2016 (w/e 3/6/16) there were 32 shows running.
  • Only 5 were “millionaires.”
  • 7 shows grossed between $60,000 and $850,000.
  • The remaining 18 shows grossed less than $600,000.

With baseball season around the corner, let’s use a sports analogy – Broadway is no longer a couple of star players on a generally weak roster. Our lineup is strong top to bottom, with a good bench to boot.

And, contrary to popular belief, Broadway isn’t just increasing grosses by increasing prices.

In 1996, the year before THE LION KING opened, Broadway sold 10.2 million tickets and grossed just under $500m.

In 2010, the year before THE BOOK OF MORMON opened, Broadway sold 12.1 million tickets and grossed over $1 billion for the first time ($1.03b).

Last year, having added HAMILTON, DEAR EVAN HANSEN, HELLO, DOLLY! & SPRINGSTEEN, Broadway sold 13.7 million tickets and grossed $1.63 billion.

In fact, speaking of sports teams, for the last three years Broadway has outsold the top 10 New York professional sports teams combined. In 2017, Broadway attendance surpassed the combined NY Sports teams by 2.6 million tickets.

[bonus question: name the top 10 NY sports teams – answer below]

Here’s another comparison: the movies.

In 1996,  1.309 billion people bought a ticket to a movie in the US.

In 2010, 1.328 billion people went to the movies in the US.

But in 2017, 1.225 billion people bought tickets, the lowest figure since 1995.  [source: the-numbers.com]

One might also note that the 3rd highest grossing movie of 2018 so far is a musical, THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, with a distinctly Broadway pedigree (Hugh Jackman, Pasek & Paul, Keala Settle).

So while moviegoers continue to decline, the audience for Broadway continues to grow. Last year’s record year for both attendance and grosses on Broadway and this year, thanks to HARRY POTTER, FROZEN, MEAN GIRLS et al, those records will be broken again.

Let the good times roll.

[The answer to the bonus question?  The Top 10 NY sports teams by attendance: NY Yankees, NY Mets, NY Jets, NY Giants, NY Rangers, NY Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, NJ Devils, NY Islanders, NY Red Bulls]

– – – – –

Mike Rafael has worked on ticketing for over three dozen Broadway shows and has set the house record in 5 different Broadway theaters. Last year he helped WICKED set the all-time single-year attendance record for Broadway.

What does a Broadway Producer do? I’ll show you . . . LIVE.

In 2010, back in the early days of this blog, I got an email from a young lady who asked me, “What does a Broadway Producer do?”

I took her question, and sent it around to my Producing Peers and asked them to answer it in one sentence.  I posted all of the responses in a blog, that has since become one of my most read entries to date.  You can read it here.  (By the way – Young Inquisitive Lady who emailed me . . . who has probably now graduated from college and is hopefully producing somewhere . . . if you’re reading this, drop me a line and let me know what you’re up to.)

Flash forward eight years later, and just last Saturday I was interviewed by ABC radio and guess what the host asked?  Yep.  He didn’t know what a Producer did either.

I gave my usual answers about how a Broadway Producer is like a CEO or Chairman of the Board, or like any entrepreneur who starts a business.

And then I ended with why I love my job . . . because every day is different.  One day I’m getting the rights to a show, the next day I’m working on a new marketing initiative, then I’m opening a show, raising money for the next one, meeting songwriters, interviewing directors, courting stars, etc., etc.

And no matter how challenging each day may be, it’s all awesome.  Because it’s all about the theater.

The interview ended and my big takeaway was that despite my ten years of blogging, people out there were still wondering what Broadway Producers actually do!  Since part of my mission has always been to help demystify Broadway and the profession of The Producer, I knew I had to figure out another way to pull back the curtain.

And blogging and podcasting weren’t going to cut it this time.

So, starting today, I’m launching the most behind-the-curtain view into what I do.

Yep, I’m launching a series on Facebook Live called . . . #EveryDayIsDifferent.

Starting TODAY at around noon, I’ll host my first Facebook Live episode. And every weekday (and occasionally on a weekend), at least once per day, you’ll get a Facebook Live from me, telling you where I am, what I’m doing, and why #EveryDayIsDifferent.

You’ll catch me at ad meetings, agent meetings, openings, focus groups, investor meetings, and everything else that I do (and maybe even a glimpse into how I balance my work with my life/wife/soon-to-be-born Broadway baby).

I’ll explain what I’m up to and why I’m doing what I’m doing, daily.

For those of you who remember the 100 Days to Godspell, “Day By Day” blog (seen here), it’s a bit like that . . . but live and on camera.  (Ok, I just got a little nervous when I typed that – what have I gotten myself into!)

And this is a terrific time to get a glimpse into the day-to-day of what a Broadway Producer does, because we’re going into awards season with Once On This Island and I’m getting into the production phase of Gettin’ The Band Back Together.  (And I’m also announcing a new musical in development this very week so stay tuned!)

There will be lots of stuff going on, and you’ll get to see it all, including the good days, the bad challenging days, and everything in between.

So you wanna see what a Broadway Producer does?

All you have to do is click here and like me on Facebook.  You’ll be notified when I go live.  And if you miss it, the video will be stored for later, so you can watch it whenever.

Got it?

Just click here.  Like the page.  And remember, #EveryDayIsDifferent.

See you . . . (gulp) . . . live.

P.S. Want to learn how to produce a play? Click here for all the tips, tools and training you need.

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