Episode 161 – Tony Award Winner Richard Maltby, Jr.

When Richard Maltby, Jr. was asked to put together a revue for Manhattan Theatre Club, he said “yes,” even though he didn’t know what that actually meant.

But he did it, and not too much later he was collecting a Tony Award for Best Director of a Musical for Ain’t Misbehavin’, a revue that he conceived.

He went on to do more of those, including one of his own, a work with longtime collaborator David Shire, called Closer Than Ever, which was what all the kids listened to and auditioned with back in the 90’s (including this former Actor turned Producer/Blogger).

Revues weren’t the only thing up his writing sleeves, however. Richard wrote lyrics for Miss Saigon (ever heard of it) and Baby, as well as the book and lyrics for The Pirate Queen and many more.

We talk about all the huge hats he has worn over the years, as well as . . .

  • Now what? (What to do when your first show out is a big fat success)
  • Why the collaboration process on Miss Saigon was one of the favorites of his career.
  • How the revue has morphed into the jukebox musical, and what he thinks of the current lot.
  • An old idea for new writers to get attention that still works today.
  • What he thinks of the new “style” of musical theater.

Tune in to this week’s episode below!

Click here to listen to my podcast with Richard!

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

Download it here.

My 5 Friday Finds: Indie Streaming, Something for Actors, and more.

TGIF, y’all, and welcome to my weekly wrap up, when I let you know about five things that caught my eye during the last five days.

1. Streaming goes independent.

Composer/Lyricist Paul Gordon, who wrote Daddy Long Legs (which was the first Broadway or Off-Broadway show to be live-streamed) has taken streaming into his own hands and formed a company called Streaming Musicals to do just that.

And right now you can catch his beautiful production of Emma online for less than the cost of a movie.

What has me interested in this model is that Emma has never played NYC. Yet something like Streaming Musicals could give it the same type of exposure, if not more. Paul could be on to a whole new world of debuting musicals to audiences, theaters around the country, and more.

2.  Need to get to a celeb?

Gatekeepers abound in this business, which is why this little tool comes in handy for tracking down agents, managers, lawyers, and even some direct contacts. Check out the aptly named ContactAnyCelebrity.com if you want to make sure a star gets your offer or invite. I’ve used it. And it works.

3.  A New One Man Show Called The New One

Mike Birbiglia’s first show, Sleepwalk with Me, played Off Broadway. His new show, The New Onewill play ON Broadway. That’s not just because Mike is a bigger name now, who can sell out a run Off-Broadway on the announcement,  sell books, and star in TV shows.

It’s because Mike’s audience is easier to find with modern marketing methods, and as the Hello Again guys proved a couple of years ago, these half stand up/half theater pieces can make money and make it fast.

Expect more of ’em. And go see The New One. I saw a reading and was laughing out loud. At a reading.

4.  Required Reading for Non-Musical Actors Who Want To Do Musicals

Andrew Gerle music directed the first reading I ever did in this city. And what he did with those actors and the arrangements amazed me.

He’s written a musical fundamentals book for Actors that I wish I had when I was singing and dancing. Because I’m sure I would have done it a bit better.

5.  The Ford-Kavanaugh Crisis Made Me Think . . .

Of course, it made me think a lot of things, but the one positive takeaway I had was . . . is there anything more gripping than a courtroom drama? Aren’t we ready for a new one on Broadway?

Or is someone out there prepping Oleanna for a revival?

Episode 160 – Be More Chill Composer and Lyricist, Joe Iconis

Joe Iconis had a helluva summer.

Be More Chill, his musical that premiered at Two River Theater in New Jersey in 2015 (!), opened off-Broadway, sold out in an instant, extended, and then the Producers announced the show would move to Broadway.

And not because someone gave it a “must move” review or because a super-rich philanthropist wants to give Joe a shot. Oh no, this show is happening because fans found it on social media, fell in love with it, and demanded that it happen.

And that’s historic . . . and awesome.

Everyone in the biz has known the Kleban and Jonathan Larson Award-winning composer/lyricist of tunes like “Blue Hair” was going to pop at some point . . . but, as only can happen in our industry, no one ever could have predicted it would happen like this.

So how did it happen?

That’s just one of the things Joe and I talked about on my podcast this week.  Listen in to hear him us chat about . . .

  • Just how that Be More Chill album went viral (and what you can do to make yours do the same . . . you may not like the answer).
  • Why he works with the same “crew” of performers on so many of his shows.
  • What doing “concerts” had to do with his success.
  • How he dealt with the disappointment of his first show not going all the way when he thought it might.
  • The fear of disappointing fans when your show is a social media success.

Click here to listen to my podcast with Joe!

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

Download it here.

The Two Types of Jukebox Musicals: Which One Is More Successful?

While musicals featuring pre-existing music have been around for decades and decades, the “jukebox musical” genre was born on Broadway with the debut of Mamma Mia back in 2001.

And when that show blew up, not only on Broadway but all over the world, many a Producer (not to mention a few music companies) lined up to take their shot at creating the same kind of phenomenon.

Some have worked . . . like Jersey Boys and Beautiful.

And others have not . . . like Good Vibrations and Lennon.

Since this season (and a bit of last season) seems to have an inordinate number of jukebox musicals (and since I’m in conversations about a show based on a superstar’s catalog myself) and since the jukebox musical has been the subject of serious debate with our big critics, I decided to do some “data diggin'” on the two types of “jukebox” musicals to try to determine which one was more commercially successful.

I sorted these types of shows into two buckets:

1 – A musical with a brand new story unrelated to the music.

2 – A musical based on the life of the songwriters or a “Bio Musical

And then I looked at the numbers.

Since Mamma Mia, we’ve had 19 “jukebox” musicals open on Broadway (and for this research, I did not including Summer or Head Over Heels, since their fate has yet to be determined).

11 of those musicals or 58% have been “new plot” musicals.

8 of them or 42% have been “bio musicals”.

And now we get to the interesting part.

The average # of total performances for the run of all 19 musicals is 762.

The average # of performances for the new plot musicals is 408.

The average # of performances for the bio musicals is 1198.

And how does that translate to commercial success?

Of the 19 jukebox musicals, 6 recouped or 31.6%, which is above the 20% industry average for recoupment, suggesting there is a commercial advantage to a musical with a pre-existing catalog.

But which type of jukebox musical is more successful?

Only 18% of the new plot musicals recouped (2 out of the 11) . . . which is below our industry average of 20%.

A whopping 44.4% of the bio musicals recouped (4 out of the 9).


The bio-musical has proven a more commercially advantageous subset of the jukebox musical genre (which is ironic, considering there have been more attempts at musicals with a new plot).

But in this biz, just when a trend emerges something comes along to break it.

And with the super good buzz on the upcoming Jagged Little Pill and Girl From The North Country, we could see a shift in these stats in next twelve months.

I’ll be around to update these stats a year from now so stay tuned.

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Looking for more info on what shows recoup and why?  Get The Recoupment Report, the only newsletter dedicated to the world of Broadway Investing.

Podcast Episode #158 – 3 Time Tony-Nominated Book Writer, John Weidman

It’s back!

After a brief summer vacation, the Podcast has returned! We’ve done a little “renovating,” lined up a ton of great guests, and have some big surprises in store, so I hope you’re ready for The Producers Perspective Podcast 2.0!

So, let’s get to it.

Imagine this . . . you’ve never written a play before . . . but you do.

And then Hal Prince tells you he wants to direct it. And he’s going to get Stephen Sondheim to write the music.

Sounds like a dream, right?

That’s what happened to John Weidman. The play became Pacific Overtures, and it lead to a lifetime collaboration with “Steve,” including creating the classic and groundbreaking musical, Assasins.

You’ve got to have a lot of natural talent to catch the eye of someone like Mr. Prince, but you also have to have a lot of gumption to even send him a play when you’ve never written one.

John and I talked about where he got that courage as well as . . .

  • How law school helped him become a better playwright.
  • Can all ideas be made into musicals?
  • Collaborating with Sondheim . . . and how to stand up for yourself when you’re working with a legend (before he became one himself!)
  • The most common problem he sees in modern musicals.
  • How to do deal with the ones that don’t work out the way you want them to.

I couldn’t think of a better guest for the return of the podcast, and when you listen in, I know you’ll agree!

Tune in . . .

Click here to listen to my podcast with John!

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

Download it here.