And the Finalists for our 2013 Ten Minute Play Contest are . . .

I was going to write a snappy little intro to the blog and talk about the crazy number of entries we got, and how much fun my entire staff and I had reading all these playlets . . . but you don’t want to hear that.  You just want to know which 10 Ten Minute Plays made it to the finals.

So, without any further  bugaboo, here are your Ten Minute Play finalists, in alpha order (so don’t try to read anything into it):

1.  Bayonets of Angst: The Story of Lincoln and McClellan by Rick Kunzi and Justin Zeppa
2. Gifted by Chris Nelson
3. Gun Play by Chris Friden
4.  Happy Trails! by James Pravasilis
5.  Jake & Lindsay by Garrit Guadan and Justin Anthony Long
6.  Landscape With the Fall of Icarus by Simon de Carvalho
7.  Meeting Mr. Right by Stephan de Ghelder
8.  MTA: The Musical by Peter Saxe
9.  Pointlessness by Marissa Lee Kohn
10.  Taking the Plunge by Greg Edwards and Amanda Louise Miller

Congratulations to all of you!  You’re all guaranteed to walk home with $50, just for being a finalist, and one of you is adding another zero to that prize and getting a sweet $500.

How will we decide which one will win?  Well, plays, 10 minutes or not, were not made to be read, they were made to be seen.  So we’re putting up all 10 of them!

On Thursday June 20th at 7 PM at our studios, we’re presenting a 10 minute Play Festival featuring the 10 plays above, and you’ll help choose the winner!  Get your tickets here and we’ll see you there.

And congrats again, finalists!


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A New Monster of a Musical has Multiple Sources of Music.

King Kong is koming . . . to Broadway.

If you haven’t heard, a musical version of King Kong is set to debut Down Under on June 15th.  And, well, since one of the most famous scenes in the movie of Kong features that hunk of an ape hanging off the Empire State Building, it wouldn’t take a Scientist on Skull Island to figure out that the creators and producers have the Big Apple in their sights.

Set to follow in Spiderman‘s web-prints, Kong is going to a be quite a spectacle, featuring a massive ape, a mega large cast . . . and more than five composers . . .  and songs from the period!

Which one of these things isn’t like the others?

Musicals typically have one composer . . . or maybe, as in the case of Grand Hotel and Victor Victoria. . . the likes of a Yeston/Kopit or a Wildhorn are called in to put a cherry or two on the top of the score to finish it off.

But multiple composers from the get-go? 

They’re as rare as a giant ape that swipes airplanes out of the sky and has a thing for blondes.  (The recent Bring it On was an exception when duties were split between Lin-Manuel Miranda and Tom Kitt)

Conventional wisdom has always been that one musical voice is needed to guarantee that a piece feels like it’s musical dots are connected; an idea that makes sense on paper, and has also made sense in practice.

But that doesn’t mean the other way can’t work too.

After all, musicals have many a character singing, and dancing and sometimes even speaking!  And those characters have different voices, so why can’t you have one song by Massive Attack, another by Sarah McLachlan and another by The Avalanches (if you haven’t guessed – those are just three of the King Kong composers – click here to read the article about all of them and hear some samples. )

King Kong  is going to bust through a lot of boundaries . . . with their set and their special effects . . . but the one I’m most interested in is what they are doing with the score.

Because having a gaggle of writers could be the most brilliant way to represent King Kong’s unique worlds and characters. 

Or it may just be bananas. 


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Bringing back the concept of the concept album.

In the 80s, Andrew Lloyd Three Names released a bunch of recordings of his shows, before they were actually completed shows.

Jesus Christ Three Named Show was one of the first . . . but Evita had one, and there was a songs from Starlight Express CD too.

On this side of the record-producing pond, Frank Wildhorn (the would-be ALW of the West) had his hand in the pre-album album with J&H, Civil War (with fancy recording artists, nonetheless), and others.

But other than those, and a few randoms here and there, the concept of the concept album went the way of Annie 2.


Why would a show on its way to Broadway not take a few bucks from the budget to make a “Songs from . . . ” CD?  The benefits are ginormous:

  • You’d have them to sell on your first preview, instead of having to wait for months to make the OCR.
  • You’d have a first class marketing tool to use on your way to Broadway . . . and let’s face it, nothing sells a musical better than its music . . . to investors, to sponsors, theater owners, etc.
  • You’d start building a fan base, and have people humming songs on the way in, rather than just on the way out.

In the past twenty years, the cost of making albums, and distributing albums has dropped tremendously.  You can even DIY it.  And done cheap enough, almost any CD could certainly find the “long tail” market and recoup some of its costs.

Objections I’ve heard are, “The cast might not be the same as on Broadway,” (who cares) and, “What if we cut a song?” (who cares – listen to ALW’s Evita).  The bottom line is this . . . when an audience member leaves a musical and has a song in their head . . . they’ll do anything to hear it again to satisfy that musical craving.  And when I say anything, I mean anything (you’re reading a blog from a guy who listened to a cassette bootleg of Rent for weeks.)

You can satisfy that need, make some money, and market your show better if you’ve got a CD to sell from the start.  So add the cost to your budget, and get that score out in the world.

Huh.  I think I just convinced myself to do a recording of Somewhere in Time while we’re out here in Portland.


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– Win $500 in our 10 Minute Play Contest!  Enter here.

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What the Tuck is taking up all our Broadway Theaters?

Last week, the Producers of the upcoming (and from what I hear, wonderful) new musical Tuck Everlasting, announced they were postponing its pre-Broadway Boston tryout due to the lack of an available Broadway houses this fall.

And unlike some other shows that have used that excuse, these Producers actually meant it.

I’ve always said that finding a Broadway theater for your show is like landing a plane at JFK on Thanksgiving Weekend.  You’re probably going to have to circle for awhile until you find the right runway.

Well, Tuck couldn’t even take off.

It has always been hard to find that Broadway home . . . but it is true . . . it’s getting harder.


Well, in modern times, when a show is a hit, it runs a Tuck of a lot longer.  Shows from the 1950s-70s didn’t run for uh . . . DECADES!  And now they do.

Phantom, Mamma Mia (which just announced a move to another theater to stretch out its run), Lion King, Wicked . . . where are these shows going?  Hmmm?  That’s why I postulated in this blog that we’d never have another “dark era” on Broadway again (although sometimes I think we could use a market correction, just like the stock market needs to blow off a little steam every once in a while).

But let’s get back to that availability issue to determine just how hard it is, shall we?

If you’re a Producer with a brand new show looking for a house for your new musical, you have 40 to choose from, right?

Well, there are 40 Broadway houses, yes, so let’s start with that.


Subtract the Disney house, because . . . come on, they’re always going to have something.


Now subtract the 5 non-profit houses and that leaves you with . . .


Now subtract 16 for the long running musicals that aren’t going anywhere in the next 2-5 years.  (Already this season we’ve added 4-5 to that list that are going to be holed up for quite awhile (including my Kinky Boots!)


Only 18 remain!  Less than 50% of the Broadway theaters on the market are actually in play.

And hold on, I’m not done with my math just yet.

From those 18, subtract 4 for the shows that have been announced for the coming year, taking those houses off the market as well.

And we’re down to 14!

Now, insiders tell me that 3 more of those are out of the running for the ’13-14 season with handshake deals for yet-to-be-announced but firm bookings by powerhouse producers.

And just like that, we’ve got eleven left.  Just 11.

Look, something always falls out, or unexpectedly closes, right?  So for margin of error’s sake, let’s add back 1 to get to an even dozen.

A dozen.  That’s right, if you’re a Producer of a brand new musical looking for a house in the coming year or so, you’ve got just a dozen to choose from.

Certainly you can find one that works for you out of that carton of eggs, right?

Well hold your press releases, Producer, because here’s the biggest rub of them all.

Those twelve remaining houses have an average capacity of . . . 1083.67.

And this is the Tuckin’ problem.

The theaters that remain are mostly play houses . . . and they lack the capacity to be able to support larger musicals at today’s cost of producing a musical (unless prices go up dramatically).

What does this mean?

Well, we’re just about maxed out on big musicals . . . there just isn’t a lot of room for them right now.  Give us another season or two like this one and even the couple of remaining big barns will be eaten up as well.  And then what?

And that’s my biggest takeaway from this mathematical exercise.

Despite the fact that Broadway audiences love big shows, If I was developing a musical right now (oh wait, I’m developing 3), I’d focus on small to medium shows; shows that I know can fit in a smaller house.  And I’d start telling my creative team now . . . “we’re most likely going to have to fit in a smaller box than we would have thought, so let’s make sure we start thinking creatively on how to handle that now, so we’re not circling the airport forever.”

Otherwise, you could end up be Tuckin’ homeless.


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Across the pond is a lot further than we think.

I saw War Horse when it was a wee pony of a show at the National Theatre and remember thinking how wonderful it was going to be on Broadway.

And it was.

Although it didn’t last as long over here as it did over there.

Same thing was true for Billy Elliot.  That little boy danced his tutu off for a couple o’ years on Broadway, while his British counterpart kept on pirouetting for another year more.

And Oliver?  Why, it hasn’t even been revived on Broadway since The Orwellian Year of 1984.  Almost 30 years!  I think we’ve had 14 revivals of Into the Woods since then.

Interesting trend, right?  I know, you’re saying it’s the economics.  Broadway is more expensive than producing in the UK, which is why hit shows over there may be hits over here, but for not as long.

Well, with that logic, wouldn’t it mean that hits from here would last longer there?

Like, oh, I don’t know . . . Rent.


Avenue Q?

Sorry, Charlie.

In the Heights?

Hasn’t even been there.

Those are three Tony Award winning musicals (and one Pulitzer winner, btw), and none of them achieved the success across the Atlantic that they did here.

Not coincidentally, all those shows were set in NYC.  And War Horse, Billy Elliott, Oliver, etc. are set in jolly ol’ England.

Now look, there are obviously umpteen factors that determine the success or lack thereof of a musical.

But one of those factors is without a doubt geographic.  Producing a show in the city/county/country where it’s set, gives you an immediate in with the audience.  What an audience relates to, they are more likely to enjoy, and more importantly, recommend.


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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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