Podcast Episode #30: Kurt Deutsch from Sh-K-Boom tells all on the ‘record.’

What do Tower Records, Colony Records and Footlight Records all have in common?

They were all some of my favorite places to shop for cast albums in the 90s.

And now they’re all gone.

The past 20 years have wreaked havoc on the music industry, and cast albums have become an endangered species as a result.  Luckily, one guy saw this change coming.  And back in the early part of the millennium, Kurt Deutsch struck out on his own, and with Broadway actress Sherie Rene Scott he founded the independent label Sh-K-Boom Records.  Its mission?  Save Broadway music, one cast album at a time.

Since then, Sh-K-Boom and its upstart sister label Ghostlight Records have grabbed the lion’s share of the cast album biz away from the big “studio” companies, recording big hits like The Book of Mormon, In the Heights, Next to Normal and many more.

And Kurt sat down with me for this week’s episode to talk about . . .

  • The state of the cast album and why every show needs one.
  • Why albums should be part of a show’s capitalization, not an afterthought (he changed my mind on this one).
  • What we will sell at the merch stands when CDs are no longer made.
  • How to get an album for sale by opening night.
  • Why if you’re writing a show, you have to have a demo.

One of the greatest tools a musical has in its marketing toolbox is its music.  If it can’t get recorded, it can’t get spread.

That’s what makes this podcast a must listen.

Click here to listen.

Listen to it on iTunes here.  (And give me a rating, while you’re there!)

Download it here.

Click here to read the transcript.

 

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It’s the Spring Awakening Associate Producer Scholarship! You can be an AP! (Updated 2018).

I’ve done a bunch of fun things on this blog, from Will It Recoup?, my fantasy Broadway game (this year’s results coming soon) to crowdfunding Godspell, and a lot more.

But nothing has been more rewarding for me than when we held a contest to find an Associate Producer for Macbeth.

As you can read about on that original announcement blog, I’ve always been concerned about the number of opportunities for young, up-and-coming producers to . . . well . . . produce.  See, unlike television, film or the recording industry, to produce on or Off Broadway you need money, or need to raise money.  And for a lot of younger folks, who haven’t had a chance to network as long, whose college roommates haven’t become tech titans yet, it’s just harder.

But since we all know that the best education comes from doing, how do they learn?  And how do they build a resume that gets them in the door on bigger projects?

And if they can’t get their hands dirty and can’t get on shows that will excite them so they’ll put their heads down and dedicate a life to this challenging business . . . then my fear is that we’ll lose them . . . to television, film or the recording industry.

And without new, young, fresh talent, where will Broadway be in 20 years?

That’s one of the reasons we started the Associate Producer Scholarship.  And it was such a success on Macbeth that I vowed to do it again.

And what better show to start it back up again than my upcoming production of Deaf West’s Spring Awakening?

Yep, one young person out there, between the ages of 18 and 30, is going to earn a chance to be an Associate Producer on Spring Awakening and get their name on the title page of the program, on the house board, get a bio in the program, etc.  But more importantly this winner will work closely with me and my other Producers and Associate Producers on all aspects of the show.  You’ll dig into everything from marketing, planning opening night, Tony voter invitations, and a whole lot more.  And yes, you can bet your bippy you’ll be blogging.  (For a great example of what the Associate Producer will, check out our last winner’s blog about Macbeth on TheAssociateProducersPerspective.com – and by the way, that guy is now assisting Jujamcyn President Jordan Roth.)

It’s going to be a ton of work, but it’s going to be the kind of work you’re going to love.  And if not, then being a Producer isn’t what you were meant to do.

Interested?

Here’s how it’s going to work.

This isn’t no Sunday Giveaway, where the winner is chosen at random.  Oh no, you’re going to have to show us your stuff.

It starts with this application, which is due next Friday, July 31st!  I know, I know, it’s quick, but hey – I just decided I wanted to produce this on Broadway like 30 days ago.

We’ll pick out ten finalists by Tuesday, August 4th.  There will be a group interview later that week and some one-on-ones with me.  And your first day will be at our first rehearsal on the 10th of August.

Got it?

Good.  Sign up below to be sent the application.

And I look forward to having one of you on our producing team.




 

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Associate Producers and Producers alike, put in an extensive amount of work to get a show off the ground. Visit my post What does a Broadway Producer do? Over 100 Producers Respond, to get a real inside feel as to how much it actually takes to be a Broadway producer.

Get a contact list of Broadway Producers, monthly newsletters and webinars, plus a Tip of the Week email, when you join TheProducersPerspectivePRO today.

Join the club here.

Your visit with us was much too short, Roger.

This past weekend, the theater lost one of its finest actors and finest gentlemen when Roger Rees passed away at the all too early age of 71.

Most people know Roger from his work on Cheers (just the thought of him as the foppish Robin Colcord makes me crack up to this day), but it was the stage where he made his home, winning a Tony for his role in the epic The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, and getting nominations for Shadowlands, Six Degrees of Separation, Indiscretions and as the co-director of Peter and the Starcatcher.

And I knew him from his work on this season’s The Visit.

“Knew him” is a bit of an exaggeration actually.  The truth is I didn’t know him all that well.  That’s why at the meet and greet on the very first day of rehearsal I walked up to him and said, “Hello, Roger, my name is Ken Davenport and I just wanted to . . . ”

“KEN,” He practically screamed, “I’m so happy to meet you!  I can’t believe we haven’t met before,” and he pulled me in for a hug.  Yeah.  Me, hugging Robin Colcord.

We chatted a bit about the show, and he told me how excited he was for it, and how he was so in love with the story . . . and how thankful he was that it was getting its shot on Broadway.  “This is what real theater is about, Ken.  This is what real theater is about,” he repeated.

I saw him from time to time at and around the show.  But that’s it.  No dinners or lunches or texts or anything.

But I tell you, in that brief exchange, I got a glimpse into the heart of Roger Rees.  And what a beautiful place it was.

Roger, you are what real theater is about.  You are.

And you’ll be missed.

 

(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

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FUN STUFF:

– Need help Getting Your Show Off the Ground? Sign up for my online seminar TOMORROW!  Just ONE participant spot left, click here to sign up.  And click here to purchase an audit spot.

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50 Years of Pulitzer Prize for Drama Winners: A By The Numbers Infographic

My staff and I got into a conversation at our last Fun Food Friday (every so often, we order pizza on Fridays and shoot the sausage and peppers) all about the Pulitzer.

What kind of shows win the Pulitzer?  Did shows have to play on Broadway to win the Prize?  Who wrote them?  Is there a trend that we could discover that could help all those writers out there that want the coveted award?

And when there are this many questions, that can only mean one thing!

INFOGRAPHIC!!!

We googled like crazy and crunched up the data and out came the infographic below all about the most coveted prize in Drama.

And now I’m going to shut up and let the infographic speak for itself.

Enjoy everything you ever wanted to know about the last 50 Years of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama!

 

50 Years of Pulitzer Winners (6)

 

(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

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FUN STUFF:

– Need help Getting Your Show Off the Ground? Sign up for my online seminar on 7/15! Click here to purchase a participant spot. Click here to purchase an audit spot.

– Win 2 tickets to see Amazing Grace on Broadway!  Click here.

– Sign up for our annual Collaborator Speed Date!  Click here.

Why I’m producing Deaf West’s Spring Awakening on Broadway. (Updated 2018).

You know me . . . I’m an analysis guy.

Before I make a decision, I do research, study charts, and conduct focus groups.  Heck, I even dial test.

And despite my innate desire for copious amounts of due diligence before I make any decision (it took me eight years to decide I wanted to marry the most perfect girl on the planet), it took me about seven seconds after the curtain went up on the Deaf West production of Spring Awakening before I decided I wanted to bring it to Broadway.

But wait . . . let me start at the beginning (I’m already getting too excited).

Like most theatergoers out there, I was a big fan of the original production, seeing it about a dozen times.  It became that show . . . you know, the one I told friends they had to see when they visited from out of town (and I was happy to volunteer to go with them).  It was never what they were expecting (especially my conservative high school buddy from Oklahoma), and it always, always blew them away.  “I didn’t know Broadway could do that,” was what I heard the most.

And I always felt like the show left us a bit too soon for a Tony Award-winning Best Musical, having closed in January, 2009 (can you say “financial crisis”?).

That’s why I was so excited when my good friend, and now Co-Producer, Cody Lassen, told me he was helping Deaf West, the innovative West Coast theater company, move their recent production of the show from a 99 seat space to the bigger Wallis Annenberg Center in Beverly Hills, in the hopes of some kind of bigger, commercial life.

See, also like most theatergoers out there, I was a big fan of Deaf West, having seen their ground breaking Big River, and also their Pippin.  As you probably know, Deaf West specializes in a unique brand of theater that fuses hearing and hard of hearing artists in productions that are sung, spoken, signed and captioned in the most creative ways.  And thanks to the mission established by founder Ed Waterstreet, and under the tenacious leadership of David “DJ” Kurs, Deaf West doesn’t just produce great deaf theater.  They produce great theater.  Period.

And now they were doing Spring Awakening.

So Cody set me up with a ticket to the LA production, and just three weeks ago, I settled in my (very comfortable) Wallis Center seat and prepared myself for one of my favorite shows.

The lights went down . . . and I heard those opening aching Duncan Sheik strains of “Mama Who Bore Me” as the character of Wendla stepped forward to sing.

And then she didn’t.

Instead, she signed those heartbreaking Steven Sater lyrics, as another actress sang them from the darkness, like we were hearing the private and deep desires of a young woman that no one else could hear.

It was chilling.

And in those seven seconds I realized that there was no other show that better served Deaf West’s unique form of expression than Spring Awakening. 

See, I’ve always thought that Spring was about a group of kids who no one would listen to . . . as is if they had no voice.  No matter what they said, or did, they just weren’t heard.  By anyone.

Now . . . for a moment, imagine that story told through song and sign . . . by a cast that includes deaf and hard of hearing performers.

For the the next two hours and fifteen minutes,  I was taken on this wonderful journey, re-experiencing a show that I thought I knew so well.  It was like reading a book that I had read several times before, but this time . . . it had larger print.  The themes were richer.  The subtleties more apparent.  And I was able to experience it in a way that I had never imagined, thanks to the nuanced hand of actor-soon-to-be-sought-after-director Michael Arden (yeah, that Michael Arden, who you’ve had a talent crush on ever since his Bare days).  And if Michael’s work wasn’t enough, there was Spencer Liff’s choreography, which seemed to be a language of its own, communicating so much, with so little.

So I’m moving it to Broadway, as last week’s leaks indicated (you try to produce a Broadway show these days without someone finding out about it!), for a limited run of 18 weeks only.  Yeah, that’s right, I’m doing something that hasn’t been done since the Angela Lansbury Gypsy in the 70s.  I’m producing a limited run commercial revival of a musical.

And no, this isn’t your usual “18 weeks only until I extend it for 12 more weeks” language.  I mean 18 weeks only.  No marketing B.S.  There is a show that’s coming into the Brooks Atkinson right on our heels.  Let the countdown begin.

Honestly, it’s super economically challenging, as you can probably imagine.  But you know me, I love a challenge.  And I owe everyone involved, from the advertisers to the production managers to the theater owners and agents and lawyers and so on, for saying, “We’re in.  We’re going to figure out how to do this.  Because this has to happen.”

Previews start nine weeks from tonight on September 8th.  We open on September 27th.  And we close on January 9th.

Come see it.  You’ll never have seen anything like it.

And after, I guarantee you’ll be the one saying, “I didn’t know Broadway could do that.”

Get tickets here.

And to watch a video of the LA production and to hear Deaf West Artistic Director DJ Kurs talk about the production click here.

 

(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

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Did you enjoy this post? Then head on over to my one on one podcasts with Michael Arden and Spencer Liff to hear about their experiences working on Spring Awakening, and more!

Get more knowledge about the industry, monthly newsletters and webinars—like Producing 101, plus a Tip of the Week email, when you join TheProducersPerspectivePRO today.

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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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