Broadway Grosses w/e 8/17/2019: Heat Gotcha Down

The following are the Broadway grosses for the week ending August 11, 2019. The Broadway grosses are courtesy of The Broadway League.

Why I’m producing Harmony by Bruce Sussman and Barry Manilow.

If this is the first you’re hearing about this musical coming to New York, then you gotta follow me here . . . because that’s where I announce a lot of the fun stuff.

But let me recap . . .

On Friday night, at about 9:15, Barry Manilow announced from the stage of his Broadway residency that Harmony, the musical he co-wrote with Bruce Sussman, would make its New York debut at the famed NYTF (the same theater that birthed the current and magnificent Fiddler revival) in February of 2020.

And I’m thrilled to be the Commercial Producer partnering with the NYTF to make this happen.

Barry teased this in Vegas a few months ago (which we also caught on video here), but I’m so excited that it’s finally public . . . and you can even get tickets for it now.

So what got me “singing” Harmony?  I’ll tell you, as I always do when I sign on to a show . . .

First, if you saw Gettin’ The Band Back Together, then you know I’m a big Barry Manilow fan, and always have been.  (Someday I’ll tell you the story of how Gettin’ The Band led me to Harmony, which is one for the books, and one of the greatest lessons of my life.)

Second, I am a fan of all-guy harmony groups.  Having been a performer in the musical Forever Plaid 4x and having seen the success of my own Altar Boyz, as well as Jersey Boys (and the boy-band/harmony genre in general), I’ve always known that audiences have a thing for seeing groups of guys sing and dance in groups.  (In fact, we now manage this killer group that knocks ’em dead all over the country.)

Third, the score to this sucker is outstanding.  But it’s Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman . . . are you surprised?  They write the songs.  Literally.  So when you come to Harmony, one of the things I will guarantee are some effin’ melodies and rich lyrics that will crawl into your ear and never come out (like that thing in Wrath of Khan, for you Trekkies out there).

Lastly, I signed on to this show because of the story.  That’s the most important thing in musicals, even if the music gets all the attention.  Without a roller coaster ride of a well-told story (as we talked about on Friday), you can forget me (and most audiences) ever getting involved.

Harmony is about a little known group called The Comedian Harmonists . . . one of the most successful musical groups in Europe in the years leading up to World War II.  Why is so little known about them?  Well, they were from Germany.  And the group was half Jewish and half Gentile.  And most every permanent “record” of their existence was destroyed.  Purposefully.

It’s a musical that tells the story of the rise of a guy group from a street corner to big stages all over the world, performing their big ol’ comedic production numbers with a sound you’ve gotta hear to believe – only to be broken apart in one of the most horrific times in the world’s history.

It had me laughing, singing along, and yeah, shedding more than a few tears . . . just after reading it.

And honestly?  It’s a story and a time and a place and a people that a guy with the last name of Davenport isn’t as familiar with as he should be.  But I want to be.  So once again, I’m producing something that I don’t know, on purpose.

And I’m thrilled to be partnering with the NYTF to bring this important and entertaining musical to downtown Manhattan . . . where you can see The Statue of Liberty from just outside the theater.

Barry, Bruce, and I hope to see you there.

Get tix now.

Why National Roller Coaster Day is Important to Broadway Producers, Writers, and all Theater Makers.

Today is National Roller Coaster Day.  (See, Community Theaters?  I told you that pretty much anything can have a day – especially a great institution like yours.)

I wasn’t always a Roller Coaster Fan.  When I was 9, I was scared @#$%-less of Space Mountain and wouldn’t go on it.  I sat at the bottom, waiting for my Dad and my cousin to come out of the darkness. (Deep down, I was worried that they might never make it out, I guess.)

When they did step out of their coaster car, their hair was literally blown back, their clothes were disheveled, and they had a smile on their face like they had eaten rainbows for breakfast.

“What a thrill,” my cousin yelped.  And my 52-year-old Dad babbled like a 2-year-old, he was so excited.

And shouldn’t theater do that as well?

If you’re creating a piece of theater, you’d be better off imaginign your show like a roller coaster.  It needs ups, downs, thrills, laughs, gasps, fear . . . oh, and it shouldn’t be too long.  🙂

And it should leave the audience saying the same thing that my cousin said . . .

“I want to go on again!”

And guess what . . . because of her excitement, this time, I went.

And I’ve been a thrill-ride enthusiast in theme parks (and on stages), ever since.

Want to learn how Tony Award-winning writers write their own rollercoasters?  Click here.

How a TV Ad Got Me to Buy This, but I Still Won’t Buy TV Ads

I bought a car last week.

(Makes no sense having a car in the city, I know, I know, but you have a kid and a dream about driving her to a water park and see how quickly you’re visiting

And with a car comes . . . insurance.

Ahhh, insurance, an industry that spends more on advertising than most.

So this is the story of how advertising got me to buy a specific brand of car insurance.  (Side note:  One of the best ways I learn how to be a better marketer is to take a moment before I make a purchase and ask myself, “How did marketing get me to the cash register?”)

When I knew I was getting a car, I set out to get three insurance quotes to compare.  Now, guess which insurance companies I choose for those quotes?

Go on, guess.  Seriously.

Would you be surprised to hear that I got quotes from:

  1. Geico
  2. Progressive
  3. Allstate

You got at least two out of three, didn’t you? And probably the top two.


Because Geico and Progressive not only advertise all the time on Television, but they also have the most unique ads in the insurance space.  (Flo, the Progressive lady, and in Geico’s case, just plain lunacy.)

So bam . . . for a guy who doesn’t watch that much TV, I narrowed my choice down to the two companies that advertised the most and in the most clever way.  (Allstate is right up there as well – and I had used them in a previous life.)

What does this say about marketing?

TV advertising DOES still work.  Commercials seep into your brain over time, and when you’re ready to make a purchase, that product can be top of mind . . . whether you realize it or not.

So you’d think this Jekyll & Hyde-like self-experiment would have me buying TV ads for my Broadway shows, right?


Actually, the opposite.

After several years of buying TV ads for my shows, I can tell you right here and now, I won’t do it . . . ever again.

Why not?  Especially when it worked on me for car insurance?

That’s the point.

Geico has been making me laugh for years.  And so has Progressive Flo (Side note: Comedy converts).

Key word?  Years.

Years are what big awareness campaigns like TV advertising need to make the number of impressions a company needs to make a sale.  The consumer has to see that soft-sell ad so many times for a product of top of mind.  And because the profit margins of insurance companies (and other big brands) are higher than ours, and because their products can be purchased and used anywhere, as opposed to Broadway, which is consumed in one place, these companies can afford to keep advertising and just wait, wait, wait, until you need them.

In my case, it took years.

But they got me in the end.  And now, I’ll be a customer for years.  Not just for one night out.

New Broadway shows aren’t insurance companies.  They are startups.  They are brand new to the market.  They don’t have years to wait for a consumer to need them.  And, no one ever needs a show like they need insurance, food, etc.  We’re optional.

Awareness bombs like TV are wasted on new products of any kind, but especially niche ones like Broadway shows.  What we need is a targeted approach to getting the right people to see a show and fast.

Now look, I love the medium of telling your story through video to capture a sale . . . but traditional TV advertising is way too expensive to justify for 90% of Broadway shows.

So I’m done.

If it were cheaper?  Sure.  If it were more targeted (hello, Programmatic TV buying through the Hulus of the world), sure, sure.

But as an awareness builder?

We don’t have time or money for those kinds of campaigns.

For a new show, you’re much better off putting that money into something more trackable and sales-focused (on Once On This Island we skipped traditional TV in the lead up to the first performance and opened with the same advance that we expected to have with TV).


I just realized something.

I wrote a similar blog about print advertising a few years back.

It looks like TV is the next traditional form of media to fall.

Want to hear other Broadway A-list experts chime in on this and more marketing matters?  Click here.

A List I Dreamed About Being On, but Never Thought It Would Happen

One of my missions as a Broadway producer is to make the world understand that Broadway is a business like any other.  It’s not a hobby.  It’s not a game.  It’s not some crazy place where wealthy people throw their money around just to attend an opening night party at Sardi’s.

Sure, parties and perks are great, but Broadway is a business like any other.  Our product just happens to be one of the greatest art forms around . . . the theater.

On the flip side, I’ve tried to introduce tried-and-true business practices into all of my shows because I believe all products are the same, no matter the industry.  And they all respond to the same marketing techniques, sales processes, etc.

That’s why I go to general marketing conferences, attend entrepreneurial masterminds, and . . . read Inc. magazine.

I’ve gotten tons of tips from Inc. mag over the years, from tools on project management to inspiration from the interviews with CEOs.

And every year when they published their “5,000 Fastest Growing Companies in America,” which previously featured companies like Microsoft, Zappos, and GoPro, I imagined, “How cool would it be if a Theater Company was on this list amongst all these tech and retail companies?  And how cool would it be if MY company was that company???”

Well . . . it happened.

I’m so honored to report that Davenport Theatrical Enterprises was just named to this year’s Inc. 5000!  And I’m so proud to represent our industry by being the first Broadway Producer ever on the list!!!


Of course, I couldn’t have grown even a smidgen without the help of my incredible staff, as well as all of the artists and audience members all over the world who have been a part of my shows.  Backstage, onstage, or in those seats.

And a special thanks to Inc. for helping me achieve my dream of putting Broadway right up there with “real” businesses.  It’s huge for me.

See, I’ve always believed the more theater there is in the world, the better off the world is.  All I’ve tried to do over the last 15 years as a Broadway Producer and Theater Maker is put more theater out there, whether through my own shows or by helping other Theater Makers with their shows.  And I’m thrilled that we’ve grown the way we have because that means the theater has grown along with us.

And now I’m thrice as committed to growing even more over the next 15 years.

Thank you, everyone!

Interested in learning more about the business of Broadway and getting some of the tips and tools I’ve taken from the traditional business world for your show?  Click here.