RESEARCH ALERT: How many locations are in the average musical anyway?

I’ve read a lot of scripts. It’s one of the best parts of the job. The excitement of swiping past the first page . . . hoping I’m about to find the next Hamilton.

It’s the producer’s version of panning for gold.

Of course, no script comes out as a polished piece. There are always notes . . . whether it’s your first draft of your seventy-first.

And there are THREE notes that I find I give more often than others. And, there are THREE notes I GET more often than others on my own work. That’s right, I’m in the trenches of this theatermaking thing just like you.

One of those three notes I give is . . .

“The script has too many locations.”

(Variations include:  “too cinematic,” “How do we transition from one scene to another so quickly,” etc.)

See, locations affect how a show moves. It affects the cohesiveness of the storytelling. And it affects the budget.

So yeah, it’s important.

I gave this note recently and the writer said, “How many should I have?”

I answered my usual response. 

“There are no hard and fast rules. You have to write the show you want to write, but . . . “

“Well, is there a common number of locations for successful shows,” the Writer interrupted.

And I did not have an answer. Then.

But I do now.

I put our crackerjack research assistant, Andrew, on the case. (You might remember him as the guy who did a TikTok video about wanting to work with me – so we hired him.) Andrew prepared some stats that I found fascinating, so I had to share.

Here’s what we did, and what we discovered:

I asked Andrew to look at some classic musicals from decades past, to see what the trend was back in the day. So we analyzed the scripts of:

  • Oklahoma
  • Kiss Me Kate
  • Guys and Dolls
  • The Music Man
  • West Side Story
  • Hello Dolly
  • Fiddler On The Roof
  • Cabaret

The average # of unique locations in those classics? 10. (Note: location means a “set” not a scene.)

Interesting, right? Immediately gives you a guideline of what has worked before.

But then I wondered. Has this changed since the 40s, 50s, and 60s?  

What is the average # of locations now?

So we analyzed the scripts of the following musicals, which were all written in the last ten years:

  • Memphis
  • Book of Mormon
  • Matilda
  • Kinky Boots
  • A Gentleman’s Guide
  • Hamilton
  • Dear Evan Hansen
  • The Band’s Visit

 

The average # of locations in these musicals? 16.

And there you go.

Over the years, the # of locations in musicals has increased by 60%.  

Why?

Technology is one reason, of course. We can move things faster now. We’ve got projections.  We’ve got automation. And more. So why not have more locations?

But I think it’s also because our audiences demand more. They see more movement in other forms of media. They have shorter attention spans. They want and expect a slicker, smoother entertainment experience.

Either way, I now have an answer to that writer’s question. And you can have a guide to use for your show.

Does this mean this is the required # of locations in musicals? That all shows must adhere to this stat like it’s the law?

Absolutely not.

But before you break something to make it better, you have to know how it works in the first place.
Want to see the other TWO most common notes I give?  (That are more important that the above).  Join our Facebook group. I just posted ‘em in there.

My Job

Someone asked me what I did yesterday.

I was about to launch into my usual long-winded description of a Producer’s tasks.

Then, instead, I blurted out . . .

“I get people in a room.”

Think about it, that’s what Producers do.

We have an idea. We want it to happen. So we put people in a room who can make it so.  We put Writers in a room. We put a Director with that Writer. And Designers. Then we put Actors, and all sorts of other TheaterMakers.

And when it all goes well, they make something extraordinary.

Even when it doesn’t go well, they still make something where there was nothing before. And that alone is extraordinary.

And eventually, we put an Audience in that room too!

And for me, there is nothing more exciting than putting passionate people in a room to see what happens next. Because something awesome always does.

That’s why we started a free Facebook group of TheaterMakers. And in just a few months, it has gone from a few hundred members to over 1,500.

And, get this . . . extraordinary things are happening to the people in that group!

Like . . .

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But I could have told you that was going to happen.  Because whenever you put passionate, positive people together in the same place who all love the same thing (in this case, the theater), the energy, things just happen!

If you’re a TheaterMaker or TheaterFan, join. Meet future collaborators. Get advice from peers on how to create a demo for cheap. Find out the best practices for streaming readings.

But join . . . and watch how it helps you do whatever you want to do in the theater.

I’ll see you in the group.

Join here.

Have you seen what’s happening in here?

Check this out . . .

It has been 140 days since we opened up the TheaterMakers Facebook Group.

And we now have 1,400+ members in this group!

We 10x-ed, baby! Grant Cardone would be so proud!!!

As you can imagine, when you get THAT MANY TheaterMakers in one place, some DRAMATIC stuff happens.

Like this!

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TheaterMakers have been meeting collaborators, talking about marketing strategies, supporting each other’s development opportunities, making friends, and so much more.

In other words, the passionate peeps in this group have been making theater.

Join ‘em.  
It only takes a click.

July 9, 2021: What TheaterMakers Are Talking About This Week

Here’s what TheaterMakers were talking about this week . . .

1 – Actors’ Equity Lifts Mask Restrictions

The light at the end of the tunnel is getting closer! Actors’ Equity announced this week that it will be lifting mask requirements for fully vaccinated companies around the country. New safety standards for Broadway and regional theaters include COVID Safety Officers and ventilation tests. Full details on the current protocols can be found below.

Read more: www.broadwaynews.com 

2 – Remembering Nick Cordero

A year after the loss of actor Nick Cordero, Amanda Kloots released a heartfelt tribute to her late husband. Read her full statement below.

Read more: www.deadline.com

3 – Waitress Returning to Broadway

We’re OPENIN’ UP! Waitress will return to Broadway this September with its composer Sara Bareilles reprising her role as Jenna. The limited engagement will run at the Barrymore Theater until January. Who else are you hoping to see back at the diner?!

Read more: www.playbill.com

4 – Hot Vax Summer at the Delacorte

You know New York is back when the Delacorte is open again! The Public’s ‘Merry Wives’ is officially open for this summer’s Free Shakespeare in the Park with the incredible help from playwright Jocelyn Bioh and the director Saheem Ali. And I don’t know about you, but I cannot wait to get myself back to the Delacorte.

Read more: www.nytimes.org/

5 – Hamilton Actor Publishes Memoir

Straight from the room(s) where it happens! West End’s Giles Terera has just released his new book, ‘Hamilton and Me: an Actor’s Journal’, documenting his journey from auditions to curtains up as London’s Aaron Burr. Read about Terera’s process below and then grab your copy here.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

 

Fun on a Friday:

Watch the first trailer for the new movie Encanto, featuring brand new music from Lin-Manuel Miranda.

 

Watch the video here:

 

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Want to be part of an online community of theatermakers? Join 1.2k+ producers, writers, actors, directors, and more here. Best part? It’s completely free.

June 25, 2021: What TheaterMakers Are Talking About This Week

 

Here’s what TheaterMakers were talking about this week . . .

 

1 – Special Tony Awards

After more than 2 years since the last Tony Awards, we finally have the first of this year’s awards. A major congratulations to all three recipients of this year’s Special Tony Awards – Broadway Advocacy Coalition, David Byrne’s American Utopia, and Freestyle Love Supreme. Read more about each award below.

Read more: www.playbill.com  

 

2 – Kate Horton Takes Over as Music Man Producer

Harold Hill has a new Producer! West End’s Kate Horton will take over the role of Executive Producer for the upcoming Music Man revival starring Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster. Performances are scheduled to begin previews later this year with an official opening in February 2022. Find details about Horton’s previous production credits below. 

Read more: www.playbill.com 

 

3 – Springsteen on Broadway Reverses AstraZeneca Vaccine Policy

International theater fans, this one’s for you. Springsteen on Broadway will now allow audience members who have had the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to attend the show. Find additional precautions and details of what to expect below. 

Read more: www.deadline.com  

 

4 – How States Could Fund Regional Theatre 

In the aftermath of the 1930s there was the Federal Theatre Project. What about now in 2021? American Theatre takes a deep dive into what a state funded theatre could look like, and why it’s important to consider, below.

Read more: www.americantheatre.org/  

 

5 – Stars in the House Raises $1 Million for the Actors Fund

Stars in the House, a daily streamed show hosted by Seth Rudetsky, is celebrating two milestones in one! With live performances starting up again across the country, Stars in the House will celebrate hitting the $1 Million fundraising mark for The Actors Fund with its very first in-person show. Guests include Brian Stokes Mitchell, Kristin Chenoweth, Beth Leavel, Chita Rivera, and more! Find out how to stream the performance below.

Read more: www.playbill.com 

 

Fun on a Friday: 

In honor of Broadway’s official return this weekend (!) let’s throw it back to the official trailer for Springsteen on Broadway. Happy opening, Boss! 

 

Watch the video here:

 

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Want to be part of an online community of theatermakers? Join 1.2k+ producers, writers, actors, directors, and more here. Best part? It’s completely free.

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