What this Tracy Chapman song has to do with your show.

I wrote a letter to singer/songwriter Tracy Chapman in the mid-90s.  It was on early in my career and I was looking for popular artists who might have an idea for a musical.  And her 1988 hit, “Fast Car”, told me two things . . .

1 – She had a gift for melody.

2 – She wrote story songs.

Broadway wasn’t cool then, so my inquiry hit a wall (also known as a manager who couldn’t see that one day Elton John, Billy Joel, Paul Simon, Sara Bareilles, Sting, and more would have shows on Broadway).

Tracy had another hit song, that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, as I’m crotch deep in the development of six new musicals.  The song?  “Talkin’ About A Revolution.”

Why?

The biggest hit that Broadway has ever seen and may ever see is about a revolution:  The American Revolution (If you don’t know the show I’m talking about, then you should get out more . . . or just read this blog more.)

One of the other biggest hits that Broadway and the world has ever seen is also about a revolution:  The French Revolution.

And there’s another musical that’s coming back to Broadway in 2021 (in a very buzzy all-female version directed by Diane Paulus) that’s also set in Revolutionary times.

What makes revolutions such good settings for shows?

Revolutions are started by groups of the super passionate people who are willing to put their lives on the line (literally) to achieve their goal of rewriting history.

Can the stakes be any higher?

Like medical dramas or legal eagle shows on TV, revolutions just make a writer’s job a little easier, since the setting already has the baked-in requirements of a successful musical (passionate heroes and high stakes).

Am I suggesting you find an actual revolution to write about or produce?

No.  (Although it wouldn’t hurt – I still think there’s a good Civil War story to be told on a stage.)

What I am suggesting is that you find the revolution IN your story.

Doesn’t Billy Elliot start a revolution inside his household and in his town when he wants to dance?

Belle’s relationship with the Beast has the townspeople picking up arms against her new furry friend.

West Side Story, The Lion King, Little Shop of Horrors, Beautiful, etc, etc. all have revolutionary characteristics if you look closely enough.

And the shows that I’m working on . . . Joy (a single mom who starts a revolution when she fights to get herself on QVC to sell her own invention, after it failed with someone else, and changes the face of retail for herself and for women worldwide), Harry Belafonte (a singer who used his popularity to work with MLK, JFK, RFK, Eleanor Roosevelt, Malcolm X, Mandela, and more and fight for equality in this country and the world), Ma Vie En Rose (an 8-year-old child born a boy, who is a girl, and fights against his family and community who deny who he really is), and Harmony (about a singing group fighting starting a revolution against a revolution), etc.

When you are looking for shows to adapt for the stage, find a revolution, and your job will be that much easier.

Oh, and Tracy, if you’re reading this, the offer still stands.  You’ve got a musical in you.  I know it.

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If you want to hear what several Tony Award-winning writers look for when they adapt stories for the stage, click here.

 

Broadway Grosses w/e 8/25/2019: The Ups and Downs of Summer

The following are the Broadway grosses for the week ending August 25, 2019. The Broadway grosses are courtesy of The Broadway League.

It was all a Rave.

And just like that . . . we’ve wrapped up our first year of Rave.

Our brand new theater festival had its last performance of its inaugural year last night.

And I couldn’t be happier with how the whole thing went.

Let me do what I love to do, and give you some numbers:

  • 19 productions and 3 readings were produced for a total of 101 performances of brand-spankin’ new theater.
  • Over 4,500 audience members attended performances by these emerging TheaterMakers.  4,500!!!
  • Over 200 Artists helped make these shows happen, both on stage, off stage, in the wings, in the booths, and a bunch behind a desk.
  • There were thousands of social media mentions and reviews, resulting in hundreds of thousands of impressions for those Artists.
  • And there was one, very proud founder/Broadway Producer/Blogger.

I had the easy job for this festival.  Seven months ago I had an idea.  And I posed it to my staff, who looked at me a little bug-eyed and then said, “We’re in.”

See, like me, they believe the world is a better place if there’s more theater in it.  So when I said that we should make a festival happen as part of our 5000By2025 mission, to work they went in order to make this festival happen.

And there’s no way it would have happened without them.

Special thanks to Valerie Novakoff, Britt Lafield, Monica Hammond, Mary Dina, Erica Fallon, Emily McGill, Jenna Lazar, Parrish Salyers, and Kellie Williams for their passion and for taking my idea and executing it with excellence to the Nth degree

And to the Producers, Writers, Actors, Designers, Musicians, and all the Artprerenuers who made their shows happen . . . this thing was nothing . . . absolutely nothing . . . without you.

Your passion is inspiring.

So inspiring, in fact, that you’ve inspired us to do this again.

Yep, Rave will return next summer.   Rave 2.0 in 2020.  🙂

So sign up here to be the first to know when we’re taking submissions and when the tickets for the next set of shows-to-be will go on sale.

Because if this season proved anything, it’s that there are a whole group of TheaterMakers out there who you may not know today . . . but you will tomorrow.


UPDATE ALERT!  We’ve just announced the winners of our Outstanding Musical, Outstanding Play, and many others:

Outstanding Production

Noirtown by Michael Bontatibus

Outstanding Musical

Just Laugh, with a book and lyrics by Lauren Gundrum and Brandon Lambert, the latter also contributing music.

Outstanding Play

Fancy Maids by Harold Hodge Jr.

Outstanding Performances

PJ Adzima in The Tycoons!
Madeline Grey DeFreece in Fancy Maids
Kayland Jordan in Fancy Maids
Julia Knitel in The Tycoons!
Terra Mackintosh in Back
Amy Penston in Big Shot
Arturo Luis Soria in Ni Mi Madre
Donna Vivino in Waiting For Johnny Depp

Outstanding Ensemble

The Perfect Fit

Outstanding Original Score

Mhairi Cameron, Oceanborn

Outstanding Book of a Musical

Joshua Turchin, The Perfect Fit

Outstanding Direction

Max Friedman, The Tycoons!

Outstanding Choreography

Sally Dashwood, Girls On Tap

Outstanding Design

Back with sound design by Andrew Fox, scenic design by Tim McMath, and lighting design by Greg Solomon

Outstanding Marketing

Oceanborn


Are you a Producer, Writer or other TheaterMaker?  Got a show?  Make it a goal of yours to submit your show for next year’s Rave!  Click here and sign up to know when we’re taking submissions.

Don’t have a show yet?  Start working on one today!  One of the biggest hits of the festival was written AFTER we announced the festival.  12-year-old Joshua Turchin wrote his show just to submit it.  And then this happened.  It can happen to you too.  Click here.

 

Here’s something to take to the beach . . . and a lesson too.

I got an email from a reader recently saying, “Ken!  Where’s your podcast?!?!?  What happened?”

In case you’ve been wondering the same, fear not, dear podcast-listeners, we’re just on a summer hiatus, and we’ll be back with a brand new season in only a few weeks.  (If you want to be the first to know when the season begins, sign up here!)

When I told this to the panicked emailer, she wasn’t having it.  “But I need a theater-biz-fix now!”

So, I decided to do some data digging for her and give her the list of the Top 10 Most Listened To podcasts, in case she missed a few along the way.  And, since I decided to share the list with her, I thought I’d share it with you as well . . . in case you wanted something to listen to and learn from while you’re at the beach this weekend, or on the treadmill.

The list is below . . . and honestly, I was shocked to see the composition of it . . . and it taught us a few things about the podcast, and what you all like listening to.  And there’s no doubt there’s stuff we can learn from looking at this list to make sure we’re delivering the stuff you want in our upcoming seasons.

See, too often marketers and business owners only look at what isn’t working and try and fix whatever that thing is.  Do you know what is a better strategy?

Take a look at what is working and do more of that.

So in our upcoming season of Podcasts, and with everything that we do, we will.

In the meantime, on this last few weekends of summer – enjoy these 10 Most Popular Producers Perspective Podcasts!

See any trends?  Let me know what you see in the comments below.

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Want to hear more wisdom from Broadway A-listers but live and in person?  Join 500 other TheaterMakers and fans at our SuperConference.  Click here for more info.

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.

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