Broadway’s Top 5 Moments in 2018

I know, it’s 2019 already.  But you all know I like to do things a little bit differently, so while everyone else was publishing away their listicles about their favorite moments on Broadway in 2018 over the last few weeks, I laid in the weeds.

And now you haven’t seen one in a while, so hopefully you’re jonesin’ for another.

Well, here are my Top 5 Broadway Moments of the past 12 months, in no particular order.

  1.  A Super Superstar

The live telecast of JCS couldn’t have been better if JCS had directed it himself.  Perfectly timed for its Easter airing, it pushed the art (and ratings) of the tele-musical to another level, ensuring that we’ll continue to get them for the foreseeable future.  Oh, and even if you didn’t like the telecast, I bet you found yourself saying, “Damn, I forgot how good this musical really is.”  (We lost Craig Zadan, one of the masterminds behind the production, in what was one of the worst moments in 2018. To hear his podcast with producing partner, Neil Meron, click here.)

  1. Yep, they really did that.

The fact that the totally original Broadway Musical The Prom was given a spot on NBC’s Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Day Parade was reason to celebrate all by itself . . . and then the executives let the two love interests kiss.  Spoiler alert: they were both girls, in what was the Parade’s first same-sex kiss.  And this wasn’t during prime time.  This was during FAMILY prime time.  Good for NBC for staring the social media backlash in the face and letting love win.

  1. Look what’s grossing $1mm+?  MANY plays.

The million dollar club used to be reserved for a select few touristy musicals . . .  and every Disney show.  Now, here ‘s a crop of plays demanding top dollar.  The Ferryman (at over 3 hours), Network, Lifespan of a Fact, To Kill A Mockingbird . . . and of course Harry Potter (but that doesn’t really count) . . .  are all grossin’ like musicals.  Perhaps these high flyers will mean that plays will actually start getting more theaters again, after a few years of medium-sized musicals pushing them out of playhouses.

  1. The Band’s Visit Doesn’t Win One Tony . . . It Wins 10.We all knew TBV was going to win the big prize.  But it just kept racking ’em up, award after award after award, proving once again that voters vote their ‘art’ and that there’s no such thing as a road vote.  It’s why this show won too (which also is a fave moment of mine – duh).
  1. It’s still VERY “Popular”.

Sure, sure, there’s a lot of talk about Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen, deservedly so.  But there’s so much chatter about the new kids on the Broadway blocks that we tend to forget that Wicked has been running and raking it in for 15+ years now.  NBC didn’t forget when they gave it a huge publicity push with a 15th anniversary televised concert that reunited Idina and Kristen (only first names needed).  It was a wicked reminder that we’ve got a massive mega-hit in our backyard that could run longer than many of the newbies.  And wait until THAT movie comes out.

What was your favorite moment of 2018?  Share it below!

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Episode 165 – Award Winning Writer, Kirsten Childs

If you get a chance, spend some time with Kirsten Childs.

She’s got the kind of energy and passion for the theater (and for life) that is just contagious, as you’ll hear in this podcast.

Kirsten burst onto the scene with the terrific musical, The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin, and when you listen to this episode you’ll hear how she went from zero to sixty in about 3.8 seconds with her playwriting career, all because of her determination, lack of fear, and that positive attitude of hers.

We also talked about:

  • How she transitioned from a career as an actress to that of a writer.
  • Getting nervous while watching her own work in front of an audience.
  • How are we doing with diversity in the theater . . . and what can we do to improve it, on the stage and off?
  • The most common misstep she sees young writers make.
  • Where she gets her ideas, and why (a lesson for all of us).

Enjoy my conversation with Kirsten, and if you’ve been toying with the idea of writing a play . . . I’d bet she gets you starting to type right when you’ve finished listening.

Click here for my podcast with Kirsten!

Listen to it on iTunes here. (And if you like the podcast, give it a great review while you’re there!)

Download it here.

Where do our big hit ideas come from?

Like stockbrokers, or more specifically, private equity investors, Broadway Producers, Broadway Investors, and even creatives are always looking for the next big hit.

You know, the one that will run for years, win Tony Awards, and give the individual the freedom to do a lot more stuff.

Just like in business, I believe the big hits starts with the idea. There are a lot of other factors that go into hit-making, but if you don’t have a good seed, then it won’t even sprout, no matter how much you water it, fertilize it, etc.

That’s why I decided to dig into where the ideas for our big hits come from. Because if we know where they come from, we can seek more of them out. I call this the, “There’s gold in them their hills,” theory.

So, we looked at the Tony Award-winning best musicals of the last twenty years, as well as our longest running musicals, and googled-our brains out to see who conceived them, who started the snowball rolling down the hill . . . or as I like to say, who served the tennis ball. (Entrepreneurs are always responsible for starting the game.)

I don’t think the results below will surprise you, but I bet they get you serving the tennis ball to specific types of people later on today.

 

In the last twenty years, the ideas for the Tony Award Winning Best Musicals have come from:

Writers:  65%

Producers:  25%

Performers:  5%

Directors: 5%

The ideas for Broadway’s Top 20 Longest Running Shows (all musicals) have come from:

Writers:  52.5%

Producers:  42.5%

Performers:  5%

 

Just for contrast’s sake, we also asked the same question for the plays.

 

In the last twenty years, the ideas for the Tony Award Winning Plays have come from:

Writers:  85%

Producer:  5%

Author of Source Material: 5%

Director:  5%

The ideas for Broadway’s Top 20 Longest Running Plays have come from:

Writers:  95%

Producers:  2.5%

Performers:  2.5%

 

My thoughts?

Well, Producers popped up on this list more than I thought, and I love that Performers sneak in with a big one every once in a while.

But the big takeaway is that no doubt, if you’re looking for a big hit, then after you call your Mother today, make sure you call your favorite writer and say, “Hey, got any ideas for a Broadway show?”

Because statistically, that’s where the long-running, Tony Award-winning shows come from.

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Got an idea for a show? But need some help getting it out there?  Take our 30 Day script challenge, guaranteed to get your idea on paper, so you can do something with it. Because a great idea never executed can never be a Tony Winner, Long Running Show or anything. Click here.

Broadway Grosses w/e 6/10/2018: A Pre-Tonys Pick-Me-Up

The following are the Broadway grosses for the week ending June 10, 2018.
The Broadway grosses are courtesy of The Broadway League
Read more here:

The Top 5 Reasons Why Broadway Grossed Almost $2 billion bucks.

Last week, I wrote about the record-breaking reported Broadway gross of $1.7b (and why I believed it was more like $2b).

And this week, I want to talk about why we’re smashing records like a 1950s preacher who thinks rock-n-roll is the devil.

Broadway has been growing by leaps and bounds over the last few years and, while there are a number of reasons we are where we are, here are my top five.

1. It’s a Family Thing

There are more family musicals on Broadway now than there were decades ago.  This past season we had all the Disneys (including the new Frozen) as well as Anastasia, School of Rock, Charlie, and more.  And when you’ve got a family musical, the average customer’s order is more than 2 tickets.  More tickets = more bodies = more bucks.  And despite the increased number of shows that favor the family, we haven’t seemed to reach an oversaturation point.

2. There is no Top Price anymore

A little over 10 years ago, we introduced the “Premium Ticket,” which was a higher priced ticket for the better seats in the house.  In the past few years, the price of tickets has become fluid, rising (and falling) due to demand, just like an airline ticket.

And one trend that I’ve noticed lately is that most shows aren’t just relying on their General Managers to handle the complex process of analyzing and tweaking prices daily.  Producers are now hiring analysts either inside their ad agencies or independent experts to handle this for them.  Why?  It’s easy to justify the extra expense with the amount of money that could be made with even the slightest tweak up on ticket prices or the slightest tweak down on ticket prices (that moves more volume).

3. He’s The Boss . . . and Events

Certainly one of the biggest gross bumpers in the last season was the surprise long runner, Bruce Springsteen.  While everyone expected him to gross in the millions. . . no one expected him to stay this long!

While some have grumbled that he’s occupying a prime theater when a new musical or a new play could be in his spot, you won’t hear me complaining.  A short-term loss of a theater for the long-term effects of getting new audiences and frankly, just being able to say, “Broadway is so cool, Bruce Springsteen played here,” is worth it.

But The Boss isn’t the only one who has helped spike our numbers over the last few years.  We’ve had a lot of short-term fillers that have popped into theaters in-between bookings and added to our bottom line.  I’m talking shows like The Illusionists and Rocktopia.  Ok, ok, so those shows may not be what we want the world to think of when they think Broadway, but if a theater is dark, something is better than nothing.  (A dark theater is one of the most depressing things there is.)

4. The Hamilton Effect

Hamilton got a @#$% ton of press.  And still does!  A reporter at a local news org told me that her editors instructed her to write about Hamilton every chance she got because the views on each article were off the charts
.
Hamilton was a lightning rod to our industry.  People were talking about it all over the world.  And when shows hit juggernaut status and are featured on The Grammys and on the cover of Rolling Stone, etc., that doesn’t just sell more tickets to Hamilton… it sells more tickets to Broadway.  It’s the trickle-down effect, and all of us are benefiting.

So if you see Lin-Manuel, say thanks.

5. We’re creating great content

The most important reason we’re killing it these days is the most simple and also the best way to build any business . . . we’re creating great product. Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, Come From Away . . . we haven’t put this many big-grossers on our boards since 1957-58, when West Side Story, My Fair Lady, and Music Man were all on the boards, or since Les Mis and Phantom opened a year apart.

Don’t let any fast-talking marketing guru sell you on billboards, direct mail, or remarketing as the secret to selling tickets. It is much simpler.  The best marketing in the world is creating a great product.

Yes, we’ve gotten a lot of attention over the past few years thanks to Hamilton, The Obamas attending Broadway shows, Glee, Smash, Live Telecasts, and more . . . but that attention wouldn’t convert to sales unless we were creating shows that people wanted to see.We’re rising to the challenge, and that’s something we should be proud of.

Want more of my analysis of our business?  I write five exclusive articles a month on marketing, our grosses, and more, solely for my Pros.  Click here for more.

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