What? No “Will It Recoup” this year? Is this a trend?

Hey, don’t blame me.

I wanted to play Will It Recoup.  After all, we’ve done it for three years in a row, and I have just as much fun as you do trying my luck at “Fantasy Broadway”.

If you’re new to the blog and don’t know what Will It Recoup is, here’s the short story.  Every Spring for the past three years I’ve posted a list of the limited run commercial plays opening and asked you to guess which ones you thought would recoup, and the person who got the most right answers would win some sort of a prize.

Well, imagine the shock on my face when I took a good look at the schedule this Spring, only to find . . . a lack of limited run plays to choose from!

We’ve usually had 9 or 10 shows to make the competition interesting, but this year, we ain’t got nothing of the sort.  Seriously, let’s look at the batting order this Spring for plays:

The Road to Mecca – Non Profit
Wit – Non Profit
Venus in Fur – Fall holdover and also Non Profit
Shatner’s World – Not sure what this is exactly, but it’s only running for a few weeks so I couldn’t count it anyway.
Death of a Salesman – There’s one!
The Best Man – There’s two!
Magic/Bird – Open-Ended
Peter and the Starcatcher – Open-Ended
One Man, Two Guvnors –  Open-Ended
A Streetcar Named Desire – There’s three!
The Columnist – Non Profit
Don’t Dress for Dinner – Non Profit

Three.  Just three.

What does this mean?  Is this a trend?

Are the Non Profits picking up the bulk of the Play Producing duties these days (especially for revivals)?  Are Producers getting riskier with more open-ended attempts (there are three on this list alone, and none of them have super star power going for them)?  Is this a fluke?

Whatever it is, it sure is putting a damper on our Will It Recoup fun this Spring.  Big ol’ 🙁  But since this is the first time we’ve seen anything like this in 4 years, it is something to watch, although I’d say it’s too early to call it a bona fide trend.

If you’re disappointed about Will It Recoup ,don’t worry.  I’ll try and think of something else we can speculate on.

Hey – how about we take a survey on who is most likely to be the Tony host this year?  Hugh Jackman?  Darren Criss?  Nick Jonas?  NPH?  Debra Messing?


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Last chance for you to see Chinglish.

, the very funny and very timely play by David Henry Hwang that I produced on Broadway this Fall, is closing up shop this Sunday, January 29th.  And yep, it’s closing earlier than we had all hoped.

And you should go see it before it does.

Why?  Because it’s a very good play (Time Magazine named it the Best American Play of the Year.)

But also because it is that very rare thing . . .  a new American play . . . and my co-producers and I tried hard to buck a trend and put it up without stars.  (Although I guarantee you’ll leave the Longacre saying that Jennifer Lim deserves her own constellation after seeing the performance.)

Unfortunately, in this Fall’s star-packed season, that may be one of the reasons we couldn’t quite attract enough of an audience to make it to the Spring.

But we tried.

And that’s something that I’m very proud of, and thankful to all my investors for, and I know they are proud of too.

Because we produced a great play, and we did it the way we wanted to.  And no matter how disappointing our abbreviated run may be . . . I’ll always be able to sleep at night knowing that.

See Chinglish before it closes on January 29th.  Get tickets here.


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Our final reading of 2011 – and you are invited.

As I announced back in September, our final reading of the year has international ancestry.  Martha, Marina, was written by Ana-Maria Bamberger of Bucharest and has quite a life overseas, where it has been running for 7 (!) years in and around Romania.

And now, it’s going to make its US debut in our studio as part of our reading series, where it will be directed by Dev Bondarin.

We’ll read it next Monday, Dec. 12th at 8 PM in our brand new studio.

What is it about?

Mistakes often tend to be repeated by the next generation – and breaking the pattern is a tough game to play. Grumpy old Martha gives it a try, employing rather unorthodox methods in her quest to prevent her daughter Marina’s life from going down the same hill. A resonant and uplifting comedy about the mother and the daughter we all are – or have.

Want to come?

Click here to RSVP.

Our new studio is a bit bigger, so we can get a few more folks in, but RSVP ASAP because we expect a lot of interest in Martha, Marina.

See you next Monday!


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Our 4th and Final Reading of 2011 is . . .

We’re going international, y’all!

On December 12th at 8 PM, we’ll have our final reading of the year and this time, we’ve gone overseas to get our subject.

Martha, Marina comes to us all the way from Romania, and was written by Bucharest native, Ana-Maria Bamberger.  Before her career as a playwright, Ana-Maria was a physician, but eight years ago she put down the stethoscope and picked up a pen keyboard.

Full disclosure – Martha, Martha has had a life before our reading in Romania, and a fairly successful one at that.  And after Ana-Maria picked up that keyboard, she picked up a few awards as well, and has gone on to quite a career as a playwright.

So why did we choose it for our developmental reading?

1 – I’m a big believer in building theatrical bridges/tunnels/skywalks from NYC to the rest of the world, and

2 – I thought it would be an interesting test to see how a play that has had success in another country and in another language would translate to NYCese.

And, I happen to know that while Ana-Maria loves having her work done in European theaters . . . there’s one place she’d really like to make it . . . and it ain’t London.

Save the date!  Davenport Reading Series goes global.

Monday, December 12th at 8 PM.  Invite will be blogged a week before.


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The longest running plays don’t get revived.

We often talk about the longest runnings show in Broadway history . . . Phantom, Cats, Les Miz, Chicago . . . but rarely do we talk about the longest running plays.


Because you wouldn’t recognize ’em if we did.

Here are 10 longest running plays in Broadway history, along with whether or not it has been revived, and the year the last or original production closed.  Make sense?

Here we go.

  1. Life with Father, No revivals, 1947
  2. Tobacco Road, 3 revivals, 1950
  3. Abbie’s Irish Rose, 3 revivals 1954
  4. Gemini, No revivals, 1981
  5. Deathtrap, No revivals, 1982
  6. Harvey, No revivals, 1949
  7. Born Yesterday, 2 revivals, 2011
  8. Mary, Mary, No revivals, 1964
  9. The Voice of the Little Turtle, No revivals, 1948
  10. Barefoot in the Park, 1 revival, 2006

Interesting, no?  The three longest running plays of all time haven’t been on Broadway in well over fifty years . . . and I don’t see any one of them coming back anytime soon.  The only two revivals that were produced in this century failed.  And the lack of revivals in the rest suggests a trend contrary to what we’re seeing with musicals . . . which is when one works, we’ll revive it sooner rather than later (See La Cage, Ragtime, A Chorus Line, etc.)

What’s the reason?

Is it because it’s harder to blow the dust off these plays, because dialogue can’t be updated as easily as orchestrations and arrangements?  Is it because the play going audience is shrinking, and the musical audience is growing?    Is it because plays need stars to get on these days and no stars want to do these plays?

It would seem to me that this would be the list Producers would run to to look for revivals . . . yet these titles aren’t being touched.

Plays are different animals than musicals, and what makes a title in one genre successful doesn’t run parallel with what makes a title in the other genre successful.

That would be too easy.

When looking for a successful play, revival or not, it’s imperative that it resonate with the drama of the day . . . otherwise you’ll be on the 10 shortest running show list.


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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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