Podcast Episode 29 – John Raymond Barker

 

I’ve been lucky enough to have some pretty influential people from Broadway on this podcast, from Tim Rice to Ben Brantley to Kevin McCollum and a bunch more.

But like any industry, Broadway isn’t run by just the 50 most powerful people.  In fact, sometimes it’s the people without the bold faced names that are even more important to its operation.

Broadway is a community of hundreds and hundreds of employees who all help make its crazy wheel go round, eight times a week.  And of all of the jobs, ushers talk to more of our ticket buyers than anyone (used to be the phone operators, but not now with online buying being what it is!).

So I wanted to talk to one.  I reached out to my friends over at Jujamcyn Theaters and asked for their help in picking one of their experienced vets to help me understand what was happening on the front lines and whether or not things had changed since this blog.

And they introduced me to John Raymond Barker, an actor whose “night job” is ushering at the Hirschfeld Theatre.  Listen in to this podcast to hear John’s first hand knowledge and insight on things like . . .

  • What’s the biggest complaint our audience has about going to the theater?
  • How training for ushers is different than it was ten years ago (at least for some of the theater chains).
  • How can we make Patti LuPone sleep easy at night and improve theater etiquette?
  • How texting is the least of our problems in the theater.
  • The solution to the bathroom debate.

Listen in and learn from one of Broadway’s foot soldiers.  I know I did!

Click above to listen.

Listen to it on iTunes here.  (And give me a rating, while you’re there!)

Download it here.

Click here to read the transcript.

Podcast Episode 28 – Victoria Bailey

 

It’s quite symbolic that the TKTS booth is in the center of Times Square.  Because TDF, the company that runs the booth, is a core part of our industry.

What started out as a simple non-profit that wanted more people to attend the theater who couldn’t afford to attend the theater, is now a vital part of how our business operates.  Without it . . . well, I can’t even talk about it.

Running TKTS would be a full time gig, but TDF and its Executive Director, Tory Bailey, do oh so much more than that.  And you’ll  hear all about it on this podcast.

Listen in as Tory, one of the most powerful people in the biz, thanks to the millions (!) of dollars TDF generates for Broadway and Off Broadway shows, talks about all things TDF and more like:

  • The origins of the TKTS booth and what’s next for “the trailer” (and how did it get that name anyway?).
  • The kind of theater that excites her, and where she thinks shows are headed in the future (and she’s a Tony Nominator, so listen in folks).
  • What happened to Audience Development Directors?
  • Why Commercial Producers like me need non-profit institutions like TDF (and it ain’t about the booth).
  • Where TDF will be in 20 years.

And, of course, lots more from this super smart lady who is responsible for leading one of the most important cultural advocacy institutions anywhere.

Enjoy!

Click above to listen.

Listen to it on iTunes here.  (And give me a rating, while you’re there!)

Download it here.

Click here to read the transcript.

Podcast Episode 27 – Stuart Oken

 

This season put a lot of new hits on the boards, but none of them bigger than An American in Paris, which grossed a whopping $1.4mm last week (and I expect that number will get bigger as we get deeper into the summer), won more awards than any other musical this season, and got a terrific set of reviews.

And this week, I’m lucky to have its Lead Producer, Stuart Oken, as my guest on the podcast!

Stuart is another fantastic example of how everyone’s path to producing on Broadway is unique.  I’ll leave the “tell-all” part to Stuart, but he went from small independent producer to movie producer to corporate theater producer all the way back to big time independent producer.  And he has had success at every stop along the way.

What’s his secret?

It’s all in the podcast.   Listen in to hear Stuart talk about:

  • Why his business plan only includes new musicals.
  • How he set up his development company like a movie studio.
  • His simple secret to raising money for Broadway shows.
  • Why involving your producing partners is one of the most important things a Lead Producer can do.
  • What it was like being the favorite to win the Best Musical Tony Award, and why he thinks Paris didn’t win.

And a heck of a lot more.

One of things that I love about doing these podcasts is that I’m learning so much about individual producing styles, and ways that I can improve what I do.

And I learned a Titanic-sized boat load by listening to Stuart.

You will too.

Enjoy!

Click above to listen.

Listen to it on iTunes here.  (And give me a rating, while you’re there!)

Download it here.

Click here for the transcript.

Next Week’s Guest:  Victoria Bailey, Executive Director of TDF!  Subscribe today so you don’t miss it!

 

Podcast Episode 26 – Ben Brantley

 

I bet you think you know exactly who Ben Brantley is, don’t you?

You’ve read him for years, and in your mind, you’ve come up with some character to go along with his all-important reviews.  You’ve got a voice, a smirk, some sass, a laugh . . . the whole bit.

And I’d also bet that if you met him in person, and chatted with him about the theater, you’d realize you were oh so wrong.

In fact, I bet you’d see that you have a lot in common with the Chief Critic of the New York Times, including a burning passion to talk about the theater, especially when you’ve seen something you love (or something you hate).

That’s why I wanted him on my podcast.  See, I have met him before.  And corresponded with him before.  And my first instinct was, “This is not the guy I thought he was.”

And now, thanks to his willingness to jump on my podcast, you’re going to get a chance to know the guy behind the “Ben.”  In this enlightening podcast with the Chief Critic of the New York Times, you’ll hear . . .

  • His favorite theatergoing experiences during his reign as a critic
  • How often he tears up at the theater
  • Why he has no friends in the theater
  • Why he prefers Off Broadway to Broadway
  • The show he just saw that he loved, and what he’s looking forward to next season

There’s a lot to learn on this podcast, including how to get the attention of a NY Times critic and how best to write a review . . . but the most important thing to learn is that is everyone in this business, including the people you disagree with, got into it in the first place because they love it.

And honestly, I’m not sure anyone loves it more than Ben Brantley.

(And come on, admit it, you agree with him more often than not – I know I do – sometimes even when he cracks on my own shows!)

Enjoy the podcast!

Click above to listen.

Listen to it on iTunes here.  (And give me a rating, while you’re there!)

Download it here.

Click here to read the transcript.

Podcast Episode 25 – Jack Tantleff

 

“What I really need is an agent.”

I’ve heard so many people say this over the years, including myself when I was acting back in the Clinton Era (the Bill Clinton era that is).

For so many actors, directors, and writers, the thought of having someone raise their hand and say, “I like you.  I’ll help you,” is the ultimate affirmation that they are on the right life path.

Of course, as the Gershwins said, “It ain’t necessarily so.”

I decided to sit down with one of Broadway’s big 10 percenters to find out more about agenting in the modern era, and you’re about to hear all the juicy details.

The agent?  None other than super-deal maker Jack Tantleff from the bi-coastal Paradigm Talent Agency.

Jack represents writers, directors, and orchestrators (no actors – that’ll be the subject of another podcast) but also puts shows together from the ground up in the same way that I do (click here for the incredible NY Times article about how he helped package the critically acclaimed if short-lived production of Side Show).

And in this podcast we’ll hear:

  • How his career all comes down to air conditioning.
  • Why didn’t Side Show work?
  • Need an agent?  Here’s what to say in a pitch letter . . . and here’s what NOT to say.
  • Why making deals is more challenging today than twenty years ago.
  • How the upcoming Waitress by Sara Bareilles (who he reps) came together.
  • And more!

Agents get bad reps.  I worked for one back in the day, and quickly decided that life wasn’t for me.  Part of that reason was because I was tired of producers who I admired always thinking I was the enemy.

But as you’ll hear on this podcast, the good agents aren’t the enemy.  The good agents help make shows happen.

And Jack is one of the great ones.

Listen in!

Click above to listen.

Listen to it on iTunes here.  (And give me a rating, while you’re there!)

Download it here.

Click here to read the transcript.

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