Podcast Episode 13 – Tom Kirdahy

 

What I love about Broadway is that there is no one path to becoming a Producer.  Everyone who gets their name above the title comes at it from their own unique angle.  We’ve got Press Agents that have become Producers, Booking Agents, Actors, and me, I took the General Management route.  And then there are the Marketers from other Industries, the Television Executives, and more.

But IMHO, no one’s path is more unique and more interesting that my guest on today’s podcast, Tom Kirdahy.  Tom started his career as a lawyer.  But he wasn’t your typical lawyer.  He was a fierce advocate for those living with HIV/AIDS in the late 80s, putting his Broadway dreams on hold so he could help fight for the rights of those who were too ill to fight for themselves.  The Normal Heart?  Yeah, Tom lived it.

And now, while still super active in that space (news flash – the AIDS crisis ain’t over), Tom has been able to get back to his first love, and has been the Lead Producer on three shows in the last twelve months:  Mothers and Sons, and this season’s It’s Only A Play and The Visit.

I’ll let Tom describe his path in his own words, as well as . . .

  • Why being a Producer means taking advantage of an opportunity when it presents itself.
  • How to work with stars and how not to work with stars.
  • Whether or not he goes into the chat rooms during previews for a new show.
  • How being a lawyer helped him be a Producer.

With each podcast I do, I’ve noticed a theme always emerges . . . and Tom’s is no different.  And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from Tom from doing this podcast, and from working with him over the past year, it’s the importance of being a fierce, claws-out advocate for the artists on your shows.

Don’t understand what I mean?  Listen in.  And pay special attention to his “closing argument” about The Visit.  It’s how all Producers need to present their shows to investors and audience members.

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 12 – Wendy Orshan

 

You know what I love about our industry?  Of the eight or so Broadway General Managers that GM 99% of all Broadway shows, at least half of them are women.  That’s right, the top of our business food chain isn’t an old boys’ club at all.  And that’s awesome.

I was lucky enough to get Nina Lannan to share her secrets of managing a Broadway show back on episode #3, and this week, you are lucky enough to get to listen to the smart and supportive comments of another one of our Broadway superpowers, Wendy Orshan, of 101 Productions.

Along with her partner at 101 Productions, Jeff Wilson (who was the 1st Company Manager I ever met, back in 1993 when I was the PA/Kid-who-got-Richard-Chamberlain-his-fresh-roasted-turkey-sandwiches on the revival of My Fair Lady), Wendy has GMed a truckload of shows from Spamalot to The Elephant Man to The Addams Family to The Bridges of Madison County and so many more it’s crazy.

And what’s so awesome about Wendy is that despite that mile long resume, she’s gotta be the most humble person in the industry.  And that’s why people love working with her.  So much experience, so much expertise, yet so welcoming to everyone.

That’s also why a lot of first time Producers sign on with 101.  She takes them under her wing, teaching and protecting, until they can fly off on their own.

And that’s why she made such an awesome guest on my podcast.  Tune in to listen to Wendy talk about:

  • Her definition of the Broadway show hierarchy or wheel-archy, and where a General Manager fits.
  • Why sometimes working within the box is as important as thinking outside the box.
  • The skills you need to produce and manage today that you didn’t need yesterday.
  • Whether or not she would ever produce and why or why not.
  • Her opinion on whether stars matter . . . or not.

There aren’t any masters programs out there in Broadway General Management.  But if there were, Wendy would be the professor.  Do yourself a favor and listen in.

Click the link above to listen.

Click here to listen on iTunes (and give me a rating while you’re there!).

Click here to read the transcript.

Download it here.

Podcast Episode 11 – Richard LaGravenese

 

There have been a ton of Broadway musical to movie adaptations over the years . . . from Chicago to Hairspray to Rent to Into the Woods.

But there have been hardly any Off Broadway musical to movie adaptations.

And then all of a sudden, here comes a film version of The Last 5 Years starring A-lister Anna Kendrick and soon-to-be-an A-lister, Jeremy Jordan.

How did this movie happen?

Two words.

Richard LaGravenese.

Richard is an Academy Award nominated screenwriter behind a few little known movies like, oh, The Bridges of Madison CountyThe Fisher King, Unbroken and a whole bunch more.

So what drew him to The Last 5 Years?  And what does he think about our industry?

Listen to his podcast to hear:

  • The difference between writing plays and writing screenplays.
  • Why the business model of Broadway is much more attractive to writers than the business model of Hollywood.
  • Why there are a lot of writer/directors in Hollywood but not so much here.
  • And whether or not he’s got more musicals he wants to make into movies.

As more musicals and plays are made into movies, and as more musicals and plays are streamed online, the bridge between the West and East coast continues to get built.  Thanks to people like Richard.  And hopefully, people like you.

Listen in above.

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 10 – Damian Bazadona

 

It wasn’t too long ago that the most buzzed phrase around the biz was “The future of advertising is online.”  Broadway (and the rest of the world) got swept up in the digital marketing revolution so fast that our head is still spinning.

(I can remember exactly where I was when I first heard about an “AdWord.”  And, just like some of my older peers can talk about the days when Broadway tickets were only a dollar, I can talk about the days when AdWords were only a nickel!)

It has been a whirlwind for sure, and while our industry will always lag behind so many other industries in our adoption of new technology (primarily because our audience is older and doesn’t adopt it as fast as, say, the music audience), one guy has been making sure that we not only stay relevant, but that we’re also pushing into new digital frontiers.

And that guy’s name is Damian Bazadona.

Damian is the founder and man-in-charge of Situation Interactive, arguably Broadway’s first online agency, and he’s my guest on the podcast this week!  And why sure, you should listen to this podcast if you want a lesson in how “tech” can help theater expand its audience (and how it can help your show), but what I love about Damian is that he’s the industry’s top digital mind . . . yet his ideas, his initiatives, his campaigns are so rooted in classic,  ol’ school marketing.  It’s like this . . . Michelangelo and da Vinci were both classic painters.  They just used different brushes.  Damian uses a digital brush to paint some of the coolest marketing campaigns around (including for the Super Bowl).  But he’s a marketer first and foremost.

Listen in to hear . . .

  • What Damian has in common with Al Gore.
  • How he got more Twitter followers for a Broadway musical than a major brand and major celebrities.
  • Where he was and what he did to boost If/Then sales when John Travolta butchered Idina’s name of the Oscars.
  • Why Broadway should give away 15% of its inventory every year to kids who can’t afford it, and why it wouldn’t cost us a penny.

If that last bullet point doesn’t get you listening, then I don’t know what will.

But the other reason you should listen to him is that as you can see by the picture in this blog, Damian is a young gun.  And he loves Broadway.  So we’ll be listening to him for a loooooong time.  Might as well start now.

Enjoy!

Listen to it above.

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

Download it here.

To read the transcript, click here.

Podcast Episode 9 – Jordan Roth

 

You probably think you know what theater owners do.

It’s in their moniker – they just own theaters, right?  So all they do is sit atop their perch and decide what shows to let occupy their landmarked buildings and then have lunch at Sardi’s as the rent rolls in.

Right?

I guess they could do that.  But none of the theater owners I know do.  With great power comes great responsibility.  Theater owners are the curators of Broadway.  They are the protectors of the tradition.  They guarantee all of our futures.

And Jordan Roth, President of Jujamcyn Theaters, takes that responsibility seriously.

If you think you know what theater owners do, then you’ve got to listen to today’s podcast with Jordan, the youngest of the theater owners (or as I refer to him, “the first theater owner with a Facebook page”).  Jordan’s reign will be long, and as evidenced by everything he’s already done, it’s going to be historic.  Listen in to hear . . .

  • Jordan’s “three bucket challenge” if you want a show in one of his theaters (which seems to be working well, since four of the five Jujamcyn theaters host Tony Award winners for Best Musical).
  • How coming out affected his choice of a career.
  • How his first show as a Producer, the interactive The Donkey Show, still stays with him in everything he does.
  • His simple solution for one of Broadway’s greatest challenges – the lines at the bathroom.

It’s always a treat to get an audience with a theater owner, and I’m so thankful that Jordan sat down with me so you can share in that experience.  But as you’ll hear, Jordan cares more about the audience than anything.  And that’s why I know we’re in very good hands.

Listen in . . .

Click the link above.

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

Download it here.

To read the transcript, click here.

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