Podcast Episode #243: “As Seen On TV” Commercials

ESTIMATED LISTENING TIME OF THIS EPISODE:  5 Minutes

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ABOUT THIS EPISODE:

Remember infomercials? Late night shopping, ‘as seen on TV’ commercials? I discovered what worked with those commercials and how the most successful plays/musicals used a very similar technique.

AFTER YOU LISTEN:

  • FOLLOW The Producer’s Perspective on Apple Podcast (it’s FREE!)
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My mission is to get more people talking about the theater.  The more people talking about it, the more people who want to make it, perform it, support it, etc.  And that’s how theater not only survives, but thrives.

The biggest compliment you can give me is by sharing this podcast.

I thank you and the theater thanks you!

RECENT EPISODES:

An Off Broadway Model Comes To Broadway (It’s About Time)

I arrived in New York City during the Golden Age of Off-Broadway. Forever Plaid, Nunsense, And The World Goes Round, Cryptogram, Family Secrets, and more, were a few of the shows running in theaters under 499 seats . . . in commercial productions! And many actually recouped!  

When I started creating and producing commercial theater, I started Off-Broadway. I wasn’t ready to raise $10mm for Broadway shows (which is what they were then . . . compared to the $15-20mm they are now). I wanted to be a Lead Producer and didn’t have the decision-making experience yet. And, well, the ideas I had come up with were Off-Broadway ideas (my first three shows were The Awesome 80s Prom, Altar Boyz and My First Time).

So that’s where I started. 

No one told me that in the fifteen years since I arrived in NYC, the Off-Broadway model changed. And trying to run and recoup an Off-Broadway show was . . . ahem . . . challenging.  (And is even more so now.)

In other words, Commercial Off-Broadway was in a crisis.

So, I pivoted. And so did everyone else in the community. (This is when the Off Broadway Alliance was born . . . and I’m proud to say I was at that very first meeting!)

We asked ourselves . . . what were the out-of-the-black-box ideas that could help restore commercial Off-Broadway to what it was before and beyond?

One of the ideas that was born in this era was the idea of two, three or more shows, sharing a theater. We termed it “bunk-bedding”. It required simple sets, similar lighting plots and a whole lot of cooperation between companies (especially when the Producers were NOT the same people) . . .but it worked. My First Time ran at least an extra year because it was a “top bunk.”

It reduced costs, of course, but also reduced the # of performances in a week that each show could perform. And that was an advantage! Since there wasn’t demand for 8 shows for 99% of commercial Off-Broadway shows, bunk-bedding filled up fewer performances, increasing ticket scarcity. Almost the same # of tickets were sold for fewer shows as opposed to 8. And those fewer shows were filled, creating a much better experience for the audience. 

Need a case study? Of the three productions mentioned above that started my career? The ones with less than 8 performances did better financially. 

Flash forward, and Broadway (and the theater industry) is in a bit of a crisis as we stage our comeback from a pandemic.

Again, Producers face a question . . . how do we decrease risk, but still produce great theater?

Yesterday, a group of creative and bustin’-the-box thinkers, Dori Berinstein, Sally Horchow and Matt Ross, proposed a solution.

Using “bunk-bed” theory, these first-into-the-Broadway-battle-post-covid Producers are bringing TWO shows to Broadway . . . at the same time . . . to the same theater.

The plays, Dana H and Is This A Room, are transfers from The Vineyard, and they begin performances in late September at Broadway’s Lyceum.

As this article describes, these two shows are being done for the price of a touch-more-than one.

And most importantly, to quote Dori Berinstein (The Prom) . . .

 “It gives us an opportunity to bring great theater that might not otherwise make it to Broadway to Broadway.”

What could be better than that!?!?!

No one wanted this crisis. But one of the blessings (it’s hard to find them, but they are there), is that NOW is the time for artpreneurial Producers, Writers and all TheaterMakers to challenge our precedents and come up with new ways to make theater..

Because the theater is too important to NOT give everything a go.  

Oh, and when you’re looking for ideas? Sometimes, big businesses like Broadway should look to smaller businesses like Off-Broadway, to see what worked for them.

 

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Remembering Paul Huntley

I had the pleasure of working with Paul Huntley, the legendary Tony-winning wig designer (who has like 1,000 Broadway credits) on Thoroughly Modern Millie – my first Broadway show as a Company Manager. 

Before that show, I never understood why wig design was so important (and so expensive). Watching him work, listening to how and why he crafted each wig the way he did . . . it was like watching a master sculptor or painter . . . just with a different medium. 

He created some of the most recognized hair designs in the industry, including Sweeney Todd, Evita, and the 2008 revival of Gypsy (just to name a few of the 1,000).

His work will continue to live on however . . . he did the design for Diana, which opens (finally!) on Broadway this fall. 

RIP, my friend.  I have a feeling everyone up there is going to look a heck of a lot better with you around looking after their locks.

Podcast Episode #241: “The Hardest Part of Creating a New Show”

ESTIMATED LISTENING TIME OF THIS EPISODE:  7 Minutes

LISTEN WHEREVER YOU LISTEN TO PODCASTS:

 

ABOUT THIS EPISODE:

I’m sharing what I believe to be the hardest part of creating a new musical or play . . . and how I’ve overcome that. And how you can apply this to YOUR process. 

 

AFTER YOU LISTEN:

  • FOLLOW The Producer’s Perspective on Apple Podcast (it’s FREE!)
  • REVIEW the Podcast on Apple Podcast (it’s the biggest compliment you can give)
  • SHARE this episode with your friends!
  • JOIN the TheaterMakers Facebook Group

 

My mission is to get more people talking about the theater.  The more people talking about it, the more people who want to make it, perform it, support it, etc.  And that’s how theater not only survives, but thrives.

The biggest compliment you can give me is by sharing this podcast.

I thank you and the theater thanks you!

 

RECENT EPISODES:

ALERT: There’s a serious shortage of THIS in the theater industry (and why that’s a good thing).

Lumber isn’t the only thing in short supply these days.

As the world has come out of its pandemic hibernation, there has been a shortage of a variety of products. From 2x4s to computer chips for cars, there’s some serious scarcity going on.

And there’s something scarce on Broadway too that has Producers scrambling right now . . .

Rehearsal space.

It’s the lumber of the theater right now.

Our pipeline had a big ol’ hairy covid clog for the past 15 months. And now that the clog has been plunged, there’s a steady stream of shows looking to open on Broadway, Off Broadway, do readings, workshops and more.

Which is why rehearsal space is super hard to find.

I mean, big shows (including one of my own) are going to Queens to rehearse!

Why do I tell you this?

#1 . . .  If you’re a TheaterMaker and want to do a reading, workshop or ANYTHING in the next 12 months, book your rehearsal space now. Here are a few of my favorite spots.

#2 . . . and this is the exciting one. You know what all this rehearsing means? It means lots of theater. You know what lots of theater means? It means . . . well . . . awesome-sauce.

Ok, nonsense phrases aside . . . it means that the roaring 20s, the theatrical renaissance that Chris Jackson predicted at our TheaterMakersSummit last year . . . is about to begin.

Start your engines. (AND BOOK YOUR SPACE!)

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