The Top 25 Longest Running UK Productions: A By The Numbers Infographic.

Jolly ho there mateys!

Wait.  That’s not British.  That’s British meets some kind of weird Australian pirate or something.

Anyway, what I meant to say is . . .  Our infographic series is back!

Over the past few bloggin’ years, we’ve published a bunch of “By The Numbers” infographics to demonstrate that while theatre is an art, it also has business trends and statistics that can’t be ignored, especially when you are building your next show.  (And in some cases, we need to know about the dominating stats so that we can come up with initiatives to change them!  Ahem! Diversity!  Ahem!  Sorry, something in my throat there.)

If you’ve missed some of our previous infographics, there’s a summary of them at the bottom of this post.

But today’s is all about our friends from across the pond — the UK!

In my continuing quest to determine what works over there (so far, all that I know is that they love jukebox musicals and shows that make fun of Americans – true, true – think about it), I decided to analyze the 25 longest running shows in the UK.  And, well, I’m going to let these numbers speak for themselves.

One thing to remember before you take a peek . . .  there is not as big of a dividing line between the size of shows and theaters in Londontown.  Off-West End ain’t like our Off-Broadway.  So, you may see some titles below that you might not think should be in the same list as, oh, a Phantom.  But, in the West End, they don’t discriminate like we do.

Hmmmm, maybe that’s one takeaway right there . . . what if there was no “Off-Broadway” . . . Hmmmm.

Enjoy the numbers!

Interested in checking out our other Infographics?  Take a look and give a click:

What do the Top Grossing Broadway Musicals have in common?

The Last 20 Years of Best Play Tony Award Winners

Musical to Movie Adaptations

How do you become one of the 50 Longest Running Broadway Shows?

Who is the Broadway Investor?

Theaters Aren’t The Only Place To Do Theatre Anymore

My first experience with “site-specific” theatre was in 1995 with a little musical called J.P. Morgan Saves The Nation, written by a then-unknown composer/lyricist named Jonathan Larson (the NY Times called his score “peppy”).  It took place on the steps of Federal Hall downtown.

But this blog isn’t about site-specific theatre.

While I do think we’re on the verge of seeing plays and musicals pop up in office buildings, bars, shopping malls, and everyplace else in the next few years (thanks to the high cost of actual theaters, not to mention the lack of availability), site-specific theatre is so 1995.

In the past week, a few blips have appeared on my trend-spotting sonar that make me think we’re on the verge of another kind of revolution.  And this one, surprise surprise, has all to do with technology.

First, I can’t help but notice that Netflix has taken a more aggressive approach to capturing theatrical content as of late and not just the big branded Springsteen-like shows.  They shot a movie version of American Son.  They announced a movie version of that Cinderella story of a musical, The Prom.  And now, the Off-Broadway one-woman show, Douglas, will be the latest addition to their growing theatrical portfolio.

Second, (spoiler alert!) but I spend a lot of time on my upcoming podcast with Tony Nominated art-trepreneur Paul Gordon (airs this coming Monday) talking about his StreamingMusicals platform, which is off to a strong start (and got him a licensing deal for a new musical that has never played NYC).  I expect the next generation of theatre-makers is going to see this approach as a way to get their shows into the world at a fraction of the cost that typically comes with putting up an actual production.  (And speaking of streaming, we just got a report on my own production of Daddy Long Legs from my friends at  BroadwayHD, and it’s exceeding expectations in the number of views.  Check it out here.)

Third, I caught a glimpse of an ad on a subway platform the other day for a new digital platform called STAGE, which states, “From classic performances to edgy icons and undiscovered gems, musical theatre and performance is the cornerstone of STAGE.”  What’s interesting about this isn’t the network itself, but the ad . . . which ain’t cheap.  That says to me that STAGE ain’t effin’ around.  They see a big future in the platform and are betting on it.

And fourth (because you know, everything comes in threes, so when there are four things, you definitely have a fourk-ing trend), and perhaps most interesting of all . . . a new podcast musical was released this week, called Next Thing You Know by Joshua Salzman and Ryan Cunningham, starring Patti Murin, Colin Hanlon, Jay Armstrong Johnson and Lauren Blackman.  This on the heels of the high profile John Cameron Mitchell podcast musical “Anthem: Homunculus,” starring Patti Lupone to name a few (because she counts as a few).  Instead of readings and workshops, these creators have turned to tech to get attention for their new works.  (I wonder if critics will start reviewing them?)

All of this makes me think . . . are streaming and podcast recordings the new “concept recording,” made famous by Andrew Lloyd Webber with Jesus Christ Superstar? We all know how that worked out.  Answer?  Yes, yes they are.

And all of this points to one thing:  an uprising is underfoot.

The modern-day creators, who are part of the DIY generation, who grew up able to create and distribute their films and music without gatekeepers, are now finding ways to distribute theatre in the same way.

And we’re just at the beginning of it.

If you’re a theatre-maker, you should start to imagine other ways to get your shows the attention they deserve.

Because over the next ten years, the traditional walls of Broadway and Off-Broadway are going to come crumbling down as the next generation of creators continue to think outside of the . . . box theater.

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Do check out Daddy Long Legs on BroadwayHD, and then guess how much it cost me to shoot something that high of a quality.  And then imagine how you can do it for your show . . .

10 Tips On How To Finish That @#$%ing Play, Screenplay or Whatever You’re Working on.

Everyone has an idea for a something . . . whether it’s a play, a movie . . . or even an app.

But as I wrote about here, ideas are worth zippo.  That’s why they can’t be protected by copyright.

However, when those ideas are forged into something specific and actually finished, they can be priceless.

So, how do you finish that idea you’ve been working on?  Because of the success we’ve had with our 30 Day Script Challenge, I decided to expand on that concept and write down the most effective tips I’ve learned (and use myself) on how to finish a script, a book, a blog . . . or just about anything.

You ready for ’em?

Well, they’re not here.

I put the tips in an article on that fancy new media site, Medium.com.  To see my 10 Tips on How To Write More Often And Actually Finish Something, click here.

And when you get there, make sure you . . .

  1. Sign up.
  2. Read the article.
  3. And give it a “clap” at the end, if you like it.

I hope they help get your project from the page to the priceless phase.

Click here to read it so you can start finishin’.

Looking for ways to hold yourself accountable for your success, finish that script, or get it to the next stage? Click here to become a part of my PRO community today and get everything you need to succeed!

 

Why I’m Producing Frankie and Johnny on Broadway.

I don’t do much co-producing on Broadway anymore.

Of course, there are a lot of pros for Co-Producing on Broadway (diversification for me and my investors, a new network, etc.), as I talk about here.  But because my office spends so much time on the development of our slate of new musicals, it takes a very special project — and more importantly, very special people — to get me to sign on as a Co-Pro on another Lead Producer’s project.

Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune is one of those projects.

If you’ve followed this blog for a while, then you know about my talent-crush on Terrence McNally, which is what led me to produce It’s Only A Play on Broadway (read about that here), as well as Mothers and Sons and The Visit.  

So yeah, when I heard that a McNally play (and one of my faves!) was gonna be on the boards, I was like, “Where do I sign up?”

But my experience with McNally work didn’t start with It’s Only A Play. Oh no.  It started all the way back to one of my first jobs, as the Associate Company Manager on the original company of Ragtime.  As a Producer, as a book writer, and just as a freakin’ theater fan, I will go on record as saying that I believe the libretto of Ragtime is one of the finest ever written for the theater . . . with one of the highest degrees of difficulty.

Guess who else was in that original company of Ragtime?

Two words . . .

Audra Effin’ McDonald.

When I needed a break from work on that gig, I wouldn’t leave the building.  I’d tell my boss I was going to get some “air” and just go up and watch Audra sing “Daddy’s Son.”  It was breathtaking watching her work.  She had already won two Tonys by that point in her career (and her performance in Ragtime would get her a third), but with every interaction I had with her back then, you could tell that she was still at the beginning.  I remember a between-shows poker game that Audra played in every so often . . . and she even did that with such dramatic flair we could have sold tickets!  I’ve never met Meryl Streep (despite what I said here, haha) but I have a feeling that what I felt about Audra in 1998 is what people felt when they met Meryl in the early years.

Audra’s sparring partner in F & J is Michael Shannon, who I shared two words with backstage at a Tony nominee event once and I still can’t forget it.  There’s an intensity there that made me think, “Oh, right, that’s why I’m not an actor.”

Put all these people together in a classic McNally play about two people who need and find each other . . .  and then add Lead Producer Tom Kirdahy, who brought me on board to It’s Only A Play as a Lead Producer (when honestly, he didn’t have to), who this season helped shepherd the roof-shaking and awards-buzzin’ Hadestown to the success it already is, not to mention my often partner, Hunter Arnold, and well, how could I not climb on board?

So, I did.

And I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner, because, well, we just started previews on Saturday and word is already starting to leak out about the magic that’s going on at The Broadhurst.

There are some $25 tickets for previews (take that, anyone who says great theater is inaccessible!) and the show only runs through August 25th.

But that’s not the real reason you should get tickets now.

When asked why he wrote Frankie and Johnny, Terrence McNally said, “I believe in love at first sight and that inspired the play.”

Isn’t that something we all need to believe in right now?

Get your tickets here.

Why Rock & Roll on Broadway is here to stay.

Rock musicals ain’t no new thing.

They came onto the scene in the late ’60s with Hair and then came into their own with Superstar and more in the ’70s.

They didn’t dominate our industry, by any means.

But they’re about it.

Here’s why rock/pop musicals will be the most popular form of music on Broadway from this day on.

It’s all about math.

(My wife just stopped reading when she got to the M word, by the way.)

Rock and Roll was born in the late 1940s but didn’t achieve mainstream success until the early 1950s.  For the sake of this blog, let’s call the birth of Rock and Roll 1954, the year that Bill Haley and the Comets recorded “Rock Around The Clock” and a young Elvis Presley recorded “That’s All Right.”

Now, in the 1990s, when I was working on my first Broadway gig as a Production Assistant, rock musicals still had a “not for everyone” label.

Why?

Let’s do the math . . . of the age of our audience.

In 1994 (the year I graduated from college), people who were born in 1954 (and therefore were raised on rock and roll as a dominating music genre) were only 40 years old.  They were not yet the average age of the traditional theatergoer (which is approx 44 years old).

And since so many of our theatergoers are older than 40, born before the birth of Rock and Roll and raised on a much different style of music, you can see why pop/rock musicals didn’t appeal to everyone.  It’s why shows like Will Rogers FolliesCity of AngelsPassion, and Titanic were Tony winners and box office winners to boot.

Flash forward.

It’s now 2019.  Those who were born in 1954 are now 65 years old.  For the first time, the majority of our theatergoing audience was raised on Rock and Roll.

This is why shows like HamiltonDear Evan HansenHadestownand of course, the jukebox musicals, all of which have been based on music from the ’50s and beyond, are starting to dominate the market.

There will always be room for outliers, but our audience has aged into Rock and Roll and popular music being (is becoming) the norm on Broadway.

So if you’re writing more traditional stuff, you may have a harder time getting an audience to pay attention.

Because over the next ten years, it’s only going to get rockier and hip-hoppier on Broadway.

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Need some tips on how to put more butts in seats, or how to use social media to sell your show or yourself?  Click here.

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