Leading is not misleading.

In late November, the London production of the stage adaptation of The Shawshank Redemption got busted for putting a quote on their marquee that said the following:

“A superbly gripping, genuinely uplifting drama.” – Charles Spencer, Daily Telegraph

Good quote, right?

Only one problem . . . the quote was referring to the FILM version of Shawshank, and the reviewer had gone on to say, “In almost every respect, the stage version is inferior to the movie.”

Ballsy move on behalf of the Producers, right?

I’m a big fan of pushing the envelope, especially when it comes to promotion.  On the first poster of The Awesome 80s Prom, we put a quote on the top that said, “I’ve Had The Time Of My Life!”  We listed the source as, “The Awesome 80s Movie, Dirty Dancing.

But there is such a thing as going too far, and this certainly qualifies.  David Merrick’s Subways stunt had a wink to it (and hopefully The Prom’s did too), which made them work.  The Shawshank stunt is just about pulling the wool over a customer’s eyes.

And it gives us all a bad name.

Although, I guess it did get the show some publicity.  And I am writing about it here, and I bet that a lot of you never even knew there was a stage version of Shawhank in London, so . . . dang it, they succeeded in some fashion.

However, this stunt looks like the prods could get in some legal trouble as well, and more importantly could cause bigger problems for the Producers that have much smarter and savvier ideas in the future.

And that makes this stunt just selfish.

Oh, and for a future blog?  Why the bollocks are Londoners fascinated with play versions of successful movies?  Rain Man, Shawshank, When Harry Met Sally, etc.?  Think the movie companies would ever allow those productions here?  I bet not (and I’m sorta happy about that), but I am oh so curious how one would sell.  Your thoughts?

Can it be festival time already? It is!

I hate winter.

I keep saying that every year I’m going to circulate a petition to try and get Broadway to move to the West Coast or West Figi or someplace like that.  I want to sing, “It’s Too Darn Hot!” all year long and mean it.

To make me feel better, all winter long I look for signs of the upcoming Spring and Summer . . . anything that helps me through a winter in the city (and I’m from Massachusetts – you’d think I could deal with this).

For example, as soon as we hit the winter solstice on 12/21 or 22, which traditionally marks the first day of winter, I usually spin it to say, “The days start getting longer tomorrow . . . spring is right around the corner!”

Ok, sorry to sidetrack you with my psyche . . . but the point is that one of these “Summer Signs” is the announcement that the spring/summer/fall festivals are now accepting submissions.

And guess what?

Applications are currently being accepted for the following NY Festivals:

If you’re a writer/producer/etc, now is the time to get your materials in order.  The deadlines are always sooner than you think.

Don’t have a show?  Find one.  Write one.  Make one up.  That’s what these guys did, and it worked out for them.  The Broadway show didn’t work.

But last I heard they were writing a sitcom.

So get a show submitted and get something up. You never know what’ll happen as a result.

On the other hand, I can guarantee you what will happen if you do nothing.

We get a lot of scripts, so we’re gonna do something with them!

Introducing . . . The Davenport Theatrical Developmental Reading Series!

It amazes me how many passionate writers are out there in the world.

Every day, scripts are submitted to us from people just like you; people that committed their idea to paper, and now want to share it with as many people as possible.

I have been brainstorming all year on how to thank all of you for your submissions and give you some sort of props for your passion to the process.

I thought about scriptwriting contests with cash prizes, group dramaturgical sessions, and so on.  At the end of the day, I decided that what writers really want, even more than money, is to have their stuff performed.

So, I am starting the Davenport Theatrical Developmental Reading Series to do just that.

This year, DTE will produce four readings of new works (plays and/or musicals) that have been submitted to us through our regular submissions process.

In other words, we’ll help you get your show off the ground!

We will pay all expenses for the reading.   We will help you find a director if you need one.  We will help you cast your reading.  We will help you with dramaturgy.  We’ll handle RSVPs.  We’ll send out a press release.  We will prepare a post show quantitative and qualitative survey for your audience.

We will help you with whatever you need help with.

And then, we’ll all hear your piece the way it was meant to be heard . . . out loud!  Because dramatic writing doesn’t exist on paper.  It needs people to speak it, and people to see it.

The readings will take place at 8 PM on the following dates:

Monday, March 15th
Monday, June 14th
Monday, September 13th
Monday, December 13th

Location, TBD.

Whether you’re a writer or not, you should save the date, because guess who’s going to be invited first?  Yep – Producer Perspective subscribers!  (If you haven’t subscribed to the blog yet, you can subscribe by putting your email in the box underneath my pic.)

How do you apply for one of the four slots?  Submit your script to us by following these instructions.  Your script will automatically be considered.  (FYI, if you’ve submitted to us in the past, no need to submit the same material to us again.  We keep records of submissions and will comb through previously received scripts for consideration.)

If we select your piece, you will be contacted by the Artistic Director of the series, Jane Caplow, who will give you further instructions.

On the day of each reading, I will announce the next project for the series (i.e. I will announce the show to be read on June 14th on March 15th).

So what is the inaugural project?

On March 15th we will christen the DTDRS with Alex Webb’s Amelia, a Civil War-set romance in which two performers embody separated loves – and a diverse wider society.

See you on the 15th!

Questions:  Email Jane.
To Submit:  Click here.

 

Only 3 chances left to see My First Time. (ok, that sounded awkward)

MyFirstTimeMy First Time, the 3rd show in what I refer to as my “Off-Broadway memory trilogy” (Altar Boyz (I was a part of a group called “The Holy Rollers”), and The Awesome 80s Prom (I went to high school in the 80s and was obsessed with John Hughes Movies) are the first two) will have its last performance on Friday, January 22nd.

We’ve had an incredible two-and-a-half year run with My First Time and shared a lot of memories, from our “Virgins Get In Free” promotion, to our free national commercial courtesy of Apple.

Although the show will be closing here in New York, My First Time will live on around the world, thanks to my uber-agents at The Marton Agency and Samuel French.

Many thanks to the many that were in my cast of virgins over the years:  Kathy Searle, Cydnee Welburn, Dana Watkins, Nate Williams, Vi Flaten, Emily McNamara, Natalie Knepp, Ian White, Bill Dawes, Josh White, Josh Heine, Marcel Simoneau, Josh Davis, Matt Seidman, Ryan Duncan as well as SM Jeremy Peay and crew members Lindsay Beecher, Mo Ahmed, and Eliza Johnson.  (I should also thank all those naked peeps that appeared in the logo shot, including my main model, Tracy Weiler.)

And while I hate to see the show close, at least I can be proud to say that the show lasted a helluva lot longer than my own first time.  🙂

In fact, I guess there’s one more person I have to thank for the . . . uh . . . inspiration.  I actually think she reads my blog.  I was going to link to her facebook page, but that would just be creepy.  (I’m kidding, I’m kidding.)

But . . . maybe we can get an anonymous comment out of her?  Hmmm???

If you’re looking to reminisce about your own first time, or if you’re looking to have a “next time” with your current significant other, or if you’re just looking for some fun, I recommend you see My First Time before January 22nd.  It plays on Friday nights at 10 PM at New World Stages, and there are only three shows left.  And a portion of the proceeds benefit this great sex ed site, Scarleteen.com.

See it, and save some bucks by visiting here.

If we know reviews aren’t as powerful as they used to be, then why . . .

If ever there was a Fall that demonstrated the lack of a correlation between a rave and a run, this was the one.

Both Finian’s Rainbow and Ragtime, two of the Best Reviewed Shows of 2009, are folding way earlier than anyone predicted the morning after their opening, when their reviews were the talk of the town.

(Funny side-story, but I overheard two women talking about Ragtime on the subway, and both were talking about how wonderful a show it was – they had seen the original.  They had both heard the new production was fabulous and both wanted to see it.  Then one of the women said, “But you know, you can’t get a ticket. It’s the hottest ticket in town.”  That’s where I jumped in.  When I asked where she heard that it was a hard-to-get ticket, she told me she had read a review.  She equated a rave with an impossible-to-get ticket.  You can bet I corrected her, and told her to buy a ticket that day . . . and then, after Ragtime, I told her to see Altar Boyz, but you probably guessed that already.)

There is no longer any doubt that sensational reviews are no guarantee of a run or of recoupment, especially for musicals (although, I think plays are catching up . . . notice The Norman Conquests, Mary Stuart and even Godot on that Best Reviewed list).

Ok, ok, I know what you are all saying, “Ken, we know all this.  This ain’t our first barbeque.”

I know, I know, but let’s extrapolate this theory, and apply it to pre-producing.

If we know reviews aren’t as powerful as they used to be, then why do so many of us use them to decide if we want to transfer a show from Off-Broadway to Broadway, or from Out-Of-Town to Broadway???

I can’t tell you how many times over the last year I’ve heard people say that they were getting involved in a show solely because its out-of-town tryout, or its regional tryout, or because its Off-Broadway production got a rave.  Another side-story – recently I asked one Broadway Producer what they were working on next, and they said,

“Well, it looks like we’re going to move XXXXXX.”

I was a bit surprised.  “Really,”  I said.  “Wow.”

“Yep.  I mean, with the review we got, we sort of have to.”

No, you don’t.  And you shouldn’t.

Tell me you want to get involved with a show because the audience is going crazy for it.  Tell me you want to get involved with a show because you think the Author’s message is important.  Or tell me you want to get involved with a show purely based on your gut.

Or better, tell me it’s ALL of those things (you wouldn’t buy a stock just based on its price, or just based on its p/e.  You buy because of a combo of its charactertistics).

But don’t tell me you’re doing it because it got a good review.

Because reviews are like wrapping paper.  They make things look pretty, but they don’t last long.

It’s what’s inside the paper that counts.

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