Episode 161 – Tony Award Winner Richard Maltby, Jr.

When Richard Maltby, Jr. was asked to put together a revue for Manhattan Theatre Club, he said “yes,” even though he didn’t know what that actually meant.

But he did it, and not too much later he was collecting a Tony Award for Best Director of a Musical for Ain’t Misbehavin’, a revue that he conceived.

He went on to do more of those, including one of his own, a work with longtime collaborator David Shire, called Closer Than Ever, which was what all the kids listened to and auditioned with back in the 90’s (including this former Actor turned Producer/Blogger).

Revues weren’t the only thing up his writing sleeves, however. Richard wrote lyrics for Miss Saigon (ever heard of it) and Baby, as well as the book and lyrics for The Pirate Queen and many more.

We talk about all the huge hats he has worn over the years, as well as . . .

  • Now what? (What to do when your first show out is a big fat success)
  • Why the collaboration process on Miss Saigon was one of the favorites of his career.
  • How the revue has morphed into the jukebox musical, and what he thinks of the current lot.
  • An old idea for new writers to get attention that still works today.
  • What he thinks of the new “style” of musical theater.

Tune in to this week’s episode below!

Click here to listen to my podcast with Richard!

Listen to it on iTunes here. (And if you like the podcast, give it a great review while you’re there!)

Download it here.

My 5 Friday Finds: Indie Streaming, Something for Actors, and more.

TGIF, y’all, and welcome to my weekly wrap up, when I let you know about five things that caught my eye during the last five days.

1. Streaming goes independent.

Composer/Lyricist Paul Gordon, who wrote Daddy Long Legs (which was the first Broadway or Off-Broadway show to be live-streamed) has taken streaming into his own hands and formed a company called Streaming Musicals to do just that.

And right now you can catch his beautiful production of Emma online for less than the cost of a movie.

What has me interested in this model is that Emma has never played NYC. Yet something like Streaming Musicals could give it the same type of exposure, if not more. Paul could be on to a whole new world of debuting musicals to audiences, theaters around the country, and more.

2.  Need to get to a celeb?

Gatekeepers abound in this business, which is why this little tool comes in handy for tracking down agents, managers, lawyers, and even some direct contacts. Check out the aptly named ContactAnyCelebrity.com if you want to make sure a star gets your offer or invite. I’ve used it. And it works.

3.  A New One Man Show Called The New One

Mike Birbiglia’s first show, Sleepwalk with Me, played Off Broadway. His new show, The New Onewill play ON Broadway. That’s not just because Mike is a bigger name now, who can sell out a run Off-Broadway on the announcement,  sell books, and star in TV shows.

It’s because Mike’s audience is easier to find with modern marketing methods, and as the Hello Again guys proved a couple of years ago, these half stand up/half theater pieces can make money and make it fast.

Expect more of ’em. And go see The New One. I saw a reading and was laughing out loud. At a reading.

4.  Required Reading for Non-Musical Actors Who Want To Do Musicals

Andrew Gerle music directed the first reading I ever did in this city. And what he did with those actors and the arrangements amazed me.

He’s written a musical fundamentals book for Actors that I wish I had when I was singing and dancing. Because I’m sure I would have done it a bit better.

5.  The Ford-Kavanaugh Crisis Made Me Think . . .

Of course, it made me think a lot of things, but the one positive takeaway I had was . . . is there anything more gripping than a courtroom drama? Aren’t we ready for a new one on Broadway?

Or is someone out there prepping Oleanna for a revival?

How Broadway shows can take advantage of a Fall opening for the Tony Awards.

Back in 2009, I wrote a blog that proved that shows that opened in the Spring had a better shot at winning a Tony Award over shows that opened in the Fall. You can read that blog here.

Then, in 2015, I updated it with more recent data . . . and found the same conclusion. Check that one out here.

So, naturally, the takeaway is . . . if you want to stack the Tony odds in your favor, open in the Spring.

But not so fast, Captain Jack. It ain’t that easy.

These days, choosing “when” you open is even more difficult than choosing “where” you open. Getting a theater is hard enough, but if you manage to get one, choosing your start date, even your season, can be even more challenging since so many shows are willing to jump in and open at any time. (Add in the schedule of an in-demand creative team, and it’s amazing shows happen at all.)

What do you do if you have a fall opening, and you really want/need a Tony Award in order for your show to be a success?

Fret not, because I believe there is some serious upside to a Fall opening nowadays, you just have to make sure you take advantage of what you’ve got to work with (it was actually a Fall opening for Once on this Island that I believe is one of the reasons we were able to win the big one).

Here are three advantages to a Fall opening:

  1. Tony Voters can see you twice.

It has become commonplace for shows that open earlier in the season to invite Voters back to see their show again much closer to the voting deadline. And if you can get the voters to take you up on this . . . well, two impressions are much better than one. And if your show opens in April, there ain’t no way you’re getting these folks to come back again. Not only will they have just seen you, but they’ve got 140 other shows to see before the deadline. So forget that. I like the strategy of inviting voters early, and then inviting them back again, even before nominations come out, so they have more time in their schedule to set up a second viewing.

  1. You start out at the front of the pack.

So few shows open in the Fall these days that if you’re one of those shows, you’re like a horse that bursts out of the starting gate to an early lead. And every show after has to top you. You set the pace. Grabbing that early lead can put you at a big advantage, rather than opening right in the midst of when all the other shows are opening, when voters have more to compare you to. Just remember, if you do grab that early lead, you gotta work really hard to keep it. Because by opening earlier, your race is longer, which means your horse could tire a bit early (metaphor translation = you’re going to need more marketing and advertising to keep you ahead).

  1. Your Tony Campaign can start right after you open.

While our Tony Awards campaigns are not as elaborate/expensive as Hollywood’s campaigns to win an Oscar, they’re getting there. The Spring shows barely have time to think about a campaign before they have to launch theirs. But you, you with the Fall show, you can not only design your campaign, but you can launch it much, much earlier . . . not only through advertising but by positioning your shows/performers at industry events, seeding press stories about your various elements, etc. Ask a politician running for office if they’d rather have 6 months to campaign for office or one month and they’ll tell you they want twelve months. Use the time to tell your story of why your show deserves a Tony.

Statistics may tell us the ways things have been, but that doesn’t mean they have to be the way they are. And if you can’t change your show’s schedule, change your thinking about that schedule and find a way to make it work for you.

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We’ve got a ton of Tony Winners speaking at my SuperConference this year. Hear from them firsthand how they got that trophy and pick up tips on how you can start your path to the podium too.  Click here.

Broadway Grosses w/e 9/23/2018: The September Slip

The following are the Broadway grosses for the week ending September 23, 2018.
The Broadway grosses are courtesy of The Broadway League
Read more here:

Are you in the Seattle Area? I will be. Come say hello!

Hey readers . . . especially you out there on the Northwest Coast.

I’ll be in the Seattle area this weekend participating on the Jury of the very cool Fifth Avenue Theatre “First Draft Story Summit,” and since I don’t get out there too often, I thought I’d invite you to come say hello.

The Fifth Avenue is opening up a room for us on Saturday at 1 PM for a free hour of Q&A, networking, and who knows . . . maybe we can even come up with a few ideas to start a little theatrical trouble together.  🙂

Who’s in?

If you’re a writer, director, actor, producer, or just a theater fan, come on down and say hello. I’d love to meet you, learn more about your scene and what you are all trying to do out there (and how we can help you from here).

Here’s the thing . . . unlike some of my other open socials, this one is very limited. So you must RSVP, and because I announced this on my facebook page last week, there are only 10 spots left.

So if you wanna come, click here. Or if you know someone in the area, send them here.

Looking forward to being on your time zone!