Podcast Episode 204: Tony Award Winning Actor and Artrepreneur, Alan Cumming

Soap.

That’s how this episode kicks off . . . with a conversation about soap.

Not just any soap, mind you.  Alan Cumming’s soap.  Like not his bar of Ivory . . . like his actual branded and sold on shelves, soap.

So you see, Alan Cumming truly has done everything.

And what’s amazing is, as you’ll hear in one of my favorite podcasts of my 200+ episodes, he’s only just getting started.

I knew when I saw him in Cabaret back in 1998 that I was watching something . . . well . . . beyond.  Then I had the pleasure of producing his one-man Macbeth on Broadway and realized that Alan was not just an actor . . . he was a Super Hero of an Artist.  

We talked about Cabaret, Macbeth, and a whole host of things on this podcast about acting, art, getting recognized in public, success, failure, running nightclubs, and yes even those bars of soap (and how you can get them), as well as:

  • How he still gets nervous and how he deals with those nerves.
  • Why he is working on a solo dance piece . . . when he is NOT a trained dancer.
  • How being vulnerable is what gives him confidence.
  • The importance of actors being able to “turn it on.”
  • Why artists feel the need to leave on the edge of fear (and why he wants to do a documentary about it).

This episode is a must for all TheaterMakers out there, because Alan is one of the most successful makers of art . . . his own way . . . that is.

Here’s how to listen!

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

This week’s #SongWriterOfTheWeek is Joey Contreras! Check out his song “Joyride” from his latest EP, “Joyride.” It’s available on iTunes/Spotify/Apple Music. If you like what you hear and want to learn more, check out www.joeycontreras.com or @joeycontreras on Instagram.

This episode is brought to you by Sunlight Studios. With 8 bright and spacious studios for rent, you can rehearse your next Broadway hit knowing you’re in good hands. To book a studio today, please visit www.sunlightstudios.com. Use Code DAVENPORT to receive a 5% discount on bookings until January 2, 2020.

And when you’re done listening to the podcast, go listen to Alan’s cabaret song and story show, Legal Immigrant on Audible!

Our Official 2019 Broadway Holiday Gift Guide

I know what you’re thinking . . . “Wasn’t it just Labor Day?”

The answer?  Yes.  Yes it was.

As if Harry Potter cast a monthus-disappearus spell, here we are on the eve of Black Friday, ready for another mad dash to the end of the year.

Thanksgiving is late this year, which means less time to do your holiday shopping.  That’s why we’ve put together this list of the Top 10 Broadway GIfts to help you as you shop for the Broadway theater lover in your life (or in case you are just looking to put something for yourself in your stocking).   And this year, we’ve made sure we’ve added a bunch under $20.

And now, the overture is over . . . let’s raise the curtain on my 2019 Broadway Holiday Gift Guide:

1. Be A Broadway Star Board Game

Be a Broadway Star was a “shower idea.”  It literally came to me in the shower back in 2011.  And when I dreamed it up and wrote the name on the steam of my shower door, I never imagined it would turn into one of the hottest selling Broadway gifts on the market.  What has been fun to see is people of all ages playing the game, from college kids, to little ones, to senior theater goers!  And even Ben Platt!  (Click here and scroll down to see the photo)

It’s a no-brainer gift for any theater lover in your life, and super fun to play.

This year we have a new, limited-edition Holiday Expansion pack! Download the full 31-page expansion pack for FREE here!

Get the game here now.  It sells out every season, so don’t wait.

2. My Broadway Binder!

We made these as a gift for our Broadway Investors.  And we got such great feedback on them, we wondered if other folks might want to buy them.  

The answer?  Yes.  Yes they would.

So we modified ’em, included some sheet protectors and even came up with a unique design for our binder that prevents the Playbills from falling out.

It’s a must for all Broadway fans which makes it a terrific holiday gift. 

Get the Broadway Playbill binder here.

3. A Broadway Puzzle featuring 20 of your favorite Broadway stars!

Want a great group activity at your holiday gathering?  Or looking for a solo activity?  Make the most of a rainy or snowy day this holiday season and piece together this Broadway-themed jigsaw puzzle featuring 20 of Broadway’s biggest stars!

Get it here.

4. Broadway Coloring Book

Coloring books are in. 

And in this great Broadway gift for under $10, you can color all of your favorite show tunes in this Broadway Lyric Coloring Book! The book features 24 pages of mandala designs and lyrics from popular shows. 

You can bet your bottom dollar this is in my daughter’s stocking this year.  Gotta get her started right!

Get the coloring book here.

5. Musical Theatre themed colored pencils

When I was a kid if you wanted to color, you had one choice . . . crayons.  Now there are . . . wait for it . . . musical-theatre themed colored pencils!  Another great gift for under $20 which makes it an ideal Secret Santa gift!

Get the musical theater pencils here.

6. Books, books, and more books!

I could have a whole Broadway Holiday Gift Guide just for Broadway books! But here are a few of my top picks this season.

The Secret Life of the Broadway musical by Jack Viertel

Written by a true master of the American theater, this book is rich with information and stories to delight any theater fan (or theater maker). 

Broadway Trivia

Test your knowledge of the Great White Way with this 9-chapter Broadway Trivia Book! 

Broadway Trivia includes 9 chapters with easy, medium and hard trivia for Broadway fans of all ages! Test your knowledge about Broadway theaters, history of the great white way, show tunes and more!

Broadway Investing 101

Everything you need to know about how to get started in investing in Broadway Shows.

How To Raise Money For The Arts . . . Or For Anything!

Does the mere thought of asking people for money make you nervous? I sat down and wrote a 100+ page comprehensive how-to guide on the subject of raising money for the theater – the only one of its kind!

Action Journals

Created specifically with artists in mind, these action journals are a 90-day template for success. It helps you stay on track and reflect along the way. (Be sure to share your thoughts using #ActionJournalForArtists. I’d love to hear what you think!)

7. Playbill Frame

When a Broadway binder isn’t enough for your Broadway fan, or Broadway star-to-be, get ’em this Playbill frame to show off that their most prized Broadway possession.  Great for those of you who have seen Hamilton . . . just to rub it in your friends’ faces when they come over.  Get it here.

8. Broadway Momento Box 

And if the frame isn’t good enough . . . well, there’s almost another step up!  Use this shadow box as a unique way to show off your favorite Broadway memories!  If they had this when I was 16, I would have owned 160.  Get the momento box here.

9. The TheaterMakers Studio Membership

TheaterMakers belong together.  That’s why we created a brand-new, state-of-the-art, industry-leading membership community and certification training experience for theater-makers! If you want to create theater – or know someone who does – The TheaterMakers Studio is the best resource for you.

As a member, you’ll have access to our certification courses, monthly group coaching calls with my team of experts, access to our Private Facebook Community, a literal treasure trove of resources, checklists, execution plans, and a ton more!  Check it out here and get it for the writer, actor, director, producer in your life.

10. The Broadway Pop Chart of Costumes

Someone actually gifted this to me last year . . . and in a perfect example of word of mouth at work . . . I’m now recommending it to you.  Check out this unique poster art here.

 

 

And of course, theater tickets, Broadway t-shirts and the latest cast recordings are always great gifts for Broadway lovers.  But whatever you get for your Broadway or Theater Fan, get them something theater related.  It all helps support the art and business we all love!

Top 10 Takeaways from our TheaterMaker Super Conference

In case you haven’t heard, we had a giant TheaterMaker conference this past weekend.

(And in case you didn’t get that joke – you probably aren’t on our email list – because we sent a whole bunch of emails about it.)

The reason why we so passionately encourage all you Writers, Producers, Investors, Directors, Designers and anyone who makes theater to come is simple.  We know for a fact that as a result of getting together in the room with other like-minded TheaterMakers . . . more theater gets made.  Period.  We know this.  Because people who come to the conference tell us.

One of our greatest success stories yet happened DURING this conference!  A TheaterMaker from New Hampshire asked me a question about how to get her middle school musical produced, and I gave her a couple of tips . . . and this action-fueled artrepreneur called someone on the next networking break . . . and boom . . . she got her show BOOKED!  I mean . . . mic drop!!!

The conference included Broadway A-list Producers, Directors, Press Reps, and more on panels like Dramaturgy, Readings, and Diversity (which I am so proud to say was one of the most heavily attended panels AND the longest – what a conversation).

In case you missed the conference, I pulled 10 Takeaway from some of the talks which are below.   And while reading them will never be the same as hearing them live, seated next to more than 400 fellow TheaterMakers, I hope they give you a little steroid shot of inspiration and education to get you to go out there and make more theater.

Enjoy!

  1. “With ‘yes and…’ we get to create what comes next.” – Stephanie J. Block
  2. “You deserve a place at the table.” – Joe Iconis
  3. “Remember to stay calm. Getting angry does not help anyone hear your point. Educate with kindness.” – Arvind Ethan David, Diversity In The Arts
  4. “Casting Directors are in service of the collective imagination of the creative team. They are only trying to help bring your ideas and visions to life.” – Tara Rubin, Casting Superpowers Share How They Cast a Project And What the Right Cast Can Do For You
  5. “There’s never going to be a “perfect piece” so readjust the weight you give critics’ opinions.” – Jamil Jude, Navigating the Collaborative Process
  6. “When it comes to branding, remain consistent. Stay SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely).” – Lori Rosolowsky, How To Market Your Project To Regional Theaters Across The Country
  7. “Don’t be intimidated to introduce yourself to someone in the creative field. We’re all trying to do the same thing – create great art!” – Ken Davenport, Get Your Show Off The Ground
  8. “Know your WHY. Trust yourself. Believe in your material. And be concise in your pitch.” – Larry Rogowsky, Practice Your Pitch Session
  9. “Every play is different. Every playwright is different. In order to have the most productive partnership, it is the dramaturg’s job to know what the needs of the playwright are and how/when to deliver feedback.” – Jill Rafson, What is a Dramaturg and When/Why You Need One
  10. “No more waiting to sit at the table. Show up and take your seat at the table.” – David Caparelliotis, Casting Superpowers Share How They Cast a Project And What the Right Cast Can Do For You

Want to hear and see some of the panels that folks were raving about it?  We recorded them!  Click here to see how you can get them.

And we will see you next year!!!

Community.

People ask me all the time what a Producer actually does.

My new answer?  I get people in a room.

That’s it!

I get Writers in a room.  I get Directors in a room.  I get Actors in a room.  And when the right combination of people and passion mix together . . . boom . . . a magnificent thing is created.

The trick is . . . there are passionate and talented TheaterMakers all over the WORLD who want to be in a room with other folks just like them.

I know that because we’re going on 11 years with this blog and 5 with the podcast, and you wouldn’t believe where some of our e-traffic comes from (Russia, South Africa . . . Sri Lanka anyone?).

That’s why a couple of years ago I created an e-room for Writers, Producers, Investors, Actors and all kinds of Theater Makers to gather called TheProducersPerspectivePRO.

Since then, this community, just like the popularity of theater itself, has grown more than I ever could have imagined.   And when things grow, they take on a life of their own . . . and it’s important to change as the thing you’ve created changes (I’m already learning this as a new parent!).

About six months ago, we realized we weren’t TheProducersPerspectivePRO anymore.  We weren’t just an offshoot of the blog for people looking for more education.

We were a new community of theatrical artrepreneurs who were looking to learn, grow, gather and . . . make more @#$%.

That’s why we just retired PRO and launched a brand-spankin’ new community with a new look, new content, and a new mission to help all the TheaterMakers out there accomplish their theatrical goals, no matter what your discipline.

You may not be IN an actual room, but it’s the next best thing.  And we know, for a fact, that TheProducerPerspectivePRO helped launch a whole bunch of shows just by gathering passionate like-minded people together online.

And this brand new community will do the same . . . but on steroids.

So if you’re a TheaterMaker . . . or even better, want to be one . . . join us.

There’s no other place like it on the web.

And we can all help each other do what we all want to do more than anything . . . Make theater.

Check out the new TheaterMakersStudio.com here.

We’ve also added a new Production Team Database featuring Actors, Directors, Producers, Playwrights and more from across the country. To peruse the free database or submit yourself, click here.

Why 90% of Actors Are Doing it Wrong.

What has always been a surprise to me is the amount of the emails I receive from Actors around the world looking for a tip on how to break into the biz . . . and fast.

In fact, do you know what the most popular blog that I’ve ever written is?  No, it’s not the crowdfunded Godspell, or the live-streamed Daddy Long Legs.

It’s this one, which is all about Actors.

I don’t know why I’m so surprised.  While this blog may be called TheProducersPerspective, it’s for all artrepreneurs out there looking for a little insight into our biz that could give them a leg (and an arm) up.  Because they’re gonna need it!

And since the acting world is much more competitive than any other profession in our industry (thanks to the sheer volume of Actors looking to make it), it only makes sense that they’d be seeking out a way to increase their odds of success.

Which is why I’m writing this blog today . . . to tell those Actors that 90% are doing it wrong.

Now granted, I may be preaching to the converted here, because if you’re already one of my blog readers, then you’re probably in the 10%.

But if not, let me give you a tip that’ll put you on the fast track to success.

Ready?  And if you’re an Actor, and can’t stand a little tough love, STOP reading here.

Ok?  Good.

Here’s what you should do, that has worked for countless others, and WILL work for countless more . . . and hopefully you.

Create your own @#$%.

The ol’ cliche of an Actor taking a job as a “waiter” has always had a double meaning for me.  Because if you are just auditioning for OTHER people’s shows and movies and plays with OTHER people’s songs and scripts . . . then you’ll just be “waiting” until you fit someone else’s idea of who you’re right for.

And you could end up waiting forever . . . regardless of your talent.  (Painful thought, right?)

Now, you could also “get discovered” but those odds are longer than recouping a revival of Moose Murders.

So don’t chase Directors and Agents and Casting Directors and Producers.

Make them chase you.

And how you do that . . . is by creating your own @#$%.

It probably won’t be great at first.  But keep doing it. And you’ll get better.  And then people will find you.

This isn’t a new concept.  I’m not blog-preaching about this today because of the recent rise of the YouTube or Instagram celebrity (although that is one way to create your own @#$%).

Creating stuff is why so many stand-up comedians have gone on to great success.

Steve Martin, Robin Williams, and Whoopi Goldberg all started making up their own punchlines . . . which got people laughing and got people talking . . . and got them roles on stage and screen.  (And they ALL transitioned from comedy to serious work, so don’t think this is just about the funny folks.)

But it’s not just comedians.

What about Matt Damon and Ben Affleck . . . who were struggling actors until they sat down and wrote Good Will Hunting.

And don’t get me started about Sylvestor Stallone, who refused an offer to buy his original screenplay to Rocky (yep – you forgot he wrote it, didn’t you) because the studio wouldn’t let him play the lead (they came around).

Think this is a wave of the past?

What about Phoebe Waller-Bridge and her 8,000 Emmy Awards for Fleabag . . . which started as a one-woman show . . . just like Nia Vardalos’s Big Fat Greek Wedding or Chazz Palminteri’s A Bronx Tale.

Making stuff is by far the fastest way for an Actor to make it.

I’m not saying it’s easy.  But unlike the dreadful audition process, in which so many decisions are made that have nothing to do with you or your talent . . . making stuff, whether that’s a one person show or a web series or a stand up routine, is something you can control.

This is how you design a part that no one else in the world could be right for.  So you have ZERO competition.

And you know what the cool thing is?  90% of the actors out there aren’t doing this.  So immediately you’re going to stand out.

And what stands out . . . is what “sells.”

So if you’re an Actor . . . stop waiting and start making.

And actually, come to think about it . . . this concept isn’t just for Actors.  It’s for Directors, Designers or even Producers! (I got my start by creating my own shit – by producing three shows that I came up with . . . because I couldn’t get the rights to anything!)

Get creating.

– – – – –

Are you an Actor or any kind of artrepreneur that wants to learn how to create @#$%?  Click here to learn from the best.

Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

I'm on a mission to help 5000 shows get produced by 2025.

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