The Most Popular Posts of the Month: May

Time for that monthly summary of what got your attention last month here at The Producer’s Perspective:

And . . .

This is the counter argument to the “we need more broadway theaters” that gets raised every time someone looks at all the shows struggling to get a theater.

When the Hudson Theatre returns to being a broadway house, will we see an uptick in overall grosses or will we just dilute the existing audience dollars further?

 

(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

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FUN STUFF:

– Only 7 performances left of Daddy Long Legs.  Get your tickets today!  Click here.

– Only 9 days left to enter The Producer’s Perspective Tony Pool for a chance to win up to $1,000 in Broadway tickets!  Click here.

– Help Deaf West Theatre’s Spring Awakening perform on the Tonys!  10 days left to donate and $114,163 to go!  Click here to watch our cast and company tell you why it’s important for you to support our efforts.

Could THIS mean more kids getting into theater?

Ok, bear with me.  I’m getting my Freakonomics on.

Freakonomics was a book published by “rogue economists” Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner who discovered the hidden reasons why things were the way they are.  And their hypotheses are shocking . . . like the relationship between the drop in crime and the legalization of abortion or how Real Estate Agents are like the KKK . . . and so on.

Their finds are out there, but they make you think.

I’m going to do my best PRE impersonation of The Stephens by giving you an idea of something happening right now . . . that could have an effect on our biz way down the timeline.

What is it?

Football.

Or actually, the lack of football.

According to this article, high school football participation rates “have declined nationwide in six of the last seven years and are down 2.5% overall since 2008-2009.”

I’m sure you’re not surprised. We live in the “health and safety” era.  We worry about what we eat.  We worry about how pure our bottled water is.  So of course we worry about putting our kids in some pads and a plastic helmet when a coach tells them, “Run into that other guy . . . really fast.”

And the tipping point for a dramatic drop in that participation may be last year’s movie, Concussion.

So all those dudes . . . with no place to go.

Surely some will go to other sports like soccer and golf (whose participation levels were up last year), but there’s also a chance that we can pull a High School Musical on some of these males, and get them into the theater . . . or anywhere in the arts.

If I were a high school drama teacher or an arts educator, or heck the dang NEA, I’d be looking for ways to promote what we do to all those kids and parents who may be looking for a safer extra curricular. A spotlight beats friday night lights any day.

(And I actually bet the chances of having a successful career as an actor are better than the chances of having a successful career as a football player!)

Check back in with this blog in 10 years to see if I was right. 🙂

 

(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

– – – – –

FUN STUFF:

– Only 14 performances left of Daddy Long Legs.  Get your tickets today!  Click here.

– Only 14 days left to enter The Producer’s Perspective Tony Pool for a chance to win up to $1,000 in Broadway tickets!  Click here.

– Help Deaf West Theatre’s Spring Awakening perform on the Tonys!  15 days left to donate and $135,957 to go!  Click here to watch our cast and company tell you why it’s important for you to support our efforts.

 

Top 10 Takeaways from the Broadway League Spring Road Conference

Last week was cray-cray.

In addition to all the awards season mishegoss (one of my favorite non-gentile words) and the 114 benefits (including my fave, Broadway Bets), last week was also the week of the annual Broadway League Spring Road Conference, when National Touring Presenters from all around the country and their staffs come to New York to see shows, discuss the state of Broadway and the Road, and do some serious networking (also known as go to lots of cocktail parties).

It’s also a chance for Broadway shows to woo these markets for upcoming national tour bookings, not to mention Tony votes (Road Presenters make up a chunk of the 800+ Tony Voters so getting a bunch of them on your side can mean a good thing for a show’s chances).

In addition to the great speakers both from within our industry and from outside our industry, one of the highlights is the “Creative Conversations” or panel discussions with members of the creative teams of some of the new shows on Broadway or the real movers and shakers in the biz.  And this year, the Broadway League turned it out!

The Crucible‘s panel was moderated by Aaron Sorkin.  Seth Meyers sat down with the Chairman of NBC, Robert Greenblatt.  And George C. Wolfe . . . well, he didn’t need anyone else but himself to kill that crowd with his keynote.

I was there, along with most of the biz . . . and as these speakers spit out scintillating truth nuggets, I scooped ’em up and now I’m putting ’em in this blog for you . . .

Here are my Top 10 Takeaways from this year’s Broadway League Spring Road Conference!

1. “I start writing from a place of outrage. Hope and love are found along the way.” – Danai Gurira, Eclipsed

2. “Diversity means ‘I see my story in yours.'”  – George C. Wolfe, Shuffle Along

3. “I aspire to be the role model that I was looking for at 7 years old.” – Ali Stroker, Spring Awakening

4. “[Songwriting is] a radical exercise in empathy.” – Sara Bareilles, Waitress

5. “The key to getting more and more universal, is getting more and more specific.” – Bartlett Sher, Fiddler on the Roof

6. “I’ll take a hate-watcher over a non-watcher.” – Robert Greenblatt, Chairman of NBC

7.  “If anyone can tell you what the secret of musical theater is, they’re lying.” – Andrew Lloyd Webber, School of Rock, and you know, that show with the guy in the mask.

8. “It’s our job as theater-makers and theater-producers to say we all belong.” – Liesl Tommy, Eclipsed

9.  “You have to bring other people behind you.  You can’t just make your own path.”  – Jeanine Tesori, Fun Home

10.  “You don’t cut something because it’s not good.  You cut something because it’s not serving the greater good.” – Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton

Oh, and there’s one more.  A bonus . . . because it’s my favorite.

11.  “I know the rules.  And now I know how to break them.”  – Danai Gurira, Eclipsed

If you want to see and read more about what happens at the Spring Road Conference, search the hashtag #LeagueSRC or just click here.  Because what happens at the Broadway League Spring Road Conference . . . lives forever on social media.

And maybe I’ll see you there in person next year!  (Click here for information on joining the League and how you can attend.)

 

(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

– – – – –

FUN STUFF:

– Only 14 performances left of Daddy Long Legs.  Get your tickets today!  Click here.

– Only 15 days left to enter The Producer’s Perspective Tony Pool for a chance to win up to $1,000 in Broadway tickets!  Click here.

– Help Deaf West Theatre’s Spring Awakening perform on the Tonys!  16 days left to donate and $143,842 to go!  Click here to watch our cast and company tell you why it’s important for you to support our efforts.

Help The Cast of Spring Awakening Get to The Tonys.

The cast of Deaf West’s Spring Awakening has been on quite a ride.

Their original production opened in a 99-seat church basement in downtown Los Angeles just about a year and a half ago.  The cast came from all over and included some who were discovered on YouTube and others who were performing in front of an audience for the very first time.

A year later they were on Broadway.

And now, the show is a Tony nominee for Best Revival of a Musical.

It’s pretty amazing.  Especially when you consider some of these actors were told that they could never have a career in the theater.

But the story doesn’t end there.

Because now they’ve got a chance to perform on Broadway’s biggest night, in front of millions of people . . . on the Tony Awards.

That’s right, the cast of Deaf West’s Spring Awakening has a chance to appear on stage at the Beacon Theatre and showcase their unique talents to the rest of the world, letting everyone know that Broadway is indeed the most inclusive place on earth, and inspiring others to believe that anything is possible if they put their minds to it.

But they could use your help.

You see, performing on the Tony Awards is an incredible honor.  But it’s expensive.

What you may not know is that the the shows themselves have to foot most of the bill for their performance.  And it’s a lot of money.  (Remind me not to produce live television award shows, by the way.)

Why do the shows have to pay?  First of all, it’s important to know that they don’t have to, they want to.  Shows could turn down the opportunity to appear (if asked), but most (if not all) are happy to pay, since a performance on the show is like getting a three and half minute international commercial.  It would cost millions for that kind of exposure.

And given how expensive it is to get a number on the air (from mandated union labor expenses to tech rehearsals for each and every number to design elements used (projected or otherwise), and so on and so on), if the shows didn’t pay, there’s no way the telecast would exist . . . or it would be super boring because there wouldn’t be a number on it!  Instead, the shows are happy to put up the money.

The challenge for Spring Awakening, however, is that, as you know, its limited run ended on January 24th.  So in addition to the usual costs for performing on the Tonys, there are additional expenses, including gathering the cast from all corners of the country, additional rehearsals, dragging our costumes and props out of storage, etc.  It’s a lot more challenging than just trucking our peeps and stuff over from a midtown theater after a matinee.

How much is it going to cost?

$200,000.  At least.

On a running show, funds for a performance on the Tonys would come from the advertising and marketing budget, the hope being that the exposure would increase ticket sales, and those costs would be recouped.

But what about a show like Spring, whose limited run has ended?  When there isn’t a chance to recoup those costs?

Our show ended on January 24th.  And the financial books are just about buttoned up now.  We don’t have $200,000 to spend, no matter how important it is to all of us that this cast get the chance to appear on the show.  And honestly, even if we had the money, it wouldn’t be fiscally responsible for us Producers to ask our investors to foot this bill, especially with all they’ve risked in the first place.

At the same time, how could we not take the opportunity to show the world this courageous cast of hearing and deaf actors (not to mention the first actress ever in a wheelchair on Broadway), and to prove, on Broadway’s biggest night, what the power of inclusion and diversity can do?

Could we just say, “No, thanks.  We’re gonna pass.  We’ll have another opportunity like this another time?”

Would you?

I didn’t think so.

And that’s why Deaf West is asking for your help.

To fund that original production of Spring Awakening in that 99-seat theater on skid row in Los Angeles, Deaf West turned to Kickstarter to make it happen.

And now, they’re coming full circle, and once again appealing to their friends, family, fans, and people all over the world to help get their history-making cast of Spring Awakening their shot on the biggest stage in the world.

It’s a lot of money to raise on Kickstarter.  And there’s only 17 more days to do it.  And as you know, on Kickstarter, if you don’t raise the full amount, you don’t get any of it.  My fellow co-producers and investors in the show are already kicking in (I’m so very blessed to have partners like them), I’ve made my own commitment, and I hope you can too.  There are all sorts of cool prizes for folks, including a chance to come to our Tony party all the way down to signed posters and social media mentions.  And they just added a lunch date with Oscar Winner Marlee Matlin!!!

And whatever you give is a donation to Deaf West Theatre, so it’s all tax deductible.

Click here to watch the video that the cast and company of Spring Awakening put together. They explain why this show is so important to them, and why it’s even more important that the world see what they’ve done.

I hope it inspires you as much as working with them has inspired me.

And I hope you can find something, whether it’s what you’d spend on a ticket to Hamilton or what you’d spend on a latte at Starbucks, to give to their incredible cause.

And spread the word.  Send this blog to folks, or share the Kickstarter page.

Or just send people to www.GetSpringOnTheTonys.com.

Cuz they’re gonna do this.  World, look out, here comes the most courageous and inspiring cast of performers you’ve ever seen.

 

(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

– – – – –

FUN STUFF:

– Only 15 performances left of Daddy Long Legs.  Get your tickets today!  Click here.

– Only 16 days left to enter The Producer’s Perspective Tony Pool for a chance to win up to $1,000 in Broadway tickets!  Click here.

– Help Deaf West Theatre’s Spring Awakening perform on the Tonys!  17 days left to donate and $160,436 to go!  Click here to watch our cast and company tell you why it’s important for you to support our efforts.

End of Q4 and FINAL results for Broadway’s 2015-16 season.

There are some things I don’t like to be right about.

And where we ended up at the end of this season is one of them.

Last August I wrote a blog predicting that the previous years of box office growth on Broadway were unsustainable, and that we were about to experience a market correction in the next 12-18 months.

And, unfortunately, it seems that the correction has begun.

Before I give you this year’s results, look at these numbers:

– In the 2013-14 season, the box office grew by 11.4% over the previous season.

– In the 2014-15 season, the box office grew by 7.6% over the previous season.

And now for this season’s growth.

– This year, the box office grew by an insignificant 0.6% over the previous season.

And that paltry growth is despite there being an increase of 1.4% in playing weeks.  To translate that stat into layman’s terms:  more shows did not bring in more money (but those additional shows were responsible for a small uptick in actual “butts in seats” attendance figures).

Honestly, I’m shocked that we saw any increase at all.  That’s the good news.  The industry is proving to be more resilient to a correctional period than it has been in the past.  That resilience is mostly due to all the premium pricing going on out there (and this year specifically we owe that to “The Hamilton Factor”).  Can you imagine what the end of season would look like without premium pricing tickets included?  I’d bet you a couple of Hamilton tickets that we’d have seen a significant drop.  (Side note:  I’d also bet that the % of premium priced tickets is going UP every year and contributing more to the total tally than in the previous season.)

So the good news is that thanks to the “price is no object” customer, we’re tougher than ever.

The bad news is that . . . this is just the beginning.

Remember, two of the four reasons that I predicted this market correction would occur haven’t even happened yet:  The Olympics and The Presidential Election.

And both of those events tend to, ahem, “trump,” going to see shows (and just take up way too many headlines, leaving little room for anything else).

Couple that with the fact that I don’t see a Hamilton on our radar in the coming year, and, well, we’re going to have a hard time keeping our grosses growing.

Here are your official results for the 2015-16 season:

GROSSES

  • Final gross for the season was $1,373,253,725.
  • Last season we grossed $1,365,232,182.
  • That’s a 0.6% increase from last season.

ATTENDANCE

  • 13,317,980 people saw Broadway shows in the 2015-16 season.
  • 13,104,078 people saw Broadway shows last season.
  • That’s a 1.6% increase from last season.

PLAYING WEEKS

  • There were 1,648 playing weeks this season.
  • There were 1,626 playing weeks last season.
  • That’s an increase of 1.4% from last season.

Click here to read my original blog about the market correction.

 

(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

– – – – –

FUN STUFF:

– Only 16 performances left of Daddy Long Legs.  Get your tickets today!  Click here.

– Only 17 days left to enter The Producer’s Perspective Tony Pool for a chance to win up to $1,000 in Broadway tickets!  Click here.

– Are you a Director looking for a project to work on?  Sign up for our Director Database to find Producers and Writers looking for Directors!  Click here.

 

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