What’s the one thing you would change about Broadway?

Yesterday’s “Robot Vomit” poll got me in a pollin’ mood.  So, I had Intern Emily and a few of her friends hit Times Square, armed with a clipboard and a question.

This one was more general.  Emily et al asked 100 theatergoers in Times Square, “If you could change one thing about the theater . . . what would it be?”

We told the pollee, that they could answer anything except “lower ticket prices.”  (I think it would have been a pretty boring set of responses without that restriction, don’t you?)

I’ve decided to post all of the answers below, because I just find them so fascinating (since many of the people we spoke to were on the TKTS line, we also removed “shorter line” from the responses received).

When looking at free form response polls like this, I always look at the similar answers that pop up more than once.  Those are the ones that tell you something.  So keep your eye open for that while you read.

Oh, and I’m giving it away a little, but I’ll tell you that my biggest surprise from this list?  How many people said there was “nothing” they would change.  Makes you feel good, doesn’t it?

Alright, enough of the warm-fuzzies . . . on to the data.  Here is what a bunch of theatergoers would change about Broadway if they could:

  • Nothing!
  • Make ordinary people stars (don’t use celebs).
  • More dancing shows
  • Nothing
  • More matinees for people here just for one week
  • Nothing
  • More discounts
  • Getting a wrist band/anything that will allow you not to stand in line the day of getting tix at TKTS (Note from Ken – this is kind of brilliant)
  • Nothing
  • What does Partial View really mean?
  • Dinner before the show including with your ticket price
  • Nothing
  • More original Stories
  • Nothing
  • Revival of Les Miz (bring it back!)
  • Easier way to get tickets
  • It’s perfect!
  • More leg room
  • More intimate/smaller theaters
  • Nothing, love it all!
  • Comfortable seating
  • Start selling TKTS tickets earlier in the day
  • Big theaters
  • Free cocktails
  • More matinees
  • More locations to get discount tickets
  • Make an app for discounts
  • Put Producers names to promote them (Note from Ken – I swear I had nothing to do with this one – but we did tell this person about this blog I wrote).
  • Coupons
  • Open the doors to the theater earlier
  • More floor seating
  • More discounts
  • Nothing!
  • More “Big” shows with dancing
  • Easier way to get discounts
  • Comfy seats
  • Deal = buy one ticket get one free
  • More coupons
  • No intermissions
  • Book TKTS tix online so you don’t have to wait outside
  • Nothing, it’s great!
  • Buy tickets on your phone
  • Open doors at TKTS earlier
  • More room in seats at the theater!
  • More legroom
  • Better parking
  • Larger ladies rooms at theaters
  • Less musicals (take out the corniness)
  • Nothing
  • Nada
  • Seats while waiting in line for handicapped
  • Nothing!
  • More ways to get tickets online
  • I wished people dressed up more to see the show (have dress code)
  • Cocktails!
  • Put more discounts online!
  • Nothing!
  • Better theater etiquette
  • More hearing aids at the theaters

What about you?  If you could change one thing . . . just one thing about Broadway . . . and you can’t say, “cheaper tickets,” what would you change???  Comment away!


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Why people will always go to a theater.

There’s a chill in the air and a Ricky’s “Pop-Up” Costume Shop on my block . . . so that can only mean one thing.

Halloween is almost here.

Along with the usual slutty nurses, and snack-sized Kit-Kats, Halloween also brings us a slew of scary movies at the cineplex.

This season, we’ve got a sequel that’s scaring up some serious business . . . Paranormal Activity 3 . . . which shattered a record last week with its $54 million opening.

Why did this one do so well?

That’s the question that was asked of Don Harris, Paramount’s President of Distribution.  Don had a lot to say about sequels, reviews, and more.

But it was his final response that reminded me why all those who talk about the “death” of theater are just plain wrong.

Ultimately, it gets back to why there’s still a theatrical business, why people still go to the movies.  We want to laugh in a group, we want to be scared in a group, people like to cry in a group in the dark where nobody can see them crying. It’s all the reason movie theaters exist and this genre has always been front and center.

Obviously, Don’s talking about his industry of course, and not ours . . . but all the above is a primary reason why people go to our theater as well.

We just have to work harder to make sure we don’t lose any more of our audience to Don.

Because that, would be horrifying to us all.


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– Win tickets to Michael John LaChiusa’s Queen of the Mist!  Click here!

– Seminar alert:  Tune Up Your Marketing Materials – 10/29  &  Get Your Show Off The Ground – 11/19


Taxi! Take to me Broadway!

Did you know there are over 13,000 yellow cabs in NYC?  And over 50,000 drivers?

And guess what the #1 form of transportation is for a tourist in our fair city?

Yep, it’s a taxi.

Since tourists take taxis, and tourists make up the bulk of the Broadway audience, there’s got to be more that we can do inside those vehicles to help get the passengers to Broadway.

The tops of the taxis are covered in ads, and the TVs in the back can be purchased as well (for awhile, it seemed like Disney owned those mini-sets), but what about those 50,000 drivers?

In cities like Las Vegas, where tourists depend heavily on the taxi trade, shows and clubs invite the cabbies to experience their events, just like Broadway shows invite concierges and waiters/waitresses.

We don’t.  Ever.


Well, because NYC cabbies have a rep.  I mean, come on, my GPS is friendlier than 90% of the cab drivers I meet (at least my GPS talks to me, and doesn’t spend the whole ride on the phone).

We’ve made major strides in changing some of the perceptions about NYC over the past twenty years.  The sex shops are gone. The subway is safer.  But we haven’t been able to turn the taxi drivers into mobile concierges just yet.

If you’re reading, Mayor Bloomberg, it’s time to start focusing on turning the 50,000 drivers into our ambassadors.  It’s a major challenge, considering that driving a cab is a first job for so many that come to our country, but it’s unrealized marketing potential.  Their influence could be more powerful than any billboard, any banner ad, or any ad played on the TV set in the back seat.

After all, these 50,000 are the people that are literally driving sales.


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Trend alert: Matinees aren’t just for Wednesdays anymore.

Telecharge.com recently sent out an email to its customers with a subject similar to the subject of this blog.


Because this summer, a bunch of shows are shaking up their schedules.

  • Baby It’s You has performances on Friday at 2 PM.
  • Chicago has performances on Thursday at 3 PM.
  • Rock of Ages has performances on Friday at 3 PM.
  • Mamma Mia has a couple of Friday performances at 2 PM.
  • (Book of Mormon had some Friday mats scheduled at one point, but has since reverted to a standard sched.)

So what’s with this new strategy?  Well, it’s the summer, so more tourists are roaming the streets of Times Square, and these shows are trying to go around their competition.  While the shows may not sell out at these “odd” times,” the theory is that there are people that want to see shows at alternative times.  And while there may be 30+ shows competing for an audience on a Friday night, there may less than a handful competing for that audience on a Friday mat.  And a show just might net higher than on a Tuesday or Wednesday night.

London has always offered earlier Friday performances, and I’ve been pitching a summer “Friday at 5” schedule for years.

Most of these shows will snap back to their regular schedule when September comes, and by then we’ll have some data on whether the experiment worked.

I’ll try to do some digging to see if I can get a source from one of these shows to share.

Whether or not they work, big kudos to the decision makers on these shows for giving it a shot.  It takes a lot to deviate from the norm, especially in this change-resistant industry.

But exploration like this is how we discover new ways of solving age-old problems.


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A survey: what do people do when they LOSE the lottery?

My office is right next to Book of Mormon, so every day and twice on Saturdays, I see a 100+ folks crossing their fingers hoping that they’ll win the lottery and get to see the show that night.

30 or so people get lucky.

My question . . . what happens to the others?  These people are “in the mood” to see a show.  They’ve set aside the time to see a show.  They are in the location where lots and lots of shows happen.

Surely, they see another show, right?

Well as my mom always said, “Surely” is nothing but the name of our crazy neighbor with the 10 cats.

So, we decided to find out.

Last weekend, my staff and I hit the streets and asked lottery losers at Mormon, Wicked, and a few other shows in town just what they planned to do after their hopes and dreams were crushed by fate.

First of all, we wanted to know where they were from.  Do tourists know about the lottery?  Is this a NY secret?  Here are the numbers:

  • 46% of Lottery Players were from the tristate
  • 54% were from outside the tristate

It’s not the secret many of us thought it was.

When they lost the lottery, here’s what our responders said they’d do instead:

  • 31% see another show
  • 24% go home
  • 22% do something else (movies, shopping, lunch, etc)
  • 16% don’t know
  • 7% try to get tickets to that show (cancellation line, SRO, box office)
So what does that tell us?
Good news and bad news.
The good news is that 47% of the losers (“see another show” plus “don’t know”) could be ripe to buy tickets to something else (maybe your show).
Your challenge is making sure they find their way to your show.

The bad news is that 53% are not inclined to go to another show if they lose, even though they have the time, some cash, and are steps away from TKTS, other lotteries, theaters, etc.

And that’s the challenge for all of us.


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– 92 Days to Godspell!  Read the day-by-day account of producing Godspell on Broadway here.

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