How Super Bowl LV was EXACTLY like my first acting class.

I watched Super Bowl LV last night along with close to a kajillion other people around the world.

Ok, ok, that was an exaggeration.  Only 148.5 million tuned in.  Which, by the way, is the equivalent of 90,274 performances of Phantom of the Opera on Broadway – 6.75 times more than the 13,370 performances our longest runner has already logged!

Ok, ok.  That was another exaggeration.  I had my laptop open while I watched and did some work.  So I guess I only half-watched.  Or ‘tched?  Eh?  (Sorry, Dad jokes are coming in hot this Monday morning.)

You might have already guessed, I’m not a big football guy.  But give me a Tom Brady “underdog” story (who is almost as polarizing as Jeff Bezos!) and an excuse to eat Buffalo wings, I’m in!

And wouldn’t you know it . . . but as I ‘tched, I couldn’t help but notice a theatrical metaphor that I had to share.

Like most acting students, I was taught the basic fundamentals of acting/writing in one of my first classes on the subject with a simple improvisational exercise.

It went something like this:

  • Two characters stand on a stage.

  • One character wants something.

  • The other character doesn’t want the first character to get what they want.

Poof.  Instant drama.  No matter what that “want” is, whether it’s to get the other person to go out on a date or to give them $500 dollars . . . or to score a touchdown.

See where I’m headed?

Sporting events like football, where there are two teams, are the simplest form of classic dramatic structure there is.  I want to score.  You don’t want me to score.  We clash.  Eventually, one of us will lose.

And to make it even more thrilling of an event?  There’s a ticking clock.

Sporting events and theater seem so diametrically opposed (maybe that’s because there is such little crossover between the fans), but when you take away the shoulder pads and you take away the Capezio tap shoes, they are much more similar than you think.

So if you’re looking to make your show thrilling, take a page out of a football playbook . . . and make your show a sport.

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Believe it or not, this is NOT a good thing for Broadway.

On Tuesday, I insta-ed that I’d be posting tips and takeaways from the marketing conference I attended this week.

But you’re going to have to wait.

Because there was some breaking Broadway news this week that I felt needed a blog.

Honestly, when this news broke, I bet a whole bunch of people in the biz cheered enthusiastically (including a bunch of Broadway Producers).

And I wanted to make sure that people knew it wasn’t such a good thing.

Yesterday it was announced, that Broadway’s “Demon Barber of Shubert Alley,” gossip columnist Michael Riedel, is leaving his post at the NY Post.

Since Michael’s few hundred words a week can cut sharper than any knife in a drawer, it’s no surprise that Producers, Actors, Writers, etc. may be breathing a huge sigh of relief as he sheaths that sword and moves over to radio and a more general morning talk show.

Why am I not jumping up and down?  Here are my three reasons:

  1.  PSSSSST . . .There’s a reason why Michael kept his desk over the last decade, while critic after critic kept getting laid off.  Because people like gossip!  And gossip, good or bad, gets people talking.  And people talking about Broadway is (almost) always a good thing.
  2. HE’S MORE POSITIVE THAN YOU THINK. You might think that Michael only slammed shows, but if you look at his track record, I’d bet that the ratio of positive to negative slants were more 50/50 than you think (as humans, we only tend to remember the negative – you might get 10 great reviews on a show and 1 bad one, and you’ll focus on that bad one like it was the only one, am I right?). With Michael gone, we’re losing a positive outlet for our news in a paper that doesn’t dedicate much space to the arts.
  3. HE LOVED IT MORE THAN YOU THINK. When Michael appeared on my podcast (in its very early days), I was taken by two things. First, he knows his $hit. If I was on a Broadway trivia game-show and had a phone-a-friend option, it would be a serious toss-up between him and Jen Tepper as my go-to.  Second, he may not show it, but he loooooooooooves Broadway.  And when that kind of passion won’t be paid to talk exclusively about the theater anymore, it’s a big flop-like loss.

I have this feeling that Michael will still be around a bunch, and I have this secret dream that he’s leaving only so he can be a double-agent on morning radio and talk about Broadway non-stop, but losing him on our daily beat ain’t a good thing.

Because yes, most press, good or bad, is still good press.

(The Broadway space is now wide open for a gossip columnist, by the way . . . who do you think will take the spot?)

My takeaways from my marketing conference will be next week . . . in the meantime, listen to my podcast with Michael here. 

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Broadway Grosses w/e 2/4/2018: The Patriots aren’t the only ones who lost last week

The following are the Broadway grosses for the week ending February 4, 2018.
The Broadway grosses are courtesy of The Broadway League
Read more here:

Why you tune into the Olympics, and what that has to do with Broadway.

The Winter (Olympics) are coming.

In just a few short months, we’ll be watching Olympians from all across the globe strut their stuff on skis and skates (and also in that crazy curling sport that I still don’t quite understand).

So why do we watch the Olympics?

Because it’s the absolute best athletes in the world, doing what they do, certainly better than us, and better than 99.99% of the population as well.

They jump higher, skate faster, and have us constantly wondering, “How the @#$% does anyone DO that?”

And I’d bet, that if you think back to some of your greatest memories of seeing shows, you’d say the same thing about some of the performances you saw.

Great shows are filled with great performances of actors doing things that haven’t been done before . . .singing higher, dancing faster.  And these incredible displays of talent make us want to jump to our feet and hold up a sign that says, “10!”

Broadway is the Theatrical Olympics.  We just ask our athlete-actors to perform their routines 8x a week . . . for years.

What this means when we create shows, is that we have to look for opportunities for our actors to showcase their Olympic sized skills.  Because that’s what audiences come to see.  Shows can’t consist of parts that actors coast their way through.  No way.  If they’re not doing back-flips, then forget it, the audience will change the channel to something else that amazes them.

Great, jaw-dropping performances, are as much a part of a great production as a great set and a great score.

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ALERT:  Prices for The Producer’s Perspective Super Conference go up in just five days!  Register today and save $100.

Why I go to golf tournaments, which has nothing to do with golf.

A few weeks ago on a Sunday, I got up at about 6, grabbed a subway to the LIRR to a shuttle bus to the Glen Oaks Golf Club on Long Island to watch the final day of a PGA playoff event.

Now sure, I’m a golfer, a golf fan, and have even written about golf tournaments like this one before.

But that’s not why I go to golf tournaments.

See, the cool thing about a golf tournament is that if you plan your day right, at any time you can be standing just a few feet away from the greatest players in the world, for the same general admission price that everyone pays.  There is no courtside seating at a golf tournament.  There are some “super boxes,” but those aren’t close to the action.  Every man, woman or child can be up against the ropes if they think about where and when they want to be next to their favorite player.

And that’s why I go to golf tournaments.

Because one moment, I could be steps away from the #1 player in the world. And the next moment I can be watching a rookie who I think may BE the #1 player in the world someday.

Why is this important?

Sure, I learn about the game by watching their swing, by hearing them chat with their caddy about strategy and seeing what equipment they are using close up.

But the most important thing I learn . . . is that they are human.

Seeing them up close gives me a chance to see them screw up.  To hear them get frustrated.  To see them spit!  These greatest players on the planet aren’t walking on air . . . they put one foot in front of the other just like everyone else.  They just chose what they wanted to do and worked at it.  Hard.

And that’s inspiring.  Because if these human beings can do it. Then you and I can too.

That’s why I encourage you to get yourself around the “best players on the planet” in your theatrical field . . . whether that’s writers, directors, actors, or whomever.  Learn by watching them, listening to them . . . and also learn that they are just people that put one foot in front of the other, but walked ran sprinted like they were in a Tough Mudder race towards their goal, refusing to let anyone get in their way.

And what we do is easier than what athletes do!  You don’t get an advantage in writing if you’re 6’2″ and look like you’ve been cut from a slab of marble.  It doesn’t matter!

If you learn anything from the superstars in any industry, realize that they are human beings.   And you are a human being.

Which means you can do everything they can . . . and maybe even more.

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We’ve got a great group of the best “Players” in the world coming to our conference.  Are you coming?  Find out who’s coming and see the schedule here.