Our Broadway revival of Once on this Island is NOW on sale! Guess which theater?

We announced that Once on this Island was happening a few months ago.  And we even threw out opening dates.  And then we even opened up about our international search for Ti Moune, which took us all the way to Haiti (wait until you see the video from this trip).

But announcements are just that . . . announcements.  A veteran Broadway Producer once said to me, “A show is real when you can buy tickets to it.  Everything else is just a press release.”

Well, then as of today, Mr. Veteran Broadway Producer, Once on this Island is as real as real can be.

Because the show is officially on sale!

And we’ve also announced our theater.  And that theater is . . .

Circle in the Square!

I couldn’t imagine a more perfect setting for this intimately beautiful musical.  As you know, since my very first show, I’ve always loved theatrical experiences that put audiences in the action, and when you’ve got a theater in the round (especially for a show that takes place on an island – see what we did there), the audience feels like . . . well, they’re on that island too.

And just wait until you see what Director Michael Arden and Choreographer Camille A. Brown have in store for the audience’s experience on our Island.  And yeah, I’d expect a design that takes advantage of the round walls as well.  Cuz the cool thing about the only theater in the round on Broadway, is that you can do stuff that people haven’t seen before.  (And for those of you who heard me speak at BroadwayCon then you know that design may include everything from water, sand, and maybe even a chicken!)

So it’s all happening.

And it’s on sale right now.

You can get tickets (and great ones, since we literally just flipped a switch moments ago) right here.  Groups of 10 or more can be ordered here.

Oh, I know what you’re going to ask next.  Who’s in it?

THAT I can’t announce yet.  You know, contracts, and such.  But let’s just say I don’t think you should wait to get your tickets.  And I know, I know, all Producers say that.  But let’s just say there is some serious Tony Award-winning talent coming your way.

Get your tickets to Once on this Island here.

Get group tickets here.

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Could this new play’s NY debut be the start of a trend?

A press release wound its way into my inbox a few weeks ago, trumpeting the NY debut of a brand new play by a Pulitzer (!) and Tony Award-winning playwright and featuring some nice Hollywood names in the cast.

“I wonder what Broadway theater they’re playing,” I muttered as I read the release.

And then I realized they weren’t playing Broadway at all.

“I wonder what high-fallutin’ non-profit theater they’re playing,” I said, coming to what could only be the next logical convention of how this new play would land in New York.

And then I realized they weren’t playing a non-profit either.

Nope.  Building The Wall, the brand new, super timely, already-rave-reviewed new play by Robert Schenkkan (All The Way, Hacksaw Ridge), starring James Badge Dale (“The Pacific,” The Departed) and everyone’s favorite forensic detective Tamara Tunie (“Law and Order: SVU”) will open at a commercial (!) Off Broadway theater this summer for a strictly limited engagement of 10 weeks only.

The play, which was written as a response to the current administration, has already started rolling out around the country.  It’s obvious that the super smart strategy by the author, the author’s agents, and the producers, was to get the play out in the world as fast as possible, to as many theaters as possible.

And with the current real estate crisis on Broadway, with no theaters available on a moment’s notice, and with non-profits planning their seasons years in advance there was only one option left to satisfy that strategy.

Commercial Off Broadway.

I have been touting the theory that Off Broadway might boom as a result of the real estate crunch for awhile now, and I’m happy to see the first real example of it happening with Building The Wall.  When A-list creative teams and A-list actors start showing up Off Broadway again just to do great work, audiences will follow.

And commercial Off Broadway just might wake up from the coma it’s been in for the last decade or so.

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Want to follow my Once on this Island team in Haiti?

In the wee hours of this morning, the alarm clocks of Director Michael Arden, Set Designer Dane Laffrey, Assistant Director Nikki M. James, Casting Director Craig Burns, Videographer Jordan Axelrod and Digital Marketing Exec Crystal Chase, went off.  They got dressed, finished some last minute packing, and headed to the airport before the sun was up.

And just a couple of hours ago, they boarded an American Airlines flight, and are currently in midair, on their way to hold the very first Broadway open call in Haiti.

Since Michael and I started talking about a revival of Once on this Island, he told me he wanted to go to this island nation, to research the communities that have been through the tragedy of the earthquake, yet have found a way to rebuild (sounds like the story of OOTI, now doesn’t it?).

And then we thought we should give the people who have been through what they’ve been through, and came out on the other side, the chance to show us what they can do . . . and give them the same shot that we’re going to give people in Detroit, Atlanta, Chicago, New Orleans, NYC, and LA as we tour the country searching for that special girl out there, our Ti Moune, who is just waiting for life to begin.

So that’s what they’re going to do tomorrow.  They’ll also be touring the island, visiting historic sites, including a music school, churches, and much more.  It’s going to be quite an adventure.

And you can follow along!

The Once on this Island team will be posting updates including photos and video of the team on the following social channels.

Facebook:  OnceIslandBway
Twitter:  OnceIslandBway
Instagram: OnceIslandBway

Click the links above on the social media channel of your choice and watch this history making trip unfold right before your eyes.

Want to participate in the convo?  Us the official hashtag:  #OnceIslandBway.

And, if you want TheDirectorsPerspective (see what I did there?), you can follow our Captain my Captain, Michael Arden himself (who has a pretty terrific social account).  He has promised some good stuff.

Michael Arden Instagram

I couldn’t be prouder of my Once on this Island team for making this trip (and getting up so dang early).  They will be wonderful Broadway Ambassadors, as they bring a little dose of theater to a place and to a people that aren’t as fortunate as all of us that are surrounded by it every day.

I’ll be following their inspirational journey and I hope you do too!


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Why I’m producing Once on this Island on Broadway THIS FALL.

To be honest, I wasn’t even sure what it was about.

I had just moved to the city about a week before to start my sophomore year at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, after deciding to leave my pre-law dreams at Johns Hopkins behind and to pursue a career in the theater.  I was still nervous as to whether I made the right decision or not.  So, during that first week I was binging on every piece of theater I could get a ticket for, looking for some divine musical inspiration.

I had already seen the big Tony nominees that year . . . Will Rogers Follies, Miss Saigon, Secret Garden . . . all big, spectacular shows that I enjoyed.

But there was one left.

I had heard some great buzz about the show from the 1.5 friends I had since I arrived in the city, but I still wasn’t sure what to expect when I walked into the intimate Booth Theatre on that September eve in 1991.

What I got was one of the most joyous nights in the theater I have ever experienced.

It was Once on this Island.

I was still a bit afraid to take the subway in those days (it was 1991, after all!), so I walked everywhere.  But I’m telling you, I practically danced all the way home from 45th to 16th Street, with those incredible Stephen Flaherty/Lynn Ahrens tunes bouncing around in my head, and a ginormous smile on my face.  I was happy, and I was energized, and I felt like I could change the world.

And I remember thinking, “This is why I don’t want to go to law school.  Because I want to do shows that make people feel exactly how I’m feeling right now.”

Flash forward twenty-five years (!) and after Spring Awakening was up on its feet, I turned to director Michael Arden (who had inspired me every step and ‘sign’ of the way during that production) and said, “Hey . . . what do you want to do next?”

He barely let me finish the question before he answered . . .

Once on this Island.”

And I practically had Stephen and Lynn on the phone before he could finish getting out the title.

I couldn’t think of anyone better to direct it.  See, Michael has a way of taking a treasured piece of theater, and with a few ideas that seem so simple (but are certainly not), enhances the experience for a modern audience.  He’s like a giant magnifying glass to a classic painting.  Through his directorial lens, you see every brush stroke and every shade of color of the original work but in greater detail than ever before.  And it just explodes to life in a way you never imagined . . . but that just makes sense.

When you see a show of his you find yourself saying, “Of course that’s how to tell this story today,” while at the same time saying, “I never could have come up with that in a hundred years.”

And those are the kind of artists I want to work with.

When he explained his vision for Once on this Island to me, which is inspired by the recent storm-torn regions of Haiti, New Orleans, and the Philippines, and then to Stephen and Lynn, we put the show on the fast track.  We all just wanted to see it realized . . . now.  Because, unfortunately, it seems we need its timely message of acceptance and love and how to rebuild a community after a ‘storm’ more than ever.

So, today, I am thrilled to announce that Once on this Island, directed by Michael Arden, choreographed by Camille A. Brown, and with vocal design (You ain’t heard nothing like this, let me tell you) by Ann Marie Milazzo  and new orchestrations by original orchestrator Michael Starobin (with some new instruments (!) you’ve never heard before – click here for more on that), and a set design by Dane Laffrey (Michael’s Spring Awakening), will begin performances on November 9th, 2017 and open on December 3rd.  (Theater to be announced!)

And there are a few more exciting names on the creative team and in the cast coming soon . . . but it’s just a little too early to let that info spill . . . as much as I want to!

Speaking of cast . . . for those of you who know the show, then you’ll probably remember that the lead character of T iMoune is found in a tree (!), and taken in by foster parents who raise her as their own, and then watch as she goes on to . . . well . . . change the world.

When we were talking about casting that role, we thought . . . we need to make sure that young women all over have a chance to be discovered in the same way that Ti Moune is discovered, and in the same way that LaChanze, who originated the role to such incredible acclaim, was discovered.

That’s why we’re setting out on an international casting search for Ti Moune, going to some of the usual places, like LA and Chicago, but also going to a few unlikely places where Broadway shows don’t often audition, including New Orleans . . . and yep, Port-au-Prince Haiti.

You can read all about the casting search, including how to audition (and get a “fast pass’) and a message from LaChanze herself, here.

Single tickets for Once on this Island aren’t on sale yet, but you can be the first to find out when they do go on sale by clicking here.

However, you can reserve groups tickets of ten or more (with no payment required now) by clicking here.

And, of course, I’ll be giving out updates right here on this blog, so sign up here to make sure you don’t miss any inside scoop.

I’m not sure if you can tell, but I’m excited.  I just know the potential of this show and the potential of the artists involved.

And I know that after you see it, you’ll be dancing all the way home too, with that big, musical-theater inspired grin on your face, just like the one I had twenty-five years ago.

See you on the Island.

UPDATE:  Tickets are now on sale for this incredible cast, including Tony Award winner, Lea Salonga.  Get them here.

Did you miss TEDxBroadway? 2016 Videos released!

Wouldn’t it be cool if all of Broadway was like TEDxBroadway?  So if you missed the Broadway run of a show that you really regret, like, oh, I don’t know, Angels in America (this blogger), you knew that eventually the video would be released, and you’d be able to at least catch it in its 2D form?

Unfortunately, we can’t all be like TEDxBroadway . . . the cutting edge conference that I helped found way back in 2012 . . . which just yesterday released all of its 2016 speeches for public consumption!

In other words, you can see them all . . . now . . . by clicking riiiiiiiight here.

Watch and listen to Jennifer Ashley Tepper talk about The Intersection of Real Estate and Art or Derrick Wang talk Scalia and Ginsburg on Broadway . . . or, my favorite, the Artistic Director of Deaf West Theatre, Mr. David “DJ” Kurs, talk about how Our “Limitations” Are Actually Superpowers.

Or don’t pick one.  Watch them all.  My TED Tip . . . when you’re eating lunch (which if you’re like most of us in the theater biz, you’re doing at your desk, and in about 15 minutes), toss on a TEDx video.  They are terrific lunch time viewing.  You’ll learn a little bit with each and every bite.  I watch one a day.  Like a multi-vitamin for the brain.

Enjoy this year’s TEDxBroadway videos . . . and I hope they inspire you to use your superpowers to push the boundaries of the theater into the great beyond.


(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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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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