It’s Hamil-time! My reaction to the 2016 Tony Nominations.

It’s #Hamiltime!

Hamilton just made history (ironic, wouldn’t you say?) when it garnered 16 Tony Nominations this morning, besting The Producers and Billy Elliot.

As usual, it was a morning of “Yep, as expected” and “Oh no they didn’t!”  So let’s start my recap with how I did in my predictions from yesterday.

1.  Best Musical

I predicted . . .

Hamilton
Waitress
Shuffle Along
American Psycho

And those smarter-than-I nominators slipped in Steve Martin’s Bright Star and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s School of Rock over the shock-and-awe American Psycho, once again proving that the fourth (and in this case, fifth!) slot can be a toss-up.  Man, oh man, I wish I could see how close the vote was on that one.

Score for Ken?  3 out of 5.

2.  Best Play

I predicted . . .

Eclipsed
The Humans
King Charles III
The Father

And I nailed.  This one was an easier category to pick, mostly because of the limited number of new plays this year.  Oh, and I think I know why we may be seeing fewer and fewer plays.  But more on that in a future blog.

Score for Ken . . . 7 out of 9.

3.  Best Revival of a Musical

Um, so first, let me say . . . YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  WOOHOO!!!!  Well, how about them apples!?!?!?!?!?!

Ok, and now back to my regularly scheduled blog.

I predicted . . .

The Color Purple
Fiddler on the Roof
Spring Awakening

And, you know what happened?  The system worked!  As I discussed yesterday, with only five eligible shows for this category, there could have only been three nominees, which would have put one of the four terrific revivals out on the street.  But, a rule that allows there to be a fourth nominee if there is a close enough race (three votes!) was enacted and boom time, in addition to my predictions above, She Loves Me gets added to the list. I have to give credit to the Tony Admin Committee for not only this tie-breaking rule, but also for expanding the number of nominators over the years.  This year there were 49.  Just a few short years ago, that number was in the 20s.  Ties like this wouldn’t be possible without more nominators, and all four of these great productions wouldn’t have gotten a nom.

Also . . . Yippppppeeeeeee!!!!!

Happy to get one wrong in this case.

Score for Ken . . . 10 out of 13.

4.  Best Revival of a Play

I predicted:

A View from the Bridge
The Crucible
Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Noises Off

And dang it, wouldn’t you know that the nominators pulled another “Ahh, let’s add another great production to the mix” in this category too!  I’m a big time Blackbird fan, so I was glad to see that production get included.

FINAL Score for Ken . . . 14 out of 18 or a 78% . . . or in Elementary School scoring . . . a C+.

Eh.  Not great.  But you know what?  This year, I don’t care so much. 😉

Other tidbitty takeaways from this year’s nominations:

  • Surprised to see so few noms for On Your Feet! (1).  I expected some performance nods, but those acting categories were tough this year.
  • Proof of that is no nomination for 6-time winner Audra McDonald.
  • Super pumped for Spring Director Michael Arden and his well deserved nod. Remember when he was solely an Actor?  Nope.  Herr Director is born.
  • Hollywood stars were left out in the cold this season, with no noms for Bruce Willis, Keira Knightley and Al Pacino (who I dreamed about last night for some reason – he told me to “tweet” at him).

For a full list of the 2016 Tony Award nominations, click here.

What did you think of the nominations?  How did you fare in your predictions?  What was the biggest shocker for you?

And, do you think #Hamiltime will roll on through the awards and will they beat the record for most wins evah???

Comment below . . . and then gear up for a fun five years of awards drama!

 

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My Predictions for the 2015-16 Tony Nominations.

As you’re reading this, the Tony Award nominators are holed up somewhere deciding theatrical history.

I know, I know, that sounds dramatic (pun intended) but it’s not.  There have only been 69 Tony Award ceremonies before this year’s.  And yeah, Audra McDonald has won almost 10% of the time.

So the nominations, which are announced in less than 24 hours, are huge.

They can change careers, and if you remember this blog about what happens when the nominations come out, they can change the business trajectory of a show.

Let’s add to that drama by making some predictions, shall we?

Here are my predictions for Tony Award nominations for 2015-16 (in the four major categories).

1.  Best Musical

Hamilton
Waitress
Shuffle Along
American Psycho

I know the Producers of Shuffle wanted the show to be a revival, but I actually think the “new” musical designation locked a nomination for the show, whereas in the revival category it would have had to battle.

There are a few shows up for that last spot (expect Waitress to take the third), including Bright StarTuck Everlasting, On Your Feet! and School of Rock, but I expect that the nominators will give it to American Psycho, for the ambition of it all.  (And I think if Allegiance had opened in the spring, it could have given it a run for its blood money as well.)

2.  Best Play

Eclipsed
The Humans
King Charles III
The Father

Once again, it’s the fourth slot that’s the one up for grabs in what is a very quiet category this year. There are some super plays in the bunch but none of them are doing super business.  Perhaps that’ll change come tomorrow?

3.  Best Revival of a Musical

The Color Purple
Fiddler On The Roof
Spring Awakening

What’s that?  Only three?  Did I forget something?  Oh no, see, here’s where things get interesting.  When Shuffle became a new musical, a “5 and under” rule was automatically enacted that says, and I quote directly from the Tony Award rules and regs:

Where there are five or fewer eligible shows in a Best Show category, at the Tony Nominating Meeting, the Nominating Committee will be instructed to cast one vote each for three eligible shows as nominees on his/her secret ballot.  Such ballot shall be collected and tabulated by a representative of the Accounting Firm.  The three eligible shows with the highest number of votes will automatically be designated as the nominees in such category.  A fourth nominee shall be added to the category in the event that the Accounting Firm determines that the difference in votes between the third highest-ranked show and the fourth highest-ranked show is three votes or less.

With only She Loves Me and Dames at Sea as the other potentials, this category immediately becomes a list of three instead of four.  (There is the chance for a fourth slot as specified above, but I don’t see that happening.)

It’s an interesting rule, obviously designed to make sure categories aren’t just filled out by shows that don’t deserve to be a part of theatrical history, but this year proves why this rule just may need closer examination.  Because there were some Tony-kickin’ revivals.

There’s no question that my own Spring Awakening and the other revivals that I’m predicting will get the nomination were challenged by the late to enter the race but quick to get rave reviews, She Loves Me.  But at the end of the day, I think the nominators will check the box of the three shows that presented the most unique productions of these classic shows, rather than a more traditional interpretation (which I loved).

4.  Best Revival of a Play

A View from the Bridge
The Crucible
Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Noises Off

Miller dominates this category, just as he does every time there’s a revival of one of his plays.  Yes, the productions are terrific, but it just goes to show you how brilliant the plays are themselves.  They just seem to always be good.  Always.  Noises Off will sneak in just to add some levity to it all.  How much death and despair can we have in one category?

 

I’m feeling pretty good about my pics this year.  What do you think?  Agree?  Disagree?

Comment below what you think the nominees will be . . . and then check in tomorrow to see how we all did.

Because history is about to be made.  Again.

 

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The Long & Winding Road to Broadway for 10 Tony Award winners.

How do you get to Broadway?

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t as simple or as clever as the ol’ Carnegie Hall “practice, practice, practice” joke.  Because the truth is there is no one path that shows take to the Great White Way.  Sure, out-of-town tryouts are still a thing, just like they were in the days of Oklahoma! and Gypsy.  But what kind of out-of-town tryout?  A regional tryout that has a commercial Producer enhancing the production?  Or a full-on “four wall” commercial out-of-town tryout?  And do musicals open cold on Broadway anymore?

As a Producer, I often lay out what I think the best path is for my show to get to Broadway . . . and then, almost without fail, that path changes.  Maybe the material changes, or maybe the creative team changes, or maybe the theater availability changes, or maybe another show leap frogs over the first and is ready faster, or maybe the show is ready right away so you can skip one of your predetermined steps.

You’ve heard the expression, “Man plans.  God laughs.”  I like to say, “Producers plan.  The theater Gods say, ‘Are you effin’ kidding me?'”

To give you an idea of the different paths that shows can take to get to Broadway, we made a map of the last ten Tony Award-winning Best Musicals and with their pre-Broadway productions and the years they opened on Broadway to show you just how they all ended up in the same place.

Enjoy it.  Use it to help plan your path to Broadway.  And you can always print it out and use it as a placemat.

The Road to Broadway

 

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What did you think about this year’s Tony Awards? “Survey says . . .”

Before I get to the results of my Tony Awards Telecast Satisfaction Survey, let’s start with a little data about the survey itself.  I’ve been doing these surveys for five years now, and this year, we had more than DOUBLE the entries of any other year.

So while the Tony ratings may have slipped this year, ours got twice as good.  🙂

Oh, and side note . . . for all you folks out there that are blaming the Tony Awards rating slippage on the fact that an NBA game was on, I got news for you.  Hold onto your b-balls because this one is a shocker.  The Tony Awards and the NBA don’t share the same audience.  I know, I know, that statement is as shocking as someone unexpected dying in the season finale of Game of Thrones, but it’s true.  A sports game is not stealing our audience.

Ok, moving on . . . let’s see how those that tuned into the telecast (who I’m sure couldn’t have cared less about who was even playing in the game or what sport was even being played) thought of the show!

  • 91.80% of Producer’s Perspective readers watched the Awards
    • NOTE FROM KEN:  Next year we’ll ask how you watched – online, on tv, on your phone – and also if you were on your computer as well, reading Facebook, watching people like me live tweet, etc.
    • ANOTHER NOTE FROM KEN:  I’m mad at the other 8.20% of you who didn’t watch.  Next year I’ll ask why you didn’t, and you best have a good excuse.  I’m talking your power went out and the President of the United Nations came over for some tea or something.
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, here’s how you rated the Tony Awards Telecast:
    • 6.05% gave it a 10
    • 12.90% gave it a 9
    • 27.02% gave it an 8
    • That’s a 45.97% “8 or better” rating, compared to last year’s “8 or better” rating of 50.82%
  • Compared to last year’s telecast:
    • 11.59% said it was much better
    • 34.50% said it was better
    • 24.39% said it was the same
    • 24.12% said it was worse
    • 5.39% said it was much worse
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, here’s how you rated the hosts:
    • 14.97% gave them a 10
    • 15.37% gave them a 9
    • 20.54% gave them an 8
  • Your favorite part of the telecast was:
    • The opening number – 3.08%
    • Production numbers – 46.05%
    • The hosts – 8.57%
    • Finding out who won – 20.48%
    • Acceptance speeches – 14.19%
    • The presenters – 1.20%
    • Other – 6.43%
  • Your least favorite part of the telecast was . . .
    • . . . not seeing the Creative Awards live.
  • Your favorite musical number was . . .
    • Fun Home – 37.27%
    • Something Rotten! – 28.15%
    • The King and I – 8.58%
    • An American in Paris – 6.70%
    • On The Town– 6.43%
    • It Shoulda Been You – 4.83%
    • Finding Neverland – 2.95%
    • On The Twentieth Century – 2.55%
    • The Visit – 1.34%
    • Jersey Boys – 0.67%
    • Gigi – 0.54%
      • NOTE FROM KEN:  This result shocked me.  The stand out favorite production number, Fun Home‘s “Keys”,  wasn’t a “production number” at all.
  • We asked what you would suggest to the Tony Producers to make it a more exciting evening.  Here are some quotes that represent the most common themes I heard:
    • “Include actual scenes from the Best Play and Best Play revival nominees.”
    • “Put the tech awards & special awards back on prime-time broadcast!”
    • “Bring NPH back!”

Since we have been studying your thoughts on the Tonys for half a decade now, I thought I’d pull some of this data together into a graph, and show you what the trend has been over the last five years.

Below is that graph – indicating what percentage of you have given the show an “8 or better” (which is what I call a “positive rating”) since 2011.

Let’s take a look!

graph

Ok, so, you’d like to see things get a bit better.  Now here comes the hard part.  Give me your comments below on how to get that “8 or better” back up to the 90% it was in 2011 (that was NPH’s 2nd time hosting and the year that Book of Mormon won almost everything).  Because if you want something to get better, you gotta take an active part in the process.

So, as Coalhouse wails away in Ragtime, “Let them hear you!”  Enter your comments below.

 

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Five reasons why Fun Home winning the Tony for Best Musical is great for Broadway and Beyond.

Now that the champagne bottles have been recycled, and those “Rent the Runway” dresses have been returned, it’s time to look at what happened on Sunday with an objective eye.

Look, I had a show in the hunt for Best Musical, and winning that award could have had a huge impact on the business, and my life . . . so even though I didn’t expect it to win, I mourned the loss along with everyone else who didn’t march to the podium that night.

Sigh.

But you can’t mourn forever, and as I look back on Fun Home‘s win, I can’t help but reflect on the reasons why its victory is a positive thing for Broadway overall, even if it wasn’t so great for me personally.

Here are five reasons why Fun Home‘s win is great for all of us:

1.  TWO, TWO, TWO HITS FOR THE PRICE OF ONE

An American in Paris grossed 1.3 million dollars last week.  And over a million the week before.  Its financial future was already bright.  I’m sure tours and international productions were already being planned.  And I’m sure those sexy ballet dancers and those Gershwin tunes they showcased on the telecast sold buckets of tickets.  It was already a hit.  Fun Home?  Well, maybe.  Grosses were going up.  But was a tour locked up with this subject matter?  Would it recoup?  Would tourists want to see it without the Tony?  All of those were big questions until Sunday night.  Not anymore.  Their box office surged to 5x their normal volume on Monday.  In other words, they were not a hit.  Had they not won?  Who knows.  So, now, we have two hits on Broadway, instead of just one.  And hits help everyone.

2.  WHAT ROAD VOTE?

I wrote this in my wrap-up on Monday but it bears repeating.  For years, Tony handicappers have tried to argue that the award was swung by the presenters all over the country who voted for what they thought their subscribers would like to see on the road.  Nail.  Meet coffin.  That argument is dead.  And frankly, it was never alive in the first place (Hello Avenue Q?).  In my opinion, when the voters are all alone, staring at their ballot, they vote for what they think is “best,” which is what moved them the most . . . moved them to tears, to laughter . . . but whatever moved them the most.

3.  YOU’LL NEVER HEAR THIS AGAIN

Here’s something you’ll never hear a Producer say ever again . . . “Oh, that idea can never be a musical – and certainly not a Broadway musical.”  Can you imagine pitching Fun Home to someone?  It’s about a lesbian cartoonist and her gay father who kills himself.  Fun Home proves that any idea . . . that’s right . . . any idea . . . successfully executed can raise the money, get a theater, sell tickets, and win a g*ddamn Tony Award.  Remember that when you’re working on your next project.

4.  IT AIN’T ALWAYS ABOUT SPECTACLE

Fun Home takes up residence in one of Broadway’s smallest theaters.  It has a tiny cast, a tiny orchestra, and hardly any costume changes.  In fact, of the last four winners, I’d qualify three of them as non-spectacle shows (FH, Gentleman’s Guide, and Once).  And all of them were produced in “play houses.”  Our audience’s appetite for size and spectacle is waning.  Now they just want good.

5.  BRING ON THE RISK

When shows like Fun Home win awards and achieve commercial success, investors start to have a stomach for more risk.  Producers raising money for shows will be able to point to it as a show with a non commercial idea that can break through and make money.  And more risk leads to the expansion of the art form.  And that’s when things get really exciting.

Oh, and one more . . . perhaps the most important . . .

6.  FORGET A BOTTLE, THERE’S A MESSAGE IN A MUSICAL

More people will see Fun Home now than if it had not won the Tony Award, both on Broadway and beyond.  There will be more subsidiary productions.  There will be more community theater productions.  More people will read it, study it, learn it.  And that means its incredible message of tolerance, acceptance, and being who you are, no matter how different that may feel, will be spread to all corners of the globe.  You see, the theater is the best spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down.  And its medicine is oh so important.  The world will be just a little bit better thanks to the message of Fun Home.  

 

Broadway gets lambasted all the time for being a theme park, a place where only jukebox musicals or star driven revivals can survive.  And sometimes these critics are its own fans (how many chat board threads have you read about the lack of anything with integrity on Broadway?).  And sometimes I’m even one of them!

Fun Home‘s win silences them all.

And that’s why even though I didn’t benefit personally from its win on Sunday night, I think as an industry, we all won.

 

(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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