How can we get people to see a show a second time?

One of the economic challenges of a long-running musical or play is that because it’s pretty much the same experience, it’s hard to get an audience to come back a second time (which is one of the more subtle reasons why it has to be higher priced).

It’s not like a sporting event, where each and every event is totally unique.  Nope, for traditional plays and musicals, we actually endeavor to make every event exactly the same night after night.

And then we try to run those events eight times a week for years.

So if you take our high prices and duplicated experiences, it’s easy to understand why getting an audience member to come back a second or a third time ain’t easy.

Obviously some shows tap into a repeater market, but I don’t care how wicked your show is or what in the rent it’s called, repeaters will never make up a majority of your audience.

Therefore, as I’ve written about before, you shouldn’t dedicate too much of your media resources behind trying to get an audience to come back.  You’d be better off getting that audience to encourage others to come for a first time.

That said, I got a direct mail piece from The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas yesterday . . . and they were trying to get me to come back (Hmmmm . . . I wonder why . . . could it be that my blackjack skills are not quite the stuff that make up MIT card-counting club movies?)

In the piece, The Venetian offered me a typical free Sunday – Thursday room (or a lower rate on a weekend), a discount on a meal . . . and, get this . . . a free John Madden video game.

I haven’t had time to play a video game since I signed on to produce Godspell, but for some reason, it got me interested in going back.

Now yes, a return trip to The Venetian will be a totally different experience (one can only hope – now I do know you always split 8s), but it still made me think . . . is there something we could offer to a customer apart for the usual lower priced ticket to get them to come back?

What about a free dinner at the restaurant next door?  Free CD?  What about the movie and/or novel upon which the show is based?  Or what about a free ticket to another show (You’d buy it from the other show – which would reduce your ticket price, but might be worth it).

Note to you that these ideas are all based on the concept that you have access to the names/contact info of your own customers – which we actually don’t have on Broadway (but should).

Again, I wouldn’t put major amounts of time and resources into the 2nd and 3rd time showgoer, because it is a difficult conversaion.

But maybe that’s because we haven’t found the right value-add for that audience?

What would get you back to a show for a second time?


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



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

– Enter The Sunday Giveaway!  Win 2 Tickets to Traces Off-Broadway. Click here!

Our 4th and Final Reading of 2011 is . . .

We’re going international, y’all!

On December 12th at 8 PM, we’ll have our final reading of the year and this time, we’ve gone overseas to get our subject.

Martha, Marina comes to us all the way from Romania, and was written by Bucharest native, Ana-Maria Bamberger.  Before her career as a playwright, Ana-Maria was a physician, but eight years ago she put down the stethoscope and picked up a pen keyboard.

Full disclosure – Martha, Martha has had a life before our reading in Romania, and a fairly successful one at that.  And after Ana-Maria picked up that keyboard, she picked up a few awards as well, and has gone on to quite a career as a playwright.

So why did we choose it for our developmental reading?

1 – I’m a big believer in building theatrical bridges/tunnels/skywalks from NYC to the rest of the world, and

2 – I thought it would be an interesting test to see how a play that has had success in another country and in another language would translate to NYCese.

And, I happen to know that while Ana-Maria loves having her work done in European theaters . . . there’s one place she’d really like to make it . . . and it ain’t London.

Save the date!  Davenport Reading Series goes global.

Monday, December 12th at 8 PM.  Invite will be blogged a week before.


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



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

– Enter The Sunday Giveaway!  Win 2 Tickets to Traces Off-Broadway. Click here!


Never let a cash machine pass you by.

So there I am, trotting down the streets of London, on my way to a restaurant that serves squirrel, when I realized I was out of pounds.

I saw a Barclay’s cash machine on the next corner (international traveler tip: cash machines often have the best exchange rates).  Since I was still a good mile or so from my squirrelicious destination, I let it pass me by.

“There will be another one along the way.  I’ll just get cash later,” I muttered in my faux British accent (I just can’t help it – whenever I’m there I start saying things like “Bollocks!” and “Cheers!”).

Well, wouldn’t you know it . . . there wasn’t another cash machine along the way.  Not a one.


The point?

When you need something . . . or when you want something . . . or when you like something . . . get it. Then.  Now.  Don’t wait.

Do you know how many people passed on Rent, probably intrigued by the melodies but thinking that they’d find something better . . . later.

Producing, creating, taking risks . . . this is hard stuff.  So it’s easy to come up with a reason to pass.  It’s harder to seize the opportunity when you find it and make the most of it.

If you don’t, you’ll end up at the end of your lonely journey with empty pockets.

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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