He would have written the greatest play about this.

Yesterday, the COVID-19 crisis got very personal for every one of us in the theater industry, as it claimed the life of one of our greatest playwrights and greatest gentlemen, Terrence McNally.

From Frankie and Johnny to Ragtime to Master Class to Anastasia to The Visit and so many more, Terrence was one of our most prolific writers, and something tells me that had this @#$%ing virus not got in his way, he would have had plenty more in him at his young age of 81.

Love Valour Compassion was my first McNally experience, which I saw in my early 20s on Broadway, and as I wrote about here, was one of the first times I audibly gasped when watching a play over something that a character said, not did.  Terrence could wield words like a weapon, and then use them to tuck you in at night just a few scenes later.

And then, still-pinch-me, I got to work with him.

The first time was as the Associate Company Manager on that marvelous original company of Ragtime.  I filled his house seat orders.  Got him a coffee every so often.  Yet he treated me like I had been working in the business as long as he had.

Then, with his incredibly passionate Producer and Husband, Tom Kirdahy, I produced It’s Only A Play on Broadway, which has been one of the most successful shows I’ve done.  It was a love letter to the theater.  And one of the reasons why it worked, was because Terrence @#$%ing loved the theater so much.  I mean, he wrote movies, tv, opera, etc. and could have kept writing in any one of those mediums . . . but he kept coming back to us.  It’s why I jumped on board as a Producer on Mothers and Sons, The Visit and that latest revival of Frankie and Johnny.  

And he was always there to inspire and encourage others.  He was one of my very first podcast guests (#4 to be exact) . . . and after he saw Gettin’ The Band Back Together, he sent me an email compliment that I tacked to my bulletin board, where it remains to this day.

Terrence didn’t just write great plays.  He helped shape society with the plays he wrote.  I’m so thankful he gave us the work he did, and angry that he was taken from just too soon.

But I know what he’d want for all of the TheaterMakers who are heartbroken today is for us to take all of that emotion we are feeling and put it into our work.

God, I’m sure you know this, but if you ever need someone else to write your story again, you’ve got the best with you now.

Introducing The Producer’s Perspective LIVE! Starting TONIGHT at 8 PM

Last weekend, when I realized I wouldn’t be seeing a lot of my friends, acquaintances (or “virtually” anyone) in-person for quite some time, I started reaching out via FaceTime, Zoom and Text just to check-in and see how they were doing.

Well, they showed me.

In the first few moments of our chit-chat, they had me laughing, they had me learning (sharing their tips of how they were getting through this), and they had me inspired to do something to help anyone out there who need the same medicine that I inadvertently did!

That’s when I thought . . . more people need to hear from these amazing folks.

So that’s what we’re doing.

Inspired by my podcast and the little pick-me-ups I described above, tonight we start TheProducersPerspectiveLIVE!

Every night at 8 PM EDT, we’ll have a superstar TheaterMaker join us for a brief chat about how they are doing, what they are doing, and what tips they are for you on getting through, and eventually, getting back to what we all love to do . . . make theater.

And yes, that’s right . . . no recorded edited episodes here.  These will be LIVE and ON VIDEO, streaming live on Facebook.

And just look at who has already shot their hand up and said YES, I’ll do it!

Stephen Schwartz – Tuesday, March 24th
Sierra Boggess – Wednesday, March 25th
Alex Brightman – Thursday, March 26th

Rick Miramontez – Friday, March 27th
Stephen Flaherty – Saturday, March 28th
Pam MacKinnon – Sunday, March 29th

Steven Sater – Monday March 30th
Jennifer Tepper – Tuesday, March 31st
Alan Cumming – Wednesday, April 1st
Leigh Silverman – Thursday, April 2nd
Sergio Trujillo – Friday, April 3rd
Jeanine Tesori – Saturday, April 4th
Anthony Veneziale

David Henry Hwang
Andrew Lippa
Lonny Price
Kevin McCollum
Zalmen Mlotek
Ryan Scott Oliver
Damian Bazadona
Drew Hodges
David Rockwell
Jack Tantleff
Al Nocciolino
John Caird
Des McAnuff
Stephen Byrd
James Lapine

It’ll be every night, 7 days a week.  And you can see the schedule for the series here.

I’ll kick it off tonight to talk a little more about it, take some questions (and honestly, test the technology before I get a big star online).

Tune in to my Facebook page TONIGHT, Monday March 23rd, at 8pm ET (7pm CT / 6pm MT / 5pm PT) to hear more about it AND get an update on what will be joining us.  And to find the most up-to-date schedule and list of guests, visit this page: www.TheProducersPerspective.com/Live.

See you tonight . . . and every night!  And don’t forget, the schedule is here!

 

TODAY: All Proceeds from our Be A Broadway Star Board Game go to the Actors Fund.

I’ve been getting a bunch of emails and tweets and Instagrams from folks around the world telling me that one of the things they’ve been doing during their shut-in is play our board game, Be A Broadway Star.

And we’re so glad that our game is able to bring a little Broadway to you since you can’t go to Broadway.

Since the game is putting some smiles on people playing it during this @#$%-ass times, we wanted to do a little something to help put some smiles on the folks who inspired it – all those journeymen and journeywomen in our business, from the actors to the musicians to the writers – especially those who might need a little assistance in the coming weeks.

So today, all proceeds from the sale of our game go to The Actors Fund, that fantastic charity that was built for times like these.  (Well, nothing was built for times like these – but if we all do a little something for The Fund – maybe they’ll be more prepared for the many actors and other theater makers who will need it).

If you don’t have the game, get it here today, and you’ll help make a difference for a performer, designer, director, etc, tomorrow.

It’s a great stuck-inside activity for kids and teenagers . . . and for you adults, there is even a drinking game version.

Get yourself something fun to do and make a difference in the process.  Click here.

Thanks.

10 Tips On How To Finish That @#$%ing Play, Screenplay or Whatever You’re Working on.

Everyone has an idea for a something . . . whether it’s a play, a movie . . . or even an app.

But as I wrote about here, ideas are worth zippo.  That’s why they can’t be protected by copyright.

However, when those ideas are forged into something specific and actually finished, they can be priceless.

So, how do you finish that idea you’ve been working on?  Because of the success we’ve had with our 30 Day Script Challenge, I decided to expand on that concept and write down the most effective tips I’ve learned (and use myself) on how to finish a script, a book, a blog . . . or just about anything.

You ready for ’em?

Well, they’re not here.

I put the tips in an article on that fancy new media site, Medium.com.  To see my 10 Tips on How To Write More Often And Actually Finish Something, click here.

And when you get there, make sure you . . .

  1. Sign up.
  2. Read the article.
  3. And give it a “clap” at the end, if you like it.

I hope they help get your project from the page to the priceless phase.

Click here to read it so you can start finishin’.

Looking for ways to hold yourself accountable for your success, finish that script, or get it to the next stage? Click here to become a part of my PRO community today and get everything you need to succeed!

 

The Three Types of Broadway Producers: Lead Producer, Co-Producer and Executive Producer EXPLAINED. (UPDATED 2020)

When I first started the blog, one of the most common questions I got asked was, “What does a Broadway Producer Do?”  That’s why I wrote this post way back when (which is one of the most read/searched blogs of the thousands I’ve written.)

Recently, I’ve gotten a slew of that exact same question . . . with one word tossed into the query.

“What does a Broadway (Lead, Co, or Executive) Producer Do?”

Because Broadway producing has become more complicated over the years, and since the responsibilities of a Broadway Producer have increased (in the same they have for Directors, Actors, etc.), there has been a need for different types of Broadway Producers to make sure a show is properly served.

But what are the duties and responsibilities of these three different types of Producers?  I wrote a bit about this in my new book on Broadway Investing, but I thought I’d flesh it out in a little more detail here.

So whether you want to be one or you need one, here is the definition of the three types of Broadway Producers.

LEAD PRODUCER

The Lead Producer of a Broadway show is like the CEO of a company.  Or, more specifically, since each show is a brand new enterprise, a Lead Producer is like the founder of a startup.  In fact, I often refer to myself as “a serial startup guy,” because if I have two shows in a season, that’s like two brand new companies, each with a unique product, a different creative team, a new round of capital, etc.

The Lead Producer of a Broadway show is responsible for finding the product (play, musical), whether he, she, or they come up with the idea themselves, or if he, she, or they are handed a script by a writer, or sees a show Off-Broadway and moves it to Broadway.  The Lead Producer is responsible for raising all of the money, overseeing advertising and marketing strategies, finalizing the budget, etc.

The buck stops with the Lead Producer, just like a CEO.

CO-PRODUCER

As producing on Broadway became more expensive over the past several years, Lead Producers started “subcontracting” out the financing to Co-Producers.  Co-Producers on Broadway invest or raise a certain level of capital in order to receive a preferred rate of return on their investment, as well as additional perks, including billing (which earns a Co-Producer Tony Award eligibility), attendance at advertising meetings, etc.

If a Lead Producer is like a CEO or a Chairman of the Board, then Co-Producers are like board members.  They bring money to the table, and therefore,  are able to get access to and have an influence on the producing of the show.  (How much access and influence depend on the style of the Lead Producer, and, of course, the experience of the Co-Producer.)

While a Lead Producer may earn a royalty and an office fee, most Co-Producers only earn money when a show recoups (unless they are investing or raising significant amounts of capital, in which case, they can also negotiate a piece of the Producer royalty, etc.)  To learn more about how Producers are paid, watch this video.

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

The Executive Producer on Broadway is the newest type of Broadway Producer on the block.  This position emerged as a result of the increase in the number of individuals looking to shepherd a show to Broadway as a Lead Producer, but who wanted an expert to help guide them through developing the business model, shaping the marketing strategy, securing (the right) theater, raising capital, advising the creative team on the script, maintaining the show in the 3rd year and beyond, etc.  While the Lead Producer still makes all of the final decisions, an Executive Producer serves as the Lead Producer’s consigliere, advising them along each step of the way.

There are many reasons Lead Producers hire Executive Producers.  They may be new to the industry.  They may be working on the production in another area (writing, etc.) and want to make sure someone always has their eye on the producing ball.  They may be extremely successful in another industry (entertainment related or not) and need someone to focus on the day to day because they lack the time to give the show what it needs to thrive.  Or, they may be a corporation that needs a figurehead in the rehearsal room as a representative of the company.  When $15 million is on the line (or even $5 million or $500,000!), having an experienced expert’s opinion and advice can be one of the smartest investment a Lead Producer can make.

While Executive Producers are “hired guns” for Broadway shows, a good one pays for himself, herself, or themselves several times over, by either saving the company money or making the company money through financial efficiencies, and/or by providing creative ideas (in the marketing, in the dramaturgy, etc.) that have a positive impact on the production itself for years to come.

(SIDE NOTE:  I expect that with the boom that Broadway is experiencing right now and the number of new Lead Producers getting into Broadway producing, especially those corporations, more and more Executive Producers will appear on the title pages of Playbills in the next ten years.)

If you are looking for more producing resources (or to network with producers) check out The TheaterMakers Studio where you’ll find video courses and tons of resources for producers. We even have a free Production Team Database where you can find producers for hire and create a profile for yourself for free!

To inquire about hiring me or a member of my producing team to Executive Produce your show, click here.

 

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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