A Will It Recoup Update. How is Broadway doing this Spring?

You forgot about this contest, didn’t you?

Back in February, we launched our second ‘Will It Recoup’ fantasy Broadway investment game and put a Kindle on the line.

The name of the game says it all (just like the name of your show should reflect exactly what your show is about).  It’s your job to pick the winners from the floppers in the Spring season.

So how are you (and the Broadway Producers) doing so far?

Here’s what we know and what we don’t:

A View from the Bridge: RECOUPED!
The Miracle Worker: Did NOT recoup.
A Behanding in Spokane: Did NOT recoup.
Next Fall: Did NOT recoup.
Looped: Did NOT recoup.
Red: RECOUPED!
Lend Me A Tenor: Too soon to tell.
Fences: RECOUPED!
Enron:  Did NOT recoup.

So that makes a total of 3 Broadway shows out of 9 that have recouped already. That’s a pretty bountiful Spring, considering the statistical average is 1 out of 5 (although it is certainly not a coinky-dink that two of the three shows that have recouped featured Hollywood mega-stars Denzel Washington and Scarlett Johansson).

Still, the game is not over.  We’ve still got one show on the fence.  We could have quite a good year if it falls into the win column.

How are you doing?

Well, there are 27 of you who picked those three shows to recoup, and the five shows that did not.  27 of you are still in the money!

So…it all comes down to Lend Me a Tenor.

See you in August!

My Tony predictions and yours revealed.

Can you hear it?

Every year, as Tony Sunday approaches, you can hear the chatter about who’s gonna go home with a trophy get louder and louder.

So let’s add to it!

My predictions are always like the odds for the horses running in the Kentucky Derby  they change daily until the event.  And this year, since we have so many neck-and-neck races, picking the winners is harder than ever.

But I’m going to give it a shot!

I’m also going to reveal what the majority of YOU think is going to win!  Last night we closed our official Producer’s Perspective Tony Pool with a record number of players!  We had well into the THOUSANDS of entries!  Woo-woo!  And one of those lucky contestants is going to win an iPad!

So here goes . . . here are my predictions for this year’s Tony Awards, and yours (along with the percentage that made up the majority so you can see how tight the race is).  Remember, these are not “should win” . . . they are “will win” predictions.

Here goes:

1.  Best Sound Design of a Musical

My Prediction:  Robert Kaplowitz (Fela!)

Your Prediction:  Robert Kaplowitz (Fela!) – 36.3%

The Sound Design award is one of the newest Tonys we have, so it’s even harder to predict what the voters will do.  I’m with you . . . Fela’s music was so unique, so its sound had to be as well.

2.  Best Sound Design of a Play

My Prediction:  Acme Sound Partners (Fences)

Your Prediction:  Adam Cork (Enron) – 31.1%

Sorry guys, I don’t think enough of the voters saw Enron to make it a winner.  I’m going with what I call ‘Tony by Association’ and giving the award to Acme for Fences.  The sound at Fences was terrific, but the votes that will put it over the top are for the show as much as they are for the sound.

3.  Best Lighting Design of a Musical

My Prediction:  Kevin Adams (American Idiot)

Your Prediction:  Kevin Adams (American Idiot) – 57.3%

The lighting in Idiot is amazing . . . but Adams also benefits from the cool projection designs that voters probably lump into the same category (even though he didn’t do them).  And that begs the questions . . . with video and projections a part of more and more shows every year . . . will we see a Projection or Video Design Tony soon?

4.  Best Lighting Design of a Play

My Prediction:  Neil Austin (Red)

Your Prediction:   Neil Austin (Red) – 43.1%

Ironically, I think Neil is going to get this award for the brilliant lack of lighting used in an early scene of this play.  For those of you who haven’t seen the show, there is a incredible display of the contrast between theatrical lighting and stark work-light early on that makes you realize just how talented all lighting designers are, and Neil will get a trophy for helping teach us that lesson.

5.  Best Costume Design of a Musical

My Prediction:  Matthew Wright (La Cage)

Your Prediction:   Matthew Wright (La Cage) – 69.6%

Making men pretty has a high degree of difficulty and my readers and I agree, that’s worth a Tony.

6.  Best Costume Design of a Play

My Prediction:  Catherine Zuber (The Royal Family)

Your Prediction:   Catherine Zuber (The Royal Family) – 43%

When in doubt, go with the period piece.  Zuber’s work is always beautiful, and she’ll snag another Tony for her work on Family.

7.  Best Scenic Design of a Musical

My Prediction:  Christine Jones (American Idiot)

Your Prediction:  Christine Jones (American Idiot) – 50.1%

When American Idiot was steamrolling into town, I don’t think anyone thought it would be cleaning up the design awards, but you and I agree that this’ll be the second Tony for the rock opera so far.  But with the strange lack of nominations for Idiot in other categories (Orchestrations anyone?  Direction?), could the design awards be the only awards that Idiot wins?

8.  Best Scenic Design of a Play

My Prediction:  Christoper Oram (Red)

Your Prediction:  Christopher Oram (Red) – 33.2%

You all weren’t so sure about this one, with 33.2% making up the majority.  I’m not sure either.  Part of me wants to say Fences again, but ultimately, I think the title of the play, Red, screams design elements, which will help Chris grab an award for his cool way of putting canvases on stage.

9.  Best Orchestrations

My Prediction:  Daryl Waters and David Bryan (Memphis)

Your Prediction:  Daryl Waters and David Bryan (Memphis) – 42.2%

No contest here.  The only original score grabs the orchestration award.

10.  Best Choreography

My Prediction:  Twyla Tharp (Come Fly Away)

Your Prediction:  Bill T. Jones (Fela!) – 44.2%

Oh, readers, we were seeing eye to eye for so long.  We differ on this one.  This is where I think Tony voters like to spread the love around.  Come Fly Away won’t get honored in any other categories on Tony night, so Twyla will be given the category that makes the most sense for the show . . . and she deserves it.  Just how in the heck does she get bodies to move like that anyway?  Don’t feel bad for Bill.  His love is coming.

11.  Best Direction of a Musical

My Prediction:  Bill T. Jones (Fela!)

Your Prediction:  Terry Johnson (La Cage) – 41.9%

Terry did brilliant work in making this production of La Cage stand out not only from the recent revival, but also from all previous productions of the show.  But I think the voters will want to make sure Fela! gets recognized, and this is how they’ll do it.

12.  Best Direction of a Play

 

My Prediction:  Kenny Leon (Fences)

Your Prediction:  Michael Grandage (Red) – 32.8%

For a long time, I was with you all.  I was giving it to Grandage as well, but I flip-flopped and am predicting Leon will have new hardware for his mantle after Sunday night, partly because of the amazing performances in Fences, and partly because of the body of his Wilson work, and the fact that he has never won before.

13.  Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical

 

My Prediction:  Katie Finneran (Promises, Promises)

Your Prediction:  Katie Finneran (Promises, Promises) – 43.3%

I think we’d all love to see Angela get a 6th award, but how can we not give this one to Katie Finneran? You know how they added songs for this revival that weren’t in the original?  After seeing Katie’s scene, I couldn’t help but wish they had written a new scene for her at the end of the second act!

14.  Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical

My Prediction:  Robin de Jesus (La Cage)

Your Prediction:  Bobby Steggert (Ragtime) – 23.2%

Only 1.9% separated three of the nominees in your choices for the winner of this tight category.  While a lot of folks are pulling for Bobby to pull it out, at the end of the day, I just don’t think enough voters caught his Younger Brother.  So, I’m going with the scene-stealing de Jesus.

15.  Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play

My Prediction:  Scarlett Johansson (A View from the Bridge)

Your Prediction:  Scarlett Johansson (A View from the Bridge) – 36%

Only 36% of you think Scarlett’s going to take this one?  I’m shocked, cuz this one is a lock.  Give it to the girl, already.

16.  Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play

My Prediction:  Stephen McKinley Henderson (Fences)

 

Your Prediction:  Eddie Redmayne (Red) – 31.4%

Tough, tough category, but I think Fences will get a hat trick of performance awards on Sunday, with this being the first (see below for the other two).

17.  Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical

 

My Prediction:  Catherine Zeta-Jones (A Little Night Music)

Your Prediction:  Catherine Zeta-Jones (A Little Night Music) – 38.3%

Zeta seems right to me, but there has been a lot of buzz about Montego lately. This could be a big upset, in the style of Idina over co-star Kristin Chenoweth in 2004.  I picked Kristin then, and I’m picking Zeta now, just like you.

18.  Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical

My Prediction:  Douglas Hodge (La Cage)

Your Prediction:  Douglas Hodge (La Cage) – 47.7%

The range of how this role is written certainly helped Hodge seal his Tony fate, but he plays every inch of that range to perfection.

19.  Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play

My Prediction:  Viola Davis (Fences)

 

Your Prediction:  Viola Davis (Fences) – 55.3%

Even more of you think Viola is going to win than Denzel!  And she will.

20.  Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play

My Prediction:  Denzel Washington (Fences)

 

Your Prediction:  Denzel Washington (Fences) – 41.5%

What a freekin’ category.  Walken, Washington, Law, Schreiber and Molina? Come on.  It’s like actor heaven.  I sort of feel these guys should be treated like the President and the Vice President and not be allowed in the same location for too long in case something happens to one or the other.  Despite the competition, Denzel will take the trophy, partly for being snubbed years ago for his performance in Caesar. He has returned, and he kicked acting a$$ in the process.  And the hat trick I spoke of earlier is now complete.

21.  Best Original Score

My Prediction: Fences 

Just kidding, just kidding.  That was a joke.  Sort of like the two play nominations that rounded out this category.

My Prediction

:  David Bryan & Joe DiPietro (

Memphis)

Your Prediction:  David Bryan & Joe DiPietro (

Memphis) – 74.7%

Rumor has it that David Bryan is missing a Bon Jovi concert to be at the awards. I think he picked the right day to play hookey, and so did you.  I can’t wait to hear his acceptance speech.

22.  Best Book of a Musical

My Prediction:  Dick Scanlan and Sherie Rene Scott (Everyday Rapture)

Your Prediction:  Joe DiPietro (Memphis) – 41.3%

You’ve got a point, readers. You’ve got a point. Memphis is a traditional book musical.  DiPietro is loved by everyone in the biz. But so is Sherie, and I think since DiPietro will have some other trophies to play with after Sunday, this one will surprise everyone and go to Sherie and Dick.

23.  Best Revival of a Play

My Prediction:  Fences

Your Prediction:  Fences – 61%

I hate to see Bridge lose, because I loved it so, but Fences was an event that demands to be rewarded.

24.  Best Revival of a Musical

My Prediction:  La Cage aux Folles

Your Prediction:  La Cage aux Folles – 64.6%

Yet another reason why I wished I would have produced this one is that it’s gonna win the Tony.

25.  Best Play

My Prediction:  Red

Your Prediction:  Red – 53%

Tony voters like “smart” plays, and Red qualifies.  It’s so smart, it even feels British, doesn’t it?  Yet it was written by a guy who grew up in Jersey.  My money is on him bringing that Tony back home to Jersey Monday morning.

26.  Best Musical

My Prediction:  Memphis

Your Prediction:  Memphis – 47.8%

You know what was interesting about your predictions?  47.8% (the majority) picked Memphis.  Second place at 29.6% was NOT American Idiot.  It was Fela!Idiot came in third at 19.3%.  It seems that no matter how many folks like Idiot, they also don’t think it represents the type of musical that gets awarded on Tony night . . .and I have to agree.  Memphis feels like the big Broadway musical that voters like to pin their badge of approval on.

Well there it is.  Another year of predictions.  I promise I’ll let you know the winner of the pool and the iPad by Wednesday of next week at the latest, so stay tuned.  I also promise to give you my score as well, no matter how humiliating.

For those of you who want to play in another pool, make sure you come to my Tony Party on Sunday night.  We’re giving away a Nintendo Wii to whomever wins that pool!  Click here to reserve before it’s sold out.

But wherever you are . . . Enjoy Tony night!  And make sure you tell everyone you know to tune in. Let’s see what we can do about these ratings, shall we?

2nd Annual ITBA Nominations Announced

The Independent Theater Bloggers Association, of which I am a proud member and co-founder, announced its 2nd set of nominations for excellence in the theater recently.

The list is as follows:

BROADWAY

OUTSTANDING NEW BROADWAY MUSICAL
American Idiot
Everyday Rapture
Fela!

OUTSTANDING NEW BROADWAY PLAY
In The Next Room (or the vibrator play)
Next Fall
Red
Superior Donuts
Time Stands Still

OUTSTANDING BROADWAY MUSICAL REVIVAL
Finian’s Rainbow
La Cage aux Folles
A Little Night Music
Ragtime

OUTSTANDING BROADWAY PLAY REVIVAL
Brighton Beach Memoirs
Fences
Lend Me A Tenor
Oleanna
A View From The Bridge

OFF-BROADWAY

OUTSTANDING NEW OFF-BROADWAY PLAY
Circle Mirror Transformation
Clybourne Park
The Orphans Home Cycle
The Temperamentals

OUTSTANDING NEW OFF-BROADWAY MUSICAL
Bloodsong of Love
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
The Scottsboro Boys
YANK!

OUTSTANDING OFF-BROADWAY REVIVAL (PLAY OR MUSICAL)
The Glass Menagerie
A Lie Of The Mind
Twelfth Night

OFF-OFF BROADWAY

OUTSTANDING OFF-OFF-BROADWAY SHOW
Alice In Slasherland
Girls In Trouble
In Fields Where They Lay
Lear
MilkMilkLemonade
Rescue Me
Samuel & Alasdair: A Personal History of the Robot War
The Soup Show
Viral

UNIQUE OFF-OFF-BROADWAY EXPERIENCE
The Lily’s Revenge

CITATION FOR EXCELLENCE IN OFF-OFF-BROADWAY THEATRE
Company XIV

ALL VENUES

OUTSTANDING SOLO SHOW/PERFORMANCE
A Boy And His Soul
Zero Hour

OUTSTANDING ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE
Circle Mirror Transformation
A Lie Of The Mind
Twelfth Night

Winners will be announced on May 20th, along with citations for excellence by individual performers.

For more info on the ITBA, including how to join, visit www.theaterbloggers.com.

Congrats to all and good luck!

A fancy “futures” version of “Will It Recoup?” for Hollywood.

Cantor Fitzgerald is betting that there are a lot of people that want to be a part of the movie biz.

Last week, the New York Times announced that the financial firm is in the final stages of approval for a futures exchange on the success (or lack thereof) of Hollywood movies.

Here’s how it’ll work:

Think the new Will Ferrell movie will bring in $100 million during its opening weekend?  Buy a $100 million contract for 100 bucks.  If it does $150 million? You make $50.  If it does $50 million?  You lose $50.

Fun, right?  CF has been testing the potential interest in this market on its faux site, HSX.com, which allows you to play fantasy Hollywood with fantasy dollars. Check it out here.

Obviously the test went well, because they are proceeding full speed ahead and expect regulatory clearance on their actual exchange on April 20th.

The execs at CF expect participation from studios (a hedge against their own films?), institutions, and movie lovers who want who want to put their money where their mouth is. As Richard Jaycobs, the president of Cantor Exchange said, “I’ve worked in the futures industry for a long time and none of the products has the overall appeal that this does.  This just has a tremendous potential audience.”

Think we can get them to create a Broadway Futures Exchange next?

I’d put my money where my e-mouth is that there’s a tremendous potential audience for Broadway investment involvement as well . . . it’s just that most people don’t know how to be involved.

– – – –

Until they do create that exchange, we’ve got ‘Will It Recoup’ . . . and to give you a quick update, we did put one in the YES column when A View From The Bridge announced.  Other than that, it’s still anyone’s game (although there are a few shows out there that are unfortunately already on the brink).

10 Questions for a Broadway Pro. Volume 1: A Broadway Mad Man.

Today on The Producer’s Perspective we’re introducing a brand new feature, which is a spin-off on my Advice From An Expert articles.

In “10 Questions for a Broadway Pro,” I ask . . . yep . . . a Broadway Industry Professional 10 Questions!

We’ll talk to all sorts of people involved in the modern theater and get their perspective on their job, their role in the biz and what they’d like to see change.  We’re gonna hear from Casting Directors, Marketing Directors, Press Agents, and more (let me know if there is a position you’d like to hear from).

The inspiration for this feature came from my first gig on a Broadway show.  I was the Production Assistant on the Barry and Fran Weissler revival of My Fair Lady, starring Richard Chamberlain and a 23-year-old Melissa Errico.  My duties included everything from getting Richard his fresh-off-the-bone turkey sandwiches to typing up the rehearsal schedule on a Mac Classic.

And it was one of the greatest times of my life.

The best part about the gig was that I was exposed to a whole bunch of people and positions that I never knew existed before.  The job gave me a chance to see who was pulling the curtain strings of Broadway . . . and made me realize that I was even more excited about being behind-the-scenes rather than in them (I was on the actor-track).

I used to ask everyone involved in the show questions about what they did. Thanks to their answers, I learned so much about what I wanted to do and what I didn’t want to do.

So, I thought I’d give you a virtual experience of what I went through back then, and introduce you to not only the biggest players on Broadway whose names aren’t on the marquees, but also help us all understand what exactly they do on a day-to-day basis.

First up is one of Broadway’s own Mad Men, Drew Hodges, the founder and CEO of SpotCo, one of the two Broadway heavyweight ad agencies.  (Drew also happens to be #21 on BroadwaySpace.com’s 50 Most Powerful People.)

Having sat in many an ad meeting with Drew, I can tell you that he’s one of a very rare hybrid that combines incredible business acumen with unbridled creativity.

Without further ado, here are 10 Questions with Drew!

1.    What is your title?

Founder, SpotCo Advertising

2.    What show/shows are you currently working on?

Next Fall, Million Dollar Quartet, La Cage, Memphis, A Behanding in Spokane, Chicago, The Pee Wee Herman Show, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Hair, A View From the Bridge, Billy Elliot, Fences, Time Stands Still, Red, In The Heights,  The 39 Steps, Avenue Q, West Side Story, Come Fly Away, Lips Together Teeth Apart, Present Laughter, The Miracle Worker, Blue Man Group, Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Love Never Dies.  In no particular order.

3.    In one sentence, describe your job.

We create identities and sell tickets for live theatrical events.

4.    What skills are necessary for a person in your position?

Creativity, marketing, problem solving, humility, humor, and fast thinking.

5.    What kind of training did you go through to get to your position?

I owned my own design studio doing advertising and design for entertainment – film, cable, and the recording industry – for 12 years. Before that, I got a BFA in Graphic Design from the School of Visual Arts.

6.    What was your first job in theater?

I did the poster for The Destiny of Me, the sequel to The Normal Heart for Tom Viola and Roger McFarland.  It’s a portrait of my right hand.

7.    Why do you think theater is important?

It creates joy and outrage, both often when we need it most.

8.    What is your profession’s greatest challenge today?

Conservatism, and too many cooks.

9.    If you could change just one thing about the industry with the wave of a magic wand, what would it be?

That every challenge be met with humor and poise, rather than blame.  The team is always better when unified and caring.

10.    What advice would you give to someone who wanted to do what you do?

If you wanted to work in advertising for theater, there are several paths to take.  If you are a graphic designer, video editor, web designer, etc., we just look for a great portfolio that has vibrancy, a sense of humor as a person, and the ability to move fast.  A love of theater is not essential, and often times, I like that people bring a more diverse palette to our Broadway materials.  If you wanted to be an account person, a writer, etc., a passion for theater is a great help.  A sense of marketing, or marketing courses as a background are nice.  We have several people from the BMI workshop, and the producing program at Columbia.  We also have people who have worked at other more traditional ad agencies, and that knowledge can be a huge help, when combined with the joy (or the heartbreak) of theater.

Because Drew is the kind of guy that always goes a little further in everything he does, he also answered a bonus question.  When asked what kind of advice he would give to someone that wanted to be a Producer, he answered as follows:

Surround yourself with the best people, and be willing to understand that every friend you have will tell you your project is perfect.  You need to listen to real people, and if your advance is falling, people don’t like it as much as you think.  The opposite is also true- if your advance is climbing, no matter how slowly, people are genuinely loving your show and you should keep going.

Want to hear more expert advice from Drew but don’t have a show that he can advertise yet?  Listen to some of his American Theatre Wing panels here.

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