Our fourth and final reading of the year announced.

It seems like just yesterday we announced our reading series, and now, here we are, 9 months later, announcing the fourth and final reading of the year!

Usually we announce the next reading the day after our previous reading, so we’re actually a little late in this announcement.

Why are we late?

We chose a musical . . . and true to form, those f’ers just take more time to pull together.  🙂

So what will we be reading on Monday, December 13th at 8 PM?  (Shouldn’t musical readings be called singings?)

Date of a Lifetime, with book and lyrics by Carl Kissin, who comes from over 4000 shows with Chicago City Limits, and music by Robert Baumgartner, Jr., who comes with a MFA from Tisch’s Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program.

Date is about a man at a speed-dating event who introduces himself to a potential mate.  During their limited time together, he hypothesizes what their life as a couple might be like – going all the way from present day to her death.  Then . . . it’s her turn.

Now, I have a little secret to tell you about Date.

It’s not done.

We didn’t get a full script and score to this one, but we believed in the material we did see, we believed in the concept, and more importantly we believed in the team.

And that’s what Producers have to do half the time.

When I look back at the day Robyn Goodman, my partner on Altar Boyz, signed on to produce the show with me, I can’t believe she did it. ‘Cuz the script was certainly not ready for prime time.  But she saw the same potential I had seen two years prior.

Part of your job as a Producer is to see the swan in the disgusting duckling. Rent had been kickin’ around the city for years, before the right Producers saw what no one else could.

So come to the reading on Dec. 13th and see what Carl and Robert come up with.

Oh, and the reading will be held in a different location this time.  It will be held in . . . our own rehearsal studio!  We just underwent an office renovation here at DTE and I had to take a little more space than I wanted, so, I decided to turn it into a rehearsal studio!

And that’s where we’ll be doing the reading.

Hope to see you there!

To RSVP, email rsvp@davenporttheatrical.com.

5 Shows that stand out at NYMF.

Six years ago, Altar Boyz debuted at the NYMF.  And it changed my life.

Yesterday, the 7th season of NYMF kicked off.

And hopefully, a lot of lives will be changed when it’s over.

If you don’t know NYMF, you should. If the Fringe Festival is the Walmart of theatrical offerings (and for the record, there is nothing wrong with Walmart – it’s got everything you could ever want and then some at “everyday low prices”), then NYMF is the Madison Avenue boutique of musicals.

During the voting at NYMF’s Next Broadway Sensation last Sunday, which I was honored to judge, I flipped through the catalog of shows to see what stood out to me.

Here are five shows that caught my show-shoppin’ eye (in reverse alphabetical order, because, well, you gotta do things differently every once in a while):

1.  V-Day

If you’ve been in NYC a while, then you’ve probably heard of the late night escapades of the Don’t Quit Your Night Job crew.  Well, two of the crew, including the funny-in-every-show-he’s-in Steve Rosen, took a day job and wrote a musical about the holiday we love to hate, Valentine’s Day.

2.  Show Choir

I had an idea for a show choir musical a few years ago, and even did some research over pizza with real show choir members to get some ideas.  It was a hysterical brainstorming session.  Dramas are about characters, and there are some kooks in show choirs around the country.  I remember thinking, “There’s a successful show here somewhere.”  Let’s see if these guys found it.

3.  My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wican Wedding

Just when you think the gag-wedding-title idea is played out, here comes another one . .  and it still makes you laugh.  Unless you have a star, nothing . . . nothing . . . sells a ticket more than a title.

4.  Jay Alan Zimmerman’s Incredibly Deaf Musical

Comedy is born in contrast, and when you put the word “Deaf” next to “Musical,” it says, “I’m funny, unique, and about a hero overcoming a challenge.”  I’d bet that some of your favorite shows, movies and books have the exact same elements.

5.  Bloodties

The blurb about Bloodties describes the story of Ned Massey who was once called, “the finest talent since Dylan and Springsteen.”  Umm,  you had me at Springsteen.  (And BTW, where’s that jukebox musical?  I inquired some time ago and haven’t heard much lately . . . I know I’d have produced the bandana out of that one.)

So there you have it . . . the 5 NYMF shows that jumped out of the catalog and, like Tommy, screamed, “See me!”

Now, remember, you all know how this game works.  I haven’t read the scripts, seen the readings, etc.  Instead, I put myself in the mind of an audience member and a Producer (aren’t they one in the same?), and relied solely on the marketing, the titles, and the teams to tell me what show to see.

What happens then?

Only one way to find out.

To get tickets to all NYMF shows, click here.

Theater things that don’t make sense: Vol. 8

I was recently at a big ol’ touring house outside of NYC.  You know, one of those theaters in major metro areas all over the country that presents big national tours like Billy Elliot and Mary Poppins as well as concerts, lectures, local dance recitals and more.

I was talking to the TD of this theater, and he was telling me about his house plot.  You know, the bank of lighting instruments owned by the theater that can be used for small shows, or used to augment big shows, etc. (which allows touring shows to travel with less, saving them money in rentals and trucking and load-in time).  A house plot is one of the reasons that Altar Boyz was able to tour all over the country.

So I started thinking . . .

Why don’t Broadway houses have house plots?

If there were a string of basic instruments in each house, we could save time, money, and I’d bet a lot of those dark weeks that some theaters face could be filled by smaller shows or special events that wouldn’t normally be able to get their shows up without this savings . . . which would provide more jobs for everyone.  (The owners of New World Stages recently added a house plot to one of their small theaters, and it’s been booked more often because of it).

The theater owners could even charge a few more bucks for use of the package, paying for (and profiting from) their initial purchase of the equipment.

It’s my understanding that the current stagehand contract prevents leaving elements from one show to be used for another show without payment (since the guys are losing hours of work). While that argument seems to be another ‘theater thing that doesn’t make sense,’ I would think that a compromise could be had, since this “house plot” idea is in use all over the country, and since the existence of the plot could generate more gigs for the stagehands in the future.

With our costs escalating just about everywhere, we’ve got to look at ways to become more efficient . . . which means looking at things in ways we’ve never looked at them before.

Next up in our reading series? Heartland.

The first play in the Davenport Developmental Reading Series, Alex Webb’s Civil War drama, Amelia, was, well, as much fun as Civil War Dramas can be.

We had a great time, learned a lot, and the post-reading survey results on the play demonstrated that Alex was really on to something.  I look forward to giving you updates on what he’s up to next with the play.

It’s already time for the second date in our free reading series.  This time, we found our writer north of the border.  Steven Owad hails from Calgary, Canada.

And next Monday, June 14th at 8 PM, at the Mint Theater thousands of miles from his home, some great actors will read his new play, Heartland.

Steven describes Heartland as “a drama about three men on the brink of self-destruction in middle America.  Loners in a small community, they form a deadly triangle tempered by violence, revenge and a ruthless alpha-male need for control.”

I describe Heartland as a Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode . . . before Vincent D’Onofrio shows up.

The reading of Heartland will be directed by another kanuck, Mr. Stafford Arima, known for Altar Boyz, Tin Pan Alley Rag, and an Olivier nominee for the West End Ragtime.  Stafford was also lucky enough to be the first to get his directorial mitts on Carrie, when he staged the reading of that horror show earlier this year.

Stafford got some great actors to play the three alpha males in Heartland, including Greg Stone (Pirate Queen, Miss Saigon, Les Miz), Peter Lockyer (South Pacific, Phantom, La Boheme) and Wes Seals (The Quest for Fame, Sex Drugs & Rock ‘n Roll).

Seating is very limited so if you’d like to come and support a new writer and his work, RSVP ASAP to rsvp@davenporttheatrical.com.  We expect the seats to go very fast, because, well, it’s free.

See you there!

Heartland
Written by Steven Owad
Directed by Stafford Arima
Featuring Greg Stone, Peter Lockyer and Wes Seals

Monday, June 14th
8 PM
The Mint Theater
311 West 43rd St. (between 8th and 9th)
#307

See you there!

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“When I say Broadway, you say . . .” Survey Results revealed.

My staffers and I got into a discussion last week about what the word ‘Broadway’ meant to our ticket buyers.  What sort of images did it conjure?  What did they associate with it?  In other words . . . what did the brand of Broadway actually mean?

We decided to find out.

I sent a couple of my loyal staff members (and the ones with the warmest coats) to the TKTS booth to ask 100 female theatergoers the following question (we asked only females because they drive the majority of the ticket purchases):

“What is the first word that comes to your mind when I say the word . . . Broadway?”

Below is a list of the responses (only responses given by more than one person are listed):

Shows 15%
Plays 9%
Musicals 8%
New York 8%
Music 6%
Dancing 5%
Wicked 5%
Fun 4%
Singing 4%
Lights 3%
Theater 3%
Chicago 2%
Crowds 2%
Fabulous 2%
Lion King 2%

Pretty interesting, huh?

Kudos to the three shows that got on this list.  When your show equals Broadway, you’re doing pretty well.  The other good news is what was NOT on this list: expensive, uncomfortable seats, etc.  Actually, only one person out of the hundred associated the word Broadway with “expensive,” and that one comment was the only negative word associated with Broadway in the survey.

Since we found this information to be so valuable, and since my staffers’ coats were really warm, we decided to ask another question in the same style, to the same people.  Ready?  Here goes:

“What is the first word that comes to your mind when I say the word . . . Off-Broadway?”

Below is a list of their responses:

Plays 12%
Don’t Know 9%
Cheap 6%
Not as fun 6%
Theater 4%
Altar Boyz 3%
Fun 3%
New York 3%
Shows 3%
Small 3%
Avenue Q 2%
Comedy 2%
Dancing 2%
More shows 2%
Shoes 2%

Pretty scary, huh?

9% of the individuals surveyed couldn’t even come up with a word to describe Off-Broadway!  And not only were there negative associations in this top group, as opposed to Broadway’s survey which had only positive, but these negatives continued on with the rest of the sample.  Words like “sad” and “meh” and “wannabes” were amongst the single responses we recorded.  In total, over 30% of the people surveyed had a negative first thought about Off-Broadway.  (For those of you who think we misspelled “shows” and put “shoes” instead, unfortunately, you’re wrong. Google Off-Broadway.  The second search result is the reason why 2% of our survey said shoes.)

The takeaway from this survey is pretty obvious: Broadway’s brand is healthy and positive, while Off-Broadway’s image is damaged . . . kind of like Martha Stewart when she went away to prison.

But Martha came back . . . and so can Off-Broadway.  It’s just not going to happen on its own.

A model for the rebranding of Off-Broadway tomorrow . . .

What is the first word YOU think of when you hear Broadway?  Off-Broadway?  Comment below.

(Special thanks to Lindsey and Ashley for braving the elements for this sake of this study.

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