The Phantom sent me an email. Ooooh, creepy.

I signed up to receive email alerts from Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber some time ago. If you’ve never checked out Webbie’s website, you should.  The guy video blogs, emails, and more.  He’s got to be the most social networking-savvy Knight there is.

He’s definitely the most social networking-savvy Tony Award-winning musical theater composer there is.

The irony is . . . he doesn’t need to be.

Or does he?

We all know Phantom II is gearing up, and we all know our industry’s success rate for sequels. So perhaps Sir Andrew knows that he’s got to take advantage of every viral aspect he can, if he’s going to get this chandelier to fly.

Well, so far so good.

Earlier this week, I got this email from The Masked One directly:

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At 11 O’Clock on the eighth day of October 2009, I will be making an announcement of global importance.

Should my commands be ignored, a disaster beyond your imagination will occur.

Amor Numquam Moritur.

Your Obedient Servant,

The Phantom

Ok, a little cheesy, yes.  But definitely fun. And for the real phantom phans, definitely cool.

But that’s not it . . .

Today, I got a follow-up email from the Love Never Dies site offering me a chance to be one of the few people who could witness this announcement live in London.

Oh, and did I tell you that The Phantom tweets?

That’s a lot of buzz-building e-activity around a show that’s had a pretty enviable brand for the last twenty years.  And all their e-efforts are working.  Sir Andy got me to visit this website to watch their trailer.  And after watching the vid, for the first time since hearing about this sequel, I got excited about it.

You know the coolest part about their use of this technology?

When the original Phantom first opened on Broadway . . . it didn’t even have a website.  Think on that for a moment!

You’ve come a long way, Phantom baby.  It’s nice to see your Master keeps up with the times.

10 Things I learned about London

About a year ago, I blogged about three of the biggest differences I noticed about the London theater experience. Since I was there for a bit more time this visit, I was able to notice a few more things about the London theater experience that I thought were worth sharing.

So here they are, in no bloomin’ order!
1.  STANDING OVATIONS ARE HARDER TO COME BY.
It’s not as easy getting a British audience to their feet (If you’re curious, the quickest and biggest ovation I saw was for Priscilla).
2.  OLIVER IS THE UK ANNIE.
We may love Oliver here, but they LOVE IT, YEAH, YEAH, YEAH over there. You know how the Bald Eagle is the National Bird of the US?  Oliver is the National Musical of the UK.  (I also heard recently that the authors of Les Miz were inspired to write their epic after seeing Oliver.  Apparently, they wanted to write a French National Musical.)
3.  YOU CAN EAT AND DRINK ANYTHING IN THE THEATERS.
Take anything to your seat: ice cream, fancy pink drinks (Priscilla, again), even Coke brought in from outside (that was me).  Their theaters are older but they’re happy to clean up after you if it makes you happy.
4.  CASUAL SHAKESPEARE IS MORE FUN.
In this country, Shakespeare seems to equal stuffy.  At The Globe, it was fun, and probably more authentic.

Monitor

5.  SOMETIMES THE BRITS ARE SMARTER THAN WE ARE.
Look at this pic.  It looks like a standard cast board that you’d see in any theater, right?  Wrong.  It’s actually a video cast board. In several theaters, the cast board and the understudy boards are on video monitors. More aesthetically pleasing, easier to edit, and cheaper in the long run.  Why don’t all of our theaters have these?  I hate when we get beat.
6.  BLOOMBERG LOVES LONDON.
Our mayor failed to get London’s idea of congestion pricing passed, but he did manage to shut off traffic in Times Square.  Guess what other square doesn’t have traffic?  Leceister Square.  I wonder what Bloomie will bring from Britain next?  Multiple TKTS booths, I hope.
7.  YOU CAN BUY ADVANCE DISCOUNT TICKETS AT TKTS.
Yep, they take the money anyway they can get it in the UK. If you’re willing to offer a discount to your show for a future date, the TKTS booth will sell it for you.
Bar
8.  THE THEATERS ARE BIG.
Many of the larger theaters have room for large bar areas, where folks can sit, have a drink and socialize before their show.  It makes going to the theater more of an experience, to say the least.  At all of the shows I went to, the theaters let people in the building (but not to their seats), 1 hour before the show began.  I bet their bar revenues are bigger than ours.
9.  PRODUCERS OWN THEATERS AND ARE CELEBS.

Photo

Two of the largest theater owners in London are Cameron Macintosh and Andrew Lloyd Webber, and you can feel their presence in their buildings.  And it helps that people actually know who they are (helped, no doubt, by their reality TV shows).  I also got a sense of a real attempt at keeping audience members within the theater chain.  Look at this picture of a wall of posters of shows. It was taken from inside the box office at, yes, Priscilla again, promoting all the shows playing at the Really Useful Group theaters.
10.  YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT TIME YOUR SHOW IS GOING TO START.
2 PM, 5 PM, 3 PM, 7:30, 8 PM, etc.  It’s confusing and curious.
And here’s a bonus 11th thing I learned this trip . . .
11.  YOU KNOW WHAT?  I LIKE LONDON.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been there a few times in the past few years, so I’m more comfortable finding my way around now. Maybe it’s the fact that they speak English, so I don’t feel like a tool because I’m uni-lingual.
Or maybe I like London because there just seems to be theater on every bloomin’ corner.

The Video Game follow up.

Who knew I had so many readers who were also gamers!  I got a ton of emails regarding my video game post, so I wanted to post a few quick follow ups based on a bunch of great thoughts from all of you.

  • Many of you mentioned that there were video game versions of Lion King, Aladdin, etc.  ‘Tis true, of course, but remember, these weren’t based on musicals.  They were based on movies that then became video games and then became musicals.  Could this be one of the (million) reasons that the Disney shows trounce others at the BO?  We all know that the brands are powerful before they come in to town, and this is certainly one of the elements of building that brand.
  • I agreed with so many of you who said the best shot we have at penetrating this market is in some sort of karaoke/video game.  BG commented about an “Broadway Hero” game instead of “Guitar Hero”.  I likey.
  • Looks like Lord Lloyd Webber may have beat us to the bunch of that one.  Braden and Paul sent links to this article about upcoming games on Cats and Phantom where you have to sing for your roles.  I would have preferred an action based Phantom game, but whatev.
  • Here’s a link from Gil to info on a homemade Les Miz game.  Unfortunately, it, like the Disney movies, was not inspired from the musical.  It’s a tribute to the book.  But hey, any branding of the title helps, right?
  • One reader has this thought . . . why not a musical based on a video game?  Super Mario Brothers The Musical anyone?
  • And finally, here’s a link if you want to download the Altar Boyz game I told you about, built by former employee and reader Matthew Smith.  Sinners, beware . . .

Thanks to everyone for all the cool comments.  And a reminder to the rest of you that the comments section on each entry is the place to be.  I’m lucky enough to have some smart readers so check out what people are saying and post your own.

Now, why do I have a strong desire to power up my X-Box for the first time in 6 months?

2 Things To Do If You Want To Be A Broadway Producer

Recently, as the final question to an interview, I was asked to give one tip to any people watching that wanted to be a Broadway producer.

I gave two.

  1.  Produce as much as you can of whatever you can.Produce readings (even in your living room), festivals, showcases, benefits, beauty pageants, dog shows, whatever.  Get in the habit of learning how to put things together.  You’ll learn so much from every different production you put together, regardless of their success or their size, because shows are like snowflakes.  No two are alike and they need a lot of care or they’ll just eventually just fall to the ground and get walked on and turn into a pile of wet disgusting slush that will ruin any decent pair of shoes.

  2. Meet as many people as possible.Since I used the snowflake cliche, I’ll use another one.  So much of producing is about who you know.  I’m not saying you have to know Andrew Lloyd Webber or Phil Smith or even me, but producing is a collaborative art.  You’re going to need to know playwrights, directors, actors, and yep, investors.  Lots of them.  And you never know who is going to be the next Pulitzer prize winning playwright or Google-like CEO that always wanted to get involved with Broadway.  Start meeting people today.  However you can.Here’s a great story about a guy who understands how important this tip can be for any business and travels needlessly to prove it.

Speaking of tips, CTI has got a few of them and they are willing to share.  Check their website for info on these two upcoming programs:

– Producing
Reading, Workshops, and Showcases: A Practical Approach (March 6th)

– The 28th Annual
3-Day Weekend Producing Conference (May 15th – 17th)

– – – – –

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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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