Why a bump is a like a breakup.

I took a call today from a producing peer who was having a serious issue with a project.  After a heck of a lot of work (a couple of years, actually), the show just blew up.  It was nothing he did.  It was beyond his control.  It was just . . . over.

He was pretty upset.  And deservedly so.  He even said a few things like, “I don’t know if I can go through this again.  I’m giving up producing and going to law school.”

If you’ve been working in this biz or in any biz, then I’d bet a billion buckaroos that you’ve hit a similar bump in the road along your way, and you’ve probably considered law school . . . or your equivalent . . . as well.  I know I have.

And as I explained to my buddy that as hard as it was for him right now, he’d eventually get over it, and find another project.

Sound familar?

If you’ve ever been through a breakup, you’ve felt the same way and probably heard similiar advice.  Because when you’ve just lost something you loved and are miserable, it’s hard to think that you’ll ever come out on the other side.

But you do, don’t you? Eventually, it clears, and you move on, and you when the time is right, you meet someone new.

So, the next time you’re having a crisis with a project–something that you can’t see yourself getting through . . . remember that time you got dumped . . . and how you eventually got over that too.

 

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

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FUN STUFF

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

– The next Get Your Show Off The Ground seminar is on 9/17.  Only 2 spots left.  Register today!

Fun on a Friday: Everyone has a marketing idea.

In every marketing meeting I’ve been to, there’s always one idea from someone around the table that makes everyone else look at each other and mouth, “WTF?”

Now, I actually think you need those ideas (and sometimes they are mine!) . . . because it’s important to get crazy every once in a while.  Sometimes those wack-a-do ideas just need to be refined.

In the marketing meeting below, Paul Rudd gets his chance to pitch a few of his marketing ideas to movie and theater mogul, Harvey Weinstein.

If you’ve ever sat in on any advertising meeting for anything, this Fun on a Friday is for you . . . (email subscribers, click here if you can’t see the video below).  Thanks to reader Adam for sending it along!

 

 

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

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FUN STUFF

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

– Enter to win 2 tickets to The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown!  Click here.

What if we had a S&P for Broadway?

Here’s a biz idea for some budding entrepreneurs out there: create an S&P for Broadway investments; an “official” ratings board that grades investments on the same AAA scale that screwed the financial markets this week.

I have consultation clients that come to me all the time asking for my “yea/nea” vote on whether they should invest in a show that they’ve been pitched.  I spend time with the financials, research the show’s history, the creative team, etc. and apply all of the tactics I teach in my Broadway investment seminar and then give my consensus.

But what if there were an independent entity that offered a more formal grading system?  This “S&B” would have a General Manager, a Marketing expert, a Director and maybe a Casting Director on its board, and they’d scrutinize the show in their areas of expertise and offer up a quantitative grade.  If you were considering investing, you’d pay a small fee for the “research report” and its grade.  And then you’d use that info to help make your decision.

Something that is as artistic as the theater won’t be as easy to assign a grade to compared to something like debt.   But it would still be possible.  The margin of error would just be greater.  And you’d still have to use your gut when making that final leap.

But I’d bet that fewer bad investments would be made, which would be beneficial for us all.  The fewer people that lose money on Broadway, the more people there are to put money in shows in the future.

It wouldn’t be easy for those shows that get stamped with a mediocre grade, though.  There’d be some pretty angry producers out there, I’m sure.  Especially since ratings entities like this one could be wrong.  It happens.

Just ask the S&P.  Remember when it gave an AAA rating to mortgage derivatives?

 

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

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FUN STUFF

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

– Enter to win 2 tickets to The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown!  Click here.

 

10 Questions for a Broadway Pro: Lincoln Center’s Ira Weitzman

Ira Weitzman is a musical midwife.

He has helped some of our industry’s most celebrated authors give birth to musicals like Falsettos, Sunday in the Park with You Know Who, Once on This Island, Parade and many, many more over his 30-year career.

If you’re an author, and you had a chance to choose between winning the lottery and having Ira guide the development of your show . . . I’d tell you to go with Ira.  You could always win the lottery some other time.

Take it away, Ira!

1. What is your title?

Musical Theater Associate Producer at Lincoln Center Theater. 

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

I just finished a long cycle of development and production that began in 2005 with The Light in the Piazza in the Vivian Beaumont Theater and just ended with A Minister’s Wife in the Mitzi Newhouse Theater.   In between those shows were six other musicals including our Tony Award winning production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific in the Beaumont and Clay which opened our new theater, LCT3.  Now it all begins again with a new cycle.  I am too superstitious to talk about shows at such an early stage.

3. In one sentence, describe your job.

As an artistic producer of (mostly) new musicals, I am involved in almost every aspect of bringing them to fruition in collaboration with Artistic Director, Andre Bishop.

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

Taste and an eye for talent, working knowledge of musical theater both historical and current, good communication skills, good judgment and a desire to collaborate.   Though it isn’t really a skill, I would also add that having a real passion for this work helps, particularly when the going gets tough.

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

I didn’t go to college so everything I learned was from experience.  I created my job, so in a sense my whole life is training for my work.

6. What was your first job in the theater?

I was Bob Moss’ assistant at Playwrights Horizons in 1977 during his last season as Artistic Director there.

7. Why do you think theater is important?

I believe in the communal power of live performance. Musicals are especially powerful.
When everything comes together, a musical can be entertaining, provocative, enlightening and enriching for both the audience and the performers.

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

The challenge of finding a musical that we can be excited about working on.  It has not changed or gotten easier through the years.   On the more practical side there are always financial challenges since musicals are not cheap to produce.

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

I would make theater affordable for those who want to produce it and those who want to see it.

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

To love what you are doing and to not be afraid of taking risks.

 

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

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FUN STUFF

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

– Enter to win 2 tickets to The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown!  Click here.

We’re a business of freelancers.

A friend of mine produced a Broadway show this past spring, and we recently got together to trade stories.  When I asked him how it went, he said, “You know that expression, being shot out of a cannon?  Well, everything happened so dang fast, I felt like we were shot out of a cannon that was attached to another cannon!”

While his opening went pretty well, he went on to talk about how hard it was to get things moving quicker during the years of development, no matter how much gas he tried to pour on the creative fires.  And then, once they were within striking distance of the opening night, it felt like they were so rushed, he was concerned they were going to make mistakes and risk all the hard work they had done.

Why does Broadway have to feel so rushed, he wondered.

So I started wondering the same thing.

There are a lot of factors that contribute to the fevered pitch that all shows feel as they get closer to the finish line.  If producing a Broadway show were a marathon, we’d all be slow, slow starters with a heck of a kick.  One of the reasons is that finding a theater can be so difficult; it’s hard to make something feel real until that phone rings from one of the three theater chains telling you you are in.

The other reason is that all of the individuals that make up the staff of a Broadway show, from the director to the actors to the company manager to the assistant set designer . . .  are all freelancers.  And that means they have to go where the money is, and when the money is.  So while you’re working on developing your show, or trying to do pre-production, they may be in pre-production or tech rehearsals or auditioning for another show.  It’s hard to get them to focus, for obvious reasons, until they have to or are paid to.

And it does feel like lately people are trying to rack and stack more projects than ever.

What’s the solution?  Well, we could pay our folks more money to be more exclusive . . . or we could put people on staff instead of hire them project by project.

Yeah, and maybe there will be a revival of Moose Murders starring Hillary Clinton and that guy who played Urkel.

We are an industry of freelancers, and that ain’t going to change.  As a Producer, you need to realize it and learn how to manage it, to make sure your show is prepared to run that marathon and sprint like a mo-fo those last 1000 meters.

Because, after all, Producers are freelancers too.

 

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

—————-

FUN STUFF

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

– Enter to win 2 tickets to The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown!  Click here.

 

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