The idea for this list came from the old theater rag TheaterWeekly, which then became InTheatre, which then became . . . ahhh . . . extinct.
But boy, how I loved to read the list every year and dream about one day being on it.
I’m still dreaming, but at least I sponsor the site that comes up with the new list!
And a big, BIG disclaimer, especially to all of you out there who sent me hate e-mail last year because you weren’t on the list (and you know who you are, you Tony Award-winning Old Guard Producer, you). When I authorized the creation of this list, I made it a point to excuse myself from the process of who ends up where. In fact, I disagreed with some of the choices this year, but what can you do.
One of the hippest long-term audience development initiatives the Broadway League came up with over the last few years was the establishment of a Kids Advisory Board. The Board is made up of thirty kids, ages 11 – 16, from all over the country. What do they have in common? They love the Broadway!
By tapping the minds of these young avid influencers, the League is able to learn the simple answers to a host of questions that could help secure the health of the Broadway theater through Generation Z (aka The Net Generation), Generation Ai, and beyond.
At the first day of the Broadway League conference, the League put six of the members of the Advisory Board on a panel and grilled them about their theater habits, their friends’ habits, and more.
Here is a bullet point list of some things that I learned from our next generation of audiences, actors, and producers:
The entire panel said that it was their parents who suggested which shows to see.
5 of the 6 panel members said that their #1 internet destination was Facebook. The 6th member didn’t have a Facebook page, but she did have a blog.
5 of the 6 panel members did NOT visit any theater websites (e.g. Playbill.com, BroadwaySpace.com, etc.).
All of the panel members said their parents paid for their tickets. One piped up and said, “That’s what they’re for.”
All of the panel members preferred musicals. Half of the panel said that music was important for keeping not only their attention, but the attention of their younger siblings who couldn’t sit still for too long without the excitement of a musical.
One panel member was a pretty regular playgoer, but she said she didn’t start seeing plays until she was 14.
All of the panel watched the Tonys, but said their friends didn’t.
When asked what the #1 thing they enjoyed about Broadway was, a survey of these 6 plus another 700 revealed that the “performers” were the most exciting part (translation – expect more star casting in the future).
One of them read reviews, but none of them let the reviews influence their decision either way. As the only boy on the panel said, “It doesn’t matter what they [the reviewers] say. What matters is your opinion.”
There’s a lyric in Bye Bye Birdie that goes something like, “Kids! Who can understand anything they say?”
Well, we better start trying to understand what they say, because these kids, and the thousands of others around the country just like them, are the premium ticket buyers of tomorrow.
A giant lollipop to The League for letting us listen.
Stay tuned for Day #2 from The League Conference tomorrow!
Tony night is my favorite holiday of the year. Yep, that’s right, for me (and I’m sure for you, too) it qualifies as a holiday.
It’s better than New Year’s, better than Thanksgiving . . . and hey, if you’re a nominee, it can be better than Christmas!
Well, what better way to spend the holidays than with friends and family. So, we’re throwing a Tony Party and all of you are invited!
BroadwaySpace.com is sponsoring the bash which will take place at my favorite wing place in the city: Blondies on the Upper West Side. They’ve got super wings, and super-sized TVs all over the place, so you’ll be able to get a great view from any angle.
And, this is the coolest part . . . we’ve got two super-awesome hosts who will be giving you their running commentary on the festivities all night long . . . Current Hair stars, Annaleigh Ashford and Kyle Riabko! (And I hear they are working up some pretty cool surprises, including a song or two, to keep you entertained during commercial breaks).
In addition, here are a few more things we have planned for the Big Night:
A Tony Pool with a BIG prize!
Raffles and contests for cool prizes including free tickets to shows like A Little Night Music, Million Dollar Quartet, Lend Me a Tenor and more!
Surprise special guests
Broadway Karaoke after the awards
A “Quiet Room” with its own large screen TV for those that want a more private viewing
But the best part of the night is going to be spending it surrounded by other folks who are as passionate about the theater and Broadway as all of you. If you’ve been to one of my socials, imagine that . . . times 100.
There is a food and beverage charge of $25, if you reserve your wings in advance. You’ll get unlimited wings, moz sticks, chicken tenders, fries and veggies, as well as unlimited sodas. There will be a cash bar . . . and I hear the bartenders at Blondies are already working up a $5 specialty drink called the Tony-Tini! At the door, you’ll pay $30, so reserve in advance.
The room can only accommodate a limited number of people so reserve now, and you won’t end up wondering on June 13th, “What am I gonna do tonight?”
It’s gonna be a blast. I can’t wait. In fact, if I can’t be at Radio City up for an award, then this is the only other place I want to be.
See you there!
THE BROADWAYSPACE.COM TONY PARTY
with Hair’s Annaleigh Ashford and Kyle Riabko
212 West 79th St. (between Broadway & Amsterdam)
Doors and Wings at 7:00 PM
Show starts at 8:00 PM
Sunday, June 13, 2010
(Arrive early to play the Tony Pool and to get a good seat)
Karaoke immediately following the awards until ????
Unlimited Food and Soda
$25 in advance
$30 at the door
When we came up with the idea for BroadwaySpace.com’s “Broadway’s Next Big Star” contest, we knew we’d get some submissions from a few talented performers . . . but we had no idea we’d get THAT many!
Several hundred performers and performers-to-be from around the world (yep, there was even an entry from Estonia), submitted videos of themselves doing something “Broadway” (singing, dancing, or making a mash-up) in the hopes of winning the grand prize of getting flown to NYC, doing dinner and a show, and getting an audition with a hot-shot NYC casting director.
Somehow, Craig Burns from Telsey Casting, Bailey Hanks from Who-Doesn’t-Love-Them-Some-Bailey-Hanks, and I, narrowed the hundreds of entries down to 13 finalists. Add to that the two wild card spots we gave away to the two most-viewed videos, and that makes . . . The Final 15!
Check them out here (and check out the honorable mention/superlatives while you’re at it)!
When you’ve watched them all, vote for your favorite by 11:59 PM ET on Wed. April 7th! We’ve already had thousands of votes pour in since the first day the voting was announced, so it’s gonna be a close one. Your vote will count big time.
As I watched all of the entries, I couldn’t help but notice a few things that I thought deserved some special attention. So, I’m giving out some pre-award awards right here and now.
1. The “Holy Crap, High School Musicals Have Come A Long Way” Award
Check out the three camera shoot in Audrey Peeples’s “Gimme, Gimme”. And listen to those tracks. And is it just me, or is the costume actually period? (For my high school production of Anything Goes, I wore khakis from The Gap circa 1988). Man, it’s no wonder that Broadway audiences demand a lot from their $125. Look at what they are getting in their local high schools! I’ve heard rumors lately of high schools with bigger musical budgets than some Off-Broadway shows!
2. The “You Got To Work With Whom?” Award
When I was a Broadway-wannabe, the closest I could get to the stars was hanging out at the stage door and hoping to get a glimpse (I once asked 12-year-old Daisy Eagan for an autograph . . . our paths haven’t crossed since, but I’m sure they will someday, and boy will my face be red). Now, the incredible generosity of so many Broadway performers, combined with the many schools and classes in the city and around the country (Like Laura Bell Bundy and Paul Canaan’s Take It From The Top) , give young performers a chance to learn from the best. Check out Final 15er, Nicholas J. Oliveri, as his sings for the original “Gimme, Gimm-er,” Sutton Foster. And stay tuned to the very end, so you can hear Sutton compliment Nicholas and crack up the class.
3. The “Golden Age is Over” Award
This goes out to all of the finalists. Of the 15 songs sung by the finalists, only 4 were from musicals written before 1980 . And only 2 of those were written before 1970. These performers are not only the actors of tomorrow, they are also the audiences of tomorrow. And the days of our audiences wanting to see The King and I and Pal Joey and Fiddler are over.
4. The “How to Stand Out in the Clutter” Award
And last, but not least, Stewart Yu gets a nod, not for making it into the Final 15, but for knowing he wasn’t going to make it into the Final 15, and creating a video that will probably get him more views than many of the finalists! Stewart knows the rule by which we all must live: creativity cuts through clutter. I’ve pasted his video below.
Good luck to all of the finalists!
See them all here (and don’t forget the honorable mentions at the bottom). Make sure to cast your vote by Wed at 11:59!