I’m taking this social and going on the road.

For the past three years, I’ve had Producer’s Perspective socials here in NYC.  And they’ve been a blast.  They’re a chance for all different kinds of people with one thing in common (a love of theater) to come together, say hello, argue about the actual size of the Spider-Man budget, and, of course, have some bar food and beer.

Since I’m going to be in Chicago and LA in January teaching seminars, I thought . . . why not have socials in each city?

So we are!

On Saturday, January 15th, we’ll be holding the first Producer’s Perspective Social in CHICAGO!

Here are the deets:

THE SOCIAL IN CHICAGO
Saturday, January 15th
Declan’s Irish Pub (I’m half Irish – I’ll bet you $50 you can’t guess the other half.)
1240 N. Wells St.
Chicago, IL
8 – 10 PM

Your first drink and some munchies are on me!

Spread the word, Chicagoites.  I’m counting on all you Illinois theater folks to turn out and prove to me why Chicago is a better theater city than NYC.

Space is limited.  Click here to RSVP for The Social in Chicago.

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Hold on to your surfboards, my tanned friends, we’re having one in LA as well!

Here are the deets:

THE SOCIAL IN LA
Saturday, January 29th
Dillon’s Irish Pub & Grill
6263 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA
8 – 10 PM

Same deal.  First drink and munchies are on me.  And I’m counting on all you LA theater folks to turn out and prove that LA is actually a theater town.  (See, that was low, so you have to come to the social and put me in my place!)

Click here to RSVP for The Social in LA.

So Midwesterners and West Coasterererers, come one, come all, whether you read the blog or not.  I’ll see you all at the socials!

– – – –

By the way, the reason I’m in these other fair cities is for my Get Your Show Off The Ground seminars, which are all almost sold out.  Just a couple of spots left, so sign up today.  Here’s the rundown:

NYC – THIS Saturday, January 8th, 2 – 6 PM.  Register today.

CHICAGO – NEXT Saturday, January 15th, 2 – 6 PM.  Register today.

LA – Saturday, January 29th, 2 – 6 PM.  Register today.

For more info on the seminars, click here.

 

You asked for it. You got it. A Seminar in Chicago!

It’s official!  I’m going to Chi-town!

Thanks to the great response I got on Tuesday, when I asked if any of you were interested in my Get Your Show Off The Ground Seminar in Chicago, I’ve scheduled one!

The Chicago GYSOTG will take place on Saturday, January 15th at 2 PM.  Location TBD (but someplace warm).

Reserve your spot now.

Chicago is one of my favorite cities in the country.  It’s got all the comforts and excitement of a big city, with some of the nicest small-town folks around.  I’m looking forward to hanging with all of you and figuring out how to get your show to the next level together.

And if you’ve got suggestions on shows to see, send ’em my way.

Click here to sign up for the Chicago Seminar today!

 

5 Takeaways from this past Sat’s ‘Get Your Show Off The Ground’ Seminar.

For those of you who have been reading for a while, you know that after each of my Get Your Show Off The Ground seminars, I post 5 lil’ nuggets that popped out as a result of the group’s brainstorming.

So, here are five quickies that were discussed as suggestions for some of the obstacles that the participants were facing:

  • It costs nothing to call.
  • A website can lend credibility to what you’re doing.
  • Define success for yourself.  Not every show has to be on Broadway.
  • Remove the word fear from your vocabulary.
  • Know when to work on something else.

The twelve writers/producers/entrepreneurs in this week’s seminar were a very passionate group of people, and I have no doubt we’ll be hearing from them in the future.

If you’d like to read past takeaways, click here and here.

If you’d like to sign up for the next seminar on Saturday, January 8th, click here.  Several spots are already gone, so I’d encourage you to sign up today.

I’ve also received inquiries from several of you in other areas of the country asking if I was planning on giving the seminar in other cities. And the answer is yes, I am considering doing just that!

But I need to get an idea of how many of you would be interested, so . . .

Email me if you would be interested in taking the seminar in Chicago or Los Angeles.

Thanks, all!  And special thanks to those courageous 12 that spent Saturday with me discussing how we can all get our shows off the ground faster and more efficiently.

 

10 Questions for a Broadway Pro. Volume 8: Rina Saltzman, Company Manager

Before I was a Producer, I spent about 10 years as a Company Manager for Broadway shows both in NYC and on the road.  And I loved every moment of it (except that time when a blizzard snowed my company in at the Best Western Westward Ho in Grand Forks, North Dakota).

Today you’re going to read the answers to our 10 Questions from one of the industry’s favorite CMs, Rina Saltzman.  I’ve worked closely with Rina on several occasions, and let me tell you something, the woman knows how to take care of a company. Count yourself lucky if you find yourself in her cast or crew.

Take it away, Rina!

1. What is your title?

Company Manager

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

Billy Elliot National Tour, which is in a lovely long sit-down in Chicago.

3. In one sentence, describe your job.

I would describe my position as the day-to-day business manager, in-house marketing manager, HR department, Housing and Transportation Secretary, and Camp mom.

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

Some of these are not skills but qualities:  patience, a sense of humor, appreciation for the artist, some business acumen, a knowledge of union rules, patience, the ability to juggle 5 or 6 things at once, to react calmly in a crisis and to be able to talk others off the ledge (this is especially helpful in production), an understanding – if not practical knowledge – of marketing, promotions and box office procedures.  Oh, and did I say patience?

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

I have a B.A. in Theatre Arts from Douglass College and a M.A. in Performing Arts Management from NYU, neither of which really helped me to get to this position.  I worked in a variety of jobs, ranging from Studio Supervisor on As The World Turns to Telemarketing Director for the Met Opera’s Centennial before I became a Company Manager, all of which prepared me to work with a wide range of artists, stagehands, marketing gurus and managers.  The best training came when I got my first company management position at American Ballet Theatre – 150 dancers, staff, crew, management, travelling around the world – and I found a mentor in my General Manager – that is the most anyone could want in this career, someone who cares enough to teach you.

6. What was your first job in theater?

On the day I graduated college, a friend told me that there was a job open as Box Office Treasurer at the George Street Playhouse – as I was leaving town, I stopped in, interviewed, and by the time I reached my parents’ house in Jersey City, I had the job and moved back to my college town.

7. Why do you think theater is important?

It changes lives.  Period.  Trite as that sounds, when I was managing the Bus and Truck of CATS, we played towns that had theatrical performances once or twice a year, if that.  I watched young children literally changed by the experience, in the same way I was when my parents took me to my first Broadway show when I was 5.

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

Company Management has evolved so much over the past 24 years.  When I started, the Company Manager basically did payroll, signed the box office statement, did a settlement and arranged travel and housing on tour, now we do that and so, so much more — we negotiate contracts, we work incessantly with our marketing teams and box offices to make sure we are optimizing sales, we deal with many more complex issues within our companies, and we watch the bottom line constantly.

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

For my fellow Company, House Managers and Press Agents to be given their due within the industry.  (Full Disclosure – I am a member of the Board of Governors of ATPAM – the Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers).

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

Work anywhere you can get a job – intern, answer phones at a General Management office, run for coffee in production – you will learn an amazing amount about the business just by being around the business.  Don’t scoff at the small jobs – make yourself indispensable.  One of our NLA interns worked for me as an Assistant on Billy in Chicago and for his first job out of college, he is going to be the Asst. Company Manager of Mamma Mia on Broadway.

10 Shows that stand out at this year’s Fringe Festival.

The thermometer hit 100 degrees last week, which can only mean one thing . . . it’s Fringe time, baby!

This post is a revival of a post I did last year about the 10 shows that grabbed my attention as I flipped through the Fringe Festival catalog of shows.

With over 200 shows in each year’s festival, the challenge facing all the writers and producers out there is getting their shows to stand out in a catalog that looks more cluttered than a NYC diner menu (does anyone ever order the Broiled Boston Scrod Filet at these places?). So how do you get a Producer’s and a Ticket Buyer’s attention with just a 100-word blurb?

Rather than just babble on about what I think makes a good blurb, I thought I would ‘show not tell’ by showing you which 10 shows stood out to me as I flipped through the catalog.

Here we go, in alpha order.

1. 23 Feet in 12 Minutes: The Death and Rebirth of New Orleans

Katrina is still on so many of our minds, especially in light of what that area of the country is now facing.  This docu-drama based on “interviews with over 60 Katrina survivors” sounds like it has the potential to educate and thrill, simultaneously. Most audiences only witnessed Katrina on TV.  This show could get them closer. And that’s intriguing.

2. Bunked

The beginning of the Bunked blurb starts like this . . . “Sponsored by LogoTV, Bunked . . . ”  They had me at Logo. I’m not sure of the depth of this “sponsorship,” but a Fringe level show garnering any kind of attention from a cable network will certainly get attention from an audience.  Plus it takes place at a camp.  I mean, come on, camps are just funny.  Meatballs, Wet Hot American Summer, Friday the 13th.  Oh.  Wait a minute.  www.bunkedthemusical.com

3. Dear Harvey

Got Milk?  Then you’ll probably get tickets to Dear Harvey.  There’s nothing wrong with allowing the popularity of another form of entertainment to help you find your audience, as long as what you’re doing is unique and presents the material in a new and interesting way. After Guitar Hero, there was Rock Band. After Coke, there was Pepsi.  And after Academy Award-winning Milk, comes Dear Harvey, which promises to tell you some stories that the movie couldn’t. www.diversionary.org

4. Faye Lane’s Beauty Shop Stories

Christopher Durang may have started the “put the title character in the title” trend with Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All To You, but this show sounds like a fun addition to the canon (along with another show heading to NYC this fall).  In addition to the ‘teasing’ title (get it – beauty shop – tease), the blurb offers a great quote from NY Magazine and screams out IN CAPS, “BEDAZZLING TRUE STORIES! HILARIOUS SONGS!  FREE PRIZES!”  The free prize line is what got me.  People love free, but what people love even more is unique, and free prizes definitely make this show sound different from all the rest.

5. Have A Nice Life

The best marketers on the planet will tell you to lead with your strongest asset, or, in cliche-speak, always put your best foot forward.  Have A Nice Life certainly took that advice when composing their blurb. Rather than start with what their show is about (a musical group therapy session), the first sentence starts with, “Direct from a sold-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe . . . ”  It continues with quotes, but the words ‘sold-out’ combined with the reputable EF made me sit up in my chair and circle this show.  www.nicepeopletheatre.org.

6. MASKS

Do you know who Terryl Daluz and Mann Alfonso are?  Me neither.  But they were given an NAACP Theatre Award for Best Playwright.  And that makes them important.  Awards, even if they’re not from organizations as esteemed as the NAACP, always attract audiences.  And where there is an audience, a Producer will soon follow.  If you’re a writer, try to win something while you wait for a production.  Enter the many playwrighting competitions online.  Doors will open faster for you with somebody’s, anybody’s, seal of approval. www.masksproductions.com

7. Mobius

“WARNING:  This play contains nudity.”  Need I say more?  Yes, lines like this will turn off a few folks (although probably not many Fringe festival attendees), but a Warning, or a Not For All Viewers disclaimer has a way of getting people . . . er . . . titillated . . . into buying a ticket.   www.mobiustheplay.com

8. Platinum

Chicago was a much maligned musical before it was revived on Broadway in 1996.  Since then, every Producer I know has combed through the catalogs of old shows, looking for the next musical that could be rediscovered and prove to be more valuable now than it was when it originally opened.  Platinum is a musical with a book co-written by Hollywood Squares and Academy Awards writer, Bruce Vilanch, and UnsungMusicalsCo., Inc. has revised it for this year’s Fringe.   www.platinumthemusical.com

9. A Separate Peace

People like what they know, and most people know A Separate Peace.  It has been screaming for a stage adaptation (I hear there’s a musical in the works). Add in a quote from the LA Times, and this show says, “Come down and say hello,” just l
ike an old friend you haven’t seen in awhile. www.aseparatepeace.info

10. The Swearing Jar

Did you ever have a swearing jar?  I bet someone around you did.  There’s something about this title that we can all understand, and that is inherently funny. And once again, a title does half the show’s marketing for them.  That makes me F***ing interested.  Ahh, darn it.  Here’s a quarter. www.thebridgetheatrecompany.com.

So there you have it. This year’s 10 stand-out shows (with honorable mentions to My Broken Brain, The Morning After/The Night Before and Veritas).

For tickets and info on all the shows in the Fringe, visit www.fringenyc.org today.

Now, it’s important to note, that these are the shows that stand out to me from a marketing perspective.  I have no idea whether they’ll be any good.  These are just the shows that have great potential to get butts in seats.

Then we’ll see what they can do with those butts.

(Hmmmm, this blog could be retitled, “The strangest sign off line in the history of blogs.”)

 

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Looking to learn how to get your show to stand out?  Here are two quick tips:

1 – Read Seth Godin’s book The Purple Cow, my bible to product development and marketing.

2 – Take my Get Your Show Off The Ground seminar, which I guarantee will give you a bunch of great takeaways on how to get your show to stand out at the Fringe, NYMF, and on Broadway!  Take the seminar today.

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