A Will It Recoup Update. How is Broadway doing this Spring?

You forgot about this contest, didn’t you?

Back in February, we launched our second ‘Will It Recoup’ fantasy Broadway investment game and put a Kindle on the line.

The name of the game says it all (just like the name of your show should reflect exactly what your show is about).  It’s your job to pick the winners from the floppers in the Spring season.

So how are you (and the Broadway Producers) doing so far?

Here’s what we know and what we don’t:

A View from the Bridge: RECOUPED!
The Miracle Worker: Did NOT recoup.
A Behanding in Spokane: Did NOT recoup.
Next Fall: Did NOT recoup.
Looped: Did NOT recoup.
Red: RECOUPED!
Lend Me A Tenor: Too soon to tell.
Fences: RECOUPED!
Enron:  Did NOT recoup.

So that makes a total of 3 Broadway shows out of 9 that have recouped already. That’s a pretty bountiful Spring, considering the statistical average is 1 out of 5 (although it is certainly not a coinky-dink that two of the three shows that have recouped featured Hollywood mega-stars Denzel Washington and Scarlett Johansson).

Still, the game is not over.  We’ve still got one show on the fence.  We could have quite a good year if it falls into the win column.

How are you doing?

Well, there are 27 of you who picked those three shows to recoup, and the five shows that did not.  27 of you are still in the money!

So…it all comes down to Lend Me a Tenor.

See you in August!

My Tony predictions and yours revealed.

Can you hear it?

Every year, as Tony Sunday approaches, you can hear the chatter about who’s gonna go home with a trophy get louder and louder.

So let’s add to it!

My predictions are always like the odds for the horses running in the Kentucky Derby  they change daily until the event.  And this year, since we have so many neck-and-neck races, picking the winners is harder than ever.

But I’m going to give it a shot!

I’m also going to reveal what the majority of YOU think is going to win!  Last night we closed our official Producer’s Perspective Tony Pool with a record number of players!  We had well into the THOUSANDS of entries!  Woo-woo!  And one of those lucky contestants is going to win an iPad!

So here goes . . . here are my predictions for this year’s Tony Awards, and yours (along with the percentage that made up the majority so you can see how tight the race is).  Remember, these are not “should win” . . . they are “will win” predictions.

Here goes:

1.  Best Sound Design of a Musical

My Prediction:  Robert Kaplowitz (Fela!)

Your Prediction:  Robert Kaplowitz (Fela!) – 36.3%

The Sound Design award is one of the newest Tonys we have, so it’s even harder to predict what the voters will do.  I’m with you . . . Fela’s music was so unique, so its sound had to be as well.

2.  Best Sound Design of a Play

My Prediction:  Acme Sound Partners (Fences)

Your Prediction:  Adam Cork (Enron) – 31.1%

Sorry guys, I don’t think enough of the voters saw Enron to make it a winner.  I’m going with what I call ‘Tony by Association’ and giving the award to Acme for Fences.  The sound at Fences was terrific, but the votes that will put it over the top are for the show as much as they are for the sound.

3.  Best Lighting Design of a Musical

My Prediction:  Kevin Adams (American Idiot)

Your Prediction:  Kevin Adams (American Idiot) – 57.3%

The lighting in Idiot is amazing . . . but Adams also benefits from the cool projection designs that voters probably lump into the same category (even though he didn’t do them).  And that begs the questions . . . with video and projections a part of more and more shows every year . . . will we see a Projection or Video Design Tony soon?

4.  Best Lighting Design of a Play

My Prediction:  Neil Austin (Red)

Your Prediction:   Neil Austin (Red) – 43.1%

Ironically, I think Neil is going to get this award for the brilliant lack of lighting used in an early scene of this play.  For those of you who haven’t seen the show, there is a incredible display of the contrast between theatrical lighting and stark work-light early on that makes you realize just how talented all lighting designers are, and Neil will get a trophy for helping teach us that lesson.

5.  Best Costume Design of a Musical

My Prediction:  Matthew Wright (La Cage)

Your Prediction:   Matthew Wright (La Cage) – 69.6%

Making men pretty has a high degree of difficulty and my readers and I agree, that’s worth a Tony.

6.  Best Costume Design of a Play

My Prediction:  Catherine Zuber (The Royal Family)

Your Prediction:   Catherine Zuber (The Royal Family) – 43%

When in doubt, go with the period piece.  Zuber’s work is always beautiful, and she’ll snag another Tony for her work on Family.

7.  Best Scenic Design of a Musical

My Prediction:  Christine Jones (American Idiot)

Your Prediction:  Christine Jones (American Idiot) – 50.1%

When American Idiot was steamrolling into town, I don’t think anyone thought it would be cleaning up the design awards, but you and I agree that this’ll be the second Tony for the rock opera so far.  But with the strange lack of nominations for Idiot in other categories (Orchestrations anyone?  Direction?), could the design awards be the only awards that Idiot wins?

8.  Best Scenic Design of a Play

My Prediction:  Christoper Oram (Red)

Your Prediction:  Christopher Oram (Red) – 33.2%

You all weren’t so sure about this one, with 33.2% making up the majority.  I’m not sure either.  Part of me wants to say Fences again, but ultimately, I think the title of the play, Red, screams design elements, which will help Chris grab an award for his cool way of putting canvases on stage.

9.  Best Orchestrations

My Prediction:  Daryl Waters and David Bryan (Memphis)

Your Prediction:  Daryl Waters and David Bryan (Memphis) – 42.2%

No contest here.  The only original score grabs the orchestration award.

10.  Best Choreography

My Prediction:  Twyla Tharp (Come Fly Away)

Your Prediction:  Bill T. Jones (Fela!) – 44.2%

Oh, readers, we were seeing eye to eye for so long.  We differ on this one.  This is where I think Tony voters like to spread the love around.  Come Fly Away won’t get honored in any other categories on Tony night, so Twyla will be given the category that makes the most sense for the show . . . and she deserves it.  Just how in the heck does she get bodies to move like that anyway?  Don’t feel bad for Bill.  His love is coming.

11.  Best Direction of a Musical

My Prediction:  Bill T. Jones (Fela!)

Your Prediction:  Terry Johnson (La Cage) – 41.9%

Terry did brilliant work in making this production of La Cage stand out not only from the recent revival, but also from all previous productions of the show.  But I think the voters will want to make sure Fela! gets recognized, and this is how they’ll do it.

12.  Best Direction of a Play

 

My Prediction:  Kenny Leon (Fences)

Your Prediction:  Michael Grandage (Red) – 32.8%

For a long time, I was with you all.  I was giving it to Grandage as well, but I flip-flopped and am predicting Leon will have new hardware for his mantle after Sunday night, partly because of the amazing performances in Fences, and partly because of the body of his Wilson work, and the fact that he has never won before.

13.  Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical

 

My Prediction:  Katie Finneran (Promises, Promises)

Your Prediction:  Katie Finneran (Promises, Promises) – 43.3%

I think we’d all love to see Angela get a 6th award, but how can we not give this one to Katie Finneran? You know how they added songs for this revival that weren’t in the original?  After seeing Katie’s scene, I couldn’t help but wish they had written a new scene for her at the end of the second act!

14.  Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical

My Prediction:  Robin de Jesus (La Cage)

Your Prediction:  Bobby Steggert (Ragtime) – 23.2%

Only 1.9% separated three of the nominees in your choices for the winner of this tight category.  While a lot of folks are pulling for Bobby to pull it out, at the end of the day, I just don’t think enough voters caught his Younger Brother.  So, I’m going with the scene-stealing de Jesus.

15.  Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play

My Prediction:  Scarlett Johansson (A View from the Bridge)

Your Prediction:  Scarlett Johansson (A View from the Bridge) – 36%

Only 36% of you think Scarlett’s going to take this one?  I’m shocked, cuz this one is a lock.  Give it to the girl, already.

16.  Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play

My Prediction:  Stephen McKinley Henderson (Fences)

 

Your Prediction:  Eddie Redmayne (Red) – 31.4%

Tough, tough category, but I think Fences will get a hat trick of performance awards on Sunday, with this being the first (see below for the other two).

17.  Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical

 

My Prediction:  Catherine Zeta-Jones (A Little Night Music)

Your Prediction:  Catherine Zeta-Jones (A Little Night Music) – 38.3%

Zeta seems right to me, but there has been a lot of buzz about Montego lately. This could be a big upset, in the style of Idina over co-star Kristin Chenoweth in 2004.  I picked Kristin then, and I’m picking Zeta now, just like you.

18.  Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical

My Prediction:  Douglas Hodge (La Cage)

Your Prediction:  Douglas Hodge (La Cage) – 47.7%

The range of how this role is written certainly helped Hodge seal his Tony fate, but he plays every inch of that range to perfection.

19.  Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play

My Prediction:  Viola Davis (Fences)

 

Your Prediction:  Viola Davis (Fences) – 55.3%

Even more of you think Viola is going to win than Denzel!  And she will.

20.  Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play

My Prediction:  Denzel Washington (Fences)

 

Your Prediction:  Denzel Washington (Fences) – 41.5%

What a freekin’ category.  Walken, Washington, Law, Schreiber and Molina? Come on.  It’s like actor heaven.  I sort of feel these guys should be treated like the President and the Vice President and not be allowed in the same location for too long in case something happens to one or the other.  Despite the competition, Denzel will take the trophy, partly for being snubbed years ago for his performance in Caesar. He has returned, and he kicked acting a$$ in the process.  And the hat trick I spoke of earlier is now complete.

21.  Best Original Score

My Prediction: Fences 

Just kidding, just kidding.  That was a joke.  Sort of like the two play nominations that rounded out this category.

My Prediction

:  David Bryan & Joe DiPietro (

Memphis)

Your Prediction:  David Bryan & Joe DiPietro (

Memphis) – 74.7%

Rumor has it that David Bryan is missing a Bon Jovi concert to be at the awards. I think he picked the right day to play hookey, and so did you.  I can’t wait to hear his acceptance speech.

22.  Best Book of a Musical

My Prediction:  Dick Scanlan and Sherie Rene Scott (Everyday Rapture)

Your Prediction:  Joe DiPietro (Memphis) – 41.3%

You’ve got a point, readers. You’ve got a point. Memphis is a traditional book musical.  DiPietro is loved by everyone in the biz. But so is Sherie, and I think since DiPietro will have some other trophies to play with after Sunday, this one will surprise everyone and go to Sherie and Dick.

23.  Best Revival of a Play

My Prediction:  Fences

Your Prediction:  Fences – 61%

I hate to see Bridge lose, because I loved it so, but Fences was an event that demands to be rewarded.

24.  Best Revival of a Musical

My Prediction:  La Cage aux Folles

Your Prediction:  La Cage aux Folles – 64.6%

Yet another reason why I wished I would have produced this one is that it’s gonna win the Tony.

25.  Best Play

My Prediction:  Red

Your Prediction:  Red – 53%

Tony voters like “smart” plays, and Red qualifies.  It’s so smart, it even feels British, doesn’t it?  Yet it was written by a guy who grew up in Jersey.  My money is on him bringing that Tony back home to Jersey Monday morning.

26.  Best Musical

My Prediction:  Memphis

Your Prediction:  Memphis – 47.8%

You know what was interesting about your predictions?  47.8% (the majority) picked Memphis.  Second place at 29.6% was NOT American Idiot.  It was Fela!Idiot came in third at 19.3%.  It seems that no matter how many folks like Idiot, they also don’t think it represents the type of musical that gets awarded on Tony night . . .and I have to agree.  Memphis feels like the big Broadway musical that voters like to pin their badge of approval on.

Well there it is.  Another year of predictions.  I promise I’ll let you know the winner of the pool and the iPad by Wednesday of next week at the latest, so stay tuned.  I also promise to give you my score as well, no matter how humiliating.

For those of you who want to play in another pool, make sure you come to my Tony Party on Sunday night.  We’re giving away a Nintendo Wii to whomever wins that pool!  Click here to reserve before it’s sold out.

But wherever you are . . . Enjoy Tony night!  And make sure you tell everyone you know to tune in. Let’s see what we can do about these ratings, shall we?

The 2 shows I would have liked to produce this season

I have Producer envy.

Come on, you do, too.  We all do.

We’ve all seen shows and thought, “Oh man, would I like my name above the title
of that one!”  Maybe we’re jealous of the profits pouring out of the
production. Or maybe we’re jealous of the art that was created.

Or maybe, when the stars align, it’s a little of both.

All of this is why I’m going to start wrapping up each Broadway season with a
post like this one, telling you the Broadway Play and Broadway Musical I wish I would have
produced.

Here goes.

1.  La Cage aux Folles

Admit it.  When this import of La Cage was announced, I was not the only one
that thought, “Ummm, we just saw this sucker.  Do we really need to see it
again?”  Well, ironically, I believe this production benefited from having
been revived only 5-and-a-half years ago, if only to show the contrast between the two
productions.  I enjoyed the previous revival, but I didn’t need to see
another production like that.  But this?  This I’d see again.

This production succeeded at satisfying all of my requirements for a revival,
with the added bonus of the current gay marriage debate in the cultural background. When I saw the audience, the standing ovation seemed to be as much for
the show as it was for the concept that this Family with a capital F was the
kind that we would all be lucky to have.

2.  Fences

At intermission of Fences (which was the first time I took a breath in the
previous hour-and-20-minutes), I tweeted that Denzel received the largest
entrance applause I had ever heard.  It felt like I was at a Bon Jovi
concert . . . And Elvis had just made a surprise appearance.

On top of the excitement and the event-type atmosphere of the production,
Denzel, Viola and the terrific ensemble, led by the Wilson guru, Kenny Leon,
hit a homer that Troy Maxson would have been proud of.

But take away Denzel’s constellation-like status, and this show would still be one of my top two shows of the season.  As the
head of the drama department said when I was at NYU, “When you work in the
theater, it’s hard to enjoy shows, because you’re always dissecting every
element: the acting, the set, the direction.  How I know I love a show is
when I don’t analyze anything.”

At the end of Fences, I just smiled, like I had just eaten a great big juicy
steak . . . with Elvis.

What are the two shows you wish you’d produced this year?

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Only 2 days left to enter The Producer’s Perspective Tony Pool. Win an iPad!

Play today! Click here!

And don’t forget to RSVP for my Tony Party!

At the Broadway League Conference: Day 2/What’s the “deal” with the road?

Day 2 of the Broadway League Spring Road Conference was filled with some great events, from a panel on how to engage the African American audience, to a discussion on the evolution of the current Broadway production of Fences, led by Mr. Denzel Washington himself (they served extra water at that panel, to prevent half the crowd from fainting at the sight).

One of the more spirited conversations was a discussion of the current deal structure for Broadway touring companies (the ‘Broadway League’ is somewhat of a misnomer, since a large majority of its membership is compromised of presenters/performing arts centers (PAC) all across the country).

There are currently three basic deals being brokered right now for touring shows like Wicked, Jersey Boys, Dreamgirls, etc.

1.  The Guarantee

Under the terms of a GD, a local presenter pays a fixed fee, or a guarantee, to the Producer for showing up at the theater with a show.  In addition to this fee (which can range from $250k – $400k for the big shows), the Producer usually receives a royalty (usually 10% of the NAGBOR), and a split of profit (usually 60/40%) AFTER the Presenter has recovered all of his/her expenses (advertising, stagehands, etc.).

Guarantee = More risk for the Presenter, less risk for the Producer.

2.  Four-Wall

The four-wall is more of a straight rental situation.  The Producer agrees to rent the facility from the Presenter, and pay all expenses associated with the Production.  There is usually some profit built in for the Presenter, but the bulk of the upside is for the Producer.  All the shows produced on Broadway in NYC are four-walls.

3.  Terms

The Terms deal is a hybrid deal designed for Producers and Presenters to “meet in the middle.”  An example of a Terms deal would be a 75/25% split of the gross, after advertising expenses were taken off the top of the gross.  Or a 80/20% split after advertising and stagehands costs were taken from the gross.
Brett Sirota, a partner at The Road Company (a ‘wicked’ big booking group), and an absolute expert in this area (and a pretty damn good poker player as well), revealed that for the first time in his recent memory, almost all the deals he has done for the coming season are “Terms” deals or as it was also called, a “Shared Risk Deal.”

Some pros/cons to the Terms deals were as follows:

  • Without getting a guarantee, the Producer may close the show early if it doesn’t perform well.  When that happens, a performing arts center might end up with no product, despite having sold a subscription on the back of that show.
  • For Presenters a Terms deal really depends on those terms, and in some cases, especially with blockbusters, the Presenter is better of with a guarantee because there is much more upside potential.
  • Some Producers of big shows have signed Terms deals, knowing that they were giving more money than necessary to the Presenters, in the hopes of encouraging the Presenter to book the show for a second, third or even fourth time!
  • Since only one out of five shows recoup their investment on Broadway, Producers look for guarantee arrangements because they are easier to sell to investors who may have just lost money in the Broadway production and are now being asked to put up more money for the same product.

There were a lot of other creative ideas thrown around the room, including a development fee (in the style of a facility fee) that went to Producers to help defray some of the costs of developing product, since it is getting so expensive, and since the markets depend on new product to survive.  There was a suggestion to have a seminar on the costs of running PACs around the country so Producers could understand why a Presenter’s expenses are what they are.

But one of the most enlightening comments was a statement about the road in general, and how conversations like the one in that room at the Crowne Plaza hotel were good.

Because the road is not made up of one stop or one show.  It’s a continually flowing entity that connects all of us.  It may start on Broadway but it circles around the country and eventually winds its way back here.  So, it’s important for us to come up with deals that work for all parties.  That’s the definition of a successful negotiation.  A win2.

One more day of the conference.  Until tomorrow!

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Only 21 days left to enter The Producer’s Perspective Tony Pool. Win an iPad!

Play today! Click here!

And don’t forget to RSVP for my Tony Party!

The Top 5 Tony Nomination Surprises.

The 2010 Tony Award Nominations were announced just two-and-a-half hours ago and, as always, they included a few surprises.

Here are my top five head-shakers:

1.  The season’s biggest hit doesn’t get a shot at Best Musical.

Poor Addams Family.  On second thought, with their last week’s gross topping $1.3 million, I think the last word that we can use in the same sentence as Addams Family is “poor.”  However, for the 3rd year in a row, the Tony Nominators snubbed a big, fat (yet original), commercial show that steamrolled into town to less than enthusiastic critical acclaim, but a lot of popular love.  Legally Blonde, 9 To 5 and now The Family.  Honestly, this wasn’t much of a surprise.  What was a surprise was that the jukebox-y Million Dollar Quartet took the fourth spot over Come Fly Away . . . and frankly, I’m still surprised at how both of them were considered more of a contender for this slot than Family, considering that Family is more of a traditional musical than both of them combined.  Let’s face it . . . the nominators officially like the jukebox musical. They embraced Rock of Ages last year, and this year, MDQ.

So, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert . . . fear not.

Two questions come to mind as a result of this surprise:

– Will Addams Family get a number on the show?

– Will their grosses suffer an immediate drop as a result of the snub?

Answers?

– Yes.

– And no.

2.  Stars actually got nominations.

Sometimes the Tony nominators like to tell Hollywood stars to go back where they came from, by overlooking them for a possible Tony trophy.  Not this year. Denzel Washington (who was overlooked in 2005 for his Caesar), Catherine Zeta-Jones, Liev Schreiber, Scarlett Johansson, Kelsey Grammer, Jude Law, Christopher Walken, Linda Lavin, David Alan Grier, and Sean Hayes all got nods for their work on the boards this year.  (Left off the list were our usual favorites, Kristin Chenoweth, Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth, but their mantles are doing just fine, I’d say).  The fact that the nominations look like the invite list to the Vanity Fair Oscar Party is a good thing.  Most importantly, all of these stars did fantastic work this year and deserve the kudos.  Now let’s hope this will go a long way in getting more of their brothers and sisters from the Hollywood Hills to come join us for a “limited time only.”

3.  There are four nominees for best score.

We saw this one coming last week, when the Tony Admin Committee announced that both Enron and Fences would be eligible in the Best Score category.  It was a good move, IMHO, because Shubert Alley had been buzzing about the dearth of original scores this year.  I don’t think they need to seat those two scores too close to the podium on award night, but it’s nice to see the category rounded out. And the scores are unique, interesting, and definitely deserving of some love.

4.  Sherie Rene Scott owes Megan Mullally a drink.

Six weeks ago, SRS was looking at an uneventful spring.  Then, MM ups and walks from Lips Together, Teeth Apart, and now, SRS has two Tony nominations to keep her busy!  (Interesting side note:  Sherie Rene Scott replaced Megan Mullally in the Rosie O’Donnell Grease that I worked on back in ’94).  This surprise story isn’t over yet . . . because by my read, SRS has a good shot at taking home a trophy on Tony night.  And all this star-aligning-stuff couldn’t happen to a nicer gal.

5.  The British hit about an American company won’t be Best Play.

You know what the most difficult translation in the world is?  From English to American and American to English.  You’d think it’d be so much easier to predict what works in each of these markets based on the success in the other.  Alas, it ain’t that easy.  Unfortunately, Enron, a British play based on American subject matter, didn’t impress the nominators and failed get a Best Play nom.  Nine months ago, I would have bet big on this one not only getting a nomination but also taking home the top prize.  Just goes to show you, you never know what’s going to happen until that curtain goes up.

How did I do with my predictions?  I scored a 75% overall, missing one show in each of the three categories I predicted (which, coincidentally is exactly how I scored last year).

How did you do?

And stay tuned . . . The Producer’s Perspective Tony Pool will be announced shortly.  We’ve just got to figure out what the prizes are going to be . . .

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