2nd Annual ITBA Nominations Announced

The Independent Theater Bloggers Association, of which I am a proud member and co-founder, announced its 2nd set of nominations for excellence in the theater recently.

The list is as follows:


American Idiot
Everyday Rapture

In The Next Room (or the vibrator play)
Next Fall
Superior Donuts
Time Stands Still

Finian’s Rainbow
La Cage aux Folles
A Little Night Music

Brighton Beach Memoirs
Lend Me A Tenor
A View From The Bridge


Circle Mirror Transformation
Clybourne Park
The Orphans Home Cycle
The Temperamentals

Bloodsong of Love
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
The Scottsboro Boys

The Glass Menagerie
A Lie Of The Mind
Twelfth Night


Alice In Slasherland
Girls In Trouble
In Fields Where They Lay
Rescue Me
Samuel & Alasdair: A Personal History of the Robot War
The Soup Show

The Lily’s Revenge

Company XIV


A Boy And His Soul
Zero Hour

Circle Mirror Transformation
A Lie Of The Mind
Twelfth Night

Winners will be announced on May 20th, along with citations for excellence by individual performers.

For more info on the ITBA, including how to join, visit www.theaterbloggers.com.

Congrats to all and good luck!

My predictions for the 2.5 big Tony Award nominations.

It seems like just yesterday we were debating who would get snubbed in the 2008-2009 Tony noms (remember when Rock of Ages slipped in instead of 9 to 5?) . . . And already, it’s time to predict this year’s snubs!

Conventional Broadway wisdom says that there are only 2.5 Tony Awards that have a meaningful impact at the Box Office:  Best Musical, Best Play . . . and the half goes to Best Revival of a Musical.

So, I’m going to give you my predictions on what I think will be nominated for those 2.5 categories (as opposed to what I think should be nominated).

Best Musical

IMHO, there are three locks for the Best Musical nom this year:

American Idiot

And the only completely original musical of the season . . .


It’s the fourth slot that there’s some fighting over, especially since this season saw the elimination of the Special Theatrical Event category, which lumps at least four other titles into the Best Musical category.

So who will take the slot?

The two front runners are The Addams Family and Come Fly Away, with Everyday Rapture the next-in-line long shot.  My guess is that the Tony Committee will honor Rapture by nominating it’s star for Best Actress and maybe even Best Book, but they’ll leave it out of this category, which puts us back with the two choices that started this paragraph.

If I were one of the nominators sitting The Edison Cafe making the decision, I’d go with Addams Family solely to reward the original score and the original book over the beautifully danced, but is-it-really-a-musical, Come Fly Away.  You’ve got to give some points to Family for degree of difficulty, don’t you?

But, knowing what I do about the nominators and the process by which they choose these nominees, my gut says that they will nominate Come Fly Away, and for the third year in a row, snub the big, commercial choice (First Legally Blonde, then 9 To 5, and now Addams Family).

Best Play

Expect the biggest hit, A Steady Rain, to get a steady snub in this category.

Red is a shoe-in for a nod.  As is Next Fall.  The next two spots could go a bunch of different ways.  You’ve got the Brit hit, Enron, Mamet’s f’ing Race, and Superior Donuts, the follow-up play by the man who penned the biggest dramatic epic that we’ve seen since Angels in America.  And what about The Chris Walken show aka Behanding in Spokane, the buzzed about Vibrator Play, or the timely Time Stands Still?

I’m going with Time for the third slot.  And the fourth?

Tricky again . . . I’d like to say that it will be Donuts . . . but taking into account that nominators tend to forget the Fall (as we found out last year), I’m going to go with Enron (partly because bigger really is sometimes better in the eyes of nominators and voters).

Best Revival of a Musical

Sondheim will get another bday present with a nom for Night Music.  La Cage will get the second slot, and Ragtime will get the thanks-for-trying third nom.

But what about the fourth?  Finian’s or Promises?  Great reviewed versus great box office?  Fall versus Spring?

Put my money on Promises.

– – – – –

Whew.  That was tough.  Thankfully, I’m only picking 2.5 of them.

The nominators are picking 26, and they’ll do it tomorrow.

On Tuesday, at 8:30 AM ET, the nominations will be announced live.  Watch on the web at TonyAwards.com.

But before then, tell me how you think I did with my choices in the comments below.

What do you think will get nominated?

If we know reviews aren’t as powerful as they used to be, then why . . .

If ever there was a Fall that demonstrated the lack of a correlation between a rave and a run, this was the one.

Both Finian’s Rainbow and Ragtime, two of the Best Reviewed Shows of 2009, are folding way earlier than anyone predicted the morning after their opening, when their reviews were the talk of the town.

(Funny side-story, but I overheard two women talking about Ragtime on the subway, and both were talking about how wonderful a show it was – they had seen the original.  They had both heard the new production was fabulous and both wanted to see it.  Then one of the women said, “But you know, you can’t get a ticket. It’s the hottest ticket in town.”  That’s where I jumped in.  When I asked where she heard that it was a hard-to-get ticket, she told me she had read a review.  She equated a rave with an impossible-to-get ticket.  You can bet I corrected her, and told her to buy a ticket that day . . . and then, after Ragtime, I told her to see Altar Boyz, but you probably guessed that already.)

There is no longer any doubt that sensational reviews are no guarantee of a run or of recoupment, especially for musicals (although, I think plays are catching up . . . notice The Norman Conquests, Mary Stuart and even Godot on that Best Reviewed list).

Ok, ok, I know what you are all saying, “Ken, we know all this.  This ain’t our first barbeque.”

I know, I know, but let’s extrapolate this theory, and apply it to pre-producing.

If we know reviews aren’t as powerful as they used to be, then why do so many of us use them to decide if we want to transfer a show from Off-Broadway to Broadway, or from Out-Of-Town to Broadway???

I can’t tell you how many times over the last year I’ve heard people say that they were getting involved in a show solely because its out-of-town tryout, or its regional tryout, or because its Off-Broadway production got a rave.  Another side-story – recently I asked one Broadway Producer what they were working on next, and they said,

“Well, it looks like we’re going to move XXXXXX.”

I was a bit surprised.  “Really,”  I said.  “Wow.”

“Yep.  I mean, with the review we got, we sort of have to.”

No, you don’t.  And you shouldn’t.

Tell me you want to get involved with a show because the audience is going crazy for it.  Tell me you want to get involved with a show because you think the Author’s message is important.  Or tell me you want to get involved with a show purely based on your gut.

Or better, tell me it’s ALL of those things (you wouldn’t buy a stock just based on its price, or just based on its p/e.  You buy because of a combo of its charactertistics).

But don’t tell me you’re doing it because it got a good review.

Because reviews are like wrapping paper.  They make things look pretty, but they don’t last long.

It’s what’s inside the paper that counts.

Advice from an Expert: Vol. XIV. The original Producer of Finian’s Rainbow speaks from beyond the rainbow.

My assistant, Melissa, who has been super busy processing all the Social RSVPs, stumbled upon a Finian’s Rainbow souvenir program from the original production at a flea market last week.  She snatched it up for $10 and brought it in for show-and-tell.

She found a pot ‘o gold on the last page, left to her by that lucky leprechaun, Lee Sabinson, the original producer.

Lee wrote an article on the last page which he titled, “So You Want To Be A Producer.”

Lee passed away in 1991, but his legacy lives on, with the production of Finian’s currently on Broadway, and with this witty and still relevant article on Producing, which we’ve transcribed for you below.



By Lee Sabinson

It looks so easy to be a Broadway producer that almost
everyone who ever heard the word Theatre wants to be one.  I don’t blame
them.  They don’t know that producing is a certain path to ulcers,
baldness, gout – if you’re lucky, for that’s a rich man’s disease – and other
innumerable disasters that will not be listed.

After all what does a producer have to do?  Very little!
Find a play, raise the money, cast the play, raise the money, check the
production, raise the money, find a theatre and raise more money!

Now you’re on your way.  Finding a play is a simple
thing.  One little note in a newspaper that you’ve opened producing
offices and you’re swamped with such items as “Bertha” a sequel to “The Sewing
Machine Girl,” “Icecast,” a melodrama with four people and one set that takes
place in the Antarctic during winter – you can save on your electrical
equipment this way.

I started as a producer because I couldn’t get a
thirty-five dollar a week job reading scripts for an established
producer.  I tried to find a play only to find that the well known authors
were submitting plays to well known producers.  I had to turn to novels –
“Counterattack” and “Trio” were the results of reading galley proofs.
“Home of the Brave” reached my partner Bill Katzell and myself only after a
great many, more established producers turned it down.  So finding a play
presents no problem.

Getting “Finian’s Rainbow” was no problem.  The
authors were almost unknown.  E.Y. Harburg did the lyrics for such shows
as “Bloomer Girl,” “Life Begins at 8:40,” “Walk A Little Faster” and for such
movies as “The Wizard of Oz,” “Song of Russia,” “Cabin in the Sky.”  Fred
Saidy, who collaborated with him on the book, co-authored “Bloomer Girl” and
has screen credit for innumerable pictures.  But these boys are novices,
there would be no competition.  The man who wrote the delightful music for
the show, Burton Lane, wrote the score for “Hold on to Your Hats,” and one of
the Olsen and Johnson musicals.  So he wouldn’t be difficult since he was

The day after I read the book I landed in California
where the three – author, lyricist and composer were whiling their time away in
the sunshine and earning a measly couple of thousand a week.  I offered
them the opportunity of a Broadway production and they immediately left their
spot on the beach, their beautiful homes and hopped a train for Broadway.
You see all the producer need do is mention that glamorous word Broadway and
the world is his.

Came the problem of finding a director.  I knew
Bretaigne Windust, who had staged “Trio” for me.  Windy presented no
problem.  No one wanted the services of the director responsible for such
hits as “Arsenic and Old Lace,” “Life With Father” and “State of the
Union.”  That is no one but Warner Brothers to whom he is under contract,
and seventeen other producers.  But Windy wanted to come back to New York
so that he and his wife and youngsters could move from hotel to hotel every
five days.  There’s nothing like the excitement of finding a hotel to live
in in New York.  These prospects so enchanted Mr. Windust that he decided
to direct “Finian’s Rainbow.”

We next proceeded to raise the money.  Investing in
musicals is a certain way to double your money.  So all you do is call up
people with money who rush to your office immediately, their pockets bulging
with United States currency and kill each other trying to put it on your
desk.  The backers are now cast.

By now your job is jelling.  The show is in
rehearsal.  All you have to do is find a theatre.  Do you know how
hard it is to find an apartment?  Well there are nine hundred thousand
apartments to every legitimate theatre available in New York.  But suppose
you find a theatre are you through with the wonderful, easy job of being a
producer?  You’re not!  You’re just starting out!  There are the
critics out of town and in New York to get by.  If your reviews are good
out of town you wonder if the New York critics are going to come waiting to see
the arrival of a new Messiah.  If they’re bad you’re afraid the critics
will come in bored or something.

But “Finian’s Rainbow” got rave reviews on its tryout and
rave reviews when it opened.  So you think the job is done?  Now you
sit and worry about how you can cast your road company as perfectly as that on
Broadway.  And when you’re through worrying about that you have one or two
other worries.  The show is a hit.  But you’ve got to do another
show.  Where are you going to get the next play?  And so it starts in
all over again.

If there are any prospective producers among the readers
of this piece who let my words discourage them…they were not prospective
producers at all.  For truth to tell, with all the headaches and heart
aches, you feel you want to be a producer.  Well, I’ll tell you a secret,
so do I.


Only 3 days until The 2nd Annual Producers Perspective Social!

Free drink!  Door prizes include tickets, merch, and a Kindle!

RSVP Today!

Click here for details.(please note, due to overwhelming demand the Social will now at be Hurley’s Saloon)

The 2nd Annual Producer’s Perspective Social!

Last year, I invited all of my readers to mingle offline at our first PP social, and we had a blast.  So, we’re doing it again!

On Thursday, December 10th, I’m inviting all of you to come join me in celebrating the holidays, and the theater in general, at The 2nd Annual Producer’s Perspective Social.

Just like last year, I’m buying the first round for each of you.  And we’ll have door prizes, including free tickets to Broadway shows like Mamma Mia, Memphis, Finian’s Rainbow as well as Broadway merch from my friends at The Broadway Store andSh-K Boom/Ghostlight Records.

And for the grand prize, I’m giving away my newest favorite toy . . . The Kindle!

So come on down to Hurley’s Saloon the Time Out Lounge at New World Stages on Thursday, December 10th at 6:30.  Say hello to me and to your fellow readers, who include Producers, Writers, Designers, Actors, Union reps and more.  We’ll talk shop and network and share stories from the past year and talk about the exciting stuff that is in store for all of us in 2010.

Here are the deets:

Thursday, December 10th.
6:30 – 8:00 PM

UPDATE: Due to the overwhelming response, we’ve moved the event to a larger venue!  

Hurley’s Saloon-2nd floor

232 West 48th Street (betw. Broadway and 8th)
Time Out Lounge at New World Stages
340 West 50th St. (betw. 8th and 9th aves)

To RSVP, email my assistant Melissa at melissa@davenporttheatrical.com.  She’ll need your full name.

Feel free to spread the word to your friends but they will have to RSVP on their own.  No plus ones.

FYI, space is limited so RSVPs are essential.  We had a terrific response last year and we did have to stop taking RSVPs so if you’re coming, RSVP today.

See you there!