The Producers of Hair did what?

Back when I was in the middle of my ATPAM apprenticeship and studying for my NMAM exam (the test that gets you your company management stripes and a piece of the annuity fund), I learned that the #1 rule of managing a show was . . . never cancel a performance!

We were always pushed to come up with creative solutions to problems to prevent mass refunds due to canceling.

For example . . .

Q:  What do you do if your production of Oklahoma is performing outside at The Muny and the temperature has dropped below the approved AEA temp for performing?

A:  Turn up the lights to full to heat up the stage!  Or put space heaters next to the footlights!  Hold the curtain to see if things warm up (not a good idea if it’s at night)!

Q:  What do you do if your one truck of scenery on your bus and truck of Cats jackknifes in Toledo and you’re in Pittsburgh and 8 hours from curtain?

A:  Do a concert version!  Dress the stage with spare “junkyard”-type items!  Have any other theaters nearby done the show recently that you could ask for some spare set pieces?

There were no right or wrong answers (obviously).  It was all about training the mind to think outside the proscenium.  And it worked.

So here’s another one . . .

Q:  What do you do when one of your Tony nominated principal actors is an activist for the gay marriage movement and wants to take a show off and march on Washington?

A:  Well, you cancel the show, so the whole cast can go, of course.

(insert head shaking that make your lips go bu-bu-bu-bu-bu-bu-bu-bu-bu here)

Yep, you read that right.  And that’s exactly what the Producers of Hair did.  They listened to the passion of their employees, realized that the show had already surpassed their wildest expectations in terms of financial success, and gave up about $50k worth of profit.  They have, of course, benefited from the press, which they will receive even more of on the day they walk down Constitution Avenue.

So I’m sending out my Kudos to the Producers, the Creative Team, the Cast and Mr. Creel himself.  Guys and Gals, if this were an ATPAM exam, you would have gotten this question wrong.  But sometimes, doing something wrong is the only way to ACE an even more important test.

Oh, and let this be a lesson to all of us (including me) that generalize.  Not all actors have egos.  Not all stagehands watch TV while they work.

And not all Producers are greedy.

My Top 5 Tony Moments from Last Night’s Telecast

In no particular order, here are my top 5 favorite nuggets from last night’s Tony Awards Ceremony:

1.  The “Is He Ok” Moment

Not sure what the cameras caught, but Bret Michaels of Poison took a little too much time on his exit after his rockin’ opening number . . . and caught an incoming drop in the head.  It knocked his cowboy hat right off his head, and the hat stayed on stage for several minutes as a reminder of the carnage we had all witnessed.

2.  The “Did You Forget Something” Moment

Did anyone else notice that Liza didn’t have an envelope when she went out to announce the winner of Best Musical?  Why do I get nervous every time I see her do anything?

3.  The “When Did They Write That” Moment

Kudos to the writers for drafting that clever closing number while the show was going on.  Ok, I’m sure they wrote some stuff in advance, but, nevertheless, it’s always great to go out with a few laughs.  And there were some doozies in there.

4.  The “You talk.  No, you talk.  No, you talk” Moment

Watching and waiting for one of the Billys to speak after they won their historic award was some of the finest silence on television.  Those kids are a living example of, “They don’t even have to do anything.  They just have to stand there.”

5.  The “I Made A Big Star Blush” Moment

Hugh Jackman made Sarah Jessica Parker blush years ago when he got her involved with a Boy From Oz number.  This year, it was Gavin Creel all up in Anne Hathaway’s bizness during the Hair number, and when he crawled off her, she buckled over with laughter and let out a big smile like she was a 12 year old girl at a combination Miley Cyrus/Justin Timberlake concert . . . with backstage passes.  And guess who showed up at the Hair party later on . . .

I had a lot of favorite moments from last night’s ceremony.  Overall, I thought it was a terrific show (although from what I “hear”, there were a ton of sound problems that we didn’t experience at the show itself).  How do I judge it?  Well, I think back to when I was a teenager and used to watch (and tape) the Tonys from my small hometown in Massachusetts, which seemed thousands of miles away from Broadway.  If I think “the kid inside” would have liked the show, then I give it a thumbs up.

And this year, the 16 year old had a blast and would have played it over and over again on his VCR.

I’ll have the results of the Tony pool soon. Stay tuned.

And tomorrow I’ll tell you how I did in my predictions, and where and why I went wrong.

What did you think of last night’s Tony Awards?  Comment below.

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