A blog about a blogger.

Six days ago, I passed a few emails back and forth with one of my favorite bloggers (and one of my favorite people) about doing an interview for an article he was working on.

Yesterday, I got a call from one of his friends and found out that he had suddenly passed away at the age of 51.

Patrick Lee was one of the brightest lights on Broadway.  I got to know him during the creation of the ITBA (he helped co-found the org. and headed up our annual awards).  I liked his company and his talent so much, I hired him to write the BroadwaySpace feature, Broadway’s 50 Most Powerful People, which, thanks to him, was our most successful feature of the year.

Talent and great guy-ness, all wrapped up in one.

Patrick was so uberly passionate about every part of what we all do, taking in every show he could, whether it was at a Shubert house, or at some hipster’s house in the East Village.

He saw hundreds and hundreds of shows per year all over the city and in every festival.  I cynically asked him once, “Patrick . . . aren’t most of these shows crap?  How can you continue to sit through them all?”

His response?  “Ken, there’s no place I’d rather be than in a theater.”

I have no doubt that Patrick has premium seats in the biggest and best theaters of all right now.

Someday, Patrick, I hope we’ll meet again . . . although I’ll be lucky if they let me sit anywhere close to you.

Be well, my friend.

UPDATE:  The wake will be Friday, June 11 between 2 – 4pm and 7 – 9pm at Robert Spearing Funeral Home (155 Kinderkamack Road/Park Ridge, NJ  07656). The funeral will be at 10am, Saturday, June 12, at Our Lady of Mercy Church, Park Ridge.

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The ITBA Awards winners announced . . . on video!

Watch the video below to see theater folk Susan Blackwell, Ann Harada, and Jeannine Frumess announce the winners of the 2nd annual Independent Theater Bloggers Association Awards!

Congrats to the winners!

If you’re an email subscriber, click here to see the video.

For more on the ITBA, click here.

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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:

BROADWAY

OUTSTANDING NEW BROADWAY MUSICAL
American Idiot
Everyday Rapture
Fela!

OUTSTANDING NEW BROADWAY PLAY
In The Next Room (or the vibrator play)
Next Fall
Red
Superior Donuts
Time Stands Still

OUTSTANDING BROADWAY MUSICAL REVIVAL
Finian’s Rainbow
La Cage aux Folles
A Little Night Music
Ragtime

OUTSTANDING BROADWAY PLAY REVIVAL
Brighton Beach Memoirs
Fences
Lend Me A Tenor
Oleanna
A View From The Bridge

OFF-BROADWAY

OUTSTANDING NEW OFF-BROADWAY PLAY
Circle Mirror Transformation
Clybourne Park
The Orphans Home Cycle
The Temperamentals

OUTSTANDING NEW OFF-BROADWAY MUSICAL
Bloodsong of Love
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
The Scottsboro Boys
YANK!

OUTSTANDING OFF-BROADWAY REVIVAL (PLAY OR MUSICAL)
The Glass Menagerie
A Lie Of The Mind
Twelfth Night

OFF-OFF BROADWAY

OUTSTANDING OFF-OFF-BROADWAY SHOW
Alice In Slasherland
Girls In Trouble
In Fields Where They Lay
Lear
MilkMilkLemonade
Rescue Me
Samuel & Alasdair: A Personal History of the Robot War
The Soup Show
Viral

UNIQUE OFF-OFF-BROADWAY EXPERIENCE
The Lily’s Revenge

CITATION FOR EXCELLENCE IN OFF-OFF-BROADWAY THEATRE
Company XIV

ALL VENUES

OUTSTANDING SOLO SHOW/PERFORMANCE
A Boy And His Soul
Zero Hour

OUTSTANDING ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE
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!

Should previews be open for online review by bloggers, chatters and more?

Ellen Gamerman at The Wall Street Journal wrote a terrific piece last week about previews, and how problems that shows encounter during the several weeks of previews are exposed more in an online world than they were a decade ago.

It’s true.

Leading man flubbing his lines?  It’ll be all over the boards.  Problems in Act II?  Expect a blog about it.  Set come crashing down on the ensemble?  Well, in that case, you’ve got bigger problems than the boards and the blogs.

There’s a lot of people out there that are jumping up and down, throwing tantrums that two year olds would be proud of, saying, “You can’t review previews!  These people shouldn’t be talking about previews!”

To that I say . . . here’s a bottle of milk and a blanket, now get over it.

As much as we might not like our shows facing quicker criticism from audiences than ever before (and a few of mine have faced some harsh online attacks), there is nothing we can do about it.  Online word of mouth is the new Word of Mouth, and there’s nothing you can do to get in its way.  Can you imagine if any of the people upset about “preview reviews” went up to a group of folks at a Starbucks who were trashing a preview of a play and said, “You can’t talk about that show, it was a preview!”

The group would laugh, and probably trash the show even more.

Word of Mouth used to be invisible, which is why no one complained about stopping people from “chatting” about shows in previews.  The internet gives us (and others) a chance to see the formerly invisible force, which is why so many people want to stop it.

But you can’t.  We all need to realize that Online Word of Mouth and Traditional Word of Mouth have merged into one stronger and faster force of customer communication.

Critics, of course, who work for publications and are given free tickets, are subject to regulation.  One of the reasons I helped form the ITBA, was in the hopes that the new media warriors (aka The Bloggers) could get the same access as critics, which would give the shows a chance to reach a new audience, but with some control over when the bloggers were seeing the shows.

But if your chatters are paying for a ticket, you can’t stop the e-talkin’, so I wouldn’t even try.

10 Things this Producer is thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

I love holidays.  Family, food, and big box office numbers.  Mmm, mmm, good.

In addition to being thankful for the flock of tourists coming to town from now through New Year’s, here is a list of my ten other theatrical thankfuls this year.

1.  The Producers of Avenue Q had the courage to try an unprecedented downsize with their move Off-Broadway.  By doing so they kept over 50 people employed and just may have opened up a whole new ‘avenue’ of distribution for Broadway shows of a certain size.

2.  I got the rights to a book called Miss Abigail’s Guide to Dating, Mating and Marriage.  It’ll be the female version of Defending The Caveman.  Give me 12 months max, and it’ll be up.

3. I moved into a new office, and already it feels like we’re ready for something bigger.  Offices are like aquariums . . . always get the bigger one, because when you get it home, you’re going to want it.

4. The Independent Theater Bloggers Association (The ITBA) was formed and now has 40+ members!  The bod chose a group of award winners for the 2008-2009 season, and at the same time just may have unofficially declared the start of the new media revolution in the theatrical industry.

5.  My Dad had a subdural hematoma, had emergency brain surgery, and is now better than ever (ok, that’s not theatrical, but if anything deserved a standing ovation on this list, it would be this one).

6.  Thanks in part to new management and in part to NPH, the Tony Awards ratings were up 20% in key demos!

7.  My investors, as well as a whole slew of theatrical investors, stayed in the theatrical waters this past year, despite the choppy economy.  They understand that investing in the theater is like investing in the market.   Diversify, stay in the game, and the one that we’re all waiting for will come.

8.  Michael Riedel at the NY Post mentioned the BroadwaySpace.com “50 Most Powerful People on Broadway” article in his column not once, but twice.  I’m thankful that I only commissioned the article and didn’t write it, because I heard there were some really happy people and some really peeved people.

9.  Leslie Arden signed on to write music and lyrics for Somewhere In Time.  After several years of searching for the right person, I found her.  I felt like Richard Collier himself.  The first reading will take place in the summer of 2010, if not sooner.

10.  Finally, I’m thankful for my readers.  Not only have you multipled over the last 12 months, but the comments and discussions that are emerging on the blog are exactly why I started writing in the first place.  We’re increasing the volume of the conversation about making Broadway, Off-Broadway and theater in general work, both artistically and financially.  And when we do that, we all benefit.

And now I’ll sign off this entry with the same Kenism I used last year:

Enjoy your T-day. Just remember . . .

Eat a turkey.  Don’t produce one.

Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

I'm on a mission to help 5000 shows get produced by 2025.

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