Why a bump is a like a breakup.

I took a call today from a producing peer who was having a serious issue with a project.  After a heck of a lot of work (a couple of years, actually), the show just blew up.  It was nothing he did.  It was beyond his control.  It was just . . . over.

He was pretty upset.  And deservedly so.  He even said a few things like, “I don’t know if I can go through this again.  I’m giving up producing and going to law school.”

If you’ve been working in this biz or in any biz, then I’d bet a billion buckaroos that you’ve hit a similar bump in the road along your way, and you’ve probably considered law school . . . or your equivalent . . . as well.  I know I have.

And as I explained to my buddy that as hard as it was for him right now, he’d eventually get over it, and find another project.

Sound familar?

If you’ve ever been through a breakup, you’ve felt the same way and probably heard similiar advice.  Because when you’ve just lost something you loved and are miserable, it’s hard to think that you’ll ever come out on the other side.

But you do, don’t you? Eventually, it clears, and you move on, and you when the time is right, you meet someone new.

So, the next time you’re having a crisis with a project–something that you can’t see yourself getting through . . . remember that time you got dumped . . . and how you eventually got over that too.

 

(Got a comment?  I love ’em, so comment below!  Email subscribers, click here, then scroll down, to say what’s on your mind!)

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It’s official: Broadway to Off is not just a fad. It’s a phenom.

Earlier this week, Million Dollar Quartet announced that it would be closing June 12th.

But it won’t be gone for good.

MDQ will become the latest show to transfer from Broadway to Off-Broadway as it moves into New World Stages in July.

It’s the fourth show to make such a move:  Avenue Q, The 39 Steps, the upcoming Rent, and now, MDQ.  And all of them taking up tenancy at New World Stages (Boy, there were times during the run of Altar Boyz when we were the only show in the building – I don’t expect a show to feel that lonely anytime soon – good news for the owners in what is a fantastic turnaround play.)

It was almost three years ago that I wrote this blog suggesting that Broadway producers look at this model, and it has been almost two since the Producers of Avenue Q courageously decided to go where no Producers had gone before and made the move (and brought us on to GM).  And then the domino effect began.

Because of that blog a few years ago, and because of the surprising MDQ news, I’ve been getting a lot of questions from readers and reporters alike about what I think now that four shows have done it.

So what do I think?

It’s awesome for all the reasons I wrote about before.  Avenue Q was about to close.  As was 39 Steps.  One can only assume MDQ was about to do the same.  And I don’t think a Rent revival was in the cards in the short term.

Jobs were created.  Theaters were filled.  Investors continue to make money or have a shot at getting more back in the case of unrecouped shows.  What could be bad about that?

Well, there is one thing.

What about new commerical Off-Broadway shows?

As if it couldn’t get any tougher for anyone trying to make a go of it with a new commercially-produced play or musical, it just did.  Because Broadway . . . just got bigger.  That’s right, with Broadway branded shows now appearing in Off-Broadway venues, guess where patrons are going to go first when considering an Off-Broadway show?  Oh, and remember those good deals you used to get because Off-Broadway venues needed to fill a hole, or a vendor needed the biz wherever and whenever he or she could get it?  Well, there’s not as much desperation anymore since mini-Broadway was born.

I’m thrilled about this new distribution model for our industry.  Overall, it’s a great thing.  But now, looking at the landscape, I fear for the commercial Off-Broadway musical . . . as it’s becoming an endangered species.  Oh, they may pop up every now and then, but are they making money?

And the commercial play?  Well, shoot, it’s becoming as much of a myth as the Big Foot.

 

(Got a comment?  I love ’em, so comment below!  Email subscribers, click here, then scroll down, to say what’s on your mind!)

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Fun on a Friday: Obama’s directing a musical.

What’s more difficult . . . directing a musical?  Or being the President of the United States?

Leave it to The Onion to put Barack Obama in the Director’s chair of a new production of Guys & Dolls.

(And does this mean Jack O’Brien gets a shot at the oval office?)

Happy weekend, all!

 

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Should the critics have reviewed Spiderman?

I don’t know about what happened at your home, but as soon as that first review of Spider-Man hit the ‘web’ Monday night, my phone started ringing, my twitter started tweeting, and things I didn’t even know I owned started buzzing.

It was a social media cyclone.

And unfortunately for Spider-Man, that cyclone did some serious damage.

But the big question on everyone’s tweets was not how a $65 million dollar musical got such bad reviews, but should the critics have thrown their stones now, or should they have waited?

There has always been a gentleman’s agreement in the theater that reviewers don’t come until they are invited.  And that agreement has held up over the years, except for a few instances, mostly involving high profile out-of-town productions.

But not this time.

Why?

Well, come on Spider-Man, you’ve got super-human powers.  Surely, you had to see this coming.  You’ve been in previews longer than it takes an actual spider to spin a web.  Did you expect them to wait much longer?  Especially with rumors circulating that you were never going to open, and especially since the business you were doing didn’t seem to incentivize you to open any sooner.  When you’re doing 1.2+ million, who cares if you’re open or not, right?

Well, the critics do.

And Monday, they had enough.

And I can’t blame them.

I give them a lot of credit, actually.  Instead of just a free-for-all of reviews starting to come out randomly, they obviously got together and orchestrated this release together.  It was a calculated strike (which is the kind that does the most damage).  And the reviews came the day after the show was last supposed to open, which is a logical, rational, and defensible date to use.

So, good for them.

If I was a Producer, I might not like it, but I had to expect it (and evident by the typical post-opening radio spots and other media that ran this morning, these Producers did expect it).

All that said, you know what the real question I was asking after I read the reviews?

It wasn’t how a $65 million dollar musical could get such bad reviews.

It wasn’t whether or not they should have been reviewed it or not.

It was, “Will the reviews matter?”

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PLAY “WILL IT RECOUP?”  CLICK HERE!  PLAY TODAY!  WIN A KINDLE!

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The 2010 Broadway Producer of the Year is . . .

Drumroll please . . .

YOUR votes have been counted and you have selected your 2010 Broadway Producers of the Year. . .

Randy Adams and Sue Frost, the producers of Memphis!

Big congrats go out to Randy and Sue, for winning the Tony for Memphis and for winning all the hearts of you readers.

The story of how they produced a Tony Award-winning original musical (not from a movie, poem or Hallmark card) with no stars is a great one . . . and if you want to hear more of it, watch the video below.

Congrats again, Randy and Sue!

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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