What the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has to do with Broadway.

17 years ago, a lot of people thought a little policy called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was a good idea.

And yesterday, President Obama (thankfully) threw it out.

There are a lot of rules, laws, and policies in effect in our government . . . and in our industry.  Many were created under different “administrations”, with different economic environments and different entertainment environments.

And a lot of them were probably good ideas at the time.

But a lot of them need to be tossed out like yesterday’s law.

It doesn’t mean that they were bad ideas.  Maybe they were right for the time.  Maybe they were all that could be done at that time.  But that doesn’t mean we have to live with them.

If you’re reading this blog, then I’d bet 100 to 1 that you’re a believer in change . . . and not so that you can put a few more dollars in your pocket . . . but you believe in change for the theater that will ensure that it not only survives, but thrives over the next 10, 20 or 100 years.

And I’d bet 1000 to 1 that if you’ve voiced that concern, that you’ve run into at least one person in your travels who has told you, “That’s the way it’s done, and it’s not going to change.”

Well, if the US government, which moves slower than the first day of tech on a $65 million dollar musical, can toss out something because it’s archaic and ineffectual, then we can too.

It just takes a lot of people raising their voice and demanding the change.

I hope you’re one of those people.

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The Top 10 Most Performed Plays & Musicals in High Schools (Updated 2018).

Every year, the folks at the Educational Theatre Association publish a list of the most performed plays and musicals in high schools around the country.

Here’s what drama clubs were up to this year (click the links to read more about the shows):

Top 10 Plays

1) Almost, Maine
2) A Midsummer Night’s Dream
3) You Can’t Take It With You
4) Noises Off
5) Twelve Angry Men
6) Alice in Wonderland (various adaptations)
7) The Crucible
8) Our Town
9) Neil Simon’s Fools
10) A Christmas Carol (various adaptations)

Top 10 Musicals

1)
 Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
2) Seussical
3) Grease
4) Into the Woods
5) Footloose
6) The Wizard of Oz (multiple adaptations)
7) You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown
8) The Music Man
9) Once Upon a Mattress
10) Thoroughly Modern Millie

So, for those of us who don’t have kids, why is this important to us?

If you produce and/or invest in a Broadway play or an Off-Broadway play or musical (and sometimes in a revival), you are usually entitled to receive a percentage of the subsidiary income that the authors receive for productions in regional theaters, community theaters, and yes high schools.

And with the right show, this can be a substantial number.

In fact, the possibility of a lucrative post-Broadway life is a reason why so many (smart) Producers and investors choose certain projects.  While a show may not make it to the recoupment finish line on Broadway, the subsidiary market can often get it well beyond the profitability mark.

In film terms, the regional, community, and high school theater market is like the DVD market.

So when you are contemplating investing in a Broadway show or Off-Broadway show, or producing a Broadway or Off-Broadway show, take a look at one of these lists.  Does your show have similar characteristics (big casts, positive messages, colorful costumes)?

If so, you could have a very nice “stock and amateur” insurance policy in case your Broadway dreams turn into a nightmare.

(Click here to read a follow-up story on that play at the top of the list.)

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Did you enjoy this post? Check out the most recent version of this list on my post The Most Licensed Plays & Musicals of 2015-2016!

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Broadway audience demographics for 2009-10 released!

It’s that time to year!  Time to looking into the Broadway stocking and see what Santa stuffed it with.

Every year, The Broadway League studies the demographics of the Broadway theatergoer.  And every year, we take a look at the Executive Summary to determine if things are changing from year to year, and to see what changes we should implement in our businesses in order to encourage even more theatergoing from this group in the future.

Here’s what the study said about the Broadway audience this year:

  • In the 2009-2010 season, approximately 63% of all Broadway tickets were purchased by tourists.
  • 63% of the audiences were female. This reflects the trend of the past few decades.
  • The average age of the Broadway theatregoer was 47.9 years, older than in the past few seasons.
  • Three quarters of all tickets were purchased by Caucasian theatregoers.  Although still mostly homogeneous, audiences have become slightly more diverse in the past decade and there was a higher percentage of Asian theatregoers this season.
  • Broadway theatregoers were a very well-educated group. Of theatregoers over 25 years old, 77% had completed college and 39% had earned a graduate degree.
  • Broadway theatregoers were also quite affluent compared to the general population, reporting and average annual household income of $200,700.
  • The average Broadway theatregoer reported attending 4.5 shows in the previous 12 months.  The group of devoted fans who attended 15 or more performances comprimsed only 6% of the audience, but accounted for 31% of all tickets (3.7 million admissions).
  • Playgoers tended to be more frequent theatregoers than musical attendees.  The typical straight play attendee saw seven shows in the past year; the musical attendee, five.
  • 34% of respondents said they bought their tickets online.
  • Also, 34% bought their tickets more than one month prior to the show.
  • The most popular sources of theatre information were Broadway.com, The New York Times, and word-of-mouth.
  • 69% of those making the purchasing decision were female.
  • At musicals, 46% of audience members said that personal recommendation was the most influential factor in deciding to attend the show while 23% cited critics’ reviews.  On the other hand, at plays, 31% cited personal recommendation and 32% named critics’ reviews.
  • In general, advertisements were not reported to have been influential in making the purchasing decision.
  • 72% of the Broadway audience said that some kind of incentive (discounts, freebies, add-ons), would encourage them to attend shows more often.

Fascinating stuff, right?  Check out previous year summaries by clicking here.  Compare the year to year!  It’s fun!

The full demographic report goes into much further detail than the above.  If you’d like to get a copy, you can order it here.  If you’re developing, writing or producing a show for Broadway, these reports are required reading.

Because this is your audience, whether you like it or not.

Our fourth and final reading of the year announced.

It seems like just yesterday we announced our reading series, and now, here we are, 9 months later, announcing the fourth and final reading of the year!

Usually we announce the next reading the day after our previous reading, so we’re actually a little late in this announcement.

Why are we late?

We chose a musical . . . and true to form, those f’ers just take more time to pull together.  🙂

So what will we be reading on Monday, December 13th at 8 PM?  (Shouldn’t musical readings be called singings?)

Date of a Lifetime, with book and lyrics by Carl Kissin, who comes from over 4000 shows with Chicago City Limits, and music by Robert Baumgartner, Jr., who comes with a MFA from Tisch’s Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program.

Date is about a man at a speed-dating event who introduces himself to a potential mate.  During their limited time together, he hypothesizes what their life as a couple might be like – going all the way from present day to her death.  Then . . . it’s her turn.

Now, I have a little secret to tell you about Date.

It’s not done.

We didn’t get a full script and score to this one, but we believed in the material we did see, we believed in the concept, and more importantly we believed in the team.

And that’s what Producers have to do half the time.

When I look back at the day Robyn Goodman, my partner on Altar Boyz, signed on to produce the show with me, I can’t believe she did it. ‘Cuz the script was certainly not ready for prime time.  But she saw the same potential I had seen two years prior.

Part of your job as a Producer is to see the swan in the disgusting duckling. Rent had been kickin’ around the city for years, before the right Producers saw what no one else could.

So come to the reading on Dec. 13th and see what Carl and Robert come up with.

Oh, and the reading will be held in a different location this time.  It will be held in . . . our own rehearsal studio!  We just underwent an office renovation here at DTE and I had to take a little more space than I wanted, so, I decided to turn it into a rehearsal studio!

And that’s where we’ll be doing the reading.

Hope to see you there!

To RSVP, email rsvp@davenporttheatrical.com.

5 Shows that stand out at NYMF.

Six years ago, Altar Boyz debuted at the NYMF.  And it changed my life.

Yesterday, the 7th season of NYMF kicked off.

And hopefully, a lot of lives will be changed when it’s over.

If you don’t know NYMF, you should. If the Fringe Festival is the Walmart of theatrical offerings (and for the record, there is nothing wrong with Walmart – it’s got everything you could ever want and then some at “everyday low prices”), then NYMF is the Madison Avenue boutique of musicals.

During the voting at NYMF’s Next Broadway Sensation last Sunday, which I was honored to judge, I flipped through the catalog of shows to see what stood out to me.

Here are five shows that caught my show-shoppin’ eye (in reverse alphabetical order, because, well, you gotta do things differently every once in a while):

1.  V-Day

If you’ve been in NYC a while, then you’ve probably heard of the late night escapades of the Don’t Quit Your Night Job crew.  Well, two of the crew, including the funny-in-every-show-he’s-in Steve Rosen, took a day job and wrote a musical about the holiday we love to hate, Valentine’s Day.

2.  Show Choir

I had an idea for a show choir musical a few years ago, and even did some research over pizza with real show choir members to get some ideas.  It was a hysterical brainstorming session.  Dramas are about characters, and there are some kooks in show choirs around the country.  I remember thinking, “There’s a successful show here somewhere.”  Let’s see if these guys found it.

3.  My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wican Wedding

Just when you think the gag-wedding-title idea is played out, here comes another one . .  and it still makes you laugh.  Unless you have a star, nothing . . . nothing . . . sells a ticket more than a title.

4.  Jay Alan Zimmerman’s Incredibly Deaf Musical

Comedy is born in contrast, and when you put the word “Deaf” next to “Musical,” it says, “I’m funny, unique, and about a hero overcoming a challenge.”  I’d bet that some of your favorite shows, movies and books have the exact same elements.

5.  Bloodties

The blurb about Bloodties describes the story of Ned Massey who was once called, “the finest talent since Dylan and Springsteen.”  Umm,  you had me at Springsteen.  (And BTW, where’s that jukebox musical?  I inquired some time ago and haven’t heard much lately . . . I know I’d have produced the bandana out of that one.)

So there you have it . . . the 5 NYMF shows that jumped out of the catalog and, like Tommy, screamed, “See me!”

Now, remember, you all know how this game works.  I haven’t read the scripts, seen the readings, etc.  Instead, I put myself in the mind of an audience member and a Producer (aren’t they one in the same?), and relied solely on the marketing, the titles, and the teams to tell me what show to see.

What happens then?

Only one way to find out.

To get tickets to all NYMF shows, click here.

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