Superhero spotted on 42nd Street.

Well, it happened.

After years of speculation and millions and millions of dollars, it finally happened.

Spider-Man opened last night on Broadway.

You’re probably thinking I got that last sentence wrong.  That I should have said Spider-Man started previews last night.

But with the amount of ink from new and old media the show got last night and this morning, you might as well call it opened.

The chat boards lit up during the show last night (I bet all of the sites saw a surge in traffic), as did Twitter and the blogosphere.  The traditional media caught up this morning, with Spidey snagging the front page of the NY Post (right out of one of those scenes from a super hero movie where the papers hit the streets with a headline that screams, “Spider-Man saves the day!”) as well articles in the NY Times, The Journal, and many, many others.

And while the big publications aren’t reviewing the show, because they “can’t”, they are letting audience members do it for them, with quotes like “parts of it were really exciting” and “the story-telling is really unclear.”

Fair?  Unfair?

As a Producer, I might be frustrated with any negative coverage judging a first preview before my cake was fully cooked.  But when you build the biggest baked good in the world, you gotta expect it.

And hey – you can always take solace in the fact that what these publications are doing, without knowing it, is putting another nail in their own reviewers’ coffins.  By putting so much attention on the show up front, many audience members will have made up their minds by the time the reviews come out.  (When My First Time had a feature article in the NY Times, I sold soooo many more tickets than I sold when the review came out – and a bunch of people called me and congratulated me on the “review”.)

But I will say this to the press, and to all the chatters out there that have been sharpening their claws for the past several weeks . . . write what you will.  But remember, what they are doing down there is unprecedented.  They are building the musical version of the Great Wall of China.  (Which, by the way, I’m sure had a bunch of cost overruns and was also way behind schedule).

More important that precedent, is that they are employing an awful lot of people.

We should all be pulling for their success.  Explorers of uncharted territory may not always find what they are looking for (remember what Columbus was looking for), and many die in the process, but they always stumble upon something which provides new opportunities for all the rest of us.

Stay the course, Spidey.  Some of us are rooting for ya.

Now the big question is . . . will they be publishing their grosses???

5 Things I learned about South American theater.

For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you know that I took a trip way south of the border last weekend to South America.  I stopped in Santiago, Chile and Buenos Aires, Argentina to see productions of My First Time.

One of the coolest things about getting to travel to see these productions (besides seeing how each culture tackles this sensitive subject – and yes, there was full-on nudity in the Buenos Aires version of My First Time), is that I’m able to learn a little bit about how each corner of the world tackles theater production.

There are a few things that every country has in common:

  • Producing theater is expensive.
  • It’s hard to get the young audiences to come to the theater.
  • Actors are exactly the same, no matter where you are.  🙂  (And I mean that in the best way possible, I really do).

Here are five things I learned that are more specific to South American theater.

1.  Shows start late.

They eat dinner later then we do in South America, and they sure as churros start their shows later, too.  Most shows start at 9 or 9:30 PM.  And on 2 show days?  Expect that second one to start between 11:30 PM and midnight!  Afternoon matinees are rare.

2.  I saw advertising before I saw my show.

My host and I sneaked into a theater that was showing a Vegas-style Argentinean revue (with more full-on nudity), and right before the show started, about 5 ads played on a giant screen on the stage . . . just like at a movie!  While I was assured this was not the norm at all the theaters, I did notice a lot of in-theater advertising (liquor promotions…etc.).  You don’t see any of that in our theaters . . . mostly due to the contracts the theater owners have with Playbill, which prevents advertising anything other than what is in Playbill’s pages.

3.  Don’t want to pay rent?  Pay a percentage.

Flat rents for the performance spaces in Chile are unheard of.  Instead of paying a base rent and a small percentage, Producers get the space for free and then pay the owners 40% of the box office and keep 60% for themselves.  In Argentina, you have a choice between a flat rent and a percentage (which most producers opt for) which was closer to 70/30.  These percentage deals are why so many “Off-Broadway” shows are able to be produced in Buenos Aires and in Santiago.

Perhaps our theaters here could provide this option rather than sit empty?

4.  Sponsors are everywhere.

This isn’t new. Sponsors are a key part of commercial theater production in every other city around the world, except New York City.  But you know what was new?  American companies were sponsoring these shows in South America!  I saw 7-Up sponsoring an Off-Broadway venue.  Citibank paid for the naming rights to one theater and was a sponsor of several other shows.  Hey guys in ties . . . uh . . . have you tried looking in your own backyard if you want to sponsor theater?

5.  Why do 8 shows?

The standard number of performances for a big show down yonder averages about 6. They don’t have the audiences for 8, so they don’t do 8.  Some do 5.  Some do 6.  They shake it up depending upon demand.  Funny, isn’t it?  A country that has had one of the most fragile economies in the world, knows more about supply and demand than we do.
In addition to learning a lot about the theater in South America, I managed to squeeze in some sightseeing as well.  Can anyone name the building in the pic in this blog that has musical historical significance?

Only 3 chances left to see My First Time. (ok, that sounded awkward)

MyFirstTimeMy First Time, the 3rd show in what I refer to as my “Off-Broadway memory trilogy” (Altar Boyz (I was a part of a group called “The Holy Rollers”), and The Awesome 80s Prom (I went to high school in the 80s and was obsessed with John Hughes Movies) are the first two) will have its last performance on Friday, January 22nd.

We’ve had an incredible two-and-a-half year run with My First Time and shared a lot of memories, from our “Virgins Get In Free” promotion, to our free national commercial courtesy of Apple.

Although the show will be closing here in New York, My First Time will live on around the world, thanks to my uber-agents at The Marton Agency and Samuel French.

Many thanks to the many that were in my cast of virgins over the years:  Kathy Searle, Cydnee Welburn, Dana Watkins, Nate Williams, Vi Flaten, Emily McNamara, Natalie Knepp, Ian White, Bill Dawes, Josh White, Josh Heine, Marcel Simoneau, Josh Davis, Matt Seidman, Ryan Duncan as well as SM Jeremy Peay and crew members Lindsay Beecher, Mo Ahmed, and Eliza Johnson.  (I should also thank all those naked peeps that appeared in the logo shot, including my main model, Tracy Weiler.)

And while I hate to see the show close, at least I can be proud to say that the show lasted a helluva lot longer than my own first time.  🙂

In fact, I guess there’s one more person I have to thank for the . . . uh . . . inspiration.  I actually think she reads my blog.  I was going to link to her facebook page, but that would just be creepy.  (I’m kidding, I’m kidding.)

But . . . maybe we can get an anonymous comment out of her?  Hmmm???

If you’re looking to reminisce about your own first time, or if you’re looking to have a “next time” with your current significant other, or if you’re just looking for some fun, I recommend you see My First Time before January 22nd.  It plays on Friday nights at 10 PM at New World Stages, and there are only three shows left.  And a portion of the proceeds benefit this great sex ed site, Scarleteen.com.

See it, and save some bucks by visiting here.

Time Out becomes a tabloid.

In his Time Out New York theater blog, Editor and Reviewer David Cote wrote the following in an article about New World Stages:

Something strange is happening at New World Stages, the five-year-old theater complex on West 50th Street:  you can actually see worthwhile shows there.  Not so long ago, we’d associate the former Hell’s Kitchen cineplex with gimmicky tourist trash (Naked Boys Singing, My First Time, etc.).

I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking I’m ticked off that Cote called my show “trash.”

Well, I’m not angry.  I’m confused.

I’m confused, because I don’t understand how an editor of a prominent publication can make a derogatory statement about a show that he has never seen.

That’s right, my readers, David Cote has never seen My First Time (or Naked Boys Singing for that matter), yet he feels it’s appropriate to comment on the quality of the work.

I’m sure you can understand my confusion.

Making insulting and demeaning comments about a show that you have never seen is simply irresponsible journalism.

Now, Adam Feldman, Time Out’s other main theatre writer, well, he can call the show anything he wants, and he has!  See, Adam actually saw My First Time.  He didn’t like it, and you’ve never heard me make a peep.  Why?  Because not liking My First Time is his right, and it’s his responsibility as a theatrical reviewer to let people know what he thinks.

But how the editor of the theater section can make snarky comments with no firsthand knowledge of the product is shocking to me.  It’s not journalism. It’s tabloidism:  making bold and exaggerated statements to give your rag personality (and I can call it a rag, because I was a subscriber and an advertiser).

And we wonder why people aren’t listening to reviewers anymore.

Oh, and for the record, when I read David’s blog, I had my press agent reach out to David and invite him to see the show.  Perhaps once he got in to see it, he’d like it?  Or perhaps he wouldn’t, and he’d cut it up even more (which would then be his right, and the risk that I’d be taking).

He said he was too busy.

I wrote a blog about Jeremy Piven. My lawyers told me to not to post it.

Last week I had the pleasure, along with the other Speed-the-Plow producers, of seeing the cathartic production The Piven Monologues:  A Collection of Internet Comments Related to the Controversy Surrounding Jeremy Piven’s Abrupt Exit from the Broadway Production of Speed-the-Plow Due to the Alleged Illness of Mercury Poisoning from Over-Consumption of Sushi down at Joe’s Pub.

What was interesting to me about the production, besides my personal connection to the material, and my fondness for the work of its wunderkind director, Alex Timbers, was that the dialogue was made up entirely of actual comments about the sushi scandal, taken from internet chatter on websites of all different shapes and sizes (a similar construct to My First Time, which I have another personal connection to).
It was another example of what I call “Theater 2.0.”
And the good news is that this playlet was more fun than a fish fry.
Unfortunately, the party pooper (also known as Piven) ended the fun the next day when he slapped The Public with a cease and desist letter, threatening to sue.
Sigh.
I wrote a long blog about my feelings regardingThe Piv’s premature e-lawsuit-ulation, and where exactly I think he ranks on the douche-o-meter.
Unfortunately, my lawyers advised me not to post it.
So, I’ll just say this . . .
To the writers of The Piven Monologues:
It would give me great pleasure to produce your show . . . but only if we do it in LA.
And we can give the proceeds to this charity.
Give me a call.
(In true “The show must go on even in the face of legal action” style, The Public is going ahead with the second performance of The Piven Monologues.  More info here.)

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