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.

Get Your Show Off The Ground Seminar – It’s baaaaaack!

It seems like just last week it was a freezing cold Saturday in January, when a group of 20 uberly-passionate producers, writers, directors, and more joined me for the first Get Your Show Off The Ground seminar.

We had a blast discussing everything from music rights to how to raise money to how to market with no money.

And most importantly, everyone walked away with specifically personalized action items to help launch their great ideas.

Since it went so well, we’ve decided to do it again!

The next Get Your Show Off The Ground seminar will take place on Saturday, June 19th, from 10a-6p in New York City.

I’ve timed this seminar so that all of you with shows in the Fringe, NYMF, Midtown International, etc. can meet with me (and many of your peers) to troubleshoot some of your specific festival-related issues before you get too deep into production.

And remember, I guarantee you’ll be in a better position with your show after the seminar than before.

To learn more about the seminar and its structure, and see what past participants had to say, click here.

To reserve your spot, click here.

Important note:  In order to ensure that everyone gets a solid amount of individual attention at the seminar, I have to limit attendance to only 20 people.  Many of the slots for this seminar went to folks on the waiting list for the last seminar, so I encourage you to reserve quickly, as the seminar will sell out.

See you at the seminar!

Get your show off the ground today!  Click here to reserve your spot now.

Surprise, surprise! A show recoups sans star!

Here’s something that you probably didn’t expect to hear (I know I didn’t) . . .

Next to Normal recouped its investment.

Crushing current conventional Broadway wisdom, this non-spectacle, non-star-driven musical about a woman suffering from bipolar disorder fought through a steady rain of a season and made it into profit.  Oh, and it did it in a pretty timely fashion (the recoupment was announced exactly one year from the show’s first preview).

Super kudos to everyone involved in this production who fought the biggest of uphill battles getting into the black.

How did they do it?

IMHO, there are three reasons why N2N recouped:

1.  A killer score

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, when the root word of musical is ‘music,’ there’s a lot riding on that score.  Normal‘s score is so fantastic and fresh, it took down the mighty Elton John and won a Tony.  Nothing spreads word of mouth faster than great tunes.

2. A “committed” team of Producers and Creatives.

Does anyone remember that in addition to trying out at the NYMF in ’05 under the title Feeling Electric, the show came into New York to soft response at Second Stage, then left New York for DC, then came back to NY?  That’s like showing up at a party underdressed, leaving, and coming back a few hours later in a new outfit like nothing happened.  But something did happen, alright.  The team worked their tails off.  It took faith and a giant set of grapes to do what they did.

3.  A low capitalization and even lower running costs.

A Broadway musical for $4 million bucks, even with all that development?  That’s the way to do it.  To tell its intimate story, N2N didn’t need a chandelier and a helicopter.  More importantly, everyone on the team obviously knew that this one wasn’t going to be easy, so they structured it to make economic sense given the material, and now everyone is making a lot more dollars and cents.
The recoupment of Normal on Broadway in this environment is a major event.  It demonstrates that smart material and smart producing can yield positive results, despite what we think is our audience’s appetite.

So when everyone is telling you that your show won’t work, you should remind them that a trend is a trend . . . until one show changes it.

And that show might as well be yours.

You can read all about the recoupment in Patrick Healy’s New York Times article here.

5 Takeaways from the Get Your Show Off The Ground Seminar.

This past Saturday, a bunch of super-passionate peeps of all different types, from producers to writers to producer/writers, etc., joined me for my Get Your Show Off The Ground Seminar.

We had a great time, and I have to thank all of my participants for their creativity, ingenuity and their desire to do what we all do.  There were some great (and I mean really great) projects that came from the minds of these folks.  And I think we did a great job incubating them all.

We talked about finding investors, getting rights, the pros and cons of festivals, the benefits of a lawyer, determining your hourly value, and much much more.

To give you a sample, here are five quickie-takeaways from the seminar:

  1. You are what you say you are.
  2. People don’t invest in projects, they invest in people.
  3. Birth your baby.
  4. Diversify your producing programming.
  5. Never wait.

If you missed out on this seminar, don’t worry, I have just scheduled my next seminar for Saturday, June 19th.  That date may seem far off, but it’s coming sooner than you think, and because of how quickly my last seminar sold out, I strongly urge you to reserve now (I picked a June date specifically for those of you planning Fringe or NYMF style productions this summer/fall.  Your shows should be heating up at that time.)

For more details on the seminar and to book your spot today, visit my Seminar page here.  (There are also some testimonials from some of this past week’s participants, so you can learn what they thought directly from them!)

Thanks again to everyone that participated this past Saturday!  I expect great things from all of you, so go get ’em.

For the rest of you out there looking to get your show off the ground, I’ll see you at the next seminar!

Get Your Show Off The Ground
Saturday, June 19th
10 AM – 6 PM

Book today by visiting here.

 

 

Can it be festival time already? It is!

I hate winter.

I keep saying that every year I’m going to circulate a petition to try and get Broadway to move to the West Coast or West Figi or someplace like that.  I want to sing, “It’s Too Darn Hot!” all year long and mean it.

To make me feel better, all winter long I look for signs of the upcoming Spring and Summer . . . anything that helps me through a winter in the city (and I’m from Massachusetts – you’d think I could deal with this).

For example, as soon as we hit the winter solstice on 12/21 or 22, which traditionally marks the first day of winter, I usually spin it to say, “The days start getting longer tomorrow . . . spring is right around the corner!”

Ok, sorry to sidetrack you with my psyche . . . but the point is that one of these “Summer Signs” is the announcement that the spring/summer/fall festivals are now accepting submissions.

And guess what?

Applications are currently being accepted for the following NY Festivals:

If you’re a writer/producer/etc, now is the time to get your materials in order.  The deadlines are always sooner than you think.

Don’t have a show?  Find one.  Write one.  Make one up.  That’s what these guys did, and it worked out for them.  The Broadway show didn’t work.

But last I heard they were writing a sitcom.

So get a show submitted and get something up. You never know what’ll happen as a result.

On the other hand, I can guarantee you what will happen if you do nothing.

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