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!

What do you think will recoup this year? Survey results revealed!

Game on!

We had a record number of entries to this Spring’s “Will It Recoup” contest.  This year’s players included some of Broadway’s biggest players, as well as high school students, regional theater directors, folks from overseas and more.  It’s quite a collection of handicappers . . . but just like Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest, there can only be one winner.

Who will it be?

We’ve got some time before the Kindle winner is revealed, so until then I thought we’d take a look at what the majority of you thought.

Below are the results of how all of you voted on each show’s recoupment chances:

A View From The Bridge
87.9% It WILL recoup
12.1% It will NOT recoup

The Miracle Worker
44.3% It WILL recoup
55.7% It will NOT recoup

A Behanding in Spokane
36.6% It WILL recoup
63.4% It will NOT recoup

Next Fall
27.8% It WILL recoup
72.2% It will NOT recoup

Looped
20.8% It WILL recoup
79.2% It will NOT recoup

Red
24.3% It WILL recoup
75.7% It will NOT recoup

Lend Me A Tenor
49.3% It WILL recoup
50.7% It will NOT recoup

Fences
72.6% It WILL recoup
27.4% It will NOT recoup

Enron
46.5% It WILL recoup
53.5% It will NOT recoup

So, according to the majority of you, there will be TWO recoupers in this lot of nine, A View From The Bridge and Fences.  Those two winners would put us slightly ahead of our industry standard recoupment rate of 1 out of 5 shows.  Sounds like a safe, star-driven bet to me.

Then again, the majority picked 33 Variations to recoup last year, and thought that God of Carnage was going to be a financial bomb.  😉  Don’t feel so bad. I produced Oleanna this year, remember?

What do I think?  I think there’s a good shot at getting three shows into the black this Spring . . . which would put us at 3 out of 9.

And that’s a pretty dang good batting average for any business.

Stay tuned to the blog for updates as the season goes on, and good luck to all the players!

And even better luck to all the actual Producers.

3 Things I’ve learned from the NBA, NFL and MLB.

Since Broadway and Off-Broadway shows can’t afford to have marketing laboratories trying every idea we come up with, I often look to other industries to see what they’re doing, in the hopes of being inspired to try something in ours.

Here are three simple ideas that I got from the NBA, the NFL and MLB.

  1. Have a ‘Bat Day’.Need a reason for people to come to the theater on a Tuesday?  Need a reason to get some of your marketing materials in the homes of your advocates?  Most importantly, need a reason to get some press?  Give something away!  People love free stuff, whether it’s a bat, a hat, or a souvenir program.  On Oleanna we gave away Mamet’s latest book, which got us in the press, gave the customers more of a value, and put a big, bulky, hardcover impression on hundreds of coffee tables.
  2. Sell your turf.The NY Giants recently announced that they were selling off the pieces of their stadium before it gets demolished this year.  You can buy turf, seats, even the goal posts.  Why not?  It’s environmentally friendly, it’s gonna make some fans happy, and it’s gonna make the Giants some money.  We just did something similar at Altar Boyz and donated a chunk of the money to BC/EFA, and used the rest to write down some of our closing costs.
  3. Retire your best players’ jerseys.When great players leave the game, they raise the jerseys into the air where everyone can see them and remember the history that is a part of each franchise.  Why don’t long running shows do something like this?  It seems like 3,425 people have played Billy Flynn in Chicago.  I’d love to see a picture (or even the same small costume piece) from each one of them along the walls inside the Ambassador.  And I think audiences would eat it up as well.  A list of well-respected actors that have come before the current cast could give the production even more weight, and more for an audience to talk about.

Marketing is everywhere.  Don’t be afraid to snatch another industry’s idea and make it your own.

They’d do it to us.  The problem is, we haven’t come up with anything first.

Yet.

My response to the demise of the Oleanna Take-A-Side talkbacks.

Oleanna got people talking.

So one of our early marketing strategies was to try and whip up our audiences into an even greater frenzy so that they would talk even louder and longer.

One of the rev-up devices we used was the “Take-A-Side” talkback series that featured a moderator and celebrity panelists, from former Mayor Dinkins to Fox TV correspondents to Tovah Feldshuh to University Deans to harassment litigation experts, and so on, all discussing the issues of the play and allowing the audiences to ask questions and make comments.

Everyone who I spoke to felt like the talkbacks made the experience of going to the theater even better.

Unfortunately, Mr. Mamet disagreed.  As Michael Riedel reported back in November . . .

Alas, Mamet hated them [talkbacks]. He never attended one, but he’s against them on principle, believing that his play should stand on its own and not be picked apart by “experts” on the law, feminism and campus sexual harassment policies.

It’s always tough to hear that your author doesn’t like something you want to do, especially when that something is helping market your show.

The analogy I use when describing why Mamet or any author would be opposed to such an initiative is that some authors are like painters who don’t want a fancy frame around their piece of art.  They just want you to look at the picture and only the picture.

I get it, and I respect it.

Of course, you and I know that the right frame can actually draw eyeballs to look at that picture in even greater detail.  And that’s one of the producer’s jobs . . . to attract eyes to the art.

As hard as it was to hear that our author couldn’t stand one of our initiatives, we soldiered on . . . until, that is, we needed some help.  We had to make a compromise, and the talkbacks went the way of the public-health option on the current health plan bill.

Was I disappointed?  You betcha.

Let me be perfectly clear.  I have the utmost respect for Mr. Mamet, his artistic integrity, his resolve, and because he’s a brilliant f-ing writer.

But getting people to attend the theater is getting harder and harder (as the NEA keeps telling us), and since our producing hands are handcuffed by so many other things in this business, we need to have the freedom to exercise good ideas when we have them (it’s not like we had a guy in a Gorilla suit standing out front trying to get people to buy tickets).

The more restrictive we make it, the more those Authors may find Producers sitting out the next one.

I know I’ll be sitting out the next Mamet.

—–

Don’t forget to vote for the 2009 Producer of the Year

Make sure you cast your vote by Sunday, December 27th at 8pm.

The winner will be announced here on the blog, on Monday, December 28th.

VOTE NOW

Two things to see. And both opps are limited.

#1.

Oleanna announced that it will play its final show on January 3rd.

If you haven’t see the show yet, make sure you do.

While we’re proud of our run, it does seem that we may been lost in the shuffle of the mega-star-filled Fall.  But this is not a play or a production that you want to miss.

We’re coming up on Holiday season, so the discounts are a bit harder to get during the prime times, but there’s one for you here.

Just over 6 weeks left.

#2.

Don’t Quit Your Night Job is a once-every-couple-of-months comedy/variety show that features Broadway stars like Anthony Rapp, Bebe Neuwirth, Michael McKean, Sara Ramirez, etc. doing some of the craziest improv you’ve ever seen, like Showtune Mad Libs, and more.  It is the brain child of the some of the funniest people in the city:  Steve Rosen, David Rossmer, Sarah Saltzberg and Dan Lipton.

And it’s all for charity.

The next Don’t Quit is tomorrow, Thursday, November 19th at 11:30 PM at the Julia Miles Theater. (Huh, I just realized that Julia Miles rhymes with Julia Stiles.  These two items are more connected than I thought.)

Get tickets here.

I know what you’re saying.  “Gee, Ken, if it’s done every couple of months, then why is it limited?”

Well, tomorrow night’s show is a definitely a once-in-a-lifetime show.

It features Kate Baldwin, Montego Glover and, uhhh, I’ll be making a cameo.

Me on a stage hasn’t happened since a 1997 production of Forever Plaid, so God knows, anything can happen.

Go easy on me, guys.  Will ya?  I don’t want what happened to this guy, to happen to me.

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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