The Most Performed Play in High Schools – a follow up.

Yesterday, I listed the ETA’s most performed plays and musicals in high schools.

What surprised so many people about this list was that the play that topped even Shakespeare for the number one slot was Almost Maine, a play by the Maine-bred, very talented and oft seen on Law & Order, John Cariani.

The NY Times even wrote an article about the Maine phenomenon.

What is so special about this play being the most performed high school play in the US?

Well, for starters, you’ve probably never heard of it . . . because it flopped Off-Broadway in 2006 after running for only 67 performances.

As the NY Times article details, it lost its entire $800,000 investment.

What the NY Times article did not say was how much of that investment had been recouped since the play has become the most performed high school play in the US.

The article did say that Maine has done well for the author, which is fantastic news, because I’m a fan of John’s and hope that he writes another play soon.

But those author royalties would be buptkus if it weren’t for the original investors and if it weren’t for the original Producer (who, if this is a traditional agreement, won’t see any money until after the show recoups . . . if it recoups).

It’s great that the play has been able to support John over the years, and I hope it continues to do so.  But there has got to be a way that these plays that flop in NYC but have long lives elsewhere can provide some support to the Producers, while at the same time returning as much money to the investors as possible.

The goal of the subsidiary royalty revenue stream for authors is to keep them writing, so they aren’t forced to take a day job.

Shouldn’t there be something similar for the Producer?  Wouldn’t that allow the Producer to produce more often, just like it allows the author to write more often?  And shouldn’t they receive something for launching the project in the first place?

There doesn’t have to be something similar, obviously.  Because there isn’t one.

But that may also be why the crop of career Producers is so small.

Read Almost Maine here.  See what all the high schools are fussing about, and support a new playwright (and hopefully a Producer) in the process.

Read the other 9 most produced plays and musical in high schools by clicking here.

Have you gone undercover lately?

I don’t watch much television, so I didn’t catch the CBS business docu-drama, Undercover Boss.  Did you?  It’s ok, you can admit it.  The world loves reality TV (which, by the way, is something that we, as writers, producers and creators have to come to terms with – we don’t have to go to R-TV’s extremes, but there is an element of the genre that excites audiences – what can we do to our entertainment to excite ours?).

UB featured bosses anonymously joining the lower ranks of their companies to learn more about what it’s like to be on the front lines.

For example . . .

A Waste Management CEO sifted cardboard.

The 7-11 CEO made doughnuts.

The CEO of Hooters . . . well . . . you don’t want to know.

Producers, Artistic Directors and Theater Owners don’t have the anonymity factor in most organizations to learn from their “fellow”-employees about the real issues they face everyday, but they could learn a lot from their audience.

So, all of you Producers, ADs, Owners, Writers, etc . . . take a shift at a show and work merch, usher, take tickets, sell tickets at the BO, etc.

You may have to miss the latest episode of Real Housewives of Bangladesh, but I guarantee you’ll never look at your audience the same way again.

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Special thanks to blog reader Malini for giving me a heads up about this show.  If you’ve got something that you think will make an interesting post, don’t hesitate to send it my way!  Just email me.

Forget Mike. Be like Columbus.

Happy Columbus Day!

Today we honor a man whose Wikipedia page calls him “a navigator, colonizer, and explorer.”

Does that definition sound familiar to you?

It should.

All Producers . . . and all Entrepreneurs . . . are explorers.

They believe in the trip they are taking.  They unify a team to work towards a common goal.  And they venture into the unknown.

They often hit rocks, need additional funding, and many, many, MANY times, want to turn the ship around and head home, so they can just sit on their couch and watch TV.

But they don’t.  They keep going.

Until they get somewhere . . . even when that somewhere is a different destination than where they thought they were headed (right, Chris?  News flash: the Bahamas are not the Far East).

So today, I’d like to honor all Explorers, whether you’ve got your hands around the steering wheel of a ship, or the steering wheel of a show.

It ain’t easy to do what you do.  You’re not going to discover a new world overnight, and I’d lay 100 to 1 that you’ll have to sail through a few storms along the way.

But if you keep on going, there’s a beach on the other side with your name on it.

How to make money on YouTube . . . with Broadway?

An interesting article appeared in the technology section of The Times this week about YouTube, and how Google expects their 1.65 billion dollar baby to be profitable this year.


Well, they made friends with the enemy.

The TV and film industries have been fighting with YouTube since the site came out.  As fast as videos of copyrighted material could go up, another lawsuit would be filed.  Google claimed innocence (!), but eventually agreed to police their backyard as much as possible.

Well, those bitter enemy industries are now the closest of friends.


Like just about everything else, it’s all about money.

The TV and movie producers realized that trying to stop the uploading of their content to a site like YouTube was pointless.  It was gonna keep happening anyway, so why pay those lawyers to keep fighting it.  They also realized that a lot of those clips were doing a lot more good than harm, by providing free media to promote their products.

And most importantly, Google started running ads on their copyrighted videos, and sharing the proceeds.

Suddenly, the lawsuits stopped.

Funny, how a little cash calms the nerves.

So, let’s recap:

Fans put up copyrighted videos.  They get pulled down.  Google pays owners of material, and all is ok.

Huh.  The first two-thirds of that three sentence story sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Think YouTube would ever pay off the owners of the material of Broadway shows by sharing in ad revenue that appears on each clip?

And would that make it ok?

Unlike film or TV, we’ve got quality issues to deal with.  A performance of Mad Men is always the same, no matter how many times it is played.  A performance of Patti Lupone doing Gypsy . . . well, one performance might be HUGELY different from the next.

I don’t expect YouTube to open its purse to Broadway any time soon, but it would be nice, wouldn’t it?  Because as our costs escalate, it is becoming more and more essential that Broadway shows find ancillary forms of revenue to defray those rising expenses.

Read the article here.

Our Green Broadway $100 winner announced!

Holy comments, BroadwayMan!

Based on the mountain of comments this blog received, making the theatrical workplace a greener place is obviously a very important subject for all of you.

And what creative suggestions they were!  Everything from LED lights to a “Craigslist for Theater Supplies” to a shock-absorbing dance floor that turns time-steps into electricity.  (Can you imagine how much electricity you could get from “Electricity” in Billy Elliot?)

There were several subjects that kept popping up:  paperless ticketing, Playbills and leftover sets, to name a few.  And, you know what I say . . . if more than one person has the same idea, it’s a subject that needs close examination (and there’s probably a business model behind it as well).

My staff sorted through the comments yesterday, and while they could have given multiple winners, they finally narrowed it down to just one.

The winner of the C-Note and the title of Mrs. Green Broadway is . . . RS!  RS wins with this suggestion:

The Producers should try to get Equity to come up with a way to stop requiring stuffers, without having to announce the changes in cast – there are already too many announcements before a show. Either allow us to just post the changes at the entrance or even allow for postings near each entrance to the aisles – the amount of paper we waste in stuffing is beyond imagination. Also if we still have to continue to stuff Playbills – shows really need to do one page all encompassing stuffers.even if this means that the stage managers end up producing the stuffer on the day.

I couldn’t agree more.  The amount of stuffers used on Broadway is disgustingly wasteful.  There has to be a better system that saves paper, time, money and more.  I blogged about it once and even said it might be worth us paying a few more bucks to our staffers to lose this minuscule piece of billing.

But something has got to be done.  The pros are not outweighing the conservation.

Congratulations, RS!  $100 is on its way to you!

And thanks to all of you for be a part of the team that helps “green” Broadway.  What we can save together is worth a whole lot more than $100.