When Hal and Stro talk, you should listen.

I was lucky enough to witness the first Hal Prince and Susan Stroman collaboration firsthand, when I was the Associate Company Manager on the mammoth Show Boat at the Gershwin Theater.

It was a genius collaboration.

The two of them are at it again, co-directing the new musical, Paradise Found, which opened on Wednesday, May 19th, at the Menier Chocolate Factory in London-town.

H&S gave an interview with The London Times recently that has more nuggets of Producing and Directing wisdom than in all of my blogs combined.  They talk about flops, financing and why they’re debuting this show across the pond.

Read it here.

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The ITBA Awards winners announced . . . on video!

Watch the video below to see theater folk Susan Blackwell, Ann Harada, and Jeannine Frumess announce the winners of the 2nd annual Independent Theater Bloggers Association Awards!

Congrats to the winners!

If you’re an email subscriber, click here to see the video.

For more on the ITBA, click here.

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Broadway’s 4th and Final Quarter results: How’d we gross this year?

Well, that’s all she wrote, kiddies. The final bell has run on the 2009-10 Broadway season.  All the grosses have been counted, and, as Jerry Lewis would say during his Labor Day Telethon when he wanted to check the tote board . . . Timpani!

The Fourth Quarter proved fairly strong, with the new crop of plays and musicals adding significant coinage to the till (especially the new million dollar club member, Addams Family).

So where did we end up?

At first glance, things look groovy, with a 1.5% bump in grosses over last season and a total yearly gross of over a billion buckaroonies! However, as Charlotte St. Martin pointed out in the League’s release that went out yesterday, “If we factor in estimated figures for Young Frankenstein which ran 32 weeks in 2008-2009 [and did not report its grosses], we could be down slightly this season, perhaps as much as 1%.”

More concerning to me, and yes, this is my broken record moment, is the fact that as I unfortunately predicted, attendance dropped by a startling 3% this season (factor in Young Frankenstein, and you’ve got more of a monster type drop).  This marks the first time in 25 years that attendance has dropped three years in a row.

It’s not unexpected, considering the economic sh*t-storm we just went through (and seem to be still going through if you have watched the Dow over the last few weeks), but it is a trend that I find more disturbing than watching Friday the 13th on Halloween . . . in the woods, by myself, a half a mile from a mental institution.

But this week begins a new year.  And although this summer doesn’t have a lot of new shows on the books to start off with a bang, let’s cross our fingers, and raise our capitalizations and hope that this year, the trend turns the other way . . .

I’m predicting an uptick in both grosses and attendance for this coming season. Partly because . . . it can’t get much lower . . .

Can it?

To read the release from The League, click here.

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At the Broadway League Conference: Day 1/Kids ‘R Theatergoers Too

One of the hippest long-term audience development initiatives the Broadway League came up with over the last few years was the establishment of a Kids Advisory Board.  The Board is made up of thirty kids, ages 11 – 16, from all over the country.  What do they have in common?  They love the Broadway!

By tapping the minds of these young avid influencers, the League is able to learn the simple answers to a host of questions that could help secure the health of the Broadway theater through Generation Z (aka The Net Generation), Generation Ai, and beyond.

At the first day of the Broadway League conference, the League put six of the members of the Advisory Board on a panel and grilled them about their theater habits, their friends’ habits, and more.

Here is a bullet point list of some things that I learned from our next generation of audiences, actors, and producers:

  • The entire panel said that it was their parents who suggested which shows to see.
  • 5 of the 6 panel members said that their #1 internet destination was Facebook.  The 6th member didn’t have a Facebook page, but she did have a blog.
  • 5 of the 6 panel members did NOT visit any theater websites (e.g. Playbill.com, BroadwaySpace.com, etc.).
  • All of the panel members said their parents paid for their tickets.  One piped up and said, “That’s what they’re for.”
  • All of the panel members preferred musicals.  Half of the panel said that music was important for keeping not only their attention, but the attention of their younger siblings who couldn’t sit still for too long without the excitement of a musical.
  • One panel member was a pretty regular playgoer, but she said she didn’t start seeing plays until she was 14.
  • All of the panel watched the Tonys, but said their friends didn’t.
  • When asked what the #1 thing they enjoyed about Broadway was, a survey of these 6 plus another 700 revealed that the “performers” were the most exciting part (translation – expect more star casting in the future).
  • One of them read reviews, but none of them let the reviews influence their decision either way.  As the only boy on the panel said, “It doesn’t matter what they [the reviewers] say.  What matters is your opinion.”

There’s a lyric in Bye Bye Birdie that goes something like, “Kids!  Who can understand anything they say?”

Well, we better start trying to understand what they say, because these kids, and the thousands of others around the country just like them, are the premium ticket buyers of tomorrow.

A giant lollipop to The League for letting us listen.

Stay tuned for Day #2 from The League Conference tomorrow!

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