Fun on a Friday: my greatest wish for you.

There is nothing greater than watching an audience see something they find entertaining and then showing their love by giving it a rousing ovation at the end. Standing Os, “bravos!”, dancing in the aisles, whatever . . . it’s the audience’s way of showing their appreciation for what we do.

Well, I can only hope that one day you all get an ovation for one of your shows like the one the guy gave below to something he found unbelievably entertaining: Mother Nature.

Now, when you’re done watching, (and please, for the love of all that’s holy, watch the whole thing because it gets better), watch the 2nd video I’ve posted below, which is a parody of the first.

As “just-for-fun” as this post may be, there are a few things to glean from the parody and the original vid.

1.  This video was posted on YouTube in January.  It had only 10,000 views . . . until Jimmy Kimmel tweeted the bejesus out of it.  Now it’s got 4.5 million.  To spread your word, look for people with big mouths and a lot of people already listening.

2.  The authors of the parody found something they enjoyed (and something that audiences already enjoyed), adapted it using their unique voice, and created something they’ve monetized.  Isn’t that the same story behind Mamma Mia?  Wicked?  The Phantom of the Opera?

3.  The best viral videos aren’t made, they just sort of happen naturally . . . like, well, like a rainbow.

Enjoy both videos (trust me – watch ’em both) and have a great weekend.  (If you’re an email subscriber and the videos don’t appear in your email, click here to see them).

I mean, talk about “Rainbow High!” (Anyone know what show?)

If you are a musical theater writer, or want to be one, this blog’s for you.

The BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop, one of the very few training programs for emerging musical theater writers, is looking for a new crop of students.

And did I mention that it’s free?

The famed program, which has churned out the likes of Ahrens & Flaherty (Ragtime and so much more), Jeff Marx & Robert Lopez (Avenue Q), Tom Kitt & Brian Yorkey (Next to Normal), to name a few, just announced that it is accepting applications now for its 2010-2011 first year composer-lyricist class.

But you know what’s great about the progam?

It’s not the fact that it’s free, or that you get Tony Award-winning guest lecturers, or that it looks great on a resume.

The best part about BMI is that it’s like school.  You have homework. You have teachers.  And you have deadlines.

How many times have you sat at home and turned on the TV when you knew you should have been writing (or producing or exercising, for that matter)?  Now think back to when you were in school, college and/or graduate school.  Sure, there were still distractions, but somehow, you felt more compelled to finish your work, right?

Even the best self-motivators out there could use a little school in their life.

They’d be lucky to get a little BMI in their life.

For more info, including an application, click here.  (For librettists, check back later in the year – the librettist program looks for new peeps in the Spring)

And if you’re not near NYC and can’t make it to BMI, start your own version in your hometown.

Sure, Maury Yeston may not be available to you, but anyone and a deadline is better than no one and another game of Wii tennis.

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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How I get my theater news.

If you enjoyed yesterday’s blog, then you shouldn’t thank me. You should thank Mr. Thomas Cott.

Tom has worked in a lot of areas in the entertainment industry over the last 25+ years, from marketing to producing to fundraising and so on. He’s an incredibly dedicated believer in spreading ideas and information in order to encourage education, which by its nature encourages change.

Tom runs a news clipping service called “You’ve Cott Mail,” where he serves up a handful of the day’s most interesting arts related articles from publications, blogs, newsletters, etc. from around the globe.

It was in a recent edition of “You’ve Cott Mail” that I discovered the article that I blogged about yesterday, hence the props due to Tom.

If you’re not signed up on Tom’s list, visit his site and click on the link on the left for YCM.  You’ll be glad you did.  “You’ve Cott Mail” is a like a vegetable that tastes like french fries.  It’s oh-so-good for you and should be consumed daily, but it also tastes great going down.

And if you’re looking for more than a handful of the day’s articles, then make sure you bookmark supersite,, started by one of the original theater bloggers, James Marino.  All of the news that’s fit to type is on that site.  I refresh the page about 30 times a day looking for the latest news.

Consuming news in the 21st century is not like it used to be when you had one paper, or one TV channel.  The best news sources are like giant buffets, serving up dishes of all different types and temperatures from all over the world (e.g. HuffPo).

“You’ve Cott Mail” and BroadwayStars are the two of the best buffets in town.  And I gorge myself at both every day.

Advice from an Expert: Vol. XIV. The original Producer of Finian’s Rainbow speaks from beyond the rainbow.

My assistant, Melissa, who has been super busy processing all the Social RSVPs, stumbled upon a Finian’s Rainbow souvenir program from the original production at a flea market last week.  She snatched it up for $10 and brought it in for show-and-tell.

She found a pot ‘o gold on the last page, left to her by that lucky leprechaun, Lee Sabinson, the original producer.

Lee wrote an article on the last page which he titled, “So You Want To Be A Producer.”

Lee passed away in 1991, but his legacy lives on, with the production of Finian’s currently on Broadway, and with this witty and still relevant article on Producing, which we’ve transcribed for you below.



By Lee Sabinson

It looks so easy to be a Broadway producer that almost
everyone who ever heard the word Theatre wants to be one.  I don’t blame
them.  They don’t know that producing is a certain path to ulcers,
baldness, gout – if you’re lucky, for that’s a rich man’s disease – and other
innumerable disasters that will not be listed.

After all what does a producer have to do?  Very little!
Find a play, raise the money, cast the play, raise the money, check the
production, raise the money, find a theatre and raise more money!

Now you’re on your way.  Finding a play is a simple
thing.  One little note in a newspaper that you’ve opened producing
offices and you’re swamped with such items as “Bertha” a sequel to “The Sewing
Machine Girl,” “Icecast,” a melodrama with four people and one set that takes
place in the Antarctic during winter – you can save on your electrical
equipment this way.

I started as a producer because I couldn’t get a
thirty-five dollar a week job reading scripts for an established
producer.  I tried to find a play only to find that the well known authors
were submitting plays to well known producers.  I had to turn to novels –
“Counterattack” and “Trio” were the results of reading galley proofs.
“Home of the Brave” reached my partner Bill Katzell and myself only after a
great many, more established producers turned it down.  So finding a play
presents no problem.

Getting “Finian’s Rainbow” was no problem.  The
authors were almost unknown.  E.Y. Harburg did the lyrics for such shows
as “Bloomer Girl,” “Life Begins at 8:40,” “Walk A Little Faster” and for such
movies as “The Wizard of Oz,” “Song of Russia,” “Cabin in the Sky.”  Fred
Saidy, who collaborated with him on the book, co-authored “Bloomer Girl” and
has screen credit for innumerable pictures.  But these boys are novices,
there would be no competition.  The man who wrote the delightful music for
the show, Burton Lane, wrote the score for “Hold on to Your Hats,” and one of
the Olsen and Johnson musicals.  So he wouldn’t be difficult since he was

The day after I read the book I landed in California
where the three – author, lyricist and composer were whiling their time away in
the sunshine and earning a measly couple of thousand a week.  I offered
them the opportunity of a Broadway production and they immediately left their
spot on the beach, their beautiful homes and hopped a train for Broadway.
You see all the producer need do is mention that glamorous word Broadway and
the world is his.

Came the problem of finding a director.  I knew
Bretaigne Windust, who had staged “Trio” for me.  Windy presented no
problem.  No one wanted the services of the director responsible for such
hits as “Arsenic and Old Lace,” “Life With Father” and “State of the
Union.”  That is no one but Warner Brothers to whom he is under contract,
and seventeen other producers.  But Windy wanted to come back to New York
so that he and his wife and youngsters could move from hotel to hotel every
five days.  There’s nothing like the excitement of finding a hotel to live
in in New York.  These prospects so enchanted Mr. Windust that he decided
to direct “Finian’s Rainbow.”

We next proceeded to raise the money.  Investing in
musicals is a certain way to double your money.  So all you do is call up
people with money who rush to your office immediately, their pockets bulging
with United States currency and kill each other trying to put it on your
desk.  The backers are now cast.

By now your job is jelling.  The show is in
rehearsal.  All you have to do is find a theatre.  Do you know how
hard it is to find an apartment?  Well there are nine hundred thousand
apartments to every legitimate theatre available in New York.  But suppose
you find a theatre are you through with the wonderful, easy job of being a
producer?  You’re not!  You’re just starting out!  There are the
critics out of town and in New York to get by.  If your reviews are good
out of town you wonder if the New York critics are going to come waiting to see
the arrival of a new Messiah.  If they’re bad you’re afraid the critics
will come in bored or something.

But “Finian’s Rainbow” got rave reviews on its tryout and
rave reviews when it opened.  So you think the job is done?  Now you
sit and worry about how you can cast your road company as perfectly as that on
Broadway.  And when you’re through worrying about that you have one or two
other worries.  The show is a hit.  But you’ve got to do another
show.  Where are you going to get the next play?  And so it starts in
all over again.

If there are any prospective producers among the readers
of this piece who let my words discourage them…they were not prospective
producers at all.  For truth to tell, with all the headaches and heart
aches, you feel you want to be a producer.  Well, I’ll tell you a secret,
so do I.


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Click here for details.(please note, due to overwhelming demand the Social will now at be Hurley’s Saloon)

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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