Don’t ask unless you are ready to receive.

An up-and-coming Producer met with me recently in my office and pitched me a brand new project.  The pitch was a good one.  Very professional.  Not too long.  To the point.  And she knew exactly what she wanted from the meeting:  her objective was to get me to invest in her show, which she was sure was the next Rent.

I wasn’t so sure that she should be polishing her Pulitzer just yet, but the project did have some merit even though it was very early, so I decided to play along to see how ready she was to take the project to the next step.

When she very clearly got to her close and asked me for the money, I told her I was interested and asked her who I should make the check payable to if I was ready to invest right then and there.  Her eyes went wide.  Then they glazed over.  It became clear that she didn’t think anyone would ever write a check on the spot.  She obviously didn’t give herself credit for being that good, or for her project being that good.

She stammered a bit, and then tried to back herself out of the corner by saying that the investment vehicle was still being created, and that she was discussing some options with her partner and their lawyer and that as soon as they had some papers they would send it to me.

Flash forward a few weeks later, and despite some very nice follow up on her part, I still haven’t received anything.  And without a doubt, my interest has waned, as you would expect it to when I’ve had weeks to think about it, I’m not in the same room with the passionate pitcher, I’ve had other projects get pitched to me, etc.

This happens a lot, actually, especially when projects are artist driven.  Often the business-side of what we do gets lost.  If your goal of a meeting is to get someone to give you money, be prepared on how you will accept it.  Front money agreement?  LLC?  Non-profit donations through Fractured Atlas?

Have a plan.  Any plan.

Because if you’re going into meetings trying to sell your show, you have to be ready for someone to buy it.

Have we seen the last of the looooong running musical?

I’ve written about long running shows by decade before, but I felt the subject deserved another look as a whole.  So, as of this Sunday, take a look at Top 10 Longest Running Shows on Broadway:

Show # of Perfs Year Opened
1 The Phantom of the Opera* 8907 1988
2 Cats 7485 1982
3 Les Miserables 6680 1987
4 A Chorus Line 6137 1975
5 Oh! Calcutta! 5959 1974
6 Beauty and the Beast 5461 1994
7 Chicago* 5236 1996
8 Rent 5123 1996
9 The Lion King* 4821 1997
10 Miss Saigon 4092 1991
*still running
5 of these marathoners or 50% of the longest running musicals on Broadway are from the decade of glorious growth, the 90s.
30% are from the British Invasion of the 80s.  And the remaining 20% are from the 70s.
Let’s take a little trip further down the long runner list, shall we?  Here is a list of the 11th – 30th Longest Running Broadway Shows:

 

Show # of Perfs Year Opened
11 42nd Street 3486 1980
12 Grease 3388 1972
13 Fiddler on the Roof 3242 1964
14 Life with Father 3224 1939
15 Mamma Mia!* 3184 2001
16 Tobacco Road 3182 1933
17 Hello, Dolly! 2844 1964
18 My Fair Lady 2717 1956
19 Hairspray 2642 2002
20 The Producers 2502 2001
21 Avenue Q 2446 2003
22 Cabaret 2377 1998
23 Annie 2377 1977
24 Wicked* 2342 2003
25 Man of La Mancha 2328 1965
26 Abie’s Irish Rose 2327 1922
27 Oklahoma! 2212 1943
28 Smokey Joe’s Café 2036 1995
29 Pippin 1944 1972
30 South Pacific 1925 1949

There are only 2 musicals on this list that are still running and have a shot at cracking into the top 10:  Mamma Mia needs another 2 years, and Wicked needs 4.  I expect both to make it, which will give the 2000s (or the “aughts”) 2 spots in the top 10.

If you keep going down the list, there are 3 more musicals that are still running that could conceivably have a shot:  Jersey Boys (#54), Mary Poppins (#89), and Billy Elliot (too far down to count).  Jersey Boys has probably got a chance, thanks to its low overhead, but I doubt the other two will go the distance.
If those falsetto-singing boys from Jersey make the cut (and they still need another (gulp) 7 years), then that will give the aughts a 30% representation in the top 10 longest running shows.  Not so bad.
But if they don’t, and if the Mamma Mia movie madness wears off and that show doesn’t make the cut, we could be looking at only one show from this decade to be in the Top 10.
And is it just me, or does it seem like there isn’t anything on the horizon that has twenty year staying power?
Then again, the day before Rent opened on Broadway, I bet no one thought it would run for 5123 performances.
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