10 Ways to green your show or theater. Come up with an 11th and win $100.

It ain’t easy bein’ green, as Kermit would sing.

It takes extra effort and sometimes some extra bucks.  It’s just like joining a gym!  But it’s time we all got together to make sure our planet has some rock-hard abs.

And that’s why I set out to write this post giving you 10 ways to green your show or theater, until I realized . . . the Broadway Green Alliance had already written it!

What?  Don’t know what the BGA is?  From their website:

The BGA (formerly Broadway Goes Green) was launched in 2008 as an ad hoc committee of The Broadway League. The BGA brings together all segments of the theatre community, including producers, theatres in New York and around the country, theatrical unions and their members, and related businesses. Working closely with the Natural Resources Defense Council, the BGA identifies and disseminates better practices for theatre professionals and reaches out to theatre fans throughout the country.

On their site, they list several ways that your designers, shops, office mates, etc. can green the work that we do.

Some suggestions:

  • Shop from local vendors instead of having items shipped across the country.
  • Design with LED lights (or other energy efficient instruments) whenever possible.
  • Reuse set and costume pieces from previous productions

For more ideas, visit their site here.

But wait . . . you don’t get off that easy.  Why don’t we use this forum to come up with some more super specific ideas to green your shows, theater or workplace.  Comment below on something you do or can do to get on the green train.

Extra credit if your idea saves money and saves the environment.

Ok, I’ll kick it off.

Everyone recycles paper, right?  Right?  But before you put it in the bin, make sure you’ve used the second side of the page.  Use it as scrap paper, fax machine paper, or I have a second “draft printer” that I fill with only half-used paper.  We don’t go through life drinking half a cup of coffee or living in half a house, right?  Why use only half the paper?

Alright, your turn.  And come up with something better than mine, will ya?  In fact, lets up the stakes.

The environment is priceless, but let’s put a prize on it anyway.

$100 (or 100 “green” backs) goes to the best idea commented below. My staff will be the judge.

We close the polls on Sunday at 11:59 PM EST, and I’ll announce the winner on Monday morning’s blog.  Comment away!  (Email subscribers, click here to get to the blog and register your potential winning comment.)

The two big Os in marketing.

My two favorite forms of media to buy in today’s theatrical market are . . .




The problem with that second O, is that it’s expensiv-o in the heart of the city, where all those potential theatergoers swarm.  Seems a bit unfair that we have to pay the same price for those big billboards as Tide or Levi’s, which are available to the purchaser all over the world, as o-pposed to Broadway, which is available . . . well . . . only on Broadway.

That’s why I couldn’t help but wonder why more of us don’t try to make deals on available outdoor opportunities like the one in this picture.

What about approaching the real estate companies and asking for signage in unrented storefronts?  They’re sitting there, making no money for someone . . . why not give them some earning potential in the meantime?

Or what about mural billboards on available brick walls?

Or instead of leaving the signage of closed shows up on theater marquees, putting signage up for other shows in the same theater chain?

The best Producers I know don’t just buy whatever their agency or media company is selling.  The best Producers I know look for something that people haven’t thought of yet.

The best Producers I know look for the third “O” of marketing . . . new Opportunities.

Go where others haven’t gone before.  Consider yourself an explorer, like Magellan or Ponce de Leon.

Because when you do discover some New World of Media, or new anything for that matter, it’ll feel . . . well . . . (cough, cough) . . . O-tastic.

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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Free drink!  Door prizes include tickets, merch, and a Kindle!

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

Another thing I learned from the airlines.

The theater industry has learned a lot from the airline industry.

The airlines taught us about premium seating (first class). They taught us how to get rid of their unsold inventory with email blasts.  They taught us the ways of yield management.

And now they are teaching us about the upgrade.

I flew out West to see American Idiot at Berkeley Rep. on Saturday morning.  I was doing one of my favorite things to do when traveling coast-to-coast and making the trip in one day.  First flight out, and red-eye back.  No one even knows you’re gone!

I flew Virgin Airlines, which is pretty comfortable in coach, although the leg room is almost as bad as it is at a Broadway theater.

When I checked in for my red-eye back, the self-check-in computer popped up a screen offering me a chance to upgrade my ticket to First Class for only $250.

Huh.  I considered it even though I didn’t even think about going First Class when I bought the original ticket.  But since I knew how important it was that I slept the whole way home, and since I had saved myself a night at a hotel by not staying in San Fran, I did it.

After I clicked “buy” . . . I started to think about why it was such an easy choice for me . . . and then I started to think about how we could do the same thing in the theater.

It was obvious that the airline had some unsold first class tickets that they were willing to offer at a discount last minute.  Why not, right?  Get every dollar you can, before that flight takes off (curtain goes up) and the premium seat goes dead.  Additionally, by popping up only the upgrade price, it looked like a bargain. I already bought and paid for the coach ticket.  I wasn’t adding the coach ticket plus the upgrade together to calculate the total fare, which is why it was easier to buy.  And just like that, Richard Branson had a few more of my bucks.

We’ve all been to shows where the rear mezz or the balcony was sold, but the better seats weren’t, right?  And during intermission, or right before the show starts, there’s a mass movement of audience members scrambling to the better seats, even though they paid the cheaper price.

What if we could get those people paying a bit more and filling up the seats beforehand?

How could we do it?

  • What about sending the balcony seat holders an email 24 hours (or even less) before the show with a chance to upgrade for only $20? $30? (See, doesn’t it sound like a bargain already?)
  • What about a sign at the box office advertising an upgrade?
  • What about having the box office staff up-sell an upgrade when tickets are picked up at the window?
  • What about putting a seller in the house itself that roams the balcony before the show starts?

Upgrades are awesome.  Parsing the purchases in two makes them both seem more manageable, but ends up making you more money.  At the same time, the upgrade gives the audience member a better experience than they were expecting.

I know I slept a lot better on that flight home, thanks to my upgrade.

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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