And the winner of the Tony Award for Smartest Blog Readers Goes To . . .

I love this.

The winner of our Tony Pool, with 23 out of 26 correct answers, beat the experts

Theater things that don’t make sense: Vol. 3. We need you. Pay up.

This year’s Tony Awards featured more performances than previous years.  Why?  Because the producers of the Tonys know that performances are what America wants to see. 

Our fans in Ohio and Florida would much rather watch the original cast of Rent or see a number from Young Frankenstein (whether or not it was nominated) than watch the acceptance speech for Best Sound Design of a Play.  Wouldn’t you? 

That’s why I watched from the suburbs of Massachusetts in the late 80s.  In those pre-YouYube days, I used to record the Tonys on our VCR so I could watch them over and over again.  And it worked!  The Tony performance of Secret Garden got me to buy tickets . . . twice.

What you may not know is that those Tony performances cost money.  A LOT of money.  A performance by a big musical can easily cost $200k – $300k.  The cast members get a week’s salary (up to a cap), new sets and props have to be built (we had to build an entire new set of desks for Millie’s "Forget About The Boy" appearance in 2002), there are dresser costs, recording session expenses (the ensembles are tracked, the principals are live), transportation costs, stagehands costs, and so on.  It adds up! 

Since The Tonys need these performances to attract an audience, to build ratings, to get advertisers, to make money, you would think that they would pay for the appearance, right?

Nope.  The Tony Awards give each show a stipend to offset the costs of their performance, but they don’t pay for the whole thing.  How much?  A whopping $20k.  And that’s for nominated shows.  Non-nominated shows pay full freight.

So we provide the content for them to make money, and we pay for the bulk of it.  Seems crazy, right?  And did I tell you that they get to approve of the number?

You’re probably saying, "The ratings are so low, we’re lucky we even get a show."  It’s true, sort of.  Thank God for CBS’s commitment to The Tonys, but they’re not doing this for charity or because a CEO somewhere was smitten by a performance of Shenandoah when he was 7.  I was once told by an insider that while the numbers of viewers aren’t exceptionally high, the TYPE of viewer that watches the Tonys is why CBS does the show year after year.  The Tonys, as you can imagine, attract a very concentrated group of highly educated, more affluent consumers, which means they can charge top dollar to top brands.

Why do we pay these high costs year after year?  Simple.  When are you ever going to get the opportunity to get a three minute national commercial for your show to your target demographic for $200k.  It’s like a blue light special for TV time! 

So we’ll keep paying, and for the shows like South Pacific, In The Heights, even Young Frankenstein, it’s a no-brainer.

But what if you’re Cry BabyXanadu?  All of a sudden that Tony nomination isn’t the greatest thing that has ever happened to you, is it? 

Because you have to pay for it. 

– – – – –

My rating of the Tonys this year was a thumbs-up, by the way.  Mo’ performances equals mo’ better.

Take II: And the winner of the Tony Pool and the iPhone is . . .


While grading your tests, two things happened:  1) I found our winners, and 2) I remembered why I never wanted to be a teacher.  And it wasn’t just because my high school English teacher told me that he got so stressed teaching that he used to think of students as he chopped wood after school . . . and he didn’t even have a fireplace.

Ok, enough of that awkward intro, here are the winners of the first annual Producer’s Perspective Tony Pool!

GRAND PRIZE:  The new (say it with me) iPhone!

Dial it up, MARYBETH IHLE, and get ready to switch to AT&T because you won!  And no tie breaker necessary!

1ST PRIZE:  $50 to eat at Angus, where after a few Blue Hawaiis, all the Tony losers will be giving the speeches they never got to give.

Angus changed up his menu recently (I’m starting a petition to bring back the sirloin steak salad), and ERICA RYAN will be eating for free soon enough (and signing my petition soon after).

2ND PRIZE:  2 Books off the PP recommended list and a 4 pack of Red Bull

Shotgun that Producer juice so you can stay up all night reading, LUCY YU, because your hot Tony pickin’ just slid you into the money.

Thanks to the rest of you for playing.  This was the first annual PPP, which means they’ll be one next year too, giving all of you who picked Xanadu to win another shot (Sorry, Cubby, that means you too).

And can you imagine what the iPhone will be like next year?

My portion of this blog is over.  Now, I’m turning it over to you.

I want to know what YOU thought about the Tonys!  Comment away below, just end your comment with a DidHeLikeIt-type thumbs up, down or mixed.

Because whether or not the actual ratings were up or down last night, it’s your ratings that I’m much more interested in.

Last chance to win an iPhone in the Tony Pool!

If you haven’t entered The Producer’s Perspective Tony Pool yet, enter today!

All entries must be received by midnight tonight!

Click here to see all the prizes and rules and stuff.

I don’t care who Cubby is, I want to know who his parents are.

Because whoever created Cubby Bernstein has come up with the most creative viral marketing campaign I’ve seen on Broadway in awhile (Cubby has already received mentions in the The NY Times, Playbill, etc.)

And Cubby is even twittering!  Can you believe it?  A Broadway campaign that is WITH the times!

Rumors have it that Cubby is the brainchild of Douglas Carter Beane and the folks at the other roller-skatin’ musical, Xanadu (a check of is of no help in determining who Cub’s biological parents are).

(update: episode 2 confirms that this a Xana-oriented)

Cubby has our attention.  And now let’s watch and see how effective he is in doing his job.

The fun stuff should be just beginning . . .

What would I love to see?  Cubby sitting in a seat at Radio City on Tony night next to the Producers of Xanadu.  Take this all the way, guys.  Take it all the way.

Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

I'm on a mission to help 5000 shows get produced by 2025.

Never miss a post or podcast again. Subscribe to the blog and stay in the know.

The TheaterMakers Studio Free Trial
The TheaterMakers Studio
Featured Product
Be A Broadway Star
Featured Book
Broadway Investing 101
All Upcoming Events

october, 2020

27oct8:00 pm8:30 pmThe Producer's Perspective LIVE!

Featured Webinar
Path to Production Webinar