The 2 shows I would have liked to produce this season

I have Producer envy.

Come on, you do, too.  We all do.

We’ve all seen shows and thought, “Oh man, would I like my name above the title
of that one!”  Maybe we’re jealous of the profits pouring out of the
production. Or maybe we’re jealous of the art that was created.

Or maybe, when the stars align, it’s a little of both.

All of this is why I’m going to start wrapping up each Broadway season with a
post like this one, telling you the Broadway Play and Broadway Musical I wish I would have
produced.

Here goes.

1.  La Cage aux Folles

Admit it.  When this import of La Cage was announced, I was not the only one
that thought, “Ummm, we just saw this sucker.  Do we really need to see it
again?”  Well, ironically, I believe this production benefited from having
been revived only 5-and-a-half years ago, if only to show the contrast between the two
productions.  I enjoyed the previous revival, but I didn’t need to see
another production like that.  But this?  This I’d see again.

This production succeeded at satisfying all of my requirements for a revival,
with the added bonus of the current gay marriage debate in the cultural background. When I saw the audience, the standing ovation seemed to be as much for
the show as it was for the concept that this Family with a capital F was the
kind that we would all be lucky to have.

2.  Fences

At intermission of Fences (which was the first time I took a breath in the
previous hour-and-20-minutes), I tweeted that Denzel received the largest
entrance applause I had ever heard.  It felt like I was at a Bon Jovi
concert . . . And Elvis had just made a surprise appearance.

On top of the excitement and the event-type atmosphere of the production,
Denzel, Viola and the terrific ensemble, led by the Wilson guru, Kenny Leon,
hit a homer that Troy Maxson would have been proud of.

But take away Denzel’s constellation-like status, and this show would still be one of my top two shows of the season.  As the
head of the drama department said when I was at NYU, “When you work in the
theater, it’s hard to enjoy shows, because you’re always dissecting every
element: the acting, the set, the direction.  How I know I love a show is
when I don’t analyze anything.”

At the end of Fences, I just smiled, like I had just eaten a great big juicy
steak . . . with Elvis.

What are the two shows you wish you’d produced this year?

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Next up in our reading series? Heartland.

The first play in the Davenport Developmental Reading Series, Alex Webb’s Civil War drama, Amelia, was, well, as much fun as Civil War Dramas can be.

We had a great time, learned a lot, and the post-reading survey results on the play demonstrated that Alex was really on to something.  I look forward to giving you updates on what he’s up to next with the play.

It’s already time for the second date in our free reading series.  This time, we found our writer north of the border.  Steven Owad hails from Calgary, Canada.

And next Monday, June 14th at 8 PM, at the Mint Theater thousands of miles from his home, some great actors will read his new play, Heartland.

Steven describes Heartland as “a drama about three men on the brink of self-destruction in middle America.  Loners in a small community, they form a deadly triangle tempered by violence, revenge and a ruthless alpha-male need for control.”

I describe Heartland as a Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode . . . before Vincent D’Onofrio shows up.

The reading of Heartland will be directed by another kanuck, Mr. Stafford Arima, known for Altar Boyz, Tin Pan Alley Rag, and an Olivier nominee for the West End Ragtime.  Stafford was also lucky enough to be the first to get his directorial mitts on Carrie, when he staged the reading of that horror show earlier this year.

Stafford got some great actors to play the three alpha males in Heartland, including Greg Stone (Pirate Queen, Miss Saigon, Les Miz), Peter Lockyer (South Pacific, Phantom, La Boheme) and Wes Seals (The Quest for Fame, Sex Drugs & Rock ‘n Roll).

Seating is very limited so if you’d like to come and support a new writer and his work, RSVP ASAP to rsvp@davenporttheatrical.com.  We expect the seats to go very fast, because, well, it’s free.

See you there!

Heartland
Written by Steven Owad
Directed by Stafford Arima
Featuring Greg Stone, Peter Lockyer and Wes Seals

Monday, June 14th
8 PM
The Mint Theater
311 West 43rd St. (between 8th and 9th)
#307

See you there!

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More performance time research revealed.

Telecharge released a third installment of their report on Broadway performance times recently, once again challenging us all to thoroughly examine our perf schedule and ask, “Do we have the best performance times for our customers or are we just going along with tradition?”

This report concentrated solely on Out-Of-Town buyers (tourists) and Suburbanites, since those two groups account from more than 80% of our sales.

Here are a few bullet points from the in-depth analysis:

  • Monday night has the highest percentage of out-of-towners, but Thursday has 3x as many out-of-town sales as Monday.
  • Wednesday evening is typically the weakest-selling performance, but twice as many out-of-towners bought tickets for a Wednesday evening as a Monday evening.
  • Unlike out-of-town buyers, suburban buyers show a significant preference for matinee performances.
  • Sunday and Monday evenings are the two weakest performances for sales to tourists but they have a high percentage of sales from them: 52% and 54%, comparable to Friday and Saturday night.  These performances depend more on tourists than other performances.
  • The peak performances for out-of-town buyers fall between Thursday and Sunday afternoon.
  • Thursday is a stronger performance with out-of-town buyers than Sunday matinee or Wednesday night.

What does all the data in these three reports tell us?  Should we have 7 PM performances on other nights besides Tuesday?  Should we have Thursday and/or Friday matinees?  If tourists are here between Thursday and Sunday, what about a Friday at 5 (like our friends in London)?  What about 9 PMs on Saturday?

These reports don’t have all the answers.  As a therapist once told me . . . “We don’t have all the answers, we just know what questions to ask.”

These fantastic reports challenge us all to ask our own questions about our own specific shows.  Don’t follow tradition for tradition’s sake (unless, of course, you’re doing Fiddler).  Use the stats, study your audience, and shake up your times until you find what works best.

Special thanks to The Shuberts and Telecharge for releasing this info.  (To read the summaries of the previous reports click here and here.)

Let’s hope for more of these in the future.

Or you know what would be really cool?  A Telecharge ticketing blog!

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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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Play today! 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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