They didn’t have these awards when I was in high school!

For those of you on the new social networking site, Four Square (I know, I know…another social networking site), you’ll notice that I checked in to the Marquis Theater last Monday for the second annual National High School Musical Theater Awards.

What are they?  Take the Tonys, shrink ’em, add a little Miss America and a dash of American Idol and you’ve got . . . The Jimmies!

What else do you have?

One thrilling night of incredible entertainment that made every single person in that audience believe in the power of the theater.

Over 50,000 students at almost 1,000 high schools across the country compete for the Jimmies.  Just like the aforementioned beauty pageant, there are regional awards that qualify performers to move on to the finals here in New York City.

And that’s where the real fun stuff happens.

Those 44 finalists spend a week in the city studying with vocal coaches, learning an opening and closing number, and hearing from Broadway professionals about what it’s like working in our biz.

The week ends with a performance . . . on the stage of The Marquis Theater, in front of some of the biggest names on Broadway.  And yes, these are teenagers. It’s like Broadway Fantasy Camp!

The show itself featured a medley of solos by each of the contestants. (Highlights for me were:  Matt Hill’s ‘Great Big Stuff’ from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Andrea Weinzierl’s Mame and Elise Vannerson belting out ‘Nobody’s Side’ from Chess). The judges (including Memphis star Montego Glover, Casting Directors Bernie Telsey and Rachel Hoffman, Exec. Producer of Chicago Alecia Parker, Director Scott Ellis, Nick Scandalios (aka #8), and Kent Gash from my alma mater’s new musical theater program) narrowed the field down to 3 female and 4 male finalists (there was a tie for the guys).

We got to see each finalist perform a complete number, and then the judges chose the winners!

This year’s Jimmies (which were named for the patriarch of the Nederlander family and the patriarch of this program, James M. Nederlander) were awarded to . . . Alexandria Payne from Atlanta and Kyle Selig of California.

In addition to a fine looking trophy and a shot at a 4-year NYU scholarship, the winners were each surprised with a $10,000 check towards their tuition.

Congratulations to the winners, and congratulations to the Nederlander Organization and Van Kaplan’s Pittsburgh CLO (where this idea began) for providing these kids, and all of us, with an opportunity of a lifetime.

They got to see New York City.  We got to see the future.

And it looks awesome.

For more info on The Jimmies, including how you can get involved, click here. For photos from BroadwayStars.com, click here.

And mark my blog, in less than five years, this thing is going to be huge . . . and so is the impact it will have on developing new audiences for the future.

And that’s even more awesome.

(Oh, and yes, it’s true, they certainly didn’t have these awards when I was in high school.  But that’s just fine with me, because this talented crop would have kicked my Billy Crocker-ed butt!)

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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Only 22 days left to enter The Producer’s Perspective Tony Pool. Win an iPad!

Play today! Click here!

And don’t forget to RSVP for my Tony Party!

Win the new iPhone! Play the Producer’s Perspective Tony Pool!

All right, let’s see who’s got game!  It’s time to pick your winners for The Producer’s Perspective Tony Pool.

I’ve picked prizes that I think are essential for all Producers out there:

GRAND PRIZE – The new iPhone!

Unfortunately, I wish I had a handle on when it was coming out, but I don’t.  Rumors are swirling that it’ll be announced before the Tonys (June 9th), but whenever it comes out, the winner (and me!!!) will get one!

1st PRIZE – $50 Dinner at Angus, where all the Tony Award winners (and losers) hang out.

2nd Prize – Pick any 2 books from my recommended books on my blog, plus a 4 pack of Red Bull.

A few rules:

– Only one entry per person.

– All questions are weighted the same. It’s just like an 8th grade
exam. The person with the highest percentage of correct answers wins!

– Only one winner per prize.  There is a tie-breaker.

– Polls close on June 15th at 12:01 AM.

– IMPORTANT:  Only Producer’s Perspective email subscribers are eligible.  You MUST
subscribe to the feed via the feedburner email box to the left in order to win.  Make sure you sign up today!

– Employees of Davenport Theatrical and Gerry Schoenfeld are ineligible (There’s no real reason to make Gerry ineligible, other than that it makes me feel like I have just a thimble’s amount of power to say he can’t play with us)

– If Gerry Schoenfeld doesn’t like that last rule or any rule (or the color of my shirt, for that matter), I reserve the right to strike it faster than they struck the Glory Days set.

Happy voting!

CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE SURVEY!

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 WhoIs.net 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.

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