Who will be Broadway’s Next Big Star? The “Final 15” Announced.

When we came up with the idea for BroadwaySpace.com’s “Broadway’s Next Big Star” contest, we knew we’d get some submissions from a few talented performers . . . but we had no idea we’d get THAT many!

Several hundred performers and performers-to-be from around the world (yep, there was even an entry from Estonia), submitted videos of themselves doing something “Broadway” (singing, dancing, or making a mash-up) in the hopes of winning the grand prize of getting flown to NYC, doing dinner and a show, and getting an audition with a hot-shot NYC casting director.

Somehow, Craig Burns from Telsey Casting, Bailey Hanks from Who-Doesn’t-Love-Them-Some-Bailey-Hanks, and I, narrowed the hundreds of entries down to 13 finalists. Add to that the two wild card spots we gave away to the two most-viewed videos, and that makes  . . . The Final 15!

Check them out here (and check out the honorable mention/superlatives while you’re at it)!

When you’ve watched them all, vote for your favorite by 11:59 PM ET on Wed. April 7th!  We’ve already had thousands of votes pour in since the first day the voting was announced, so it’s gonna be a close one.  Your vote will count big time.

As I watched all of the entries, I couldn’t help but notice a few things that I thought deserved some special attention.  So, I’m giving out some pre-award awards right here and now.

1.  The “Holy Crap, High School Musicals Have Come A Long Way” Award

Check out the three camera shoot in Audrey Peeples’s “Gimme, Gimme”.  And listen to those tracks.  And is it just me, or is the costume actually period?  (For my high school production of Anything Goes, I wore khakis from The Gap circa 1988).  Man, it’s no wonder that Broadway audiences demand a lot from their $125.  Look at what they are getting in their local high schools!  I’ve heard rumors lately of high schools with bigger musical budgets than some Off-Broadway shows!

2.  The “You Got To Work With Whom?” Award

When I was a Broadway-wannabe, the closest I could get to the stars was hanging out at the stage door and hoping to get a glimpse (I once asked 12-year-old Daisy Eagan for an autograph . . . our paths haven’t crossed since, but I’m sure they will someday, and boy will my face be red).  Now, the incredible generosity of so many Broadway performers, combined with the many schools and classes in the city and around the country (Like Laura Bell Bundy and Paul Canaan’s Take It From The Top) , give young performers a chance to learn from the best.  Check out Final 15er, Nicholas J. Oliveri, as his sings for the original “Gimme, Gimm-er,” Sutton Foster.  And stay tuned to the very end, so you can hear Sutton compliment Nicholas and crack up the class.

3.  The “Golden Age is Over” Award

This goes out to all of the finalists.  Of the 15 songs sung by the finalists, only 4 were from musicals written before 1980 .  And only 2 of those were written before 1970.  These performers are not only the actors of tomorrow, they are also the audiences of tomorrow. And the days of our audiences wanting to see The King and I and Pal Joey and Fiddler are over.

4.  The “How to Stand Out in the Clutter” Award

And last, but not least, Stewart Yu gets a nod, not for making it into the Final 15, but for knowing he wasn’t going to make it into the Final 15, and creating a video that will probably get him more views than many of the finalists!  Stewart knows the rule by which we all must live: creativity cuts through clutter.  I’ve pasted his video below.

Good luck to all of the finalists!

See them all here (and don’t forget the honorable mentions at the bottom).  Make sure to cast your vote by Wed at 11:59!

And enjoy Stu!

Are you Broadway’s Next Big Star?

BroadwaySpace.com is running its first ever “Broadway’s Next Big Star” contest right now.  If you think you’re the next Sutton, Idina or Cheyenne, enter today.  It’s easy, and the rewards are huge . . .

The winner gets flown to NYC, tickets to a show, and . . . an audition with Craig Burns of Bernard Telsey Casting!  This is Big Break time!

I’m one of the judges (along with Craig and Legally Blonde’s Bailey Hanks).  We’ll narrow down the field to the Top 10 . . . and then, our BroadwaySpace audience will vote and decide the big winner.

To enter the contest and become Broadway’s Next Big Star, click here.  Hurry, there is only about a week left to get your entry in.

You can check out some of the awesome entries that have already been submitted here.

Enter today!

Who will be the 2009 Producer of the Year? You tell me! Vote now.

Last year I started an annual tradition of choosing a Producer of the Year.  The first winner was the late Gerry Schoenfeld.

This year, I’m changing up how the winner is chosen.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been talking to General Managers, Publicists, Agents and other Prefer-To-Remain-Anonymous-Insiders, to come up with a list of nominees (not surprising, but many of these nominees are also on this year’s “50 Most Powerful People on Broadway”).

And now you’re going to choose the winner.

The list of nominees, as chosen by my select group of experts, is below.  I asked each expert to write a blurb supporting their choice, which also follows.

Take a look, and when you’re ready, click on the link below them to cast your vote.

 1.  Sonia Friedman

Sonia Friedman, producer, norman conquests

“The classy Ms. Friedman has been on a tear lately, and she gets my nod for being courageous enough to produce The Norman Conquests trilogy.  In a world where people want their news in less than 140 characters and their videos in YouTube clips, she actually got people to sit through three plays   . . . in one day!”

 

2.  Rocco Landesman

http://www.theproducersperspective.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/my_weblog/6a00e54ef2e21b883301287660c7b3970c.jpg

“Rocco is the only nominee on my list who gets the nom for not producing anymore.  As the new Chairman of the NEA, Rocco is now in a position to do more for the profit and non-profit theater on a national and international level than anyone else . . . ever.”

 

 3.  Kevin McCollum

“In addition to Producing West Side, an oft member of the million-dollar-club, Kevin forged new ground by finding a way to make a limited run of a holiday musical work (White Christmas), and by going back to Off-Broadway with Avenue Q.”

 

 

 4.  Jeffrey Richards

JeffreyRichards, Hair, Tony Award, Producer

“Jeffrey had seven shows open in 2009.  And he’s still got a couple of weeks left!  The sheer volume of his work qualifies him a nomination, but the real story of the year was his bailout of Hair, which recouped and snatched a Tony.  If only the government’s bailout worked as well as Jeffrey’s.”

 5.  Jordan Roth

Jordan Roth, young, jujamcyn

“When Rocco Landesman jumped on a metroliner to DC, he left an open chair for Jordan Roth, who is sitting in it quite nicely.  At his young age, he’s got decades to go in this biz.  Expect great things.  But more importantly, expect new things.”
 

A big thank you to my pundits for their wise choices.

And now on to the voting!

To vote for Producer of the Year, click on this link.

Make sure you cast your vote by Sunday, December 27th at 8 PM.

The 2009 Producer of the Year will be announced on the blog on Monday, December 28th.

Good luck to the nominees and let the voting begin!

VOTE NOW.

P.S.  You can only vote once . . . so for those producers on this list who just tried to put their assistant on voting over and over again, nice try.  😉

10 Shows that stand out at this year’s Fringe Festival.

It took us four years and four writers to finally get the book right on Altar Boyz.  The guy who finally got hit the soul sensor on the head was Kevin Del Aguila, and I found him at The New York International Fringe Festival.

But how?  With over 200 shows to see in this year’s festival alone, how do you find the good stuff?

Fringe festivals can be the most cluttered environment for show shopping in the world.  It’s like panning for gold . . . in the Atlantic Ocean    . . . with a bottomless bucket.

The year I stumbled on Kevin’s play I remember picking up the Fringe Guide, and going through it like it was a Sky Mall catalog during a delay at LaGuardia.  I went through the guide show by show by show, circled what jumped out at me, then tried to find times to fit them all in.

Since most of the fringe shows are unknowns, the descriptions, titles, and so on are pretty dang important to catalog shoppers like me.  This year, I thought I’d repeat my exercise of going through the Fringe Guide and let you know the top 10 shows that stood out to me, and why.

Here we go:

1.  1-900-SELFPLEX

This list is in alpha order, which means I have to start with a show that begins with a number.  And so does the Fringe catalog.  This show stood out because of the infamous Chorus Line principle (ACL famously changed its name from Chorus Line to A Chorus Line in order to be listed first in the ABCs in the NY Times.  BTW, depending on the publication, one of my shows is either called THE Awesome 80s Prom or just Awesome 80s Prom).  When you’re listed first, people take more time and pay more attention: first borns, first wives, first “times”, everything.  I’m sure the authors of this show didn’t start the title of their show with a number for this reason, but it made me read the description with a lot more care than the show on page 47.  For more info, visit:  www.elixirproductions.org.

2.  666

Another numbered title jumped out at me, but not because of its digits.  It jumped out because of the quotes that the previous productions have received:  “Truly fabulous-disgustingly hysterical,” “Masterwork of black humor,” “Might beat the boys to hell by laughing yourself to death!”  Frankly, I don’t recognized all of the sources, but at this level, it doesn’t matter.  A minority of fringe shows have been seen before. If you can demonstrate that you’ve gotten your show up, AND that people publicly said they liked it in such a passionate way as some of the critics did for 666, then you will stand out.  Even if the show isn’t something I’d want to produce (666 is a wordless comedy about four death row convicts about to meet their final reward), I’m definitely intrigued by the artists.  The creators of Blue Man Group did stuff before Blue Man Group, if you know what I mean, and some of it was weirder than this.  For more info, visit:  www.666comedy.com.

3.  A CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN’S GUIDE TO A SUCCESSFUL MARRIAGE

The description for this show begins, “Set against the backdrop of the late 1950s and told in the style of the social guidance films of that era . . . ”  You know what’s cool about that? I know what that is! Sometimes Fringe shows can feel like going to a Shoney’s buffet . . . blindfolded.  The more you can frame the show with your description, the better, and this show did that perfectly.  I feel like I know what I am going to see.  Take that smart descript. of their inherently theatrical concept and add it to a very commercial subject that almost 50% of the population are interested in, and you’ve got my attention.  For more info, visit:  www.themarriageplay.com.

4.  ABRAHAM LINCOLN’S BIG GAY DANCE PARTY

I skipped over this one originally, because it sounded like the Producers took a page out of the obvious “How To Get Attention For Your Fringe Show” manual by using a wacko title to peak curiosity.  These producers also took another page out, however.  Right after the listing for Lincoln, there was a full page ad for the show, that stood out like, well, Abe Lincoln at a big gay dance party (he was a tall man, you know, and he wore a hat, had a big beard and freed the slaves).  That big ad certainly got my attention.  “What kind of fringe show has a budget for a full page,” I wondered.  More importantly, the ad also trumpeted the fact that Lincolnwon a Best Play award from the Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle, something I missed because I never even read the description in the listing, having been turned off by the title.  Now, I don’t know who the BAYTCC is, but any award makes any show sound better.  And the ad forced me to learn more.  I won’t be going to show, but I bet a lot of people will.   For more, info visit:  www.abrahamlincolnsbiggaydanceparty.com or www.thelongestdomainnameinhistory.com (sorry, guys, couldn’t resist).

5.  BABY WANTS CANDY THE IMPROVISED MUSICAL

If you’ve never seen an improvised musical, I recommend it.  And if I can’t see it from my favorite musical Improv Team, The Nuclear Family (which has shows coming up in LA, by the way), then Baby Wants Candy is next.  So putting my fascination with this genre aside, why did this show stand out?  Because Baby Wants Candy has been around the block.  They have a history, and a respected one.  Anyone that can keep producing entertainment year after year instead of trading it in for a real estate license has to be doing something right.  For more info, visit:  www.babywantscandy.com.

6.  HOW NOW DOW JONES

The Fringe is all about new stuff, right?  Wrong.  Here’s something that stands out just because it’s old!  How Now Dow Jones is a revised version of a 1968 (same year as Hair (see below), ironically!) musical comedy.  Could it be the next Chicago? Doubt it, but it does have some poignant relevancy, since it the stock market plays a big part in the plot.  And no one is thinking about the stock market these days, right?  For more info, visit:  www.hownowdowjones.com.

7.  PENUMBRA

It used to be that popular music was the same music heard on Broadway stages. Nowadays, it takes a while for the music of the day to appear in a play.  Hair is called the first rock musical by many, including this gal, and it didn’t open on Bway until 1968, almost 20 years after the birth of rock ‘n roll.  The next genre that will hit a Broadway stage?  Hip-hop.  And a harder hip-hop than Heights.  And I’ll tell you a little secret that’s just between you, me and the rest of the blogosphere . . . I want to be the Producer of the first hip-hop musical on Broadway (Yep, I was even crazy enough to inquire about the rights to 8 Mile (not available, fyi).  Watch this scene, wouldn’t you . . . (it’s a musical Rocky!)  That’s why Penumbra, a one man hip-hop musical by Fascious, got my attention.  This guy is on the right multi-track.  For more info, visit: www.fascious.com.

8.  TEAROOM TANGO

Tearoom opens the (bathroom) door on a world many people haven’t seen before.  This show-me-a-subculture tactic is a smart way to grab attention, especially when the subject is sex.  Add in nudity and “parental discretion” warnings, and anyone, I don’t care if they are straight, gay, or asexual, has to wonder what is going on during Tearoom.  For more info, visit:  www.mercuryplayerstheatre.com.

9.  TRUTH VALUES:  ONE GIRL’S ROMP THROUGH MIT’S MALE MATH MAZE

I like true stories.  This country likes true stories.  All thanks to what I call the “lean forward factor”.  Truth Values is a true story about an underdog, and this country also loves underdogs (partly because this country WAS an underdog). It’s about a woman pursuing her PhD at MIT.  It’s got a Good Will Hunting meets Legally Blonde type of feel, from what I can tell.  We’ll see what makes this one different.  For more info, visit:  www.unexpectedtheatre.org.

10.  VOTE

A musical about student council elections?  Since we don’t have an adaptation of Election (yet), this sounds like a commercially promising production to me.  Promising premise aside, Vote has also attracted some top-notch Broadway talent with Rachelle Rak teaching the dance steps, and a cast including Deidre Goodwin alongside everyone’s favorite reality show winner, Bailey Hanks.  Recognizable names help you stand out and lend credibility, on Broadway, off-Broadway and yes, at The Fringe.

So there’s my list of the top ten shows that stood out for me in this year’s 63 page Fringe Festival catalog (honorable mentions go to:  TerranovaAnd She Said, He Said, I Say YesMCrossings, and Sorority Queen in a Mobile Home).  I won’t see all of them, but there was something unique about the presentation of each one that that made them memorable.  

But memorable doesn’t always mean good.

See, the funny thing is that although it may seem like hard work to stand out amongst a field of over 200 shows, that’s actually the easy part.

Because once you get someone’s attention, you have to deliver.

It takes a courageous and confident kid to raise his hand higher than the others, but it takes a brilliant kid to have the right answer.

Good fringe, everybody!

 

_ _

Looking to learn how to get your show to stand out?  Here are two quick tips:

1 – Read Seth Godin’s book The Purple Cow, my bible to product development and marketing.

2 – Take my Get Your Show Off The Ground seminar, which I guarantee will give you a bunch of great takeaways on how to get your show to stand out at the Fringe, NYMF, and on Broadway!  Take the seminar today.

Doing our part to turn out the vote.

Ok, ok . . . maybe we were trying to get some press too.

First-Time Voters Offered Free Tix to Off-Broadway’s My First Time

The cool thing?  We’ve already had people redeem their tickets.

I’ve never been so thrilled to give seats away.

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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