Who won the tickets to Lysistrata Jones Off Broadway?

Ok, this week's giveaway has been my favorite to date, and it reminded me that I have the most creative commenters in the entire blogosphere.

When asked to come up with examples of site specific theater that you'd like to see, you came up with such winners as . . . 

  • Sweeney Todd in a barbershop.
  • The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas in a brothel. 
  • Xanadu at a roller rink.

Great, right?  

But the winner for me, hands down, was Randall David Cook's answer . . . 

  • The Wiz . . . in a men's bathroom. 

Congrats, David.  You win for your wiz!  Email me to grab your tickets!

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– Come to our Tony Awards Party!  Click here for more info and to get your ticket now! 

– Enter my Tony Pool!  You can win an iPad!  Enter today!  Deadline is 6/9!


10 Questions for a Broadway Pro. Volume 3: A Tony Award-Winning Designer

David Gallo is one of the hippest guys around, and he’s one of the most in-demand designers in town, thanks to his terrific work on a ton of shows, from Drowsy Chaperone (Tony, Tony, Tony) to Xanadu to Memphis to Thoroughly Modern Millie (where I first worked with him).

In addition to his theatrical work in town, David does a lot of stuff all over the country and all over the world, proving that great theater doesn’t have anything to do with a street address . . . it’s about the people involved.

Enjoy these 10 Questions with David Gallo!


1. What is your title?


2. What show/shows are you currently working on?

Right now I am in Vienna doing a new company of the show Ich war noch niemals in New York.  It is a large-scale musical based on the work of the renowned pop star Udo Jurgens.  The show originally opened to acclaim in Hamburg and the producers have decided to extend that success to the rest of the continent.

I am also thrilled to be working on some new plays such as Stickfly by the remarkable young playwright Lydia Diamond.  We produced it at the Arena Stage in DC and the next venue will be at the Huntington Theater in Boston.  It was a great return to work with my old friend Kenny Leon as director.

Added to that I recently spent time with my favorite regional theater: the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park where I was thrilled to be a part of the theatrical debut of the bestselling author Walter Mosley.  His play The Fall of Heaven is something special and the work of director Marion McClinton is worth noting as well.

3. In one sentence, describe your job.

Claw your way into the mind of the playwright and director and give them what they desire (whether they like it or not).

4. What skills are necessary for a person in your position?

Be available to all sources.  Know inspiration is everywhere  What works…works.

5. What kind of training did you go through to get to your position?

Years of working on Theatre Row.  The theaters on West 42nd Street were my finishing school.  I was pleased to spend time working for many of the companies that produced there.

6. What was your first job in theater?

I made masks for a production of Pippin.  That was a great start.

7. Why do you think theater is important?

It just is…and it will always be.

Theater is the most basic form of human interaction.  We desire to see ourselves.  On stage and in the living moment.

8. What is your profession’s greatest challenge today?

Keeping things real.  Lots of media have been elbowing itself into the basic nature of true design but who can argue that what is seen before the audience is what really matters.

9. If you could change just one thing about the industry with the wave of a magic wand, what would it be?

I wish we had more time.

10. What advice would you give to someone who wanted to do what you do?

Read, watch, learn, experience.  Ask others that have gone before you.  The future is yours.  Don’t concern yourself with pointless issues.
For more on David, including a look at some of his stuff, visit his website at www.DavidGallo.com.

The Producer’s Perspective “Best of 2008” Awards: Who Is The Producer of the Year

“Best Of” lists at this time of year are like Liza during Act II of Liza At The Palace:  all over the place but definitely worth checking out.

As I poured through this year’s collection of the best/worst lists from every paper, mag and e-zine, I realized that there was a group of folks left out of the annual accolades . . . Producers!

Well, no longer, my TPP readers!

Introducing the 1st Annual Producer’s Perspective “Best Of” Awards, including The Producer Of The Year Award.

Here’s how it works:  there are no set categories except for the big one (next year, I’ll let you propose categories).

Now, without further adieu, here are the winners!


Maybe it’s unfair to put a company like Disney, which has more leverage and brand-awareness than many small countries, up against all the rest of us trying to launch new product.  But you have to give the mouse credit for its menage-a-trois-like DisneyOnBroadway campaign, which has made their three shows as much of an attraction as The Magic Kingdom in Orlando.  In ’08, they also managed to turn the critically-ravaged Little Mermaid into a oft’ member of the million-dollar club.


TOS kept their ball in the air for many a month before they arrived on Broadway with their Title of Show Show (which is continuing on even now).  And the birth of Cubby Bernstein for Xanadu was a terrific Hail Mary toss at the Tony.  Both were great examples of viral campaigns:  funny, celebrity-filled, cheap to create . . . and difficult to convert, as Xanadu lost the Tony and TOS closed prematurely.  A for effort.


In ’08, Blonde parlayed their ’07 MTV appearance into a reality show, cleansing our reality-show casting palettes after the disappointing You’re The One That I Want.  While Legally Blonde and Bailey Hanks were expelled from the boards a bit early, the tour is doing pretty well and I’d bet that the millions of eyeballs the reality show got helped build a brand-foundation in middle America.  And hey, no matter what you think about reality show casting, when young people are telling millions that their lifelong dream is to be on Broadway, it’s good for all of us.


The limited run play has been a successful model for years.  But the limited run musical?  It’s a relatively new one, and with grosses of 1.4 and 1.5 million over the past couple weeks, White Xmas could have finally cracked the “nut”.


This was a competitive category with celebs like a wand-waving Daniel Radcliffe and Katie Cruise debuting on The Great White Way.  But come on, how many people ever thought Whoopi Goldberg would replace in a musical that was struggling to stay afloat?  The Producers of one of the best reviewed shows up for a Tony in ’08 did everything they could to keep their show open, and their work in getting Whoopi on board not only kept the show going, but it got the grosses up.


Have to give it to my own show on this one, thanks to the ultra-active 7,000+ members of 13fans.com we captured in such a short run.  That’s a lot of youngsters falling in love with a musical and wanting to chat about it.  And there’s no doubt they’ll be excited to see another one.  When I was a kid, my 5th grade class went to see Julius Caesar at a local Shakespeare company.  I fell asleep.  I’m surprised I ever wanted to see another piece of theater after that.  You want to develop audiences for the 22nd century?  Give ’em Mamma Mia before you give them Macbeth.  There’s always time for the medicine after the spoonful of sugar has gone down (damn that Disney leverage).


Non-profits should deliver what can’t be done commercially.  They should be homes for the artists whose vision and spirit can’t fit in the small economic box of Broadway.  There was no greater example of that in ’08 than the Atlantic Ocean-sized production of South Pacific.


39 Steps is tenaciously stepping into their 3rd Broadway house.  It ain’t easy or inexpensive to pick up a Broadway show and move it down the block, so they get kudos for grinding it out.


Enough said.

And now the big one . . .


Stay tuned for tomorrow’s entry!

In the meantime, I feel guilty that I didn’t collect your nominations this year, so give me your comments on what you think is the “BEST OF 2008”.  It can be anything:  Best Website, Best Logo for a Musical, Best BS Excuse By An Actor For Leaving A David Mamet Revival . . . you know, anything.

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. 

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

I was a Cub scout today.

And here’s my merit badge to prove it.