What every regional theater should have.

I was asked to speak at the Arizona Presenters Alliance annual retreat yesterday and during one of my sessions, which I call, “Stump The Marketing Guy!” (I offer a $100 prize to anyone that can give me a problem that I can’t find at least one action-item solution for), I was asked what I would do to get more young people to the theater.

I offered some of my standard solutions like 1) create a “young patron’s circle” whose job it is to find more people like themselves, 2) offer young theatergoers a free ticket if they bring someone under 30 with them to a show, 3) program more entertainment geared for the 20-something crowd, etc.

The person who asked the question was a young one herself, so I asked her, “Why do you go to the theater?”

“I was exposed to it by my parents when I was young.  I fell in love with it.”

Not coincidentally, that’s my story too.  And it’s a lot of people’s stories who love theater . . . golf . . . fashion, whatever.  Hook ‘em as a kid, and you might have ‘em for life.

So, while my above suggestions were potential quick fixes to their problem with the young’uns, I also gave them a bigger long term solution that I suggest for every single theater out there.

Every single regional theater should have shows just for kids at some point in their season, and as often as possible.  I’m talking Cinderella, or Freckleface Strawberry or anything with Bears.  The production values don’t have to be high.  Kids don’t need falling chandeliers.  And parents don’t care either, they just need something to do with their kids on a Saturday that doesn’t involve the television.

This is going to be some work, and some money as well (but not as much as you’d think), but the potential long-term benefits for your theater and for the theater in general are enormous.   And you can put your interns on it, or partner with a local community theater, but make sure you have live theatrical entertainment for kids today, so that we have audiences for tomorrow.

 

(Got a comment?  I love ’em, so comment below!  Email subscribers, click here, then scroll down, to say what’s on your mind!)

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FUN STUFF

– 70 Days to Godspell!  Read the day-by-day account of producing Godspell on Broadway here.

– Enter to win 2 tickets to All New People by Zach Braff Off-Broadway!  Click here.

 

Sing. Sing a “long.” Make it simple . . .

No, this isn’t a post about a Carpenters jukebox musical (although I did inquire about the rights to that catalog about 10 years ago).

This is a post about another property I went after, but was denied . . . because the film company had their own plans.

This Thursday, the ‘Grease Movie Sing-A-Long’ opens at the Loews Village 7 in New York City and all over the country. (Full disclosure, when I was inspired to try and do a Grease sing-a-long, I went after the rights to Grease 2.  Why 2?  Well, I never thought I’d get the rights to the original, and, I mean, come on . . .. can you imagine a sing-a-long to “We’re Gonna Boooooooowl tonight!”)?

If you’re not sure what a sing-a-long is, well, it’s exactly what it sounds like.  The movie plays, along with karaoke-like lyrics (“Summer lovin’, had me a blast!”), and the audience is encouraged to sing along with the film score.  In addition, audiences are encouraged to dress up, slick their hair and more.  Hopefully, a Rocky Horror element emerges as well, and props and choreography are incorporated (Hand jive, anyone?).  Sing-a-long movies started with The Sound of Music way back in 2000 (and I believe the craze started in Europe).

It has taken a decade, but Grease, and its 4 chords, 3 jokes, and billions of fans, looks to be the biggest one yet (“Summer Nights” is one of the most requested karaoke songs of all time).

The New York Times wrote a piece about the sing-a-long, which included some very insightful comments from Adam Goodman, president of the Paramount Film Group, which apply to what we do as well.  Adam said, “The goal is to create a true event.  How do you get groups of young people going to the movies and having a great time?”

The author of the article continues with Adam’s query.

The key term is “young.”  Older movie goers may still prefer to sit in silence, but younger audiences, the ones studios work hardest to motivate off the sofa – are increasingly programmed to interact and multitask.  Sitting quietly in a theater starts to feel like a bore when you can watch the DVD at home while texting a friend, playing a video game and posting witty comments on Facebook.

Creating unique events are essential for anyone producing entertainment in today’s market, especially if you are trying to get young people off the couch, and off their phones, and their Facebooks, and whatever else they are on these days.

But what do today’s multitasking generation’s habits mean for tomorrow’s market?

Whoa . . . that’s heavy.  I need a night to think about it.  Tune in tomorrow.

In the meantime, here’s a little cerebral palette cleanser.  And while you’re watching it, sing along . . . and maybe Paramount will hear us.

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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