10 Things this Broadway Producer is thankful for this Thanksgiving.
The business of Broadway has been called a lot of things: The Great White Way, The Fabulous Invalid . . . and my favorite, which is what I overheard a fellow Broadway Producer of mine say recently when he was three vodka tonics deep, “A fickle b#tch.”
Despite how, ahem, challenging Broadway and the theater can be as a way to make a living or even just as a way to make some fun, letls face it, there are still so many things to be thankful for. And it’s important that we remember how lucky we are to even be in a place where we can do theater . . . any kind of theater . . . whenever we want.
So here are ten things I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving:
1. JOBS is a go!
The final piece of the JOBS Act puzzle was finally put in place just a few weeks ago, which means, after years of waiting, for-profit crowdfunding is a go. Let this allow small businesses and small theaters everywhere to raise money with ease.
2. My Guests de Podcast.
I started my podcast last year on a lark. “Let me see who will agree to do it,” I remember saying. And everyone I asked has said yes, from Jordan Roth to Tim Rice to Ben Brantley (!), it has been such a thrill to interview and learn from them all. The fact that these super busy peeps have shared their time and wisdom with me and all of us is a reminder of how generous theater people are, and how dedicated they are to passing on their knowledge to the next generation of artists and business people. So thanks to you all. And to the ones coming.
3. Hamilton‘s a Super Hit
While everyone who works in the theater has a little Hamiltonian-envy, we’re all thankful for this massive hit. First and foremost, because a rising tide does raise all shows. When there is this big a hit, people come running to Broadway, and hopefully will see other shows after they see this one (or instead of, since you can’t get a ticket to Hamilton until 2039). Secondly, I’m super thankful that it’s a hit . . . and has no stars. It’s a reminder to all of us that the key to a mega hit is making the show the star.
4. O-ho, BroadwayCon is a comin’!
Another lark of mine was this post way back in 2011, when I dreamed about a BroadwayCon. And lo and behold it was announced this year and it is now just two months away! And news flash – I’ll be speaking on a panel or two at BroadwayCon, so I’ll see you there. Fun times. (It’s being held 1/22 – 1/24, which is the weekend that Spring Awakening closes – so come see two birds with a few stones).
5. Deaf West Theatre
Producing Spring Awakening has been one of the most important things I’ve done in my life professionally and personally. Not only has it pushed Broadway’s boundaries, but it has pushed my own. I’m thankful that Deaf West Theatre has labored away for so long, doing this great and important work, so people like me could take notice and help show it to the rest of the world.
6. Stream, stream, stream.
Oh we’re getting so close to breaking through the barriers of “video theater.” This year, BroadwayHD announced a way to stream a whole bunch of shows Netflix-style, and Lincoln Center/Playbill is showcasing certain concerts and events online as well. The fear Producers had of distributing their content via video is waning. Now we just have to convince the unions that this isn’t a way to put lots of money in our pocket. But this is a way to develop a new audience. And it’s going to happen. And, a little birdie told me that there’s going to be another big live-streaming announcement in the next seven days, so stay tuned. And that little birdie just might work in my office. And it might be me.
7. My Co-Producers and Investors
Investing in the theater is always a risk. But this year, I brought my investors some even riskier productions. And they jumped at the chance. Producers can only produce if they have people behind them, going along for the ride, which will without a doubt include ups and downs. I couldn’t produce without the men and women who put their money where their passion is and support Broadway, knowing that the odds say they won’t get their money back. But they believe in the art, and they believe in me, and I’ll always be so thankful for that. And to those investors, I know I’ll have a Hamilton-like hit someday. I just don’t know when.
8. The Tony Voters vote with their hearts and their heads, not their wallets.
For years there has been talk about “the road vote,” and how so many voters check off certain ballot boxes because of what will make them the most money when that show comes to town. Well, when Fun Home took the Best Musical Tony Award this year, that old theory was put to bed. The truth is, those votes are precious to the Tony Voters, and they vote for what they think is best. Period. And I’m thankful for their artistic ethics.
9. My Hard-Working Super Staff.
It was supposed to be a quiet summer. Then, I saw Spring Awakening and we moved it to Broadway in 86 days. Oh, and we opened Daddy Long Legs the very next day. And those two shows are only about 20% of what my office works on. Without my staff, my company wouldn’t function . . . and it also wouldn’t be any fun. So thanks to each and every one of them. Don’t know them? Click here to learn more about ’em.
10. You. You. You.
My wedding song was “You” by Chris Young. But I asked my wife if I could loan our song to all of you. She said yes, as long as she could get it back. See, I love blogging. I love writing about the theater. I love the comments I get supporting what I have to say, and I even love the comments that hate what I have to say. And while I’d probably still write even if I didn’t have one reader, I’m lucky enough to have all of you. So thanks for reading, and for encouraging others to read as well. The blog has grown a lot since we started together 8 years ago, and I’m excited to where it will go over the next 8 years.
What are you thankful for in the theater this year? Let me know in the comments below.
And I wish you all a hearty and healthy Thanksgiving for you and your family.
(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below! Email Subscribers, click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)
– – – – –
– Have a question about producing you’ve been dying to ask me? Sign up for my free Town Hall Teleseminar on 12/2! Click here.
– Only 68 performances left of Spring Awakening. Get your tickets today! Click here.
– Win two tickets to Sylvia on Broadway! Click here.
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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.