3 Theater Things I Learned From The Super Bowl

Full disclosure.  

I didn’t watch the entire Super Bowl.  I watched a little, played with my kid, scheduled my week.  (Slight digression – but scheduling my week on Sunday nights improves my ability to focus on the “big” stuff.  Try it.  Your productivity will improve.)

But I didn’t need to watch the whole thing to learn a ton of things.  So whoever thinks football and theater are exact opposites . . . take a look at this:

Here are 3 things I learned from watching the Super Bowl:  

  1. Ticking clocks make things a lot more exciting

I turned the Super Bowl back on at the top of the 4th quarter. I spent half of the time watching the plays and half the time watching the clock.  That tick, tick, ticking countdown had my heart pounding more, more, and more as the clock got closer to zero.  (Ever wonder why watching football or basketball is more interesting than watching baseball?  The clock is one of ‘em!)

Does your play or musical have a metaphorical “ticking clock”?  Or even an actual one?  It should.  The pressure of time running out increases the stakes– big “time.”

  1. Things change fast.

How many times did you think the game was going one way or the other?  In the first fifteen minutes, I thought San Fran dominated – and there was no way KC would ever find their footing.  Then it got closer.  Then there was that missed extra point.  Then KC tied it up.  Then I thought San Fran had the Lombardi Trophy in the bag.  And then . . . and then . . . and then it was over.  

It was a game filled with twists and turns . . . which, added to the clock, made it even MORE exciting.  It was surprising.  

It made me think – how can I make my shows feel more like a live sports game?  How can I make it feel like the ball is going back and forth – with twists and turns – and doesn’t feel like a predetermined, written-well-in-advance script?  How do I make a live show feel like it’s happening LIVE?

  1. “The Super Bowl will never be in Vegas.”

Did you know that this was the very first Super Bowl in Vegas?  For years–nope, decades–the NFL told Vegas it wasn’t going to happen.  “Nonstarter,” was the word used most often when the city brought it up.

And then it happened.  And it was awesome.

And I’ll give great odds that it’ll happen again.  

We hear that things are nonstarters in the theater all the time.  From ideas for shows, to marketing initiatives to . . . your career.  (Haven’t we all come across people who told us what we wanted to do with our lives was a “nonstarter”?  I keep a list!)

So how do these impossible things happen?  

They don’t happen by getting angry.  They don’t happen by complaining.

They happen by not giving up, by sticking it out, and proving your worth. 

Vegas proved that it could help the NFL.  And then the impossible became a reality . . . and a success for everyone.

OH, and a bonus . . . 


  1. Usher should be on Broadway

Remember that time he did Chicago?  He should come back.

Did you learn anything from the Super Bowl that applies to what we do?  Tell me what you learned.  

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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.