Favorite Quotes Vol. 40: What M.A.S.H. and a Great Musical have in common.
People ask me what Broadway show I would have loved to produce, or what type of show I am looking to produce. I usually give a long-winded waxing-poetic answer (shocking) about moving audience members through the range of emotions . . . and I’m assuming I’ve put you to sleep already. Wake up! Wipe the drool off your keyboard! No more waxing anything from now on, I promise!
I stumbled on this quote from M.A.S.H. star (and over 10 time Broadway vet) Alan Alda, who was asked why the heck M.A.S.H. episodes were so dang popular. Alan said . . .
What they do is give viewers a great-tasting hot dog but that nourishes them like broccoli.
And that’s when I realized I never had to explain an audiences range of emotions when asked about the type of musicals I’d like to produce, or describe the Aristotelian structure of Les Miz or Rent. I just had to channel my inner Alda.
IMHO, great musicals, great paintings, and great art are both appealing to the senses, and appealing to the mind. It thrills and teaches. It moves the mind so the audience will try and move the world (to paraphrase a lyric from Kinky Boots, a perfect example of this phenomenon).
Many producers and writers feel the need to force feed their audience their vegetables. No one wants to eat vegetables. I’m convinced Vegetarians don’t even want to eat vegetables! They just know it’s good for them.
People go to the theater first and foremost to be entertained. So don’t be afraid to give your audience the juiciest of hot dogs, with ketchup and sauerkraut and onions and anything else that looks like it could cause a heart attack on the spot. Just make sure it’s chock full of the best vitamins on the inside.
Need a great example? Take a cue from Alan and watch M.A.S.H.
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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.