Favorite Quotes Vol. XXXVIII: Honesty is the best press policy.

Remember that time Mamma Mia announced they were moving down the block (and it caused that big traffic jam for those producers out there hunting for theaters?)

Well we now know that the muscle behind the move was Rocky, the new musical, which has been training in Germany for the last six months, and is ready for its Broadway Heavyweight fight next spring.

It had been gossiped about for weeks, but the show was officially announced just the other day in this article in the NY Times, and a full page ad in this past Sunday’s Times (even without tickets on sale – now that’s an announcement). Here’s the quote from Stage Entertainment CEO, Bill Taylor:

I’m aware that Rocky might be perceived as an odd choice for a musical, and there will be some raised eyebrows, but I think what people see will not be what they are expecting.

So, the thing is, Bill took the words out of my mouth.  When I heard Rocky was going to be a musical, I admit it, I thought it was an “odd” idea.  I didn’t quite get it.  And maybe, I even chuckled at the thought.

But now?  After that quote? When the Chief Producing Officer admitted that it was an “odd” idea? All of a sudden, I think this idea is cool.

There’s something amazing to be said about admitting what you have, and how it may look to those on the outside. You’re being honest, and you’re getting on the same page as your audience, whether that be ticket buyers, or even investors (I tell every single investor of mine that Broadway investing is super risky, before they have a chance to tell me themselves . . . and then I usually say that “it’s the riskiest investment you’ll ever love to make.”)

Getting people to drink the Kool-Aid may work in the short run, but we all know what’s in that Kool-Aid by now, don’t we?  Show people you’re not stupid . . . that you see what they see, and they’ll respect you for it, and be more likely to take the ride with you.

Oh – and you know what else Joop Van de Ende, Bill and the Stage Entertainment crew did that was brill-brill when putting their team for this “odd” idea together?  They counteracted any potential snickers from an industry crowd by getting super-cool and hip director Alex Timbers to helm the show, along with the not-heard-from-enough-considering-how-awesome-they-are- songwriting team of Ahrens and Flaherty (I would produce anything they wrote, even if it was Rocky . . . and Bullwinkle), and one of the best book writers living today in Tom Meehan.

There’s a lot of lessons in this one press release . . . but simply put, honesty and a killer creative team, makes any idea look like a heavyweight contender.


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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.