How American Idol keeps you in, even when they’re off.

This should be American Idol‘s summer vacation.  They just crowned the winner of season 12 a couple of months ago.  And Season 13, with some new celebrity judge du jour (I’m hoping for Prince Harry or the girl that Anthony Weiner was sexting), doesn’t debut until mid January 2014.

But the Producers are already building quite a buzz for the next airing, as they always do.


They’re having auditions.

In addition to online submissions, the American Idol Audition Bus is rolling across the country, making stops everywhere from Foxborough, MA to Omaha, Nebraska, giving everyone everywhere a chance at Idol glory.

Thousands upon thousands of people will show up . . . some great, and some like this.  But in addition to finding a new slate of contestants, Idol will have created even more enthusiastic fans than they had before.

You don’t think all those people that audition in the coming months will be more enthused about watching Season 13 when it rolls around?  They’ll tune in to say, “Who beat me?”  And they’ll be proud to tell their friends, “I auditioned for that.”  By involving people in the process, they expand their audience.

I realize that American Idol‘s whole M.O is about finding unknown talent and giving them a stage unlike they’ve seen before, but there is a lesson here for Broadway and Broadway Producers.

Why doesn’t every Broadway show have open calls, allowing anyone and their brother, Equity or not, a chance at Broadway stardom?  We did it for Godspell, and we had lines around the block (and collected emails).  So many people said it was their dream just to be seen for a Broadway show, and they would never forget it, even if they went back to their day job the next morning.  Sure it’s a cost, but you don’t think you’d make that back in press and tickets?  And just imagine if you found a cast member from that casting net.  Oh the articles!

Or, what if we expanded this idea even further . . .

What if Broadway, as an industry, had a National audition tour, every year?  What if we threw 3-5 of our best casting directors on a big bus, and rolled it out Idol style.  Can you imagine the turnout?  Can you imagine the press?  Can you imagine the good will we’d generate for Broadway?

But not only that, I’d bet the cost of that bus that we’d actually find someone if not several someones worthy of being on a Broadway stage.

Broadway can sometimes feel like a super exclusive meat-packing district club . . . hard to get into, and even a little scary.  By opening up our doors, and allowing people into our process, we could guarantee that we have lines at our doors for years.


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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.