My Producer PROspective on Godspell.
Just yesterday, I got an email from a reader who reminded me about my blog’s mission when she asked me a very simple question.
“Hey Ken! How’s Godspell going?”
It’s a simple question, of course. But it has a complicated answer.
I started this blog so I could lift the curtain on the mysterious process of producing Broadway and Off Broadway shows.
It was my mission to bring people inside the process of what I do and what my peers do . . . frankly, in the hope that more people will want to do it . . . and do it better than I do and my peers do . . . so that the theater not only survives the next 100 years . . . but that it thrives over the next 100 years. To use a word that politicians throw about too often . . . the point of this blog was transparency.
And that’s when I realized I had let you all down a bit by not lifting the veil on what has been happening with the show so you could understand my strategy, my hopes, and my goals. And so that you could see, hear, and feel what it’s like to go through what I am going through as I produce the show.
While I’m not going to be able to be 101% transparent with everything that goes on with all my shows (casting before announced, etc.), I can be more transparent now.
So I’m going to be.
Godspell, despite its fantastic response from audience members who see the show, has been struggling as of late. After a decent and tourist-filled Spring Break, our grosses have dropped. While we were expecting this drop (which is attributed partially to the incredible amount of competition there is at this time of year as well as a pre-summer lull in tourist traffic), it has been more significant than expected. (Obviously we haven’t been the only ones affected – I was surprised to see both How To Succeed and Priscilla announce their closing prior to summer.)
Because I believed in my heart if we could get through this period, we would have a very successful summer (and because I had data to prove it – Godspell scored a positive approval rating of over 93% in recent surveys), I put my head down and instituted a number of promotions to help increase our awareness and our sales, including “Pay Your Age” Night, the Godspell Cast of 2032, Fan Appreciation Day and more. Additionally I appealed to many of the people and companies that help make the show happen on a daily basis to ask for some relief that would allow us to lower our operating expenses. I was blown away by the response and generosity and communal “We’re in!” attitude that I got after my requests. But then again, I shouldn’t have been that surprised. Godspell has a way of doing that to people.
These efforts were successful to an extent. But not enough.
I also lobbied like a politician for an appearance on the Tony Awards, and, thankfully, thanks to the prescient “It’s not about nominations, it’s about the best show possible” attitude of the smartie Tony Award powers-that-be, we got one.
Honestly? I was blown away when I heard we were chosen for a number. But then again, I shouldn’t have been that surprise. Godspell has a way of doing that to people.
So where is all this going?
This is my way of explaining that at this point, Godspell has a heck of a lot riding on that Tony performance, as well as tourist traffic over the next couple of weeks.
If I don’t see a sizable uptick in sales ?
Well, in that case . . . Godspell may close on Sunday, June 24th.
Is that a definite? Nope. And if you’re a reader, you know I’m a pretty glass-half-full type of guy, so I’m going to be staying up late over the week or so dreaming up ways we can keep “singing about love” over at Circle in the Square, so we can keep making audiences happy, and keep the 100 people or so employed for as long as possible.
It’s just not going to be easy.
But hey, what in life that’s worth doing easy? And this show and the people involved in it are certainly worth every effort.
So that’s the honest to goodness truth of where I am in the process of producing Godspell today.
If you haven’t seen the show yet, this is the time to get your ticket. I guarantee you’ll love it. Seriously. If you don’t see it, and we don’t make it past the 24th, it will be one of those shows that you say, “Man, I wish I caught that one.” It took 40 years for Godspell to make it back to Broadway. How long do you think it’ll take to make it back again?
I hope to see you there. As I was when we started previews, I’ll be at every performance from here on out . . . wearing that same Godspell hat I wore back then. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to say hello.
Thanks for being a part of my process. I’ll give you another update as soon as I can.
But right now, I gotta get back to work, as I’m sure you can understand.
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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.