My theory on casting: someone for everyone.

Ken Davenport, Broadway, Off-Broadway, Theater, Theatre, Producer I was recently asked about my theory on casting shows, especially when considering stars.  Do I like one big blockbuster name?  Or do I like to cast a "package" of lesser known names, but more of them?  

In other words, if casting my show was like roulette, do I put my millions on one number, or do I spread it around?

Ideally, the way that I like to approach casting is the "buffet approach," which means there is someone in the cast that appeals to the many different demographics that might end up at my show.  The more groups I can appeal to, the more potential there is for ticket sales.

For example, let's say my lead actor is someone that appeals to the primary 45+ female Broadway demo.  I'm in great shape, right?  So when considering who I'll cast around that lead, I might look for someone that appeals to the husbands of those 45+ females.  So, when the female says to husband, "I wanna go see Ken's Show," the husband is more inclined to say yes.

But don't stop there. Maybe there's another name I can find that will appeal to a teen demographic.  And maybe someone that can appeal to the teen's grandmother.  And all of a sudden, I have a show that four people want to see, so the wife says, "Let's bring the whole family," and I've sold 4 tickets instead of 1.  

The buffet approach . . . where no one goes hungry because there's an actor to satisfy everyone.

Of course, all of this calculation about casting must occur after asking yourself the following and most important question about casting anyone . . .

"Will they be any good?"

Because at the end of the day, you may get butts in seats with a certain name or with a package of names, but if they disappoint their audience, you'll be disappointed when you see your grosses. 


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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.