Sorry Rent-Heads . . . no day but tomorrow.
While the characters in Rent can live the words of a Godspell tune and live day by day by day by (repeat ad naseum), your job as a Producer is different.
Your job is to look at tomorrow, and then take steps today to make sure you’re around tomorrow.
According to Riedel, the producers of Young Frankenstein have looked at their forecast and have realized that they need to make some significant changes in order to maintain economic viability. That’s what big business does.
What is unique about YF‘s situation is that they are going after the actor salaries.
Contract re-negotiations on Broadway are always difficult, as, naturally, everyone wants to see an increase after a job well done and after a year of service.
Your job as a Producer is to figure out how much you can afford, based on several factors including:
- The economic forecast of the show and . . .
- The cost of replacing the actor.
Failing to secure an actor during a renegotiation means you have to replace him/her. And that can be expensive. It’s your responsibility to do that math. Add up the costs for rehearsal space, casting, rehearsal musicians, new photos, rehearsal salaries and, gulp, new costumes! An additional $1000/week or $52,000 (plus benefits, etc.) in additional salaries may sound like a lot, but depending on the role, $52k might easily be eaten up in replacement costs.
However, new cast members sometimes gets new press, repeat customers (casting is one of the few things we can do in the theater to update our content), etc.
Up to you to choose wisely.
YF is doing the fiscally responsible thing for their investors . . . however, it ain’t gonna look that way to the artists when they hear they’re getting a cut instead of a bump, no matter how much they are being paid now. One of biggest issues we have in our industry is that businessmen and artists have a hard time speaking the same language, which creates a natural adverserial relationship. It’s hard for each party to even understand what the other goes through every day.
What would I do to make sure this bad medicine goes down smoother?
Take it myself first.
Riedel suggests this as well, and I have to agree. And it would be the first thing I’d say in a negotiation. “I’m reducing. We’re all reducing. So we’re asking you to reduce as well.”
Much harder to counter that argument.
And sometimes you gotta take the shot in the arm, to show your kid you’re willing to endure the same pain.
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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.