One of the BIG reasons why Broadway is booming.

Broadway is in the midst of a gold rush.

And there are a bunch of reasons why.

But one of them is Craig Zadan.

The industry and the world unexpectedly lost Craig earlier this week due to some complications from shoulder surgery (!), and you could hear the gasps echo throughout Shubert Alley when the news spread.

Craig was universally loved and respected, especially since he was the unofficial ambassador for the Broadway Musical on the “left coast.”

As part of the dynamic producing duo of Craig Zadan/Neil Meron Productions, Craig brought the musical BACK to television with live telecasts of The Sound of Music, Peter Pan, and more, including last Easter’s triumphant Jesus Christ Superstar.

Everyone out there in La-La Land thought Craig and Neil were nuts to want to put musicals on a small screen (especially live).  But of course, once those ratings for Sound of Music hit the trades, the other networks scrambled to try to catch up to their pioneering leadership.

And how did that help us here in the city?

Well, put it this way, over 21 million people watched The Sound of Music alone.  To put that in perspective, the attendance for all Broadway shows last season was only 13 million and change.

In one night and one show, Craig put Broadway on the minds of more people than we do all year long.

Since then, he and Neil have continued to push the musical on the small screen, promoting what we do to people all over the globe and helping to create a passion for the musical in a new audience that never would have developed without him.

Oh, and on top of that, he was just a great, great guy.

I just saw him on the street a few weeks ago, and he told me how much he was looking forward to going to see Gettin’ the Band Back Together. He sent me a note after our win for Once on this Island on this year’s Tony’s. He called me first with the idea of Superstar because of my ALW connection and he was so excited by the thought of it, you’d think it was his first production.  And he jumped at the chance to appear on my podcast (a must listen here).

He just loved what he did and loved people who were doing the same thing.

So if you’re working on a show right now, or in any way benefiting from the gold rush that we’re in, say a thank you to Craig . . . who I’m sure is somewhere high above right now, trying to figure out how to get Broadway musicals more representation.

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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.