Podcast Episode 105 Transcript – The Rego Brothers

Ken: Hello everybody! Welcome back to another episode of The Producer’s Perspective Podcast, and another first year. Not only do we have two guests today, but we have siblings on the podcast. Please welcome to the podcast, a Tony Award-Winning producer and merchandise major establisher of the Araca Group, Michael and Matthew Rego. Welcome guys!


Mike: Thanks.


Matt: Ken, it’s good to be here.


Ken: So the brothers Rego and their company burst on the scene with Urinetown, as they moved from the Fringe Festival to Off-Broadway and then to Broadway which I think was probably the Fringe Festival’s greatest success.


Matt: Yeah, I think still to this day.


Ken: They also produced the revival of Frankie and Johnny which recouped in six weeks.


Mike/Matt: Pretty fast. That’s true. Back in the old days.


Ken: That’s not some Fox Fake news story.


Mike: No, no, no. That was real.


Ken: That’s true, currently developing the Sing for Broadway and now, a unique partnership with Hasbro to develop some of their brand and musicals some things including Monopoly. They’ve been producing partners on a ton of shows from The Vagina Monologues to Wicked and countless others and their entrepreneurial vision along the way saw space in the market, created a merch company, and well now, they outlet half of Broadway attendees with t-shirts and paraphernalia. And also there’s an Elfaba ornament, I just saw on a Christmas tree in the lobby here. So guy’s let’s start at the beginning, how did you get started with producing or even get bitten by the theatre bug?


Matt: You do the first part.


Ken: Who’s older?


Matt: Michael’s older.


Ken: That’s why he goes first.


Mike: Yeah, I’ll do the first part. We started, and it’ll be twenty years in July, that we started the Araca Group. The Araca Group really came out of a passion for theatre that Matthew and I, and our third partner, Hank Unger had since we were kids. We grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. We put on shows in the basement and the local community theatre, and we all did a production of The Music Man together in 1985 and yeah, we studied theatre in college. Matthew went to Michigan, Hank and I went in Syracuse. We were actors, directors, musicians. We came to New York really with that, with that idea, “Hey we’re going to work in theatre somehow,” and as we got to New York and started doing our stuff, we started putting on our own shows. We started a not-for-profit theatre company called Upscreen Productions and rented you know, probably a little basement and abandoned garages and all the stuff that you do when you’re starting out. The more we kept putting on our own shows, that we might be acting it or directing it or whatever. The more we realized that what we actually were good at was the instigating of a project. The coming up with an idea and getting a bunch of people to go from A to B which we learned was producing, right? We liked producing the show even more than actually trying to be the artistic creatives within the show. So cut to a couple years later, Matthew got his MBA. I went and got a law degree. It was 1997 and we had these degrees and we have this passion for theatre. So we said, what are we going to do, are we going to get jobs? I don’t know what kind of jobs you get, or are we going take this not-for-profit concept and say, “Hey, can we try to do this and make some money.” And we create a commercial theatrical production company and those who have been around long enough back in the day, Off Broadway, we could sort of make money doing it. I heard you talk about it time and time again. Well we were kind of in that sweet spot in the mid 90’s, when there were shows being produced that you could envision, recouping. You could envision getting your money back for investors and you could say, “Wow this might actually work”. So we started very small shows, Off-Off-Broadway, but with some great young playwrights. Our first show was a play by David Auburn called Skyscraper. It was the show right before Proof. Sadly. But it was good enough that we got some great actors involved with it, great designers, we did well enough that we could do it again.


Matt: And a lot of the contacts that we made  in the early days, are still the people we work with today. I mean, you know, Boneau Bryan Brown, allowed us to use one of their associate press agents, to help us out on Skyscraper, and we’ve used, Boneau Bryan Brown on every show ever since. They have no reason to do that, other than they were generous and kind guys and really helped us out. David Auburn was the guy who actually introduced us to Urinetown at Fringe Festival, because he went to college with Greg Kotis and Mark Hollmann at the University of Chicago. And it kind of goes on and on. Even the people who came to see Skyscraper downtown because of the Boneau Bryan Brown connection, we got like ten reviews in major newspapers for our first Off-Off-Broadway play ever. You know the New York Times, Daily News, The Post, News Day, they all reviewed it because we had Boneau Bryan Brown face on it. And that really put us on the map in such a great way that those relationships, even our first investors, when we did the Vagina Monologues couple of years later, which is the first show we ever went up to outside people for capital, we said here’s our business plan, we believe in this show, we believe that it can actually recoup and run Off-Broadway and those investors were all there on opening night of Skyscraper and they’re like, you guys are doing something that we believe in and those six investors in Vagina Monologues have invested in every other show we’ve done ever since. So…


Ken: You made a lot of money with that Vagina Monologues.


Matt: Yes, well David Stone helped.




Ken: So I heard the story about David Auburn calling you about Urinetown, so really the success of Urinetown, and your success with it is because you did Skyscraper which may not have been a huge financial success, but planted a seed for your future.


Mike: Yeah, I mean, David was critical. Literally, Matthew and I were sharing a one-bedroom apartment. In the early days, and David called us up out of the blue at intermission, at Fringe Festival, he said, “Guys, I don’t care what you’re doing tomorrow night, you’re coming to see the show called Urinetown”. And luckily for us, we had nothing else going on in our lives. We wanted a show to produce on Broadway. And when we went down and saw it, we were like are we crazy or is this our Broadway musical.


Matt: That was the summer before the Vagina Monologues opened Off-Broadway.


Ken: I want to get back to Urinetown in a second, but you mentioned something about going out to vote for your business finance and saying this this will make money. You got an MBA, you got a law degree, probably two of the most educated producers we have working on Broadway. You used the term “business plan,” which we actually don’t use a lot. Typical Broadway terminology, did you approach new shows, with like an MBA type of approach to your investors? Did you say, “Here’s why it’s attracted to me a business guy.”


Matt: We always believed that as much as investors in Broadway shows are theatre lovers, love the arts, doing it because it is something that they’re passionate about. Ultimately and bottom line, they want to make money, right? And in order for someone to give you money, whether it’s a ten thousand dollar investment or a million dollar investment, they want to see how that money is going to come back to them and they want to see why they should take a risk on us and what are the criteria that we have to meet in order for them to actually recoup and make a profit. So I think we’ve always approached it with that sort of MBA mentality as much as we say people believe in these writers or the message or the grander sort of world view that perhaps the authors are trying to put across in whatever they created. It’s always been a business mentality because, I’ve said it a million times, and I’m sure that we’re not the only ones is that the distance between someone saying, “Yes, I want to invest in your show, and here’s my check,” is great, right. Everyone wants to invest in Broadway shows, but only so many people actually give you their checks and sign the papers. That was a lesson we learned, I think pay more.


Ken: So, going back to Urinetown, you’re seeing this and you go, are we crazy or is this, our Broadway musical. Look that was pretty risky fair for some new kids on the block. What actually made you go, “No, This is it, we’re going to do this and put all our first eggs in a basket for the show called Urinetown.”


Mike: We genuinely loved the show. And when I say we, it was Matthew, Hank and myself. We all saw the show and we all had the same experience as lovers of the art form. We thought this was exactly how we felt about it. Loved it and secured it at the same time. Mark Hollman who wrote the music, I had worked with David Auburn couple summers before at Berkshire Theatre Festival and I knew this kid back then was really talented and as we were just starting to talk to him and Greg and hear the vision for what they wanted this show to be, we said, “This fits exactly into our wheel house of what we think we can do with Broadway.”


Matt: Him and Mark are really, you know, passionate artists. They truly believe what they’re doing and what it means to be an artist, and I don’t know that they actually dreamed of the show ever going to Broadway, until we said to them, “Hey would you guys mind if we took this show to Broadway,” and they quickly said yes. Although I don’t think Greg actually knew what Broadway meant.


Mike: Our favorite moment was when our partner on the show was the Dodger’s and without them I don’t know how we would have done it. Side by side we kind of walked down this journey together, say “Hey let’s take the show to Broadway”. And the first day we introduced Greg to Michael David, we were sitting there in their very high office, all of these Tony Awards and all of this theatre stuff all around, and Michael looked very pointedly at Greg and said, “Greg, do you believe your show can go to Broadway?” And without missing a beat he said “Yes, Michael, Yes I do”. And Mark called us right afterwards, He’s like, “I almost burst out laughing, because I know for a fact, that Greg’s never seen a Broadway musical, never seen one, never been to a Broadway show.


Ken: Was he the one, there was a great New York Times article, featuring the show at the time that said one of them was still working at a bank or something when the show is —


Mike/Matt: Mark — Mark — was.


Matt: After the conversation, we sent Greg to see several Broadway musicals, so he knew what we were asking of him.


Ken: Obviously it was a big success. Was it scary for you, when it played, the American Theatre for Actors, one of my favorite little Off-Broadway houses. And then it just became this little engine that could and moved on and on.


Matt: We were so busy, honestly, at the time and so, I think, overwhelmed by how hard it was and how much work had to be done and I don’t know that we ever got scared. We knew we were putting it in these sort of poker terms, it was an all in moment for us, right? You know, as a company, and as young entrepreneurs, because we didn’t have vast resources. We were just sort of saying, well we’re gonna bet everything we have that this show could be a success and that’s kind of how we’ve done it our whole careers. We never produced a show on Broadway. So thankfully, Michael said we had the Dodgers as partners because they really showed us the way and were key to that success in every sense, but there was so much to be done. You know when you’re producing a show in Broadway, that’s lucky enough that people say, “Hey  let’s put it on national tour, let’s license it to other countries”, it’s like this day in and day out so much to do that you kind of forget about being scared, and you’re sort of just grateful that you’re at the table. And grateful that people are taking your calls and calling you back.


Ken: You’re seasoned vets now, as you look back on that experience, anything you would have done differently?


Matt: Well, what could we have done differently, I don’t know.


Ken: That worked out pretty well.


Mike: It was fun, I mean it, what a time to do something, we’re supposed to open the week of 9/11 and the night, you know, 9/11 happened the night when people were was supposed to be coming a see our show so it was. The emotional ups and downs for us, for our country, for our city, I mean they’re all wrapped up in that time period for us. So…


Ken: You would’ve stopped 9/11.


Mike: I certainly would have, I would’ve have love to have stopped 9/11.


Ken: So after Urinetown you do something very, Frankie and Johnny comes along, which seems like a totally different thing for you, you also do Debbie Does Dallas. So there’s an incredible diversity of material and I’m just wondering what goes into you, choosing material, is it part of the MBA, “I’m gonna diversify the portfolio”, is it artistry, how do you pick projects to produce?


Matt: Well we used to say, we’re compelled to produce it.


Mike: We’re compelled to produce it, and how do you know you’re compelled to produce it, well you’re compelled to produce it. Frankie and Johnny came out and we’d known Edie Falco for a few years, Matthew had worked on an independent film with her, and she was a lover of Urinetown.


Matt: She came to the show all the time. She saw it Off-Broadway, and we said, “Hey you want to come to opening night?”, she came on opening night and we said to her, “Do you ever do Broadway shows?” She said I’d love to do a Broadway show! And we said well who would you like to do a Broadway show with? She said, “Well you know I was at the party the other night with Stanley Tucci, he was saying he wants to do a Broadway show, he’d be a great guy to be one.”


Matt: Oh okay, great, with two artists, who wants to do something together, so we started thinking, what would be a great show for them.


Mike: We just called Terrence out of the blue and I had known him briefly from a time that I was an intern for Manhattan Theatre Club. And we said, “Hey we wanted to do Frankie and Johnny, and we think Joe Mantello would be a great director for it.”


Matt: And we think, Edie Falco might want to do it and she thinks Stanely Tucci might want to do it. What do you think? He’s like Okay, and we literally, it almost that easy.


Mike: Probably the easiest show, we ever had to put together.


Matt: So we said, should we do a reading of it? And he’s like, “Yeah, that’d be great”, and Joe was like “okay” and Joe was like, “Well should we invite some designers and we invite John Lee Beatty and Brian MacDevitt, to come see the show and they all came and saw it, and they all said, “This is great, we should produce this on Broadway”. Everyone said “Okay great”, I mean it literally happened kind of like that. Then when Joe got into the room, Edie and Stanley were, they were all finishing each other’s sentences, and they were really working so well together. Edie and Stanley were just sort of, I wish they do another play together one day because they we’re just kind of made for each other, in terms of the energy and the — it was just a magical experience. You know obviously, it didn’t hurt that Edie was kind at the peak of her Sopranos Fame right as we were opening on Broadway. That’s why we recouped at six weeks.


Mike: Yeah.


Matt: Yeah, I mean that’s timing of everything, right?


Mike: That was fortuitous, and I wish we could say that we did that exactly on purpose but you know, but scheduling kind of worked out fortuitously and she opened as that season of Sopranos was relaunching so it was kind of kismet.


Ken: So we’re gonna circle back to the producing a bit but I want to slide over to your other big venture, I’m sitting right now in your offices which sprawl over this giant floor and this warehouse on upper west side probably the largest office of any Broadway producer I would think.


Matt: That sounds like too much overhead.


Mike: Reduce, reduce.


Ken: But it is the offices of the merchandise company you’ve built, so tell me about this, you have, what, maybe the largest merchandising company on Broadway, how did that come about and what was the instinct on your part to say like, “Oh this is an area we want to get into that we see space for and we think we can do great things with it”.


Mike: I think we were first inspired to kind of dabble in merchandising, back when we were launching the producing side and we were looking at other verticals and saying okay what else can we do, so we were like, oh let’s do marketing, general management.  We need merchandising here, so it was all kind of self-generating because it was all the stuff we want to do ourselves, keep everything inside, and kind of learn the business. Matthew and I grew up in a retail family. Our family had a grocery chain so like we grew up going stores and working in stores and talking with our dad about how to merchandise as a verb, not as a noun, how to merchandise the store, where should the cantaloupes go, how much should milk be now, all that kind of stuff that goes into having a supermarket. But you know, obviously we wanted to get away from that and do something cool like show business. But as we were watching merchandising in our Off Broadway or Broadway show, it’s lacking something and you know merch I think for a while had been the bastard step child off to the side. We get our crappy black t-shirt and get a thumb tack and put it up on a corkboard and that’s called a merch booth. And we were like, it should be better than that. There should be a marketing vision behind merchandise. It was one great way to be able to communicate with your audience and hopefully in a way that continues past that show.


Matt: We always approached merchandising, as we approach the producing of the show itself, and so you’re creating a show for Broadway, you’re thinking about the experience that the audience has, from the moment the curtain goes up until moment the orchestra finishes playing, as they walk out the theater, and we looked at merchandising as an extension of that, so the moment your audience walks to the door, they’re getting to enter the world of the show. Whether it’s Wicked or Jersey Boys, or whatever the musical is, that begins the moment they enter that theatre and we felt like we had an opportunity to do it in a way that’s sort of that experience beyond just the three hours they spend in the theatre. Hopefully they’d talk about it the next day with a friend, or they talked about it when they went on vacation, and someone said, what is that t-shirt you’re wearing or what is that notebook you have in your hand or whatever it is. That conversation that happened, that water cooler moment could happen again and again and again. It’s advertising that didn’t cost you anything actually, you made money from it. So that’s really, I think that’s one of our cornerstones.


Mike: I think we wanted to create a merchandising company as if producers were running it, as opposed to a vendor. Yes, we are vendors at times, but I like to think that we’re vendors who think of it like how we as a producer would want our merchandising on display and the quality of goods to match the artistry behind it. For us, those are all great big lofty ideas and so, we’re lucky enough to be a co-producer on Wicked. With Wicked, we got the merchandising too and for us, we did the merchandising not only here in New York but we did it on a global basis. What I mean there is, there’s three guys in a room so we have a whole bunch of more people working with us because from the get go, we wanted to sort of bring in house as much of the process of merchandising as we could so that can kind of have our quality control over it. So that means an in house design team, operational team, profit development, and you know we own a screen printer in California. We have a big warehouse out there, we’re making stuff, so everyday we’re making lots and lots of t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, whatever.


Matt: And doing it on a global basis, with something that was a huge opportunity for us as well because Wicked went to UK or went to Germany, or went to Japan or went to Australia, and we set up businesses in all those countries and we just figured it out when we got there.


Ken: That’s my big question, you didn’t have any experience in fashion before this or manufacturing.


Mike: Well you see the way I dress Ken, it’s pretty obvious, I think.


Ken: But no experience in manufacturing or anything, and yet you said, “Oh we’re going to build a merch company and then we’re going to globalize it and just figure it out. What made you think, “Oh we can be this and we can be leaders of the industry.”


Mike: Well luckily we didn’t have to start being a leader, all we really had to do was figure out Wicked and that in and of itself was a big mountain to climb initially.


Matt: It was an opportunity, and anything that we did where we saw an opportunity we went for it. We saw that Wicked was this, after our first year in Broadway it was obvious that this was going  to grow and be successful, we didn’t know how successful it would be, but in every turn we were able to say, well, it’s going to go to London we have to figure that out there, because if it is as successful in London as it is in the US, we can do it for other people, for other shows, so we’re doing it for Rock and Roll now and so you sort of see an opportunity and seize it and exploit it as much as you possibly can. And then be grateful that you’re be doing it with a show like Wicked and we can then translate that to other shows, other bands, other merchandise outlets and opportunities.


Ken: Yes, I noticed this on your website and again one of the things I love about your business brains is that you’re one of the few companies that provide services to Broadway that actually have been able to step outside of Broadway from bands, to The Rangers, is that right, I’m staring at a Starwars t-shirt, Playboy, even at one point?


Mike and Matt: Yes, yes.


Ken: So how did that happen and again, we can now just do this for other people and they’ll buy what we’re selling.


Mike: I mean I guess it’s kind of a business school concept to diversify, right, and as we were looking at the Broadway landscape, and saying, well, there are 39 or 40 theatres or 41 theaters. It’s not like we’re going to go to 50 theaters or 60 theaters or 70 theaters for Broadway. The amount of Broadway shows that we can potentially be doing the merch for is finite. But yet we have all these great people who work with us, we have an amazing group of people, very passionate, they love what they do, and they’re young. And yes they love Broadway but if we go listen to what they have on their headphones right now, they listen to music, contemporary music, rock and roll, country, rap, you name it, they’re listening to it. And we said well we have this what we feel like is a great company, we have all passionate people who love stuff like music, why don’t we try that. We said well let’s look at the industry and see if there’s room for us and as we started kind of diving in to the world of music business, we saw a lot of similar problems that we saw on Broadway back in the day. People were frustrated with the merchandising opportunities that were afforded to them. There were a lot of, kind of, I call, vendor mentality as opposed to producer or artist mentality on what they wanted the merchandising to be, and we started pitching and cut to about five years in and I think we’re one of the big players now and on the music side, in terms of merchandising, we just finished Beyoncé’s tour, we handled Britney Spears in Vegas, to Linkin Park, to The Lumineers, Run the Jewels. We have all a very eclectic array of music artists who have trusted us with their brand and it’s very interesting, that the brand for a show, yes it kind of gets set at one point and it can evolve to a degree but it doesn’t radically change the way an artist can with an entire new album or albums. So, Britney Spears, has fans who have been following her for twenty years now and they are as crazy and as kooky a group of people you could ever imagine, but it’s great. It allows us to really push the envelope in terms of what we can create.


Matt: And our design team is terrific and our product development team, they’re passionate merchandise people, they’re like, Michael had said, they love music but I think they also love the opportunity to work with brands like Beyoncé or Britney Spears or Linkin Park and really flex their muscles. They’re motivated because we get the opportunity to get in front of these great artists and they’re creating stuff that hopefully sets us apart from the competition because we really are trying to tell a story. Just like we’re story tellers on Broadway, I think we’re story tellers in the music world too, in terms of how their brands grow and expand and evolve over time.


Ken: Do you think it’s important or essential that all Broadway producers today have another business, another revenue stream, should everyone look for something they can do?


Mike: Well ideally you just have to have a lot of money to start with, right? Then you don’t have to worry about it. We need more merch companies like we need more holes in the head, so anyone listening thinking that’s a good idea, please don’t, because I think at our last count there’s about like twelve different merch companies after Broadway.


Ken: Well after your success they’re thinking they can do it.


Matt: Yeah any schmuck can do it.


Mike: I mean, certainly I think it helps to be involved in some aspect other of the business. It helps you get a better sense of the business as a whole so, I think our years as general managers were critical for us because it really helped us understand, what is a load-in, what goes on at a load-in, what’s a crew call. You know, just to understand, there’s day work that goes on for costumes. If you don’t understand all that stuff, I think it’s hard to really produce well, at a lead producer level. Some people may have the passion for marketing, some people have passion for promotions.


Matt: Broadways a cyclical business too. right? It has its high and lows and ups and downs and so if you have something within yourself or your company or your organization that is outside of that cycle that lives at a more consistent basis. Whether it’s having your own theater or whatever. It’s part of growing any business, it’s managing cash flow and debt and risks and all those things that any business talks about is the same for us. Having those other outlets whether it’s as a marketer or theater owner or what have you, that helps, I think defray that risk and gives you chances to grow and take risks in your producing business. We’re able today to develop and nurture new works in a way that only happens because we have this merchandising business. We can only feed that part of ourselves and the passion that we have because we’re fortunate that we have an ongoing business that has the means to let us be risk takers and to develop a new musical that someone else might say, “Oh I don’t know, that’s too risky”. We’re able to do that because we have this other part of the business.


Ken: You guys were the young guns on Broadway fifteen years ago, now as you look back, what has changed, what’s the biggest change you’ve seen on Broadway since you last started?


Mike: I think there’s so many good shows. There are just so many shows. I think I read something that you wrote or you’re talking about two megas potentially coming down the road. We know Harry Potter will be one, and Frozen will be one. We’re not the first to say, its like, we’re in the next Golden Age of Broadway and that there’s so much product that you’re producing, philosophy becomes very much. Or when you get a call from one of the big 3, that says you have a venue. Then once you get the venue, then you produce, your producing strategy falls into place after that. You know we’re co-producers on SpongeBob. That’s going to have a venue in the fall we hope, summer, I don’t know.


But we have this great show, we got great reviews, fully capitalized and we don’t have a venue yet. Because there’s so many, every venue has, one, two, three backups. Where back in the day when we were starting out, there were always venues available. And you didn’t see The Schoenfeld and the Jacobs having musicals in them. It was all about plays that we’re going into those venues, if at all. So to me, that’s the biggest change is that it’s just so darn competitive because there’s so much good stuff happening.


Ken: Advice to the young guns out there listening right now for getting started today in this different environment, how they would they do it?


Mike: Self-starter, producing your own work is the key.


Matt: Knowing every aspect of the business as much as you can still helps. You can’t be, you can’t have too much experience on that ground up level because yes, the risks are bigger and the numbers are much bigger when you get to Broadway, but anybody who’s able to get hands on experience doing as many different aspects of putting on a show as possible, I think is still essential ,because when you come right down to it, if you haven’t actually done some of it yourself, it’s really hard to be a leader in a room of people looking to you to make those decisions if you’ve never hung a light or never run a box office, or you never had that do the marketing, you never have to do the press or something else as much as you can learn. The Broadway League is doing this new program among this committee within these Rising Stars program where the league has picked four people from existing companies, who were nominated to head the vetting process, where they’re getting someone from the presenting world, some from the general managers, someone from a producing office, or maybe even from the press office or something. They get to meet with sort of the top industry professionals in learning about general management, producing, presenting, and booking. All the different parts of the business because it’s getting harder and harder for someone I think to get experience in all those different fields and so I think any chance someone has to get exposure to one of those different jobs and different tasks is a huge asset as they go further and further in their career.


Ken: Partners are very important on Broadway. You guys are obviously partners and you’re also brothers, how do you deal with it when you don’t agree on something?


Matt: I accept his apology and then we move one. Once he knew I was always right, and it was simpler. We don’t disagree that much on something.


Mike: Usually, and again, with our third partner Hank, for us, usually the easiest decision is the creative one. Like we’ll see sort of the creative nub of it and then the devil would be in details on how do we get there.


Matt: Our taste have always been similar. Mike, Hank and I, the three of us, were always, I would say 9 and a half times out of 10 we’re on the same page about what we like and what we think will work, so that’s always a big part. The rest is effort and determination and being full-hearted. All those things.


Ken: Okay, my last question, which is my James Lipton type question, also called my Genie Question, I want you to imagine that the genie from Aladdin came to see you and knock on our your door and said, “Guys, I wanna thank you for everything you’ve done for Broadway, the great show, the risks you’re taking, for outfitting all of us, the fantastic t-shirts and I want to thank you by granting you one wish.” What’s the one thing that drives you craziest about Broadway that gets you so angry, that would keep you screaming on the phone, banging stuff. The one thing that you ask this genie to wish away, we should have you both writing this down in a piece of paper to see if it match. But I’ll let you both answer.


Matt: Probably, both get frustrated by all the same things that producers do. Like there’s too many premium ticket pricing that’s out of control, or there’s too many shows and not enough theaters, or union agreements aren’t what we want them to be. So, I’m sure I will be repeating what others had said if I picked one of those. But if I had a magic wand, in the spirit of magic, I wish I could get all of our creative talents calendars to line up. Because literally, I think it’s the, I hear it more and more often, that developing the show right now is 50 percent calendar management because you have these amazing writers, book writers, composers, lyricists, producers, directors, choreographers to do a musical, it does to take a village, and to get those twelve or fifteen key people to all be available all at the same place and the same time to work on a show, is really complex right now. Because there’s so many, like we said so many shows and development, and so you’re constantly bartering with, okay we have these two weeks in April that everyone is actually available, so we have to do something. And therefore you’re having to take a step and you really need four weeks, but you can only get two, and so what would you with that time? If you had a magic wand and you say, actually what I want to do is have four weeks in May, when everyone’s available and we just do it and we know people are in town because the Tony Awards are coming up, so we can do our big presentation and we’ll get everyone to show up, and it’s fully rehearsed and ready to go, but we can’t do that we only have two weeks in April. So then you adapt and you adjust and you figure it out. I think that’s one of the toughest things that I hear from many producers.


Ken: I face that issue all the time, all the time. Getting tougher and tougher. Because of the venue problem as well, we can’t guarantee when our show’s gonna go so the creatives book out like crazy because they need to deal with changes as well. Your genie answer?


Mike: I’ll take two things. I would say bigger lobby space for more merchandising booths. Two, I would say I’d love to eliminate Playbill. The free Playbills that you get so that we could give you one kind of combo brochure like we do in London and sell them all for ten bucks. We’d make a killing. We’ll save the environment, and all the wasted paper and all that that are just littering theater lobbies at the end of the show. Everyone would make more money and the Earth will be helped and would be very happy with us.


Ken: I love how you guys are great partners. Producing with, work with, it all worked out. Thank you so much guys for doing this, and thanks all of you for listening out there, we will see you next time.



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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.