Takeaways from yesterday’s TEDxBroadway.

Usually, I write my blogs the day before they are published.  But, because my mind was exploding with energy and ideas from yesterday’s TEDxBroadway, I couldn’t quiet myself down enough to put it into a comprehensible format. You know that feeling?  In fact, if I had written this blog last night, it would have looked something like this.


Now that it’s the next day, I’m still a bit a-tingle with excitement over the possibilities for our industry.  And on behalf of my co-organizers, Jim McCarthy and Damian Bazadona, we want to thank those incredible speakers and that SOLD OUT (!) crowd for sharing their time and their passions with us.  Oh, and I have to also thank all those that were e-listening to the talks in the twitterverse, as well as the people pushing out those tweets from the conference.  Because of you, TEDxBroadway was a trending topic (!) on twitter.  That’s right, you helped get the Broadway conversation out of over a 10 block radius and into the mass public ecosystem.  Awesome.

I know everyone couldn’t get there, so like last year, I thought I’d post a takeaway or two that I grabbed from each speaker’s talk.

Here we go:

DARYL ROTH:  Would there be a Will and Grace without Torch Song Trilogy?  A Glee without Rent?  Theater allows us to hold a mirror up to society and to use the reflection to improve society.

TERRY TEACHOUT:  Everyone on Broadway is a gambler.  So there’s only one reason to produce on Broadway.  To have fun.  Best way to have fun?  Do something good.  Really good.  Roll your dice on excellence.

GEORGE TAKEI:  Broadway must start to use technology to boldly go where no one has gone before.

CHRISTINE JONES:  Make every seat in every theater a great seat to allow for the intimate exchange of ideas between each artist and each audience member.

THOMAS SCHUMACHER:  I have friends that believe the sippy cup is the end of days. Our pretentiousness regarding audiences that are seeing shows for the first time (tourists, etc.) simply stands in the way of growing and sharing our business.  Populism has its own manifest destiny and we need to embrace it.  Embrace the sippy cup.

SUSAN SALGADO:  Superior products aren’t enough to make it in today’s market.  Customers want an all encompassing experience.

ZACHARY SCHMAHL:  Why photocopy something that someone has already been perfected?  Be original.

VINCENT GASSETTO:  School + Broadway = Infinite Possibilities.  (This is a repeat from last year, but man oh man is it powerful.)

KRISTOFFER DIAZ:  Things need to be funnier in general.  We live in a post Book of Mormon society.  Oh, and I wish Rebecca Naomi Jones had more to do on Smash.

ERIN HOOVER:  Broadway needs to take the storytelling aspect of what we what do onstage and take it to the lobby. Even the bathrooms.  Start the experience of your show at the front door.

SETH PINSKY:  Economic and cultural development are not exclusive.  They go hand in hand, even in times of an economic downturn.

ELLEN ISAACS:  Observe your audience in the experience instead of asking them questions about the experience.  This is the best way to discover the “hidden obvious.”

ADAM THURMAN:  Marketing is the gift-giving business.  We’re giving the gift of Broadway.  And we should impact those who never come to Broadway as much as those who can.

DAVID SABEL:  The tendency in the world and in our industry is to separate the right and left brains. In order to succeed, you need to use both.

RANDI ZUCKERBERG:  Art and technology are two sides of the same coin.  A world without art is not a world worth connecting.

JOSH HARRIS:  The world isn’t just a stage.  It’s a sound stage.

As you can see, it was a pretty awesome day.  But my favorite part was as I was walking out of New World Stages when a 20 year old college student from NYU came up to me and said they loved the event and they couldn’t wait to start working in the Broadway world because she had so many ideas on how to make it even better place for her generation.  “Will there be a TEDxBroadway next year,” the student hopefully said,


(If you want to hear more of what these super speakers said, read this terrific follow up article in the LA Times written by Howard Sherman that appeared online just moments ago , or click here and here to read the Twitter convos (we had two hashtags).  And in a month or so, we’ll post the complete talks online for your viewing pleasure.  So stay tuned to the blog for that announcement.)


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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.