We’re a business of freelancers.

A friend of mine produced a Broadway show this past spring, and we recently got together to trade stories.  When I asked him how it went, he said, “You know that expression, being shot out of a cannon?  Well, everything happened so dang fast, I felt like we were shot out of a cannon that was attached to another cannon!”

While his opening went pretty well, he went on to talk about how hard it was to get things moving quicker during the years of development, no matter how much gas he tried to pour on the creative fires.  And then, once they were within striking distance of the opening night, it felt like they were so rushed, he was concerned they were going to make mistakes and risk all the hard work they had done.

Why does Broadway have to feel so rushed, he wondered.

So I started wondering the same thing.

There are a lot of factors that contribute to the fevered pitch that all shows feel as they get closer to the finish line.  If producing a Broadway show were a marathon, we’d all be slow, slow starters with a heck of a kick.  One of the reasons is that finding a theater can be so difficult; it’s hard to make something feel real until that phone rings from one of the three theater chains telling you you are in.

The other reason is that all of the individuals that make up the staff of a Broadway show, from the director to the actors to the company manager to the assistant set designer . . .  are all freelancers.  And that means they have to go where the money is, and when the money is.  So while you’re working on developing your show, or trying to do pre-production, they may be in pre-production or tech rehearsals or auditioning for another show.  It’s hard to get them to focus, for obvious reasons, until they have to or are paid to.

And it does feel like lately people are trying to rack and stack more projects than ever.

What’s the solution?  Well, we could pay our folks more money to be more exclusive . . . or we could put people on staff instead of hire them project by project.

Yeah, and maybe there will be a revival of Moose Murders starring Hillary Clinton and that guy who played Urkel.

We are an industry of freelancers, and that ain’t going to change.  As a Producer, you need to realize it and learn how to manage it, to make sure your show is prepared to run that marathon and sprint like a mo-fo those last 1000 meters.

Because, after all, Producers are freelancers too.


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– 66 Days to Godspell!  Read the day-by-day account of producing Godspell on Broadway here.

– Enter to win 2 tickets to The Unauthorized Autobiography of Samantha Brown!  Click here.


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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.