Who will be The Broadway Producer of the Year 2014?
It’s that time of year, my friends!
Before 2014 comes to a close, it is time for us to find out who, who, who is The Broadway Producer of the Year!
And how do we decide? Well, we let you vote, of course! Duh!
I’ve been holding this e-contest for six years now, with previous winners including Kevin McCollum, Daryl Roth and Hal Luftig. But this year could be the tightest race yet!
See, I always poll my fellow producer friends to come up with the list of the year’s nominees, and they had a super hard time keepin’ it to just five! (One nominator literally spilled his drink at Joe Allen’s during his argument for one of the folks on the list below.)
So are you ready to meet the set of nominees that got me soaked with a ginger ale?
Here we go, go, go (in no particular order whatsoever).
1. Howard and Janet Kagan
The whispers in Shubert Alley over the summer were all about how a revival like On The Town could never work on Broadway again. “It was just done a few years ago!” “The theater is way too big!” “Where’s the star?” Flash forward to today . . . and the Kagan production grabbed across the board raves, and has been grossing well into the making-money zone. And it plays beautifully in that big ol’ theater. In addition, the Kagans bucked tradition and introduced an online portal for attracting new Broadway Investors to our game. They have that good ol’ fashioned do-what-we-love-no-matter-what-people-say attitude with a flair for looking at the future as well. For that, they get their first nomination for Producer of the Year.
2. Tom Schumacher
A few months ago, Disney announced that The Lion King became the most successful entertainment property of all time, with a box office gross of over 6.2 billion bucks! You read that right – it’s not just the most successful Broadway show, it’s the most successful entertainment property of all time! (Harry Potter who???) While Disney is a gi-normous company that probably has more people working on variable pricing than I’d have on the entire staff of one of my shows, there is no doubt that The Lion King wouldn’t have this top spot without the leadership of Disney Theatrical President Tom Schumacher. Oh wait, and during this same year, Tom also oversaw the development and opening of Aladdin, which after a somewhat troubled tryout in Toronto had a lot of folks gossiping about a possible repeat of the Tarzan tragedy. But Tom wasn’t a wee bit jittery. He did his job, and got the creative team to do theirs, and Aladdin has been a super-grossing show ever since. Put another in the hit column for Disney, which, in case you haven’t been counting, makes them six for eight. That’s quite a record. And you can credit that to Tom. .
3. David Stone
The Lion King may have announced that big 6.2 billion dollar gross, but Wicked had a big announcement as well, and this one was about what some may say is the more important stat . . . ROI. Wait. Scratch that, Wicked didn’t make any such announcement, because they are a lot more modest than that. But there was an article in Crain’s that revealed that the investors in Wicked had received over an 1000% return on their money. And that’s just from the Broadway company! (Are you trying to figure out the return from all the tours? I have – and I can’t count that high.) So many Broadway Producers would ride that success into the sunset. Instead, Producer David Stone decided to produce the rarest of rarities this year, the totally original musical If/Then. And when John Travolta massacred Idina Menzel’s name on Oscar night, David found a way to turn that into ticket sales. That was worthy of a nomination on its own!
4. David Binder
Another David grabs a nomination this year, thanks mostly to his production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch starring Neil Patrick Harris. David not only got the star that everyone has been after to do his show, but he also got him to put on heels, make up, and talk about his mini-pee-pee. David was the original producer of Hedwig Off Broadway over a decade ago and he always believed there was a bigger audience, and he was right. And his passion and persistence continues! So many Producers would have closed up shop after Neil’s super successful run, but somehow, David got not one, but three (and counting) stars to replace Neil! That takes a super-Producer . . . especially since David was also putting up a terrific production of Of Mice and Men starring James Franco at the same time. He’s had a year that so many Producers would
love kill sell their soul to have, which is why he made this year’s list.
5. The Shuberts
The Big Ol’ Shuberts made the list this year for the first time, thanks to three land “plays” that had everyone talking. They bought New World Stages. They bought a warehouse in midtown (they say it’s just a warehouse but who knows). And the big rumor is that a brand new Broadway theater is going to replace the parking lot on 45th Street that they also own. We’ll see what happens, but all of the producers I talked to said they deserved the nomination for using their big muscle to help shape the literal landscape of our industry. (Oh, and President Bob Wankel got mentions in not one, but two shows this year (Hedwig and my It’s Only A Play) which has gotta count for something.)
There they are, folks! These are your five nominees for Broadway Producer of the Year 2014!
And now the fun part. You get to pick the winner!Click here to vote for Broadway Producer of the Year. And I’ll announce who wears the crown on December 30th!
Good luck to everyone! And vote now!
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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.