Why I decided to be a Producer on . . .

On Tuesday, I tweeted that I had just signed on to be an above-the-title Producer on a new Broadway show arriving this season (in just a few months actually).

Now that the ink is drying on the deal, I can tell you what that show is . . . and more importantly, why I’m producing it.

The show is . . . Bridges of Madison County.

The why is . . . as with anything, for a whole bunch of reasons.

First, I like to produce one show a year that I am not lead-producing . . . and this is something I strongly advise all of you out there looking at producing careers to do.  In addition to keeping you active while your own shows are developing (with gestation periods getting longer and longer, you might not produce anything before you get your own show off the ground), co-producing a Broadway show provides your investors opportunities to get into great shows and make money (fingers and toes and everything crossed), builds relationships with peers and industry pros who can help you with your shows, and, most importantly, provides you with an inside education of the building of a Broadway musical.  And I don’t care how many shows you have on your resume, you can never stop learning, especially since no two shows are alike.

So, for all of those reasons, I like to pick one show a year and partner with someone.  (And for what it’s worth, this strategy worked pretty well with last season’s Kinky Boots.)

How do I pick which show?

In my Broadway Investing 101 seminar, I teach a “journalistic approach” to asking yourself whether or not you should invest/produce a show on Broadway.  In other words, when I’m offered an opportunity like Bridges, I walk myself through the 5 Ws:  Who, What, When, Where, Why . . . oh, and one more . . . How Much.

And when I crunched the Ws on Bridges, my formula gave me the green light.

Frankly, the “Whos” could have turned it green alone.

I’ve been watching Bart Sher’s shows since he first came to town . . . wondering when, oh when, we’d get him away from the non-profit world and into the commercial sector.  And thankfully, we have . . . with Bridges.  Bart has created some of the most beautiful shows I’ve seen . . . from Piazza to South Pacific to Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, and I get the chills just thinking about the beautiful work he can do with beautiful source material like Bridges.

Add a creative team including Book Writer Marsha Norman (forget about the Pulitzer Prize she won for ‘night, Mother, I’m such a Secret Garden fan), and Jason Robert Brown, who is due a commercial success big time and I’m betting (duh) that this is it . . . and then toss in an acting company including Kelli O’Hara (who I knew was going to be a star the day I saw her play Christine in the Yeston/Kopit Phantom at the Downtown Cabaret Theater in Bridgeport, Connecticut) and Steven Pasquale, whose version of “The Streets of Dublin” from A Man of No Importance still rings in my ear, 11 years later . . . and this thing has more Broadway street cred than a Producer could ask for.

And not to mention, the lead producers Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, and Stacey Mindich, all of who I have worked with before, and who I respect as people as well as Producers.  They know how to deliver fantastic works of art . . . while working hard to ensure profitability.

And then there’s the “What”. . . the source material . . . a wonderful and yes, popular (read:  branded), property that while romantic in nature, is challenging in the same way that Once is.  Love is complicated.  And I think audiences are ready to deal with that on the stage.  Especially since so many of them are dealing with those complications in their everyday lives.

There’s the “When.” Performances start in January, which means the show is the first out of the gate of the now always crowded spring season.  Sensei says, “Strike first, strike hard!”

The “Where?” No better block than 45th between Broadway and 8th.  All those theaters mean lots of theatergoers passing by your marquee everyday.  Not to mention it’s a Times Square tributary, with tourists flowing in and out of the Square through the street (and adjacent to Shubert Alley).

The  “Why” I’ve discussed . . . and the “How Much” includes a longish and complicated-ish analysis of the budgets and of current market trends . . . and why I think we can recoup, which is always my #1 goal . . . to get my investors their money back.  Get them their money back?  And they’ll be more likely to do another show.

So there you have it . . . why I’m producing Bridges of Madison County on Broadway.  I’ll be talking about the journey from time to time right here on this blog-station, so stay tuned.

I hope to see you at the theater.  You can get your tickets now.  And you should come to a preview.  You’ll see me there somewhere, and you can tell me what you think.


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– Win two tickets to see The Roundabout’s Bad Jews Off-Broadway.  Click here.

– Looking for a workspace?  Click here for more information.

– The next Broadway Investing 101 Seminar is on October 19th.  Click here to register.

– Gettin’ The Band Back Together starts performances in 12 days. Get tix!

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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.