Why we’re closing Gettin’ The Band Back Together on 9/16.

The hardest thing a Producer has to do is decide when to close a show.

And I had to make this decision over the last 24 hours.

So I did. And Gettin’ The Band Back Together will play its final performance on September 16th.

Why is it so difficult to close a show? Or close any business?

It’s not just the money (although that’s a major part of it, for sure), but when a team of the most creative people you know spends years of their lives working toward a common goal, and it doesn’t turn out the way you all dreamed . . . it’s heart-crushing.

See, in the theater, the creators, the actors, the designers, the stagehands, we all dream that every single new show could be “the one.” The one that keeps you employed, gives you security, allows you the flexibility to do other things, and so on. You show up to that ‘meet and greet’ on the first day of rehearsal, bursting with the hope that this will be the one you’ve been waiting for and working for.

It’s like dating when you’re looking to get married.  No matter how practical and realistic you are, everyone goes on a first date wondering, “Could this be the one?”

And, honestly, what’s frustrating about this “one” is how much the audiences who are seeing the show love the show. And no, no, this isn’t just a biased Producer talking. This is a guy who does statistical analysis. We did a survey of our actual Telecharge ticket buyers and got a 98.2% positive rating, and an exceptionally high “Net Promoter Score.” (How likely they are to tell their friends and family to get tickets.)

But, for a whole bunch of other reasons, (many of which we can’t control, from seasonality to critics and so on) we can’t get the sales traction we need as fast as we need it.  That’s also a statistical fact.

Now, here’s where my decision and any Producer’s decision gets difficult.

And while it’s hard for me to talk about these things in an open forum like my blog, I didn’t start this blog to only talk about the good things that happen when you produce shows. I started this blog to talk about all the things that happen when you produce shows . . . including when shows don’t live up to your own expectations.

So, the tricky thing is . . . I could decide to try and push on with Gettin’ The Band Back Together. I could continue to grind away at more marketing initiatives, and get more celebs to play cowbell, and create more video content . . . and more specifically, I could do what other shows might do right now and go out and try to raise more money to keep us open longer than our reserves would allow.

And honestly, nothing would make me happier than to keep the show going, keep people employed, watch it build, and make a whole lot more people laugh.

But, based on that statistical analysis I’ve done of our sales trends, and based on the conversations I’ve had with industry experts and my mentors, as well as my esteemed team of co-producers, I’ve come to the conclusion that additional monies might keep us going, but would not get us to profitability quickly enough. (Broadway’s biggest challenge is that our high expenses shorten the runway for word-of-mouth to take hold.) We’re like a plane trying to take off, and while we’re gaining some altitude, we’re just not doing it fast enough.

So, I had to check my emotion at the door and analyze this like any CEO would. At the end of the day, this is a business, and I must uphold my fiduciary responsibility to my investors and close earlier than I would like . . . on September 16th (the end of the Broadway Week promotion).

By doing so, I will be able to return any available monies left in our reserve (I raised a big reserve because I always knew this would be a tough plane to get in the air.  Honestly?  I never expected to get rave reviews with this type of show (even though we got good ones out of town), I just didn’t expect so many of them to be so . . . well . . . mean.)

And, by not asking my investors for more money, they will be in first position to recover funds through the disposition of the stock and amateur rights (which we expect to be strong). When you get a loan, the loan gets paid back first, and in this case that might not happen, which I had to take into account.

It aches to close a show. Especially one that you’ve built from nothing. Especially one that has so many wonderful people working on it who have become some of my closest friends.

But in business, when the data is on the wall, sometimes there is nothing else you can do.

Actually, there is one more thing I can do.

Start over. Do another one.

And you can bet that I will.

Gettin’ The Band Back Together will play its final performance on Broadway on September 16th at 7:30 PM.

This show may be closing, but there’s always another in the works. Do you have a show you’re working on getting to Broadway? Let us help by joining our tribe of Theater Makers. We’re on a mission to help 5000 shows get produced by 2025, and yours could be next!

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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.