Why you should read the Broadway Chat Boards.

I like to cruise by the Broadway chat boards every once in awhile.  Why?

First and foremost, the folks that frequent the boards, and the folks that post on the boards are our avids.  They are so filled with passion for Broadway and for the theater in general that when they can’t see a show, they want to talk about shows, and when they can’t find anyone who can talk about them, they search for other folks just like them online.  So it’s important to see what is making these groups happy, and pee-ing them off.  (I’ve even been known to post every once in awhile.)

The second reason I do drive-bys on the boards is because . . . well, back in the day, I was one of those avids.

The year was 1990 (hello!), horse drawn carriages clip-clopped down cobble stone streets, and there wasn’t much of an internet.  My mom wouldn’t buy me CompuServe because she was afraid I was going to turn into Matthew Broderick in my favorite movie of all time, Wargameshack into the government’s computer system and start World War III.  So when I went off to Johns Hopkins University for my freshman year, I spent a lot of time in the computer lab.  Was I writing papers?  Solving calculus problems?  Nope, I was on ol’ fashioned bulletin boards.

Yep, I was one of the early posters in the newsgroup, rec.arts.theatre.musicals.  (I actually met Avenue Q creator Jeff Marx on that board, but that’s another story.)  Gosh, it was fun.  I remember getting in such a flame-fight with an Andrew Lloyd Webber hater over Aspects of Love.  Hehe.

So flash forward almost 25 years later, and the boards are still around.  They just look a little different now, and you don’t need a computer lab or dial-up to access ’em.  But they aren’t even that much more technologically complicated now.  Just take a look at the classic, AllThatChat, for example.

That’s where I was last week, cruisin’ through comments about closing shows and Alan Cumming in Cabaret . . . when I stumbled upon a post from an audience member, explaining why he made a purchase to an up-and-coming show featured in NYMF.  The post was so simple, and so direct, and from an actual ticket buyer, that I had to post it here.

Here’s what it said, verbatim:

I chose to see CLONED!, in spite of the potentially cliche subject, because the songs they posted online were competently written and produced.

I count at least three lessons for all the Producers and Writers out there with “emerging” shows from this 23 word post:

  1. Your show better have a website.  (And even if you have an idea for a show, you better do this one thing first).
  2. You better have songs on that website.  Remember my blog about samplin‘?  Well, it’s hard to do it live, so you at least better have something recorded.
  3. Make sure they are “competently produced.”  No scratch composer demos from your bathroom.  No bad sound board recordings from bad live shows.  It doesn’t take much these days, get a friend who knows Garage Band and do it up right.

Oh, and one other bonus lesson from this simple post . . . listen to what the super fans are saying.  I know it’s hard sometimes, because they can get a little upset, and throw electronic-tomatoes at you every once in awhile.  Just remember it’s from a great place.  They love what we do.  More than I loved Aspects of Love.  Show them the respect they deserve and just listen.

Because it’s amazing what you might learn.

Gotta go.  I think there’s an FBI agent at my door who wants to talk to me about what I did with the WOPR.


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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.