Archive for February, 2010

If you are reading this blog, no doubt you are interested in The Road, and so you have already heard about the ad for the National Tour of the Tony Award-winning, AVENUE Q getting pulled in Colorado Springs. If not, here is a feature about it in the Los Angeles Times.

In New York, sexually-charged Calvin Klein ads adorning billboards have become so common-place, that muppet cleavage having the potential to stir controversy here is like saying the New Jersey Nets have the potential to win the NBA Championship this year. When it comes to The Road, though, strong expressions of concern about the nature of marketing materials, and sometimes even show content itself, are not altogether uncommon occurrences. There are certainly plenty of cities and towns out there with less conservative sensibilities than places such as Colorado Springs, and, as The Los Angeles Times piece points out, this particular AVENUE Q ad has run in many areas across the country without incident, but there are inevitably going to be markets along a touring route that will definitely make it seem as though you’ve been beamed back to a completely different era.

Theatre has to compete with so many other forms of entertainment today, so theatre marketing and advertising campaigns need to stand out. This is especially the case for shows on The Road, as tours generally tend to be in places for a limited period, so there is only certain window of time to get the attention of single ticket buyers. Though it was probably not the intention of the producers, the engagement in Colorado Springs, and perhaps the tour overall, inadvertently got more publicity than it would have had there not been any controversy over a muppet’s low cut neckline. So, not a bust after all.

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Greetings from Omaha, NE where I am settling a split-week engagement of CHICAGO at The Orpheum Theater.

By this point, who hasn’t heard of the musical, CHICAGO? In addition to now being one of the longest-running shows on Broadway, it was also a successful motion picture. When people hear the title, CHICAGO chances are they know something about it. At the very least, they know it’s been around a while, and people buying tickets for the Broadway or National Tour production probably feel confident that they will have a good experience.

Over the years, I’ve met with artists and new producers who are working on a show that they’re really passionate about, that’s been really well-received someplace by audiences and critics, that’s small in scale, and doesn’t cost a lot and so, logically, this sounds like the ideal show for touring. The challenge, though, with a new, small-scaled show is convincing someone in the touring world to take it on. Why is this? Well, one of the reasons for this is that even though the bigger, known shows can be very labor intensive and time-consuming as far as deal negotiations, and very risky due to the high nature of their expenses, and the investment at stake in general, the reality is that these known shows can actually be LESS labor intensive and time-consuming to book and present in the long run, and ultimately less risky than smaller, less expensive shows that are unknown to the larger population. The smaller, less expensive, unknown show still requires the same time and attention a show with a known title or star does, if not more — complicated routing and re-routing, deal points to negotiate, technical requirements to figure out, and so on. At the end of the day, therefore, there is greater risk for less payoff with smaller, inexpensive, unknown shows, compared to more expensive shows with a known title and/or celebrity, and bigger potential profits. This reality will often make it harder for an artist or producer with a project to convince bookers or presenters to get involved for the long haul. Because booking and presenting a show is a long haul. Big show or small. Believe me.

I don’t mean to make things sound bleak. This doesn’t mean something can’t happen for your show. This just means more of a process may be required for you to get your show into the right hands. Do your research. Look out there for other shows of similar size and scope as yours. At what venues are these shows being presented? Which theaters seem to regularly champion these sorts of shows? Is it possible to connect with the producing team of a show that is similar to yours and find out how they went about getting their show booked? What booking agency did they use, and were they happy with them? Does your show make more sense as a tour, or as a sit-down? Do you have a general manager attached to your show yet? A general manager who believes in your show and who has experience GM’ing tours could be a worthwhile alliance.

So, don’t be discouraged. Just really look at your show. Know what it is, know what it is not, educate yourself about The Road, and get a sense of the touring landscape, and you will have a better chance of finding yourself on the road to getting your show on The Road.

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