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Archive for the ‘Broadway’ Category

Returning to the topic of a recent post, below is a link to an article by Chris Jones of The Chicago Tribunewho shares his thoughts about the increased use of tiered contacts for national tours that lately has members of AEA up in arms.

Would love to hear your comments on this issue here at The Road 101 if you have ’em!

‘How and why actors’ paychecks are shrinking on tour’

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SPIDERMAN - WSJNow that it’s lights out for the most expensive show in Broadway history, SPIDERMAN – TURN OFF THE DARK after a widely reported troubled run, does the show have a chance of spinning a new web somewhere else?

Maybe.

Check out this article in The New Yorker  that discusses ways of making lemonade out of a Broadway lemon. One of the ways is on The Road. I talked a bit about this in a recent post. The New Yorker article broad strokes things a bit about The Road, as making any show that goes out on tour a commercial success — Broadway flop or Broadway success — depends on a combination of smart producing, thoughtful season programming, attentive day to day management, and expert tour marketing. These missing details aside, however, there are plenty of useful takeaways here. Especially the reminder that “Theatre is a business, yes, but it’s a weird one.”

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State_Highway_signbroadway-sign

Broadway. The ultimate goal. The big time. The main sign that your show has “made it.” The pinnacle of success.

Or is it?

Plenty of shows that you think could go to Broadway don’t go to Broadway. Or, at least not right away. For one reason or another, producers decide that Broadway is not the right fit, and rather than take their shows directly to Broadway, choose to take them on the road instead.

Taking a show on tour rather than going directly to Broadway, or avoiding Broadway altogether has a lot of potential upsides. It allows the creative teams to regularly observe their shows and make tweaks all along the way. It keeps the shows away from the scrutiny of New York City’s critics and bloggers. It gives the shows a chance to build up their name and brand. It is likely going to be cheaper to build a touring show and sustain weekly operating expenses on the road compared to Broadway, which mitigates some of the financial risk. And, while Broadway is an amazing brand, a show that is not ready for Broadway, or not the right fit for Broadway, but makes the decision to go for a Broadway run, runs the risk of being “branded” by the critics and bad word of mouth, which could ultimately lead, as it often has, to an early closing, and significant losses.

Several shows are out on the road now that could, but may or may not ultimately come to Broadway, or to Off-Broadway for that matter, such as FLASHDANCETHE WIZARD OF OZ and I LOVE LUCY – LIVE ON STAGE  to name a few, and below is a link to a recent article about another show that is keeping a safe distance from the Great White Way for the time-being. It seems “any way the wind blows” them other than to Broadway is perfectly fine for them…

“Jukebox musical ‘We Will Rock You’ is a champion”

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Digital Image by Sean Locke Digital Planet Design www.digitalplanetdesign.com

Hey there, Road 101 fans! I’m back here in the blogosphere after a super busy several months during which I was completely immersed in a time-sensitive musical theatre commission, as well as deeply involved in our hectic, and, often-times dramatic New York City 2013 primary elections! For those of you who do not live in NYC, we’re in the midst of a significant change-over here, from the Mayor on down.

In addition to the work I do at BAA, I am also a member of a 501 (c)6 here in NYC called The League of Independent Theater and this election year has been crucial towards achieving our goal of helping to get candidates elected who are pro-performing arts, and who pledge to do everything in their power to help our economically and culturally vital, but ever-struggling independent theater scene throughout New York City’s five boroughs.

Being engaged in the local elections was an amazing and educational experience. Quite a few of the candidates who we endorsed won their primary races (which in the preponderance of NYC races is tantamount to being elected), and so we are excited about this being a real beginning towards sustainability, and making sure that the performing arts don’t get short shrift. I encourage everyone out there, wherever you live, to get involved during an election year. It could make all the difference to the future of the arts in your community!

LIT based its endorsements on a candidate’s willingness to commit to our 8-plank performing arts platform; if not the whole platform, then as many planks as possible. The most challenging of our planks, but one we feel is absolutely vital, asks our lawmakers to: “Implement a proposal that would reduce or eliminate property tax assessments for those non-profit organizations that have an artistic mission and/or rent performance space to similar non-profit performing arts groups with artistic missions of their own.”

Okay. Ho-hum, Whatever. What does any of this have to do with commercial theatre touring, you ask? Well, the independent theater sector in NYC is not the only sector looking for a little bit of a tax break. The Broadway League, and other stakeholders in the theatre presenting world, are currently in the midst of their own tax-credit initiative proposal that they are seeking from Albany that would incentivize touring productions and pre-Broadway productions to do their tech and initial productions in New York State. Tours have continually shown that they invigorate local economies, so it makes sense for New York State to find ways to get more productions to come and launch their tours here. Whether it was as a result of these efforts, or perhaps they saw the light on their own, Albany lawmakers via the New York State Senate’s Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation Committee, chaired by Sen. Betty Little, (a committee that thankfully also includes my fabulous, pro-arts State Senator, Brad Hoylman) will be considering a kind of tax credit for these sorts of productions during the 2014 legislative session. Here are two articles on the topic:

‘On with the show, with tax credits’

‘Proctors CEO: Boost local economies with tax credits for touring Broadway shows

As you already know because you are someone who is “in the know,” or because you read my previous posts on the topic, Louisiana and Illinois have already implemented a tax-credit for touring productions, and Massachusetts may potentially be next. Or, maybe, my home state will beat Massachusetts to the punch. 🙂

But the point I want to leave you with is that theatre touring, and performing arts in general, is ultimately a business, whether it be commercial or non-profit, that benefits the economy, and every once in a while, it’s important that those of us who participate in the performing arts, whether as a booker, a presenter, a producer, an actor, a stage manager, a director a designer, etc., get a bit more pro-active on the political front, so our elected representatives remember that they need us, and that we’re not just all song and dance.

Don’t forget to vote November 5th!!!

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Tony Award-winning Best Actor in a Musical, Billy Porter as Lola in the Tony Award-winning Best Musical,  KINKY BOOTS

Tony Award-winning Best Actor in a Musical, Billy Porter as Lola in the Tony Award-winning Best Musical, KINKY BOOTS

With the Tony Awards behind us, talk has started about what shows will tour in 2014-2015. My personal opinion has been that, while receiving a Tony Award is wonderful, it doesn’t have a major effect on whether a tour will succeed.

Here’s a post from a few years ago where I talk about Tony Awards and tours.

The Columbus Dispatch, per this article from a few days ago, also has some opinions.

What about you? What’s your opinion?

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tony award trophy

At the end of this post is a link to a recent New York Times article giving a bit of a Tony Awards wrap up. Despite not winning Best Musical, MATILDA THE MUSICAL was already doing well at the box office and has a solid advance. However, the challenge now is trying to decide whether or not to go on tour in the 2014-2015 season. Seems like a no-brainier given the show’s popularity, but the producer, Michael David, while expecting the show to go on tour, realizes the challenges of building a touring version that retains what makes the show so dynamic and special, while at the same time is practical enough from a costs standpoint, as well as creating a version that will fit technically and aesthetically into all the different theaters it would tour in around North America.

Tony Win Gives Box Office Boost to ‘Kinky Boots’

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I’m writing this post from my mobile phone. I’ve never done this before, so apologies in advance for any typos or weird formatting!

Day 2 of the Spring Road Conference has been a full day of diverse panels and creative conversations that began at 8am. Below is a small sampling of just a few of today’s discussions…

EVOLUTION OF THE ROAD

In this panel, a group of presenters, producers and booking agents discussed general observations, as well as some of the economic challenges involved in commercial theatre touring from their varying perspectives. Here is an overview…

– In the course of laying out a tour presenters and producers feel there is room to improve with regard to balancing the strength of sub load-ins from one market to another. In other words, perhaps adjusting the deal for a show from market to market in relation to the size of the sub load-in is worth considering, as a larger sub load-in involves less risk compared to a sub load-in that is not as robust.

– Bookings are happening further and further in advance, allowing for more lead time.

– The success of family titles was seen as varying from city to city from one presenter’s standpoint. Certain cities will have more family programming over another and the popularity of family programming is not necessarily uniform across markets.

– The question of whether there is too much product out there was brought up, and how that might be affecting the success of an engagement, as well as the number of weeks competing tours are able to get as a result.

– Revenue Management: Dynamic Pricing, also called Demand Pricing, is becoming an increasingly popular and effective tool for presenters and producers to maximize revenue and the panel concurred that demand pricing has even much more potential. Demand pricing, when implemented effectively, in addition to increasing gross revenue also helps to offset show and venue related expenses that continue to increase year after year.

– On a universally positive note, the panel agreed that Broadway is becoming more mainstream. Songs are getting out there due in large part to the recent theatre reality shows, as well as TV shows (such as “Glee”) that have helped to educate a larger population about musical theatre.

– The panelists agreed it was wise to think more about seeing how to effectively harness the digital activity that goes on during Broadway runs and apply this momentum to touring shows. The first time theatre ticket buyers hear about a tour coming to their town should not be when they are being sold a ticket.

“HAVE SAFE TIX!”

This panel discussed the ongoing problems presenters have with ticket scalping websites that make themselves appear as though they are associated with the presenters and their theaters. Many presenters are trying to get state and federal legislation passed to combat these companies, as many patrons are buying their tickets from these sites thinking they are buying tickets from the actual theatre organization. These sites overcharge and also don’t provide customer support when something goes wrong. The theater then ends up holding the bag and dealing with angry, confused patrons who thought they bought their tickets from the theater. It seems presenters are fighting an uphill battle against the savvy scalpers, but they are indeed fighting hard, and have been finding better ways to educate their audiences about these sites.

CREATIVE CONVERSATION

We were super fortunate to have the leads of KINKY BOOTS along with Harvey Fierstein, Jerry Mitchell and Cyndi Lauper as a creative conversation. These conversations are fun, informal panels about the creative process and other behind the scene tidbits. This group had a wonderful chemistry, which is also apparent when you see the show!

* * * *

The most significant takeaway for me from this year’s conference is how much more digital the commercial theatre industry has become since I first started attending this conference six or seven years ago. Producers, presenters, and their teams are clearly beginning to embrace digital media and strategies to strengthen their marketing and ticket sales. Even the conference schedule was accessible via an app!

It’s both exciting (and a relief!) to see that the commercial theatre industry is starting to implement technology more assertively, and in creative ways. Using digital marketing and social media enables audience members to interact with the brand in a more direct and constant way, and also extends a sense of the live experience. This, combined with effectively reaching ticket buyers through all the various electronic devices we have now, and will continue to have, will help sustain the industry and make theatre remain a prominent entertainment choice for years to come.

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