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What does a Broadway Producer do? Over 100 Producers respond

February 24th, 2016 by admin

I got an email a few weeks ago from a high school student with the simplest question ever.

“Ken,” she typed, “Can you tell me . . . what does a Broadway Producer do?”

I try to answer all of my reader’s questions, but I have to say, I was a bit overwhelmed at the thought of trying to answer this one.  First I thought about directing her to my Producer Mission Statement.  Then I thought about trying to come up with a list of my day-to-day duties on a show.

But then I remembered how different every single Broadway Producer I know is . . . and how each one of them focuses on different areas of the biz, depending on what they know, what they love, and what they do best.

So, rather than come up with a long-winded answer of my own, I decided to come up with a Wiki answer to my reader’s question.  I went to my Broadway League brothers and sisters and asked all the Broadway Producers I know to answer my reader’s question in one, short sentence.

And now, right here, I’m going to list all of them.  Put them all together, and that’s what we do!

I promised all the Producers on this list to keep it anonymous, but I will say this . . . there are some heavy hitter answers below.  There are more Tonys on this list than at a West Side Story reunion.

Enjoy the answers!

– – – –

Question:  What does a Producer do?

– Have fun while keeping all the balls in the air until we open.

– Producers do everything!  We are the bank, the therapist, the negotiator, the scapegoat, the creative, and we rarely get credit! I should add its awesome. Because I think it is.

– Getting everyone to do what I want done while making them all think it was their idea.

– We manage the business behind the show.

– Create solutions.

– Producing is the art of saying yes judiciously and no politely.

– Look at a blank slate each morning and figure out – “what has to happen next” – and then make it happen.

– What do I do?  Emails… decision maker and cheerleader.  (mostly emails)

– Producers inspire others to be as passionate about the project as they are.

– Encourage and foster excellence for the purpose of optimizing profit and art.

– We raise money for projects we have faith in and then try our hardest to repay all of those wonderful investors who have had faith in us (hopefully with a profit).

– Make ideas real.

– Create/ facilitate product, then get butts in seats.

– Find the right project.  Raise money.  Hire the creative team.  Raise money.

– It’s a lot of blocking and tackling, with the occasional touch down.

– Partner with the best creative team and let them work their magic!

– Pray.

– Create a safe space for new art to be born.

– Everything but act, write, direct or design . . . In other words, everything you wouldn’t hire someone else to do.

– Deliver an engaging production that appeals to the widest possible demographic.

– Encourage, empower and embrace.

– Create a collaborative, focused, dynamic and exciting team-working environment where everyone shares a common vision for the material.

– How about “everything.”

– I don’t UNDER spend or OVER spend, but WISELY spend every dollar avail on creative advertising and marketing.

– No matter how difficult the biz may be, I always remember the passion which enticed me to be a Producer in the first place.

– I try each day to prove I am the natural heir of Max Bialystock (to collect the royalties he amassed).

– I would say my greatest challenge as a producer is putting together the right team (director, choreographer, music, lyricist, etc).

– Create a safe and supportive environment for artists to make magic.

– A Producer is a midwife for writer(s) and the creative team. .

– To make the impossible possible.

– Assess, finance, assess, stay out of the way.

– Make the best art possible with the available financial resources.

– Find works and artists you feel passionate about and to put them on the stage.

– Realize the world of the play.

– Passionately advocate for the creator’s vision of the play and the investors’ right to recoup their investment.

– A Producer does whatever needs to be done, from A ( finding the property ) to Z (making sure the johns have enough toilet paper).

– Producing is the art of making the deal.

– A theatre Producer manages the collaborators of the most collaborative art form that exists.

– The three F’s:  FIND IT (the show), FUND IT, FILL THE SEATS (preferably with paying customers)

– Create an experience for an audience they never knew they needed.

– Guidance Counselor

– Visionary.

– Advocate/ambassador, sounding board.

– A producer coordinates all aspects of the project and hopes the people he or she picks does the best job possible creating his vision while at the same time getting the most bang for his buck.

– Deal with the people who invest that think they know more than we do re: advertising and everything else.

– Maintains the connection between “show” and “business.”

– Raise money.

– I hold a lot of hands and smile & agree with everyone.

– The Producer is the mother that nurtures the baby until it grows up!

– A benevolent (collaborative) Dictator.

– Make their dreams come true.

– I don’t believe that any writer, actor or director has ever made a live stage event happen.  Without demeaning the incredible talent that the team brings to the table, without a Producer wanting to see the product, nothing would ever get on stage.

– In my view, the Producer is the project manager of the show, who also acts as the CEO/entrepreneur.

– This is a big topic and not one I am comfortable addressing with a sound bite.

– Identify the project, the creative team, and get out of the way.

– I bring together all the resources necessary to transform an intangible idea into reality.

– Support the general partners.

– I often say the Producer is “The glue that holds it all together.”

– A producer ensures that: the show is good, sells well, and runs smoothly and…remains calm.

– Have a vision and find the right team to execute it.

– “Put it all together.” (to borrow, if I may, from Sondheim)

– Producing is keeping the ball moving down the field until hopefully, you help to allow the entire team to score a winning goal.

– Discover & nurture new works, try and keep everyone happy, create a “family”

– Keep myself constantly inspired by reading everything I can get my hands on.

– Make shows happen

– A producer produces.

– Get the show on.

– Choosing what to produce is the most important decision a producer makes.

– To present a writer who is able to spark the thoughts or feelings of an audience in a fresh and unprecedented way.

– If a show is the equivalent of a small company, the producer is its CEO.

– A producer is like the CEO of a company: hires and fires everyone and most importantly, makes sure everyone’s paycheck clears at the end of the week.

– Develop great work and persuade audiences to buy tickets to it.

– Keep the herd moving forward

– To me, producing is development and marketing.

– My response to this often-asked question is that producing each new show is like starting a business – you have to raise the money, hire a business manager (GM), raise money, hire an attorney, raise money, hire a marketing/advertising/promotions team, raise money, hire a director, raise money, select and hire a design team, raise money, deal with the unions and raise money, etc.

– Oversee the financing, marketing and creative process to deliver a show that connects with audiences.

– My first reaction to your question is one word: “nurture.”  Actually, it’s just like mothering.

– Identify the kernel of greatness and execute a vision for making it so

– A producer is (among so many things), both . . . the owner of the sheep, and their border collie.

– Oversee every element both creative and financial

– A Producer is ultimately responsible for everything, but actually does nothing.

– A Producer always keeps the lines of communication open so that artists, management and money are unified around the same vision.

– Strike a balance between artistic vitality and commercial appeal.

– All encompassing; responsible for every detail

– Maintain an environment where your creative team can do the best work they are capable of…

– Focus on the product, not the money. If the product is really good, the money will find you.

– Happily enabling artists to execute their visions.

And lastly, I’ll include one longer answer on this subject because this guy agreed to go on the record with his answer, and because, well, this guy just has a certain way with words.

A producer is a rare, paradoxical genius: hard-headed, soft-hearted, cautious, reckless, a hopeful innocent in fair weather, a stern pilot in stormy weather, a mathematician who prefers to ignore the laws of mathematics and trust intuition, an idealist, a realist, a practical dreamer, a sophisticated gambler, a stage-struck child.  That’s a producer.

– Oscar Hammerstein II Thanks to all the Producers that participated!

– – – – –

Reproduced from Ken Davenport’s website:  http://www.theproducersperspective.com/

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Hi. I’m Ken Davenport. I produce stuff. You can too. For more information about me, click here.

A Love Supreme for Ruth Bader Ginsburg – Only one thing can distract U.S. Justice from the law: the opera

February 11th, 2016 by admin

What do I love about opera?

Its glorious music, high drama and gorgeous voices. An operatic voice is like no other. I was a super once — an extra —in Die Fledermaus, and was seated within three feet of Placido Domingo. I had never heard a voice of that beauty so close up. It felt as if an electric shock were running through me.

I think Mozart’s operas The Marriage of Figaro  and Don Giovanni are the two most perfect ever written. The music is magical. The sextet in The Marriage is the most hilarious piece in all of opera. And Don Giovanni has the most seductive duet, “Là ci darem la mano,” sung when the Don attempts to seduce Zerlina. One day I’ll say The Marriage is my favorite opera. The next day, the Don.

Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg walks with two Carmen extras at Washington, D.C.'s Kennedy Center. — Mark Peterson/Redux

Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg walks with two Carmen extras at Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center. — Mark Peterson/Redux

In 2015, an opera opened about me and Justice Antonin Scalia. It’s called Scalia/Ginsburg. The composer, Derrick Wang, has degrees in music from Harvard and Yale. Enrolled in law school, he was reading dueling opinions by me and Justice Scalia and decided he could compose an appealing comic opera from them. He uses lines from opinions, speeches and articles we’ve written. The opera is really touching because it shows two people who interpret the Constitution differently but genuinely like each other. The last duet we sing is “We Are Different, We Are One”: different in the way we interpret written texts, one in our reverence for the institution we serve, the Supreme Court of the United States. 

How do you get to know opera?

For me, it began when I was 11, in 1944. My aunt took me to a high school in Brooklyn  for a condensed version of La Gioconda. I loved it. In high school I started attending the New York City Opera. To save money, I’d go to dress rehearsals. Or I’d buy tickets for seats in the last row of the top balcony.

 When it came time to introduce my daughter to opera, I played a recording of Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte,  libretto in English, during dinner. After she had heard it maybe four or five times, we read the libretto together. Then my husband and I took her to a performance. By then, she knew most of the lyrics by heart. She was 8 years old. My son’s first exposure was Aida.

One way to get to know and love opera is by attending the Metropolitan Opera simulcasts in a movie theater. I went to four or five last year.

Most of the time, even when I go to sleep, I’m thinking about legal problems. But when I go to the opera, I’m just lost in it. Loving it. And I don’t think about any legal brief.

—As told to Frederick Allen by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, AARP The Magazine, December 2015

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 82, is an associate justice of the Supreme Court.

Does this article put you in the mood for a little opera? …

Yale Opera presents A Midsummer Nights Dream at the Shubert

February 19-21, 2016 

Benjamin Britten’s magical opera based on the Shakespeare play

is performed in English

http://www.shubert.com/presentations/current-season/yale-opera

Long-lost Beatrix Potter tale, ‘Kitty-in-Boots,’ rediscovered

February 2nd, 2016 by admin

London (CNN) A “new” Beatrix Potter story found in a museum more than 100 years after it was written is to be published for the first time, with a cameo by Peter Rabbit.

“The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots,” featuring the exploits of “a well-behaved prime black Kitty cat, who leads rather a double life” was penned by the much-loved children’s author in 1914.

But the story never made it into print; Potter had completed the text and begun work on the illustrations when, she later explained, “interruptions began.”beatrix book

Those interruptions — from the outbreak of World War I to marriage, illness and a growing interest in farming — meant that the book remained unfinished.

Bundled together with many of Potter’s other papers, it was forgotten until Jo Hanks, a publisher at Penguin Random House, read about it in an out-of-print biography.

“There was a mention of a tale about a cat called Kitty, but I didn’t know how far she’d got with it, or if she’d intended to publish,” Hanks told CNN.

Inspired, she dug around in the archives of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, where many of Potter’s papers are kept, and came across what she says was a “lucky find” — a complete manuscript, a dummy version of the book, and two sketches.

Potter’s only known color illustration for the book shows the heroine, Miss Kitty, wearing a tweed jacket, shirt and tie, and carrying a rifle over her shoulder.

So before the story could be unveiled to readers, an artist had to be found to conjure up the pictures which would help bring it to life.

Hanks says there was an obvious choice: Quentin Blake, whose illustrations for Roald Dahl’s children’s books are almost as famous as the characters themselves.

“Quentin was the first person who sprang to mind; his artistic sensibilities are very reminiscent of Beatrix Potter, and they share the same energy and love of rebellious characters.

“He has really brought Kitty off the page, and I think Potter would have approved of him — I think they’d have got on very well.”

Blake, who chose not to see Potter’s original illustration until he had finished his own work on the book, said he had “liked the story immediately.”

“It’s full of incident and mischief and character … I have a strange feeling that it might have been waiting for me.”

And for long-term fans of Potter’s work there’s an added extra to look forward to: A special appearance by some old favorites, including Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and an all-grown-up version of Peter Rabbit.

“Peter is characterized quite differently in this book,” explains Hanks. “He’s older, rather full-of-himself — no longer the youngster we knew, getting into trouble — he’s transformed into a rather portly buck rabbit.”

“The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots” will be published on September 1, to mark the 150th anniversary of Potter’s birth.

For complete article:

http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/26/entertainment/new-beatrix-potter-kitty-in-boots/index.html

By Bryony Jones, CNN

Tue January 26, 2016

Tickets for Peter Rabbit Tales at the Shubert, Sat. April 23, 2016

with performances at 1:30pm & 4:30pm are now on sale!