Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sourcing Creativity and Design In Entertainment Technology

Spark of Creation

Finding useful industry resources is always a good thing. Especially as technology advances rapidly, trends change and more and more companies are offering similar products. One of my favorite places to turn is Lighting and Sound America (L&SA).

I was first introduced to L&SA through its slick, glossy, print edition offered free to industry professionals in the USA (and for a small shipping and handling fee worldwide). The magazine is gorgeous, visual and full of rich content. It is also available complete, in digital form.

Each edition of L&SA contains a wide variety of articles featuring different facets of the entertainment industry; and technology and equipment used in each application. I find this type of publication so helpful in keeping up to date and gaining a better understanding of the opportunities for use through the practical examples.

Want to know more about the latest advances in LED lighting? Interested in which sound engineers prefer what equipment and sound reinforcement? You’ll find it here through interviews with the professionals currently working across the industry.

In the October 2010 issue, L&SA explores sound and lighting technology through the Las Vegas’ City Center, pop musician Rihanna’s latest concert tour, The U.S. Army Soldier Show, and the renovation of an Off-Broadway theater transforming it in to a state of the art performance space.  Products and companies featured in articles are linked to sources throughout the magazine.

The L&SA website is a wealth of information and links to all the latest technology, equipment, manufacturers, distributors, seminars, workshops, conventions and a peek at the future of technology in the industry. You can even find links and information regarding employment and membership in professional organizations.

There are, of course, lots of advertisements and manufacturer placement; but it a perfect blend (with informational content) for the technician or industry professional looking for an excellent source to be kept up to date and stay ahead of the trends.

LIGHTING & SOUND AMERICA * Published by PLASA Media, Inc. and part of the highly respected UK-based Professional Lighting and Sound Association (PLASA), Lighting&Sound America is a monthly publication for lighting, sound, and staging professionals working in theatre, touring, clubs, themed entertainment, houses of worship, retail, and more. Lighting&Sound America is critically acclaimed for its high-quality presentation and in-depth editorial coverage, including the popular monthly Technical Focus section, New Technology, and comprehensive product reviews. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Ken Davenport: Leading the Way

There's No Business Like Show Business
The cast of the hit Off-Broadway production Altar Boyz

Did you know:

Did you know that all of these incredibly helpful tools are the brainchild of one man? Who is this brilliant person?
Ken Davenport

Ken Davenport.

Last month as I started working on my Masters Degree in Entertainment Business we started building our Social Media Network (SMN) and Personal Learning Network (PLN). I spent hours searching the internet, exploring websites and linking RSS feeds trying to find the best industry sources available online. I happened to find a blog/website entitled, The Producer’s Perspective, and I’m completely hooked. I’ve learned more about the business of theatre in the past month than I thought possible-- all thanks to one man. Ken Davenport. The funny thing is that I was already using and the Did He Like It website for several years. I knew Davenport’s name sounded familiar but never made the connection.

If I were to head to New York today, the first door I would knock on would be Davenport Theatrical Enterprises. (

I have to warn you that if you visit the website and have any interest in theatre, particularly what goes on behind the scenes, be prepared to spend several pleasurable hours exploring. Yesterday I spent two hours just reading some of Davenport’s past blog entries. ( It is like receiving a theatre business education for free.

Ken Davenport developed his love of theatre as a child actor in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. He went on to graduate with honors from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. In 2004, after ten years working behind the scenes, mostly managing Broadway shows, he founded Davenport Theatrical Enterprises (DTE). In just six short years, his productions have grossed over 100 million dollars worldwide. Davenport has received numerous awards and recognition from the industry and serves on many boards and committees of organizations that exist to sustain theatre on and off Broadway.

If you want to define a true leader, look at Ken Davenport.

In John C. Maxwell’s book Developing the Leader Within You (1993. Maxwell Motivation, Inc.), he discusses five levels of leadership. Davenport certainly has attained the fourth level: People Development (building future leaders) and is quickly on his way to the Fifth and top level: Personhood (lifetime leadership) even at his young age. Crain Business named him one of 40 Under 40 in 2008 of New York’s Rising Stars. (
 He is often sought out as a speaker and panelist on topics of creating, developing, managing and producing in the industry. He is considered the leader in online and social network marketing and has had a huge influence on the industry’s use of the new media in marketing productions to the masses.

The cast DTE's original production My First Time.

One example of Davenport’s leadership strength’s can be better understood by reading his blog entry, What do I look for when I hire a marketing person? ( His answer? “I look for someone who wants to be a Producer”.  He goes on to say, “A lot of people are scared to bring on employees that want to do what they do, that could compete, that could rip-off ideas, etc. But from my perspective, these are exactly the people you want working for you. And when they are ready to move on and do their own thing, I'll be happier than they will be. Because I will have helped produce a Producer.”  That is a true leader.
Will Ferrell in You're Welcome America
Photo by Robert J. Saferstein
Just look at the success of DTE to date: Six out of seven of the productions have recouped their original investments. Altar Boyz  (which Davenport co-conceived) is slated for productions in more than 15 countries following a 2005 Outer Critics Award (Best Off-Broadway Musical), a national tour, and achieving the status as the longest running Off-Broadway musical to open in the last ten years. The 2008 limited-run Broadway hit, You’re Welcome America: A Final Night With George W. Bush (with Will Ferrell) recouped it's investment and was completely sold out.
The latest project, Miss Abigail’s Guide to Dating, Mating and Marriage! (which he co-wrote) is currently in previews Off-Broadway. The production stars Eve Plumb, best know as Jan from The Brady Bunch TV series. Also in development, a project that I am extremely excited about, a musical adaptation of my all-time favorite movie, Somewhere In Time (1980 film, with Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour).

DTE offers many services to the industry. Among them, script development and staged readings, general management for such Broadway and Off-Broadway productions as Avenue Q, producing and managing multiple industry and social networking sites, the recent introduction of the the iPhone app, At the Booth. ( With this app, potential theatre goers can view what shows are offering discounted tickets at the TKTS Booth in Times Square prior to going and standing in long lines.

The project that DTE has generating the most buzz right now, is the first-ever community-produced Broadway show. ( For an investment of only $100 per unit (minimum of 10 units or $1000), anyone can become a Broadway producer on the upcoming 2011 production of Godspell. ( ). It’s a Broadway first and industry insiders and the media are watching closely as the promotion develops.

Now in previews, Opening Night is October 24th, 2010.

Davenport Theatrical Enterprises is on the move, in touch with the latest trends and running ahead of the pack in terms of developing and using our ever-changing technology to its best advantage. I can’t wait to see what Ken Davenport and his creative staff come up with next. You should be watching too.

Publicity photos: Altar Boyz

Friday, October 8, 2010

Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City Headed for the Stage: Broadway?

Putting It Together

I finally have to come out. I’m a Tale Chaser. No, really, its true. I’ve actually been a Tale Chaser since the early 90’s. This past weekend I made it official when I publically joined the club.

Scissor Sisters front man Jake Shears is part of the team behind Tales of the City.

When I moved to Chicago in 1989, I didn’t know many people and found myself searching for ways to entertain myself when I wasn’t working endless hours at the theatre. One of my favorite pastimes was combing through the shelves at the various neighborhood bookstores. Sometimes I would just browse and others I’d find myself lugging home a large parcel of books that would soon be transporting me to different worlds. It was on one of these excursions that I fell in love.  There on one of the tables as soon as I walked in the door was Armistead Maupin’s book Tales of the City.

As soon as I turned back the cover, I was in love. It had everything anyone could wish for: humor, mystery, romance and intrigue. I read the first book in one sitting. I found myself forced to put down future installments after a few chapters. I wanted to savor it, fantasize about that wonderful world of Barbary Lane, and make the joy of reading it last as long as I possibly could. It was my little piece of heaven.

Imagine my excitement when I read an article on the Playbill website announcing that the American Conservatory Theatre (ACT) is holding a workshop of a new musical based on Tales of the City and More Tales of the City. The official title: Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City. Leading the incredible cast of Broadway Alum is one of my favorite leading ladies, Betty Buckley as Anna Madrigal and the wonderful Stephen Bogardus as Edgar Halcyon. (
Betty Buckley stars in the Tales workshop as Anna Madrigal.

I spent several hours searching online for anything I could find about the project on and off the ACT website. (Official press release at: ) According the press release, the workshop currently in process now through October 22, 2010 is closed to the public. It is in preparation for the world premiere at ACT scheduled for May 17-June 19, 2011. No casting for the premiere production has been confirmed.

Armistead Maupin
Photo by Christopher Turner
The origins of Maupin’s Tales are legendary. In the 1970’s they began as a series in the San Francisco Chronicle that became the first book Tales of the City which led to More Tales of the City and followed by Further Tales of the City. Nearly 20 years later, those books began to come to life on the small screen in the form of TV miniseries’. And now, after the 2009 staged reading at Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's National Music Theater Conference, it appears Maupin’s work will be fully realized on the stage.

In an interview last May with Los Angeles Times Critic, Charles McNulty, Armistead Maupin said, "I thought that was the greatest compliment — to have your mythology be made into these wonderful forms of entertainment. I'm so grateful for every stage of ‘Tales' — from the newspaper series, to the novels, to the television series. This is my last act in the best kind of way. I feel so lucky at 65. Some people my age think it's all over for them, and I get to sit back and watch a musical rise up out of my work.” (

If the casting for the workshop is an indication, Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City could easily be Broadway-bound. Single tickets for the world premiere in San Francisco go on sale in January 2011.

The creative team features book writer Jeff Whitty (Avenue Q), music and lyrics by Scissor Sisters band members, Jake Shears and John Garden, and is directed by Tony Award-winner Jason Moore. Larry Keigwin choreographs the production.

Okay, its not what you were thinking but I’m sure there are many of you out there that are secret Tale Chasers too. If you want to join me and stand proud, you can become an official Tale Chaser by registering at

Press Release Photos courtesy of  ACT. ( Betty Buckley photo courtesy of (

Monday, October 4, 2010

Broadway Bound Leap Of Faith Has L.A. On Their Feet


The cast of Leap of Faith at the Center Theater Group/Ahmanson Theatre through October 24th.
Photo credit: Craig Schwartz

Brooke Shields
Here's a first-look at the anticipated Broadway bound musical production Leap of Faith currently playing at the Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles through October 24th. Based of the 1992 film starring Steve Martin, the story centers around a phony faith healer coming to town and creating miracles.

Broadway veterans Brooke Shields and Raúl Esparza lead the large cast that features Nicholas Barasch, Jarrod Emick, Kendra Kassebaum, Kecia Lewis-Evans and Leslie Odom, Jr. as well as Brad Anderson, Bradley Benjamin, Tom Berklund, Christopher Bones, Krystal Joy Brown, Ta'Rea Campbell, Eric L. Christian, Michelle Duffy, Harvey Evans, Ashley Blair Fitzgerald, Jennie Ford, Bob Gaynor, Angela Grovey, Shannon Lewis, Michael X. Martin, Maurice Murphy, Anise E. Ritchie, Darcie Roberts, Bryce Ryness, Ariel Shepley, C.E. Smith, Alex Michael Stoll, Dennis Stowe, Katherine Tokarz, Brandon Wardell, Karl Warden, Natalie Willes and Charlie Williams.

Brooke Shields and Raúl Esparza in the World Premiere
of Leap of Faith at the Ahmanson Theatre.
Photo credit: Craig Schwartz

Show: Leap Of Faith

Dates: Sept 11 - Oct 24, 2010

Location: Ahmanson Theatre 
135 N. Grand Ave. 

Los Angeles, CA 90012

Tickets: (213) 972-4400

The creative team is lead by Composer Alan Menken, lyrics by Glenn Slater, and book by Janus Cercone with Glenn Slater. Leap of Faith is directed and choreographed by Tony Award-winner Rob Ashford. The design team  includes set designer Robin Wagner and costume designer William Ivey Long. The new musical is based on the motion picture Leap of Faith produced by Paramount Pictures Corporation and written by Janus Cercone. 

Leap of Faith composer Alan Menken and lyricist Glenn Slater in rehearsal.

For more information and and some impressive multimedia files visit:

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Fall Preview of the 2010-11 Broadway Season

Another Opening, Another Show
Part One: Fall

Photo by Ethan Hill
Will it be the hottest ticket in town? Broadway Diva, Patti LuPone stars in the Lincoln Center production of the new musical, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.

Every summer I look forward to planning my Thanksgiving/Christmas trip to NYC. This year I had to make a choice : start my Masters Degree or my yearly trip to Broadway? My wallet was too thin to accommodate both. So I went online and hit the websites and the blogs and came to the conclusion: I wouldn't miss too much if I had to "Give My Regards" from afar this year. Besides, I really want and need to pursue this degree in Entertainment Business. That was July.

Now here it is the first of October, the 2010-11 Broadway season already in full swing: Did I make a mistake? There are so many new shows, revivals and transfers opening this fall its making me dizzy. There is nothing I want to do more than to drop everything and plan an extended trip to the Great White Way.

I won't even attempt to list or discuss all the new shows hitting the stage this fall, instead I'll tease you with a few highlights and provide you with links so you can explore them yourself.

Mrs. Warren’s Profession
By George Bernard Shaw
Directed by Doug Hughes
At the American Airlines Theater

A revival of the classic play stars Tony winner Cherry Jones and runs thru November 28th. Produced by the Roundabout Theatre Company.

Time Stands Still
By Donald Margulies
Directed by Daniel Sullivan
At the Cort Theater

In an unusual move, October 7th, Time Stands Still, currently in previews, re-opens after a summer hiatus. Eric Bogosian, Laura Linney, Christina Ricci and Brian D’Arcy, complete the talented cast. Ricci replaces Alicia Silverstone, who is unavailable, from the earlier run. (I saw it in March and it was excellent.) It will be interesting to see if it will be able to gain back the momentum and how the producers will market its return.
Twitter feed: @TimeStandsBway

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
Written & Directed by Alex Timbers
Music by Michael Friedman
At the Bernard Jacobs Theater

The Public Theatre transfers this rock musical about the seventh President after a sold out run. Opens October 13th.

Twitter Feed: @JaxRoxBway

The Scottsboro Boys
Music & Lyrics by John Kander & Fred Ebb
Book by David Thompson
Choreographed and directed by Susan Stroman
At the Lyceum Theater

Beginning previews October 7, The Scottsboro Boys transfers to Broadway following its sold out run last spring at the Vineyard Theatre, Off-Broadway, and an 8-week ‘tune-up’ at the Guthrie Theatre this summer.  Based on the true story from our nation’s not-so-proud past, The Scottsboro Boys tells of nine young black teenagers wrongly accused of raping two white women in the 1930’s. It is told in the style of a minstrel show. Opening Night, October 31st.
Twitter feed: @ScottsboroBoys

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
At the Belasco Theater
Music & lyrics by David Yazbek
Book by Jeffrey Lane
Director by Bartlett Sher

Previewing October 8th, following a second delay, due to technical difficulties, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown opens November 4th. Based on the 1988 Pedro Almodovar film, it features a star-studded cast that includes Broadway veterans Patti LuPone, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Sherie Rene Scott, Danny Burstein and Laura Benanti. Also in the cast is first season, American Idol runner-up, Justin Guarini. Produced by the Lincoln Center Theater.

Spiderman, Turn Off the Dark
Music by Bono & The Edge
Book by Julie Taymor & Glen Berger
Directed by Julie Taymor
At the Foxwoods Theater

The highly anticipated 50 million dollar production is schedule to fly in to Manhattan November 14th with an official December 21st opening night. With the multi-talented Julie Taymor at the helm, Spiderman is guaranteed to be nothing less than visually spectacular.

Twitter feed: @SpideyOnBway

So here I sit, resisting the urge to go find that hidden credit card -- tucked safely away for emergency use only.  The shows I listed above are only the tip of the iceberg. I didn't even mention the Signature Theatre Company's Off-Broadway revival of Tony Kushner's epic two part, Angels in America. ( 

Wait, now I did. 

Hmmmm..... where's that card?

Links to More About the 2010-11 Broadway Season: