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

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