Producers Talk Passion, Persistence and Progress at Variety’s Power of Broadway Gathering

Variety | 10/1/2018 | Alex Barasch
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In the age of streaming — and with studios like Disney and Warner Bros. taking over more theater turf — it’s clear that the landscape of American theater is changing. At Variety’s inaugural Power of Broadway event, which took place over breakfast at Bryant Park Grill on Monday, legit biz leaders weighed in on what that means for producers, artists and audiences in 2018 and beyond.

On the “Future of Broadway” panel, producer Sue Frost, Ambassador Theater Group’s Kristin Caskey, and Withumsmith + Brown’s Robert Fried discussed the various paths to the Great White Way. With the rising cost of more traditional out-of-town tryouts, it can be difficult to determine when a play is ready for Broadway — and to take the development time needed without going over budget. “The amount of time you have to build has grown shorter,” said Caskey, the producer of “Fun Home.” But that investment is still vital, both to generate momentum and to allow the show to find its footing artistically. As Caskey noted, “Fun Home’s” developmental period led to changes that were crucial to its ultimate success.

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Frost, for her part, took “a very slow trip” with “Come From Away,” knowing it had a difficult road ahead as “the 9/11 musical” with no name recognition and an ensemble cast. By the time it came to New York, she said, “over 250,000 people had seen the show — and thanks to social media, they were talking about it.”

Viral sensations like “Be More Chill” represent another potential route. As Frost told Variety after the panel, a cast album that finds its audience online (to the tune of 200 million streams, in the Joe Iconis musical’s case) may be able to bypass a more exhaustive out-of-town trial run. “Why not? Especially if it works!” she said, laughing. “And...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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