Thursday, October 18, 2007

Reducing The Odds

The League is linking shows closing to the cost of labor. Somehow "Ring of Fire" was more expensive than "Jersey Boys". "Festen" and "The Pirate Queen" were more expensive than "Spring Awakening". They all loaded in with the same size crews. The only real difference is that some were hits and some weren't. The Producers are telling each other (and their Investors) that if only we could reduce costs, we would have hits, hits and more hits. The way I see it is that this like going to a casino and telling the waitress that brings you drinks she needs to work for less because you don't like the odds at the craps table.

The head of the League, Charlotte St. Martin (formerly of the hospitality industry where they know how to treat workers. According to a Pew Study, 17% of all illegal Mexican immigrants work in the hospitality industry.) takes a chapter out the old union-busting handbook and makes illusions to what had been known as "featherbedding" (being forced to hire workers for jobs that don't exist any more due to technology). There's a saying in my business. "A lack of planning on your part does not necessarily constitute an emergency on my part." If the production team for the show doesn't have it's act together and wastes time, this is my problem how, exactly? On the shows I've worked, this poor planning is found more frequently with less experienced teams, with less experienced producers, usually in shows that are done on the cheap. Shows that close quickly but have generated income for the Producers in preproduction, at the expense of the Investors, for months if not years.

By lowering the bar for production, you'll lower the bar for production values. The Producers will take Investor's money for weaker and weaker shows (Batman, The Musical, Abie's Irish Rose, The Musical). By lowering production values, you end up with lifetime work for Producers, greater risk for Investors and a cheapening of the brand that is Broadway.

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