Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Advice for getting On in Off-Broadway

Last week we met with Michael Roderick of Small Pond Entertainment. We were looking for help and advice regarding shows like our upcoming Circus Terrifico, to be premiered in its live orchestra version by the Winnipeg Symphony in April.

For a price, Michael provides advice for making it big (or little) in the world of theatrical production.

Michael was kind enough to give us more than an hour gratis. Here are some of the things he suggested:

  • Come up with a written plan that includes objectives and a networking strategy
  • Networking is all important and that means meeting people in person. A friend of a friend of a friend, etc. may be the way to go. 
  • The Internet represents a lot of people shouting to be heard. It can be useful but only if it leads finally to a personal contact
  • The artist, i.e. the creative person, is spreading himself (herself) too thin by trying to produce his (her) own work. 
  • Off-Broadway shows (as opposed to off-off Broadway) typically cost into the hundreds of thousands, and more. Some of this is to be laid at the feet of unions requiring guaranteed wages (even if the show closes early) and some at the feet of Off-Broadway theaters, which require high rental fees and guarantees. 
  • There are indeed wealthy people out there who are bored with their normal routine and might drop money on something they find different and interesting
  • Build relationships. For instance, if you want to tour, build a relationship with a touring company and let them do the touring
  • Periodically check the effectiveness of your plan. If it is not effective, change it.
  • If you are really doing something outside the box, create your own box or niche.
  • Be careful about the messages you send out. Often, unwittingly, you will be sending out negative vibes or sending out messages that don't require an answer
  • And this, possibly most important of all: be of use to the person with whom you want to network. At least initially it's about them and not about you
  • Often it's in the very last minutes of a conversation that anything is said about your own project. Encourage your networkee to talk about their own interests. So definitely research what those interests are.
From my own rather long experience in this business, this is all very sound advice. It is also very tough advice to put into practice, very tricky. If you can afford Michael and want to put on a Broadway show, it might be a good idea to have a seasoned hand to help navigate the tricky and dangerous waters of the Broadway theatrical world.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Tango Dreams = a composer's dream

Here's something to keep warm the heart of a composer and keep the creative juices flowing: David Earle of Dancetheatre David Earle has created a ballet based on Tango Dreams, my composition for string trio and accordion. And it is a wonder to behold How did this happen? Before I explain, please have a look at the ballet on another wonderful concept = Youtube.
Truth is, in all happenings there is a chain of causation. I believe this because I need to believe it. I need to believe that my efforts vis a vis getting my music out there and performed have had a result.
Here's the chain of causation:

  • I meet Joseph Petric, accordionist extraordinaire. How? I don't remember exactly. Probably after a concert.
  • Joseph, who somehow knows my music and is a proseiitizer for the accordion, asks me to write a piece. I write Serenity for accordion and clarinet - a great piece (I think) - which he performs in England. 
  • On the basis of this (I suppose) Joseph asks me to compose a piece for accordion and string trio - since he is performing with the Adaskin Trio.
  • I compose Tango Dreams, since I have become enthralled with tango dancing - but that's another story.
  • About 15 years later I decide that, having composed a number of theater pieces which are undeservedly ( I believe) languishing after one or two performances, that I should take matters into my own hands.
  • I found a music theater company called Voice Afire Pocket Opera and Cabaret and pay substantial money to attend Ontario Contact - and later, APAP, Chamber Music America, etc.
  • David Earle of Dancetheatre David Earle had never heard of me till I attended Ontario Contact.  I was trying to sell The Pocket Madama Butterfly aka Butterfly's Trouble as well as a few other productions, but not specifically Tango Dreams.
  • At Ontario Contact Dancetheatre David Earle has a booth. 
  • Since nobody - and I do mean nobody - seemed at all interested in my particular booth at Ontario Contact, I began wandering and in the course of my wandering chatted with the people manning David Earle's booth. Not David himself, mind you. One person, whose name I am embarrassed to say I no longer remember, is particularly encouraging.
  • I send the score of Tango Dreams to my personal contact at Dancetheatre David Earle
  • About 3 years later voila! There is a Tango Dreams ballet.
Life is about human contacts. Comments?