Daddy Long Legs Producer on Why He's Using Digital Technology to Legally Distribute His Show for Free Online

News   Daddy Long Legs Producer on Why He's Using Digital Technology to Legally Distribute His Show for Free Online
 
The musical Daddy Long Legs will make a bit of theatre history Dec. 10 at 8 PM ET when it becomes the first-ever Off-Broadway performance to be live streamed online to the world for free.

Following the live broadcast, the performance will be replayed in the respective times in Los Angeles (8 PM PT), London (8 PM GMT) and Tokyo (JST). To register for the live stream, visit the website here

The two-actor production officially opened at the Davenport Theatre Sept. 28. The new musical, about a romance that spans several years and is developed through letters, features music and lyrics by Tony nominee Paul Gordon and a book by Tony winner John Caird. Caird, who also directs, reunites with Gordon following their earlier collaboration on the Tony-nominated Jane Eyre.

Paul Alexander Nolan and Megan McGinnis
Paul Alexander Nolan and Megan McGinnis Photo by Jeremy Daniel

Co-producer Ken Davenport spoke with Playbill.com about the landmark live streaming project:

How will the live stream help the show?  I’m assuming you’re either trying to boost the box office of the current show, or create buzz for a future tour/stock and amateur life. Are those correct?
Our goal is to try and raise awareness for the show and for the theatre, in general. I believe that the digital distribution of theatrical content is the most powerful audience development too we are not using.

Also, we all know that shows sell tickets primarily on word of mouth. Well, we can only fit 1,000 people a week in our theatre. Hamilton can fit 10,000. Guess which one's word of mouth spreads faster? With a live stream we can give our word of mouth a steroid shot in one night. What kind of technology is involved at the theatre end?
It's not as complex as you think.  After all, you can stream from your phones these days.  We're partnering with a terrific company called, well, Livestream.com. They are the industry leaders in this technology and they have made it very easy for us to accomplish.

Did you have to reconfigure the theatre, the staging, the orchestra or the script itself?
Very little. We want to recreate the theatre experience as closely as possible, so we're not making many adjustments.  Maybe a little lighting tweak here, etc. But otherwise, the live stream will be as if you are sitting in the Davenport Theatre watching the show live.

How did you get the unions on board with this? How much negotiating did this take?
Whenever you do something different and new in this industry, it's always a challenge, with everyone. That's usually because we can't quantify the unknown. We're all still figuring out what the potential benefit is from these events. My opinion is that we should be financially encouraged to do these things instead of penalized. After all, we're doing this to bring more people to the theatre, and that's good for all of us. Also, something I hear a lot is the fear of agreeing to something that might "set a precedent for Broadway."  Honestly, that kind of thought has put commercial Off-Broadway in the difficult situation it's in now. They are two separate industries, and they shouldn't be lumped in the same category.  And certainly Off-Broadway shouldn't be penalized because Broadway is booming.

Is this a blueprint for how you plan to market your future shows?
People asked me the same question when I crowd funded Godspell: will I raise money the same way? And I'll give you the same answer... If it makes sense for that show, then yep, I will. But I don't think you can ever market a show the exact same way. Shows are unique. They each require their own unique style of promotion. 

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The Off-Broadway premiere began previews Sept. 10, starring Megan McGinnis (Les Misérables), who has been attached to the project since its 2009 debut, alongside Paul Alexander Nolan (Once, Jesus Christ Superstar). Will Reynolds made his debut in Nolan's role on Oct. 29 and was succeeded by McGinnis' real-life husband, Adam Halpin on Nov. 20. The couple are scheduled to perform together onstage through February 2016.

The Art of Subway Meditation and Curl Control! Spend a Two-Show Day With Daddy Long Legs Star Megan McGinnis

The musical is based on the 1912 novel by Jean Webster. Set in turn-of-the-century New England, it tells the story of Jerusha Abbott, the oldest orphan in the John Grier Home. A mysterious benefactor agrees to send her to college under the condition that she writes him a letter once a month, and through this correspondence, she shares her experiences of discovering literature, adventure, love and self. Not knowing who her aid is, she dubs him "Daddy Long Legs."

The show, produced by Davenport (Kinky Boots) and Michael Jackowitz (How To Succeed in Business...), premiered at California's Rubicon Theatre Company in 2009 and has had acclaimed productions throughout the United States as well as international productions in Canada, Tokyo and London's West End.

The New York production features scenic and costume design by Olivier Award winner and Tony Award nominee David Farley (Sunday in the Park With George), lighting design by Paul Toben (The Story Of My Life), sound design by Peter Fitzgerald and music direction, arrangements and orchestrations by Brad Haak (An American in Paris).

Additional producers include Hunter Arnold, Peg McFeeley Golden, Tres Rosas, Ben Bailey, David Bryant, Caiola Productions, Carl Daikeler, Jeffrey Grove, Marguerite Hoffman and associate producer Kayla Greenspan.

Tickets are available by visiting Telecharge or by calling (212) 239-6222. The Davenport Theatre is located at 354 West 45th St., New York.

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