Booking It! Producer Ken Davenport on Getting Your Show Off the Ground

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25 Apr 2014

Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN's new feature series Booking It asks leading industry members to share professional insights, need-to-know tips and essential tricks of the trade for up-and-coming and established theatre artists. This week we speak with Tony Award-winning producer Ken Davenport.

Davenport, who writes the theatrical industry blog, is the man behind such Off-Broadway productions as Awesome 80's Prom and Altar Boyz, as well as a producer of the Broadway productions of Mothers and Sons, The Bridges of Madison County, Macbeth, Kinky Boots, Godspell, Chinglish, Oleanna, Speed-the-Plow, You're Welcome America, Blithe Spirit and 13.

The innovative producer, named one of Crain's "Forty Under 40," also ushered in a new era of Broadway fundraising with his 2012 revival of Godspell, which welcomed theatre lovers and first-time investors to back a Broadway show for as little as $1,000.

Davenport also runs industry-related seminars for actors, producers, writers and more. Check out the upcoming workshops here.

His current projects include his adaptation of the novel and film Somewhere in Time, which recently premiered at Portland Stage Company, as well as the musical Gettin' the Band Back Together, which played an acclaimed run at the George Street Playhouse last fall.

Below, Davenport shares his thoughts on the current landscape of theatrical producing, as well as some of his tips for aspiring producers and actors.

How much is an above-the-title producer involved in the show's creative decisions? Are they, in any way, involved in casting or the creative process?
Davenport: The lead producer is very involved... as involved as they want to be. An above-the-title [producer] may not be as involved in the cast process, but is certainly involved in the creative process as the piece develops, by giving notes, suggestions, etc. to the team to help shape the material.

When you are involved in casting - what do you look for in an actor's audition (monologue or song). Davenport: I have a simple casting rule. I look for people that I want to hang out with for 2.5 hours... in the dark. Actors have to have incredible charisma to stand on a stage and keep the attention of 2,000 people.

What are some challenges that actors face now that are new to the industry as it evolves?
Davenport: Like everything else in the internet age, actors have to keep up with technology. When I was an actor, all that I needed was a black-and-white headshot. Then it was color. Then you needed a website. And then everyone needed a reel. And then that reel needed to be on your website. And if you want to stand out, you have to keep up.


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