Thursday, December 14, 2017

Ken Davenport: Broadway Producer and Entrepreneur

Regular readers of entreVIEW (all 3 to 5 of you) know that I have spent every Thanksgiving for the last 30 years or so in NYC. While that means an occasional glimpse of the Macy’s parade or the activity at Rockefeller Center, and the chance to see my in-laws, it mostly means seeing Broadway musicals—seven this year (in four days), which is about average.

As I was contemplating a musical-related post on my latest trip—yes, there have been many over the years, including this one about "Hamilton"this one about "Finding Neverland" (produced by Harvey Fierstein, who you may have noticed has been in the news lately), and this one about "Here, Lies, Love" (a recent favorite musical)—I was surprised to realize that I have never written about Ken Davenport, who is the producer behind my favorite musical of my latest trip, the high acclaimed revival of "Once On This Island" that just opened on Broadway (a really terrific and innovative production of one of my all time favorites).

Ken Davenport is an award-winning theatre producer.  He has been a producer of many other Broadway and Off-Broadway musicals, including “Kinky Boots,” the Deaf West production of “Spring Awakening,” and another recent Tenenbaum family favorite, the Off-Broadway production of the charming chamber musical "Daddy Long Legs" which, incidentally, was produced at the Davenport Theatre named after Ken’s great-grandfather.

But he isn’t just a Broadway producer. He is also a great marketing innovator and entrepreneur.  In addition to his blog, The Producer's Perspective, he has also done creative things like:

  • Crowdfunding his recent Broadway revival of “Godspell”;
  • Offering free tickets to his show, “My First Time,” to audience members who were determined by a psychic to be actual virgins;
  • Being the first producer to:
  • Send a follow-up email to show attendees (something that is now commonplace), and
  • To livestream a performance of his Off-Broadway musical, the aforementioned “Daddy Long Legs.”

As is the case with any good entrepreneur, nobody knows what he’ll come up with next. What we do know is that he is opening another new musical on Broadway next summer, "Getting The Band Back Together" (which I already have tickets to for next Thanksgiving) and we can guess that he’ll continue to find creative ways to promote himself and his shows. I look forward to seeing what he has up his sleeves.

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