Listen up! | The Producer’s Perspective Podcast on the horn with chief NYT drama critic Ben Brantley

You’re already a regular listener to producer Ken Davenport’s weekly podcast, right?

If so, you know that every Sunday as regular as an A train (just kidding – Davenport’s podcast runs on time) you can look forward to a fascinating new chat with some Broadway luminary. Davenport has already snared a stream of big league agents, producers, theater owners, playwrights and marketers. If you’re interested in the American theatre and how it works at the very highest level, there’s simply nothing else like this intimate back channel.

Find Davenport on the web or in iTunes. It’s like a secret passage to Broadway right in your ear.

Looking for some must-hear recommendations from past shows? There are so, so many. But here’s two: Kevin McCollum and Michael Riedel. You have not heard world class dishing until you’ve heard New York Post theater columnist Michael Riedel talk. Oh lordy. You’ll want to keep a lookout for Riedel’s upcoming book, RAZZLE DAZZLE: THE BATTLE FOR BROADWAY.

But lo and behold – who should appear in Davenport’s latest podcast but a lil’ critic you may have heard of – the NYT’s Ben Brantley.

Did He Like It? | The iPhone app shows how easy it can be to get the info you want

You are already, surely, a devout reader of Ken Davenport’s blog The Producer’s Perspective.

If not, go sign up. We’ll wait. Waiting…

There.

And what about Did He Like It?, the ingenious way to track all New York Times reviews (and also other outlets) in one place – also by Davenport.

No? Go sign up. We’ll wait again. Tra la la…

Now. There is also an iPhone app for Did He Like It? Have you downloaded it yet? No?

Then go here pronto.

So. Now that you have it – glory in its functionality. In one simple app, you can find any show and see what the all mighty NYT thought of it.

Pretty cool. The app shows just how easy getting the info you want should be – or already is.

Putting on the new product hat… Imagine a single app with all reviews for shows anywhere in the world. You simply search by city, show, playwright, etc. You can set up alerts so that you get reviews for any company, theatre, playwright, actor etc. you care about. Now that would be powerful.

Surely Davenport must be working on it…

Right there on your phone - the Ben Brantley action  hero.
Right there on your phone – the Ben Brantley action hero.

Another theatre podcast you can’t miss | Ken Davenport talks with a who’s who of Broadway

The internet may have killed print. But it has not killed radio. Quite the contrary. And podcasts are booming.

There is something about the format of a recorded conversation that allows a level of sustained focus hard to match in written or read text. Especially when driving. Plus, when it’s theatre people doing the talking, you know there’s going to be high drama.

Ken Davenport, keeper of the always interesting blog The Producer’s Perspective and producer of, among other shows, SOMEWHERE IN TIME, which debuted at PCS in June 2013 (he was the guy with the hair walking around in a suit), has started up a podcast. And the remit is to deliver a steady stream of Broadway heavies giving a behind the music lowdown on how it all works.

So far, the conversation is simply unmissable.

So unless you’re one of the five people on earth who could resist any of the following nuggets below – stop reading this NOW and start listening to the podcast.

How about these dangled in front of your eyes…

* NY Post gossip columnist and polymath Michael Riedel dishes on Frank Rich at a pace faster than a speeding Brooklyn cab: “I’ve been on the enemy list for 25 years!”
* Todd Haimes tells the long, extraordinary, and impossibly drama strewn story of Roundabout Theatre and a little show called CABARET: “The board thought I was crazy.”
* Terrence McNally recounts what he had to do to get a ticket to MY FAIR LADY his very first night in New York City as a 17 year old newly arrived Columbia student in 1956: “They said, ‘It’s totally sold out for the next six months. 18 standing room tickets go on sale at 10 AM each morning. If you want one of them, you better be in line by midnight.’ Well, I slept my way through my first day of freshman week at Columbia the next day, but I did see MY FAIR LADY my second night in New York. And I saw it 11 more times. I guess I was stage struck.”)

And that’s just three of the current seven episodes in the case. There is incredible, irresistible gold in them thar tapes.

Clearly, Davenport is just getting started here. And he’s asking for requests. So send in who you want to hear from next.

You could miss this series. You could do that. But then we’d have to shoot you. Because this is America, and that’s what we do when there are problems.

And then Davenport would probably have to blog about it: “Podcast popularity leading to deaths” etc.

So don’t make us go there.

When it’s so much easier to go here.

A relentless focus on THE AUDIENCE – Ken Davenport’s blog: The Producer’s Perspective

Remember SOMEWHERE IN TIME this spring at PCS?

The well-oiled Brodway bound (we hope) show touched down in Portland in May 2013 and was thoroughly impressive. The story may be a little bit old-fashioned. But the execution was PERFECT. A good reminder to Portlanders to up their game.

While watching the flurry of activity around the Armory as SOMEWHERE ramped up, as Broadway types zigged and zagged through the cafe, smoked cigarettes (memo to theatre people: CIGARETTES WILL KILL YOUR ASS DEADER THAN A REVIVAL OF ARSENIC AND OLD LAC. SET TO MUSIC. WITH DANCING.), and wore black, you may have noticed one guy who stood out like an investment banker at a zoo bombers gathering.

He was the one immaculately dressed with perfect hair. You spotted him and immediately did a double take. Huh? Because – well, he’s not the type you’re used to seeing around Portland. No half-soaked bike dud lycra, no plugs in the ears, no facial Timbers tat.

No chest deep goatee with a forest of origami pets (all with their own names) living in it.

Clearly this guy was NOT a Portlander. Though I’m sure he could down a few nuclear strength espressos at Albina Press with the best of ’em. He looked like he was off to host the Tonys.

That was producer Ken Davenport.

The point: Davenport writes a daily blog that has become one of my must read items. He is relentlessly focused on the audience, what they want, why they come, and how to create successful shows. And the man has a sharp keyboard finger. You can easily sign up to receive his daily missive. It’s short and sweet (like any communication to the audience should be) and is guaranteed to provoke some thoughts. And laughs. Check it out.

If you don't enter your email and hit submit, we will force you to watch an all senior citizen version of GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS.
If you don’t enter your email and hit submit, we will force you to watch an all senior citizen version of GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS.

The story goes, some playwright used to keep a sign hanging on the wall above his desk (remember back when people had desks?) that read:

“And what is THE AUDIENCE doing all this time?”

Ah yes, the audience. Remember them?

During your new playwright’s brilliant stream of consciousness monologue, when the lead character recites Jane Austen or turns into a bird, then instantly becomes a world class oboist, plays the oboe on stage for a while (QUITE a while), then is transported to heaven where she talks directly to the ghost of her ex boyfriend’s Uncle (who tells her she is brilliant and will find true love) – during all of that: What is THE AUDIENCE doing?

They are likely trying to read their smart phone under a jacket and see if there is anything else on around town they can still make if they flee the room.

What’s in it for THE AUDIENCE?

That is the number one question behind successful performing arts.

Not what’s in it for the playwright, or the actor, or the director.

What’s in it for the AUDIENCE?

Stay focused on that question, and all your dreams will come true.

Except the ARSENIC AND OLD LACE revival.

And to help you stay focused, read Ken Davenport.

Another daily gem from Ken Davenport.
Another daily gem from Ken Davenport.

50 words: SOMEWHERE IN TIME at Portland Center Stage

When in the theatre – do what can only be done in the theatre. Flawless master class in dramatic action, visual storytelling. Finely honed, tight, fast-moving book. Top flight design. Spotless technical execution. Story somewhat old-fashioned. Relief: 2 hours in the theatre without F word. Who knew it was still possible?

Thru June 30

Extra credit: Read producer Ken Davenport’s blog for some great insights on the business of putting on theatre.