The Daily Gazette
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Reports from a Broadway conference

Editor's Note: Proctors CEO Philip Morris posted these blogs from the Broadway League Spring Road Conference held this week in New York City. The conference provides an opportunity for members of the touring Broadway community to gather and address concerns specific to producing, presenting and promoting Broadway on the road and to attend new Broadway shows prior to their scheduled tours.

BLOG 1 --

Four of us from Proctors are in New York this week to meet with peers from around the country about our work with Broadway and Broadway events.

The first presenter manages the digital realm for 30 professional baseball teams. It was interesting to hear his strongly stated belief that live events, sports and arts are the content of the future as well as today. The trick is understanding that in a digital world, it must be available, talked about and getting people to think about participating 24 hours a day 365 days a year.

What's a digital strategy? Everything, from written digital, like websites, to unwritten, like Twitter and Facebook. It's a kid taking a role in his or her first middle school musical looking for videos of how others have done the part to special customer services like driving detours and neighborhood dining options.

We do a pretty good job of this at Proctors, but change is constant and the need to invent and push the envelope is important.

BLOG 2 --

The second session today was about subscriptions. For our business, to have a base of people committed to our events in advance is pretty critical.

Throughout the country, though, it seems that there are wildly different perspectives on these long-term commitments. Some communities have seen substantial growth in subscribers. Some have nearly given up on that model.

My guess is that in communities where there are many many options, audiences may not want to build their schedules around one or two organization's events.

On the other hand, so many people love what we do. They love it so much they want to schedule around our events. Last year our subscriptions increased about 15%.

Oddly though, the "churn" is high. We have gained more than we have lost, but the losses still hurt!

Customer service matters. Do we do a good enough job? Are we easy enough?

BLOG 3 --

Live Blogging: Noon. One of the most interesting parts of this conference is a format called Creative Conversations.

These involve the writers, directors, actors and other creative team folks of specific shows in New York.

Right now it's the creative team and lead actor for the show "Lombardi." While the show started slowly in New York, it has grown in attendance as it has proceeded.

It is the first show actually partially produced by a major sports league. For the playwright, it was a tough balancing act between the personal lives of Vince and Marie, the reality of the man as coach, and, clearly, had to work for the regular theater going of Broadway.

Talk backs dine by the performers on Thursday afternoons often had players in attendance with stories and tears.

For many audience members, lifelong sports people, it was a first play experience. The team made a substantial effort to answer questions in advance that first time theater goers would have, from how to dress, whether face paint was acceptable, even the reality of reserved seating.

Aficionados of sports would know the facts, they had to be right.

Aficionados of theater needed a story that was real and would touch women as well as men.

Looks like they hit the mark!

BLOG 4 --

Lunches and breaks at the conference are typically sponsored by a producer or a specific show. Lunch today was sponsored by "Sister Act."

While I have not seen it yet, all my peers here really liked it.

But what could be better, after a fine light meal, than to have Alan Menken walk up to the piano and play and sing for 15 minutes a medley of his great tunes from "Little Shop [of Horrors]" to the many great Disney films!

Great meal.

(American musical theatre and film composer and pianist Alan Menken is best known for his numerous scores for films produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios, "The Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast," "Aladdin," and "Pocahontas," each of which won him two Academy Awards.)

BLOG 5 --

This Creative Conversation is with the cast and director of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," the musical revival.

Daniel Radcliffe and John Larroquette were among the presenters.

There was an interesting and long chat comparing acting for television, film and theater. A few surprises for me: first, that the continuous learning as the show plays 8 times a week is quite an excitement for the actors. Second, the idea that in live theater, without the constant breaks as for film and TV, it's impossible for self doubt to enter the actors mind.

I like that, no time to gaze at tour navel, the next sing is coming!

The next song is coming! Sounds like life!

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