I was lucky enough to see the Encores production of Anyone Can Whistle last year; the show the song "Everybody Says Don't" comes from, by my musical theatre idol, Mr. Stephen Sondheim.
Ah, to hear Sutton Foster belt out "There Won't Be Trumpets" on a Wednesday night after work is one of the many reasons I'm so glad I forced myself to leave my comfortable life as an actor in Boston ten years ago to move to NYC.
So, on with the blog entry.
- Everybody's says don't do a show with a cast of 19 people for your first developmental project.
- Everybody says don't do a show with 14 kids.
- Everybody says don't try and self-produce your musical.
- Everybody says don't use any of your own money to fund a production of your show.
- Everybody says don't think you can develop a full-length musical in under seven years.
- Everybody says don't think you can do a great show without an experienced Broadway creative team.
- Everybody says don't think you can write a full musical that's any good in under a year.
Blah, blah, blah.
You know what? If I listened to "everybody" I would have scrapped this project a long time ago. That's not to say I don't hear what they are saying and that I don't consider their opinions and judgements thoroughly and completely. I take it all in, but as the captain of this ship, it's up to me to test these statements against my own experience and research.
For example, someone in the industry read our script recently and said, "I have no idea who the target audience for this would be." Now, before I completely cast aside that statement, I wanted to put it to the Kempskie Test. The Kempskie Test is a very rigorous and scientific process which involves me obsessing over and over again about what they said and then finding every piece of evidence I can to prove them wrong.
So, I went back to this blog that I wrote entitled, "Target Audience," and re-read it to see if there were any cracks in the foundation or completely misguided suppositions on my part. I didn't find any.
But, that's not enough. I needed to do some more research. Here's what I came up with:
In addition to missing my blog entry entitled "Target Audience," the person who made the "I-have-no- idea-who-the-target-audience-would-be" statement, also must have missed the viral YouTube video of 4-year old Kaitlyn Maher on America's Got Talent that over 7 million people have viewed.
Judging from the audience's reaction and Kaitlyn's instant fame, I'd venture to say that lots of people like watching children sing. Either that or it's just another freaky American "ordinary-person" celebrity fixation. (Remember Joe the Plumber?)
Regardless, imagine 15 children, all under the age of 16 years old, singing beautiful and complex harmonies and acting their hearts out, all within the context of a moving story. Try that on for size, Kaitlyn Maher. I'd like to hear her belt out "Letters" any day. (Actually, I bet she will be belting out "Letters" someday.)
Or maybe this "I-have-no-idea-who-the-target-audience-would-be" person should stand outside the American Girl Store on the corner of 5th Ave. and 49th St., and watch the tweens and their moms come teeming out of the doors clutching dolls and multiple red shopping bags full of doll accessories, after having tea with their dolls and seeing the American Girl show. (I know where I'll be standing passing out fliers if Helen on 86th St. doesn't sell out this spring.)
Heck, I can see the Vita doll already.
Or why not try the corner of 6th Ave. and 51st St. anytime between say...now and December 30th? Coming from someone who has to push her way through the crowds of families (parents, grandparents, children, aunts, uncles, you name it) each night on my way home from work, I'd say that even in a recession, families will pay money to take part in a special theatrical event. And what Helen may lack in spectacle is made up for in story, craft and heart. (Trust me, it's hard enough wrangling 15 children, I don't need to add camels, sheep and donkeys to my current duties.)
So, after such rigorous scientific research, here's what I've determined: Helen's target audience is number 687 on my list of Helen Things to be Concerned About.
Speaking of my Helen Things to be Concerned About list, here's something I am concerned about: We've got to raise $6536 before December 31st!
Please help spread the word about our Kickstarter fundraising efforts! We are moving into the holiday season and we don't want to get lost in the shuffle. A $25 pledge guarantees you a seat at our show in the spring. A $50 pledge guarantees you two seats! You're just buying your $18 Helen tickets in advance and instead of paying a service fee, are donating a few dollars to a very worthy cause.
Because you know what else everybody says?
- Everybody says don't think you can raise $15,000 for a new musical on Kickstarter.
It's up to us to prove them wrong.