Monday, September 12, 2011

FROM THE ROAD: Chicagoland

When the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, IL (about 40 minutes north of Chicago) announced that they would be presenting the world premiere of For The Boys, it was quickly added to my list of destinations as I had not yet had a chance to visit them. The show uses songs from the WWII era and has a book by Aaron Thielen (co-creator of The Bowery Boys from our 2010 Festival) based on the Bette Midler-James Caan film. It is always great to make that first trip to a NAMT member and finally see their artistic home. I really enjoyed the show and the audience thoroughly embraced it! The Marriott is in the round so I know that they are now looking for a proscenium theatre for the next step. Terry James, Marriott Theatre’s Executive Producer, and his team are working closely with the USO on the production, which is a brilliant partnership. The show is a love letter to the USO!

I then took the train down to catch the evening production of Murder For Two at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. The show is by Kellan Blair and Joe Kinosian, whom I met last summer at Northwestern University and ASCAP’s Mercer Project. Chicago Shakes’ Creative Producer, Rick Boynton, and I met beforehand and he said the show was doing very well and keeps on extending. That is because the show was a laugh riot and brilliantly done! With only two actors and piano, it is a tour-de-force murder mystery in 90 minutes. One actor is the detective and one actor is everyone else. The audience went crazy during it! Rick and his team did an amazing job and I know that this is a show that will be around for a long time.

Both shows are running until October 16, so there is plenty of time to plan your trip to the Greater Chicago area to catch these two exciting new musicals!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

More Sub Rights News

Our friends at the National New Play Network announced this summer that they have eliminated subsidiary rights from their commissions. This affects not just NNPN, but their member theatres, who agree to forgo future rights on plays receiving NNPN funds. This was a big topic at last year's NAMT Fall Conference, in a great discussion about how to balance the income of writers and the income of theatres — especially smaller ones — that spend money on developing a new work and depend on future return. (At the conference, John Weidman argued that we shouldn't be talking about rights at all, but rather "subsidiary participation in an author's revenues." If you missed it, NAMT members can view video highlights of this panel here.)

For NNPN's Rolling World Premiere program, member theatres will get sub rights only after the playwright's income has reached a certain amount— a "bonanza clause." As NNPN puts it, "Bonanza Clauses have become frequent compromises between playwrights who deserve to make a living and theaters which want to be compensated for the future success of a play if it goes Boom, so to speak."

This is an interesting issue and one that I'm sure we'll continue discussions for a long time (including at this year's Fall Conference), as all of us who are passionate about new works strive to find a balance between the needs of artists and the needs or producers. We need both to create new musicals!