If you watched the video or read the short project blurb you know the plan is to take this very daring and comedic show to New York. But after meeting with the manager of a very popular Off Broadway house and discovering that to simply get an Off Broadway musical up and running in New York costs somewhere in the neighborhood of a million and a half dollars a new strategy was hatched. Even if this manager was slightly exaggerating, I read some of the intertwining contracts and they drive pre-production costs through the roof.
So, by taking my experience as a great eye for talent (I previously cast Steven Christopher Parker in his first role. Steven later went on to co-star in Rebound with Martin Lawrence, was a recurring character on the hit show ER, and has appeared in dozens of commercials, tv shows and blockbuster movies like Juno and Blades of Glory) couple it with my extensive contacts in Northeast Pennsylvania, my tenacious attitude and unwillingness to settle for mediocrity, and then sprinkle in my Hollywood connections and 15 years of experience creating and completing original self starter projects while working on limited budgets and you have the perfect storm. The plan then becomes self evident. It is to work with the most talented Pennsylvanians and/or bordering state artists I can find, work outside of the strict rules and costs set forth in the theater capital of the world, fine tune the production in front of live audiences here in the great state of Pennsylvania, and when the time is right, make our break for New York.
Also mentioned in the video are some of the general costs associated with a project of this size and what exactly the Kickstarter funds will be used for. Since the script, lyrics and bass lines for the songs are already complete, Musical Arranger Danny DeMelfi and myself will be working tirelessly to have the entire PVG score finished by the end of this fundraiser.
Once the fundraiser is complete, casting will begin and the first foreseeable expense will be rehearsal space. Department heads will also be brought on board which include, but are not limited to, a set designer, a choreographer, an audio and visual director, a lighting designer, a musical director and a costumer. A stage manager will also be a very integral part of the production as someone will be needed to co-ordinate all the set and costume changes and oversee the overall fluidity of the show.
A good portion of the funds will be used for essentials such as set design, lighting, sound and visual effect equipment, props and costumes. In order to stretch our funds even further we will be seeking donations and/or second hand items in good condition to fulfill our needs. Once the musical is ready to perform and depending on the amount of money raised, any remaining funds will be used for advertisements, programs and travel expenses like truck rentals used to haul the equipment to and from the theater.
Keeping the original cast and crew together is paramount. The show will only become great by first finding the right talent to make the production a success and then by keeping everybody on board so the show can grow. Because of the upfront expenses involved, the cast will initially be paid a percentage of the money generated from public performances only. This will allow the Kickstarter money to go much further. This concept is beneficial in a few ways. Firstly, a performance incentive gives the cast motivation to get the show performance ready and secondly it also motivates them to promote the show. Thirdly, a musical with high production value has a greater chance of success which translates into more success for everyone involved. A cut of the profits also provides a long term performance incentive because if the show is not up to snuff people won't talk about it to others which will make it harder to fill seats and sell tickets.
In short, As the Matzo Ball Turns ~ The Musical provides the perfect vehicle for talent who are serious about a career in entertainment. The show is based on a very funny book with an even zanier vision as a musical. The concept and title are catchy and the project is being driven by some very talented and creative people with lots of experience in the entertainment field. All that's required are some early contributions from you and together we will hopefully create the next Broadway hit. So what are you waiting for? Make a donation, get your reward, and help bring this production to life!!!!!! Thank you very much for your time and support.
Risks and challenges
Speaking from experience, I've learned that everything in film and stage productions that can go wrong will go wrong. And the things you think can't go wrong will go wrong as well. In general, the passion for what you are doing must supersede any problems that occur. This is one of my greatest strengths. I'm not sure if I am a glutton for punishment or I'm just plain stupid but I am drawn to these types of challenges and enjoy finding ways too overcome any obstacles that are thrown my way. I have a low budget movie, a local TV show, and a live theater show under my belt that speak volumes about my ability to produce when the chips are down.
Risks and challenges that I foresee in this project are too numerous to mention. It could be anything from the lead actor arriving late on opening night because he is stuck in traffic to a small fire starting during a performance. (Yes, this has happened to me.) And, in the show I produced in LA, even though careful planning went into deciding the dates for our show to avoid any scheduling conflicts, our show ended up running concurrently with the World Series. (The World Series was scheduled after our dates were contractually bound.) I just think the more you do these types of creative endeavors the better you become at solving any problems that pop up along the way.
On a side note, I have already made choices to reduce some of the risks associated with the overwhelming task of producing a musical. For one, I made an early decision to run pre-recorded tracks of the music rather than bring in live musicians for the initial performances. Not only does this cut down on rehearsal time but it reduces the chance of the lead oboe player having a creative differences with the director and walking out in the middle of a show. Plus, we don't want to enrage our audiences with music that sounds like it is coming out of a horrendous elementary school band. We'll put the orchestra on the back burner until our budget dictates otherwise. Yes, there is a chance the sound guy will miss a cue but it's a risk we are willing to take.
Secondly, opening the show locally will allow us to utilize our contacts and knowledge of the area to keep early production costs down. I can't think of a more difficult task than to produce a show in a large metropolitan area where I don't know anyone or even know where to buy supplies, etc. Btw, I already tried this twice before with marginal results. So, while producing in or near my hometown will certainly not eliminate all problems and reduce all costs it will most definitely help.
One of the biggest challenges potentially facing this musical is the production running out of money. And to be quite honest, 20k is not a lot of money compared to the 1.5 million dollar number I was quoted by an off Broadway theater manager who said that was to just get the show up and running. Here again my stubbornness prevails. When we shot Living With Uncle Ray in Los Angeles, 30k was needed for a three week shoot and two weeks before principal photography we only had 3k. By the way, big Hollywood studios probably spend 30k in a half hour on a major studio production. Somehow, the money came in. Then, in the third week, we ran out of money and were facing all out mutiny from the crew. Somehow, someway, enough funds came together to finish the shoot. I learned a lot from that experience and it helped strengthen my resolve.
Then the miracles that occurred not to mention the begging, borrowing and stealing we had to do to finish the movie in post production are too numerous to list here. And while we didn't exactly end up with Gone With the Wind we completed the movie, we won a little award in a festival and I walked away with a wealth of experience.
I promise you, the investor, if you take a chance on this production you will receive the most bang for your buck and every penny will be wisely spent to produce the best musical possible. I also promise you with your help this project will become a reality. Thank you again for your contributions and I look forward to keeping you informed as As the Matzo Ball Turns ~ The Musical edges it's way towards opening night!!!!!!!
~ Gene DuffyLearn about accountability on Kickstarter
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