Project 16

My idea for this fellowship could be called The Road to Broadway: LA Meets New York. For decades pre-Broadway tryouts have primarily happened on the East Coast — Boston, DC, Philadelphia. But could LA be the new training ground for Broadway-bound shows? Could the resources, talent and distance from New York be just the thing that Broadway producers need to help nurture a show before it comes to New York? What kinds of theatergoing audiences are there in LA, and what could they teach producers about casting, marketing, advertising and selling their shows? How can social media help a production in LA generate the kind of word of mouth needed for a show to get to Broadway and be a success? What might it take for LA to be the new London, in terms of being a place where shows are workshopped, produced, marketed and branded before a run on the Great White Way?

These and more questions about the Broadway-LA nexus could be explored in the context of the Center Theater Group’s new revival of “Funny Girl,” which is expected to come to Broadway. The fellowship would be focused primarily on the Audience/Community Engagement track, with a little bit of New Storytelling on the side. Depending on the kind of access we could get (and this could be tricky), I would engage several people and organizations in a conversation: the Center Theater Group, about producing a show in Los Angeles with its sights set on New York; Lauren Ambrose (a surprise choice to play Fanny Brice, the lead character made famous by Barbra Streisand), about the benefits of working the kinks out of their performances far from the glare of New York; audience members from across Los Angeles, about what they want from the show and from the theatergoing experience; designers, about what it takes to come up with fresh takes on an old show; and theater-friendly bloggers and social media gurus, about how the show is or is not generating buzz from theater fans and the larger community, and what the show can do to get on the city’s and country’s radar.

I think this approach could include both old-school reporting, like interviews with theater administrators, or Q&A’s with cast members and designers, and new-school storytelling, including video interviews, photo slide shows, tweeting and blogging.