How to get from Hollywood to Broadway

Michael Manheim shares his tips for producers

Michael Manheim's tips for Hollywood producers who want to do Broadway:

-- The first thing you have to ask when you consider material for a musical is: "Does it sing?" Is the emotion so strong it makes sense that somebody would burst into song as opposed to just playing the scene from a dramatic standpoint?

-- Get a New York City theater attorney, not a Los Angeles movie attorney. The rules are quite different in theater.

-- Nail down the rights before you make other commitments. It can be deceptively difficult.

-- Pick your creative team carefully for the words, music and lyrics. It has to be seamless; it means three people working simultaneously on one project.

-- Staged readings and workshops, which are unusual for a movie, are a smart, economical way to develop material. They are much less expensive than waiting for the out-of-town tryout.

-- Be prepared for the long haul. This is true in movies and even more true when it comes to musical theater.

-- Make sure you have adequate access to funding and a structure that will allow the show to recoup the investment if it's a hit. Any investor knows they may lose money on a flop; the sin is to lose money on a hit.

-- Get the right theater. There are only three companies in New York that control all the Broadway theaters.

-- Get a theater director, designers and other creative team members. It's very different than the movies; there are no close-ups in theater, only master shots. The only way to focus is with lights, so make sure there's an appropriate match for the material.

-- Pick your production partners and backers carefully.

-- Cast carefully. Stars are always important, but make sure they have stamina. On a movie, actors do a scene a few times with lots of breaks. On stage, they have to do it eight times a week and never let up.
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