How much infulence do PRODUCERS have on the final outcome of a show?

Broadway Star
The other day a friend of mine (who is director), told me how he's vision of a show he was directing differed slightly to what the producers say/wanted. This changed over the course of rehearsals. My friend does not have an ego about it, so he went ahead and directed it as what the producers saw the vision of the show to be (even though he may have other ideas).

What show or shows do we either blame the director, etc for lack of this and or that, and find out it was just want the producers wanted in the first place?

Updated On: 3/17/14 at 02:20 PM
Broadway Star
It depends on the producer. Some are nothing but money men; some essentially direct the show from under the nose of the actual director. Cameron Mackintosh, for instance, is notorious for being a director in all but name, as documented in a recent UK TV series about the fraught production process behind his revival of BARNUM at the Chichester Festival Theatre. Of course, Hal Prince used to be both producer and director!

I think it would be very difficult to know for certain which shows are directed from the production office without direct evidence; the director's importance, both actual and perceived, to the creative process means that this is not something people will readily admit to!
Broadway Legend
If David Merrick didn't like something one his directors did he would let him know in no uncertain terms. If I recall correctly from the Merrick biography he and Gower Champion had a very difficult relationship and Champion had him barred from the rehearsals for MACK AND MABEL (but I doubt anyone could have saved that musical -- Robert Preston, Bernadette Peters and Jerry Herman's score got good reviews but critics and audiences loathed Michael Stewart's book, the cardboard cutout sets, and Champion's staging). Champion later said the problem was trying put a musical about movie making on the stage.

Updated On: 3/17/14 at 03:06 PM
Broadway Star
The fact is that the person(s) bankrolling the production can do whatever they want, like any employer. The smart ones surround themselves with those whose visions they trust and let them do their job. Of course they'll chime in with (often helpful) suggestions, but they won't usurp the director's power. Again, I'm talking about the smart ones like Manny Azenberg, Daryl Roth, Oscar Eustis et al.
Broadway Star
Totally agree with all of the responses. I have also read a lot of posts that keep blaming directors for the fault of show that failed. At one point I kept thinking what if it was really NOT the directors or other creative team's fault? What if it was really bad guidance from producers... yet all the creative staff will still take the blame. I guess we will really never know depending on the show.
Broadway Legend
The producers have the final say. They may not have had a hand in the actual creation of a show, but they have to give the OK to everything involved.
<-----craves juicy pizza
Broadway Legend
I did my capstone paper for my MS in Urban Affairs on funding theater in New York City, and read a really great book called Angels in the American Theater: Patrons, Patronage, and Philanthropy. One of the essays discusses donors demanding some creative control, which is obviously a little different than producers, but it was an interesting topic to read about.

Angels in the American Theater: Patrons, Patronage, and Philanthropy on Amazon
When I see the phrase "the ____ estate", I imagine a vast mansion in the country full of monocled men and high-collared women receiving letters about productions across the country and doing spit-takes at whatever they contain. -Kad
Broadway Star
thanks, givemevoice!
Broadway Legend
There are different types of producers in this industry, and different types of producer have a different kind of influence on the final outcome of a show. I once outlined these types of producer as I saw them, so give it a read. You might find it interesting.

On Producing and Producers
Formerly gvendo2005
Broadway Legend
joined: 5/1/05

Blocked: After Eight, suestorm, FindingNamo, david_fick, emlodik
Broadway Legend
Read The Abominable Showman about David Merrick. He would run his shows with an iron hand. He would fire (or threaten) to fire) anyone at will. He would turn collaborators against each other or flatter shamelessly- whatever worked.
No good can possibly come from using this vast wasteland of error and deliberate deceit. You should get off of it and warn others away. You should make sure your children and grandchildren know what a corrupt and morally bankrupt institution it truly is.
Broadway Legend
I recall reading that since so many investors these days are now demanding producers credit it is having a detrimental effect on the show, as they all feel entitled to have a say.
IMHO I see Queenie as being more of a brunette...
If you've got a well-known, successful director and lots of producers, my understanding is that it's not uncommon for the director to take notes from one or two of the lead producers, who are expected to act as a buffer between the director and the other producers. Otherwise the director could waste a lot of time being pulled in different directions.

Updated On: 3/17/14 at 09:39 PM
Broadway Legend
Andrew Lloyd Webber produced and composed his own work but I think when he produced on his own rather than with a co-producer, it never worked out.