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BWW Interview: Producer Ken Davenport Livestreams DADDY LONG LEGS Worldwide For Free

BWW Interview: Producer Ken Davenport Livestreams DADDY LONG LEGS Worldwide For Free

"This is how tomorrow's audience is consuming entertainment. This is how they're getting introduced to entertainment; on their mobile devices, on their tablets, and their PCs. If we want to develop tomorrow's audience we need to speak to them in their language."

Tony Award winning producer Ken Davenport, currently represented on Broadway by KINKY BOOTS, ALLEGIANCE and SPRING AWAKENING, is always looking for ways to get people talking about live theatre.

"My mission statement about being a producer in general is to amplify the conversation about theatre."

To that end, his blog, The Producer's Perspective, is regularly updated with discussions about theatre's top issues and podcasts with industry notables that make insider views accessible to the average fan. His 2011 revival of GODSPELL was financed largely by 700 small investors through crowdfunding and his board game, "Be A Broadway Star," allows players to strut their stuff for friends and family.

But his newest venture has the potential to have a major impact on live theatre worldwide. As producer of the Off-Broadway musical Daddy Long Legs, playing since September of this year at his own Davenport Theatre, he'll be broadcasting a free Internet Livestream of Thursday night, December 10th's 8pm performance. The broadcast will then be repeated at 8pm in the time zones for Los Angeles, London and Tokyo. (click here to register)

"I've been thinking about this for years. Every time I do a new Broadway show or Off-Broadway show I think, 'Is this the one? Will I be able to live stream this one?'"

With music and lyrics by Paul Gordon and book and direction by John Caird, Daddy Long Legs is an intimate two-person musical based on Jean Webster's novel of an orphaned teenager and the mysterious benefactor who sees her talent for writing and finances her college education. A 1955 film adaptation starred Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron. The Off-Broadway musical currently stars Megan McGinnis, who opened the show, and her husband Adam Halpine.

Davenport is enthused about this small production providing a perfect first test case, rather than a big Broadway show; not just for the size difference, but for the pedigree of the material.

"It's based on a classic book that inspired a movie, it's been done in Japan twice, in London and all over the country."

Aside from minor adjustment to lighting and sound, Internet viewers can expect to see the same production that's performed eight times a week Off-Broadway, with no changes in the staging.

"We'll have a full 'video village' in our small theatre balcony; the camera team, the directorial team and the live streaming team that's making sure the link is going up and out to the world."

Though some may question the notion of allowing audiences to watch a show for free from wherever they happen to be, Davenport sees this as an important step in audience development.

"I am a big believer in the digital distribution of our content. It's the biggest audience development tool we are not using. We probably get 1,000 people into our theatre a week. If I get 50,000 people to see the show in one night, or even 25,000 - half of a year's worth of audiences in one night - I can instantly add a giant catalyst to my word of mouth. All of these shows are dependent on word of mouth, especially a small show like Daddy Long Legs. That's how shows can compete with some of the juggernauts."

"WICKED puts 16,000 people in there every week. Their word of mouth is going to fly a lot faster. This is a way for other shows that may not have Broadway blockbuster status or the press' attention to get to stand up and say, 'Look at us.' It's a way for me to get to people before they get to New York, which for smaller budgeted shows is a real challenge."

"Remember the first time you watched a baseball game or a basketball game on television and thought, 'I'd love to be in that audience.' That's what happens. There's nothing better. The World Series is televised to more people than ever before and still scalpers get thousands of dollars for those games. There's nothing like seeing it live."

Quoting Broadway's newest juggernaut, Davenport sums up the project adding, "If you just give people a taste of the experience they're more likely to want to be 'in the room where it happens.'"

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From This Author Michael Dale

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