Interview with Broadway Across America Midwest President Leslie Broecker

When I asked to speak with Leslie Broecker I was told we’d get along as she was a fellow “theater nerd.”  What an understatement.  The President of Broadway Across America Midwest, Ms. Broecker lives and breathes theater.  When we spoke she had just spent a whirlwind week in New York City, seeing EIGHT Broadway shows in seven days.  Thank goodness for matinee’s. 

 

Michael Smith:  First off, please tell our readers what you do, how long you’ve been doing it and how I can apply for your job when you decide to retire?

Leslie Broecker: (laughs)  Absolutely you can!    I’ve been here 35-years.  I started in the marketing department but I’ve loved theater my whole life.   Really my passion has been in radio and television production, especially radio.  And so I worked with the local Broadway series in Louisville (Kentucky) on some of their radio buys.  That’s how the local company hired me as their marketing director.  The company became so successful that it grew into Cincinnati, and then Columbus and Indianapolis.  Ultimately our partner, which was Pace Theatrical Group, purchased our company and that is how Kansas City became part of my responsibilities as well.

 

MS:  How do you go about choosing what shows go to which city?  Is it just a national tour of certain shows or do you pick specific shows for specific cities?

 

LB:  The tours are tailor made for each city.  It’s a jigsaw puzzle of what shows are available, what dates are available in the theaters and then trying to marry those.  We are very reliant on our neighbors and friends that present in other cities in order to make routing reasonable and responsible.  We need to have decent jump cities that are not too far apart.  We’re all tied together.  Most of our shows close on Sunday night.  Then they have to break down, move and be ready to go by curtain time on Tuesday.  It’s all very calculated.  That’s the unsexy part of it.  The other way we choose shows is that we survey our subscribers and single-ticket buyers and group clients and see what’s on their list.  What do they want to see?  We not only survey about shows that are current and will go out on the road, but also about shows that are in development so we can have a voice in what is created for the future three or four or five years down the road.

 

MS:  I was in the film marketing and promotions business for 20-years and had to deal with not only first run theatres but second run and discount houses.  If a show is currently on Broadway, is there a time limit before it can tour?

 

LB:  That’s a great question.  There’s not.  But I think the comparable analysis might be that when a show goes on the road, they first thing they want to do is play in markets that can sustain it for a long period of time.  So many shows that come off Broadway will go and sit in Chicago or Boston or L.A. or even the Kennedy Center (Washington D.C.)  Then they begin to look at the next markets.  Where can they play a few weeks instead of several months?  That includes cities like Cincinnati, Ft. Lauderdale, Denver.  Markets that can support the shows for two weeks.  And where Kansas City fits in is where most cities are, a one-week grouping.   The way you stand in the pecking order is that shows want to play where they will be successful.  People love theater in Kansas City, and we can do many week’s of shows.  Kansa City usually lands on the first or second year of a tour going out, which is really great.  Other cities, like Indianapolis, are on the third or fourth year of a tour.  Kansas City is way up there for getting in line for the best shows as fast as they come out. 

 

MS:  When Ellen (McDonald, my local rep) and I spoke about this interview she said you were kind of a theatre nerd.  You are so much more so I have a couple questions.  What was the first show you saw?

 

LB:  “Hello, Dolly.”

 

MS:  With Carol Channing?

 

LB:  No, that was a local production.  My first Broadway show was “Barnum,” with a then unknown Glenn Close and Jim Dale.  How about you?

 

MS:  My first show, that I wasn’t a part of, was “A Chorus Line,” which I saw here in Kansas City with a then unknown Bebe Neuwirth as Cassie. 

 

LB:  You just gave me goosebumps.

 

MS:  My first Broadway show was “42nd Street,” with Jerry Orbach.

 

LB:  That was a pretty good starting point, definitely. 

 

MS:  What is your favorite show, if you can have one?

 

LB:  That’s like having to pick between your children.  I will say that the first show I worked on was “Hello, Dolly” and that made such an imprint.  I was able to present “Hello, Dolly” eight or ten times with Carol Channing and we became friends.  That’s my favorite show.  The book is incredible, the music…there’s not a bad number.  Well, maybe “Ribbons Down Your Back” is a little slow (now THAT’S a theatre nerd!) but the show is awesome.  And then to be friends with Carol….we spent many times together beyond “Dolly.”  I brought her in a couple of times to do some fund raisers and things in the second half of her life, which was amazing. 

 

MS:  I’m guessing the answer is “no,” but is there a show you’ve wanted to see but never have?

 

LB:  Hmmmmm….no I can’t think of one.    Oh wait!  There’s a show by Kander and Ebb called “70, Girls, 70.”  I’ve seen a lot of community productions but I’d love to cast it on Broadway.  (NOTE:  “70, Girls, 70” premiered on Broadway in 1971 and ran for 35 performances.  It was revived in London in 1991, where it played for several months.  However, there has never been a Broadway revival.  Until now?

 

MS:  In the last 10-years, there have been countless musicals based on popular films.  Why do you think that is?

 

LB:  I think it’s similar to films being based on books.  There’s a following.  Producing on Broadway is incredibly risky and I think the foundation of a successful film gives a safe jumping off point.  I wish there could be 20 new musicals and 20 new plays a year, but creativity comes in little spurts.  If you’re lucky you’re blessed with a Sondheim, who could spit out a lot of those.  But it’s tough to come up with that success.  I’m no wiz on why that is but my guess would be that it’s a little bit safer ground.  I mean a show like “Hadestown,” the Tony Award winning musical, is hugely popular on Broadway but not many people know about it outside New York.  It may take a couple of years on the road for people to really discover how great a show it is.

 

MS:  Finally, any hints at what may be coming our way next season?

 

LB:  We’re actually just starting on next season.  We will be hopeful and looking for shows like “Frozen” or “Moulin Rouge.”  This year’s Tony Awards will help decide what shows are recognized and could do a tour.  One show I’d really like to do there is “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

 

MS:  With Richard Thomas?

 

LB:  Yes.  You know, there’s a cool casting twist in the show.  I can’t remember her name, but the little girl who played Scout in the film….

 

MS:  Mary Badham

 

LS:  …there you go.  She’s in this production.  She’s the nasty, racist neighbor…

 

MS:  Miss Dubose?

 

LB:  …yes.  You’re good.

 

MS:  It’s my favorite novel ever.

 

LB:  I’m working hard to get that as well.  The pipeline is full.

 

MS:  Great to hear.  Maybe you’ll bring “ROCKY” to town.

 

LB:  Yeahhhhh, I don’t think that’s gonna happen.

 

MS:  I guess I’ll wait for the local dinner theater production.

 

LB:  (laughs)  Perhaps. 

Fountain City Mini-Con a Welcome Addition to the Midwest

As summer heads into it’s last month, comic fans in Kansas City were treated to an event that was designed for THEM. And they found it this past Saturday at the Fountain City Mini-Con, held at the Lenexa Community Center in Lenexa, Kansas.

Packed wall to wall with dealers and guest artists, a non-stop throng of fans stopped by to talk comics with some of the genre’s best. Non-comic fans were impressed with the variety of dealers represented, providing the opportunity to pick up anything from t-shirts and games to the new NECA JAWS “Quint” figure (guilty).

Artist Aaron Lopresti does a sketch for a fan. You gotta love the shirt!

What I loved seeing the most, and I love seeing this at every show I attend, were the youngsters under 12, many in costumes, that walked the aisles with their folks, hopefully making memories that will last a lifetime. Think I’m kidding. I’m 60 years old and my first con was “Alien Encounters” in Tampa, Florida in 1978. Yes, I was a late bloomer but I’ve more than made up for it!

The Flash took time out from his busy schedule to tour the dealer’s room.

If you’re kicking yourself and thinking, “damn, I missed it,” you’ll be happy to know that there will be another show on Saturday, October 23. If you’re interested in attending, please click HERE.

Mr. Macabre

Concert Review “Midwest Rock and Roll Express Tour” Ted Nugent, Reo Speedwagon, Styx

“Midwest Rock and Roll Express Tour”
Ted Nugent, Reo Speedwagon, Styx
Date: Friday, July 6th 2012
Venue: Tag’s Summer Stage, Big Flats, NY

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

The “Midwest Rock and Roll Express Tour” rolled into Tag’s Summer Stage in the Upstate NY town of Big Flats on July 17th and put on a show that was overflowing with classic rock hits. Local musician Brian Hughes kicked off the night performing a brief solo set of acoustic cover tunes. Hughes was able to put an interesting spin on several classic songs to which the crowd responded with heavy applause.

The always loud and outspoken Ted Nugent would follow and though performing hits like “Strangle Hold” and the always popular “Cat Scratch Fever” Nugent did not perform his staple of shooting his guitar with a flaming arrow. That aside the band performed flawlessly and sounded great.

Reo Speedwagon would take the stage next coming right out of the gate with “Don’t Let Him Go” and “Take It on The Run” before settling in to acknowledge the crowd. The band played all of their hits and closed out the night just as the sun was setting with the song “Ridin’ The Storm Out”. Reo played at the top of their game and the sound crew continued to shine with crystal clear sound which only added to the bands always upbeat performance.

Styx would close out the night as the near capacity crowd was on their feet from the opening notes of “Blue Collar Man” to the last notes of “Renegade” closed out the show. Tommy Shaw though appearing to be a bit under the weather still put on stellar performance. The band was full of energy interacting with each other and the crowd. The always animated Lawrence Gowan danced and spun around on his keyboard stand at dizzying speeds all without missing a beat.

The lineup, production and sound are top notch on this tour and if it’s making a stop in your area or nearby I highly recommend checking it out as the show is worth way more than the price of admission.

 

Ted Nugent :

1.) Wango Tango

2.) Just What the Doctor Ordered

3.) Free For All

4.) Stormtroopin’

5.) Wang Dang Sweet Poontang

6.) I Can’t Quite You Babe

7.) Hey Baby

8.) Cat Scratch Fever

9.) Strangle Hold

 

Reo Speedwagon:

1.) Don’t Let Him Go

2.) Take It on The Run

3.) Keep Pushin’

4.) Golden Country

5.) Can’t Fight This Feeling

6.) That Ain’t Love

7.) Like You Do

8.) Time For Me To Fly

9.) Back on the Road Again

10.) Roll With The Changes

11.) Keep on Loving You

12.) Ridin’ The Storm Out

 

Styx:

1.) Blue Color Man

2.) The Grand Illusion

3.) Too Much Time On My Hands

5.) Lorelei

6.) Man in the Wilderness

7.) Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)

8.) Miss America

9.) Come Sail Away

10.) Rockin’ the Paradise

11.) Renegade 

 

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