Monday, July 29, 2013

Here we grow!

Today's blog from Seth made me happy I married a Landscape Designer. (below)

Just a tally, from the June 30th Board development event we now have these amazing new board members with a couple more to come:

  • John L. Friend – Divisional President -Stamford First Bank
  • Elaine Nord- Elaine Nord Photography
  • Bill Clegg- Principal, Fletcher Thompson and Associates
  • David Lewis – President/CEO/Founder- OperationsInc and President / CEO of
  • Daniel G. Johnson  principal-in-charge of Cummings & Lockwood Attorneys at Law
And these new members are already contributing great ideas and energy. That is what we wanted!  Our first board meeting where we will introduce them all to each other and set our path for the coming year will be in September and I can't wait!

Gardens, not buildings-Seth Godin

Great projects start out feeling like buildings. There are architects, materials, staff, rigid timelines, permits, engineers, a structure.
It works or it doesn't.
Build something that doesn't fall down. On time.
But in fact, great projects, like great careers and relationships that last, are gardens. They are tended, they shift, they grow. They endure over time, gaining a personality and reflecting their environment. When something dies or fades away, we prune, replant and grow again.
Perfection and polish aren't nearly as important as good light, good drainage and a passionate gardener.
By all means, build. But don't finish. Don't walk away.
Here we grow.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The "Delight Index"

Reading an article on "Yahoo Finance" today about Trader Joe’s, the hip specialty food retailer with a cult following.  It was chosen as North America’s favorite grocery-store chain based on customer satisfaction, according to a survey by Market Force, a customer intelligence firm. The study, conducted in May, asked 6,600 consumers to rate their satisfaction with their most recent grocery store experience and their likelihood to recommend that store to friends or family.
Consumers scored Trader Joe’s, known for its inexpensive staples and affordable luxuries, above the rest on what Market Force called the “Delight Index.”

Trader Joe’s is famous for its eclectic food options, low prices and non-brand-name products.  It operates nearly 400 stores, with each going for a scaled-down neighborhood feel with a bit of quirk:  They say: “We think grocery shopping should be fun, not another chore.” 

Oh, but I have it on my list of "Chores".  For years and years whomever does the grocery shopping has thought of it as a "chore".  But Trader Joe's wants to shift the paradigm and make it a Delight? An Experience?  Fun? 

I think Theatres should have a Delight Index. It could consist of making sure your staff who answers phones and works the box office is friendly, fun and helpful.  Your lobby can have WiFi and be more like a mini cafe with a juice bar and your interns singing during intermission.  Maybe a partnership with Starbucks as well or the local coffee shop.  Sure the shows will be great, but let your performers be accessible to the locals.  Plan restaurant outings with them and let the "fans" know when they will be going to eat. Ask them to join you there.  I don't know. I am making up stuff that would delight me.  But you can bet that I will be asking our "tribe" what they would like to have on the Delight Index.  

 So for the slower approach to making this happen lets all: Resist. Attach. Insist. Deny. Stop. Second guess. Whine. Argue. Defend. Protest. Cry. Struggle.  

If we want this to happen quickly we can:  Visualize. Pretend. Prepare. Dodge. Roll. Show up, even when nothing happens. And give thanks in advance. (Tuts, notes from the Universe) 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

From Ken Davenport and The Producer's Blog I read the following story with interest.  Ken mostly talks about Broadway, but my favorite part of this article is highlighted and italicized below.  I think that NPT, ultimately being close to NYC but not in NYC is positioning itself to partner with a big company that could produce its shows.  The large film studios are doing it now. Producing theatre.  Entertainment is hot and brings in the bucks.  I need to think about this one a bit more.....

Netflix breaks a boundary. Is it our turn?

Entertainment industry history was made yesterday when Netflix, the service I formerly referred to as Blockbuster-online, was nominated for 14 Emmy Awards for its original programming.
It was only a little over a year ago that the DVD/streaming video service launched their original programming, which included the high profile fourth season of cult-and-critic favoriteArrested Development, and the Kevin Spacey driven political thrilled House of Cards (which features Broadway’s own Sebastian Arcelus).
And wouldn’t you know it, their “HBO did it, so why can’t we?” move paid off big time.  (You can read about it here.)  For the first time in Emmy history, a “streaming service” was honored with noms.  And a bunch of them.
If you hear a chattering sound, it’s the teeth of every major television executive out there . . . including HBO.
What’s exciting about this (besides the fact that even more companies that you might not think of may start producing shows – and therefore hiring artists) is that it’s such a major game-changer, that perhaps it’ll rub off on Broadway!
Could the Tonys open up their doors and start making shows at non-Broadway theaters eligible, in the same way the Emmys spread their net wider to the actual ‘net?  Is the Off-Broadway Tony finally getting closer to fruition?
What if organizations that usually served the content (like Netflix) also started creating the content?  Like . . . what if Ad Agencies start producing shows (God knows they can afford it – I was just in the new offices of one this morning, and let me tell you, their conference room is bigger than my apartment)?  What if the theater owners start producing again big time?  What if Playbill started producing?
I hate being interrupted.
But I love when a company like Netflix interrupts a business and forces everyone to listen to a new way of doing something.
And now it’s time for that interruption on Broadway.
(This story is so cool to me – look for a follow up blog on “Three Things we can Learn from the Netflix Emmys” on Monday!)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Custom Build

There is a difference between Clients and customers in the business world....and in theatre? 

(a riff from one of Seth Godin's blog posts: posts:  ) 

For a Customers you might say  "I made this and you should buy it".  You give them reasons and try to "sell" it. They buy it or they don't.  They have no hand in "making" it.  
Clients, on the other hand, say  "I need this thing," and if you are smart, you find a way to make it for them. Sometimes that doesn't have to be a thing, it can be a service.  Like a voice lesson.  Or a massage. Or a theatre? Yes, because NPT thinks of itself as a "service" to the community.  
The customer doesn't get something custom-built. They have to take what you give them.  Most theatres operate this way. 
But the client gets to help you create your product or service. 
Audience members usually = Customers, to most theatres.   Donors sometimes get to make a suggestion or two. Board members always get to air their opinions.  But who is providing you with a revenue stream via tickets and butts in seats again? 
Should they be clients? Shouldn't you let them, enroll them, into helping you create your "product"? Not superficially thru your Facebook page, but face to face.  Genuinely interested in what they have to say. 
Yes, Art is a product.  But to avoid the argument over "commercializing" art here, let's invite our audience/clients to help us create this "product", or piece of art. Or art venue.  We can't dance around the money subject here.  It is needed to finance Art. If you are looking to locate your virtual theatre in a community wouldn't it be prudent to scope out local businesses? NOT just to ask them for money, but to ask them what they want in a local, professional, theatre company?
I am not saying you are wrong if you want to paint, sing, create in your basement or for 10 people in a theatre.  We need that too.  I am just saying that some of our missions need to reflect the idea of Clients/Audience members offering their sometimes wonderful advice and brainstorming ideas to our development.  
Enrolling an ever-connected community in your theatre's development is not only smart $$ it's smart Art. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I'll show you!

Wanted to repost this from Seth Godin's blog today.  Anyone can see the relevance in their own lives.  I think I stopped doing this a while ago and just let folks "go" who said things like this.  About a Miss Ohio/Miss America attempt. About a Broadway career. About running an Internet Business.  So by the time I got to creating a "Theatre", I had the walking-away-from-the-negative",  concentrating on the "work" and "delighting true believers" pretty well in place. But it's a great reminder for everyone!

Proving the skeptics wrong- 

"It'll never last..."
"Someone with her background will never make a go of this..."
"Are you kidding me?" "Pathetic! Delusional!"
"Social media is a fad, the iPad is a toy, you're never going to amount to anything..."
Here's the thing about proving skeptics wrong: They don't care. They won't learn. They will stay skeptics. The ones who said the airplane would never fly ignored the success of the Wright Bros. and went on to become skeptical of something else. And when they got onto an airplane, they didn't apologize to the engineers on their way in.
I used to have a list, and I kept it in my head, the list of people who rejected, who were skeptical, who stood in the way. What I discovered was that this wasn't the point of the work, and my goal wasn't actually to prove these folks wrong, it was only to do the work that was worth doing. So long ago I stopped keeping track. It's not about the skeptics. It's about the people who care about, support and enable.
Instead of working so hard to prove the skeptics wrong, it makes a lot more sense to delight the true believers. They deserve it, after all, and they're the ones that are going to spread the word for you.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Free tix to OFF BWAY! "Around the World in 80 Days".

I read Ken Davenport's blog "The producer's prospective".  His creds include:
 Broadway Producer: MacbethKinky Boots (Tony Award), GodspellChinglish,Oleanna starring Bill Pullman and Julia Stiles, Speed-the-Plow, Will Ferrell’s You’re Welcome AmericaBlithe Spirit starring Angela Lansbury, and 13, as well as Altar BoyzMy First TimeThe Awesome 80s Prom, and Miss Abigail’s Guide to Dating, Mating, & Marriage Off-Broadway. 

His latest blog tells you how to get your free tix to the Off Bway show "Around the World in 80 days" NO gimmick.  Just get yours by clicking on the link below and reading about how to secure yours. He's a really good marketing guy.

SoNO Charity Concerts

HI all

We were contacted by Stacey, the creator of the SoNO charity concerts in Norwalk CT, to perform for their July 17th concert.  So Bret Shuford and I will perform a "Family" style performance and also feature some of our Youth Board (and former winners of So Ya Wanna Be a Broadway Star) as the "Up and Commers" in this show.  We will also have a booth in the back run by the advisor to our Youth Board and our members, that will Face Paint for $5.  We keep that as a donation to the Youth Board.  There is also the opportunity for folks to just donate to NPT.

Stacey asked me if I could help her with some PR as this is a relatively new series so I reached out to Channel 12, in Norwalk, and got a slot for this past weekend.  I asked Stacey and also Matt Sweeney (our Youth Board prez) to do the interview.  You have about 6 chances to catch it next weekend on Channel 12 as it was taped and runs in a loop.  Saturday at 11:30 am is a good time to see it.

To help with attendance I also suggested that from 3-4pm on the day of the show we could hear some "wanna-be's" ages 8 and up in an "audition" and then pick three of them to be featured that night with us on stage.

Here is the Press Release that Stacey put together with my input.  Join us if you can!

SONO Charity Concerts

SoNo Corporate Center
50 Washington Street
Norwalk, CT 06854
Phone (203) 354-4550
Fax: 203.354.4551
Media Release
Contact: Stacey Hascoe
Phone: (203) 354-4550

9 A.M. EDT, June 26, 2013
How do you become a sTar on Broadway?
First, Stop at SoNO Plaza.

SOno plaza, South norwlak, CT, june 26, 2013:  For anyone who has ever dreamed of being discovered and making it big on Broadway, Wednesday July 17 could be their lucky day.
It will not help those dreamers to wish upon a star (though it can’t hurt); what they need to do is get themselves to SoNo Plaza in South Norwalk, CT on July 17. That is where the New Paradigm Theatre Company will be hosting the "So ya wanna be a Broadway Star” competition.
The competition is being run in partnership with The Sono Concert Series.

Stand up and sing
The July 17th competition will be an American Idol-style competition. Contestants are invited to sing any Broadway song of their choosing. A piano accompanist will be provided; contestants must bring their own sheet music. Judges will select who from among the contestants will have the opportunity of performing that night for the Sono audience.

The competition will be between 3-4 pm, and will be limited to the first 30 contestants who arrive at 3 pm. All the judges are Broadway performers from the New Paradigm Theatre and will provide all the contestants with helpful feedback and advice.

Three winning contestants will be invited to join the other Broadway performers to be part of that evening’s SoNo Concert Series “Disney Magic Broadway” concert, featuring Bret Shuford(Broadway: Beauty and the Beast, Little Mermaid, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) and Kristin Huffman (Broadway: Company, Tours: Phantom, Miss OH and runner-up Miss America, Exec.Dir: New Paradigm Theatre) performing with the Norwalk Symphony Orchestra. The three winners will have the opportunity to be on stage and sing with the Broadway cast and “Youth Board” members of New Paradigm’s non profit professional theatre company. 

The open-air concert will start at 6 pm.
The competition rules and the required three forms can be downloaded from or

SoNo Park is located at 50 Washington Street, in the historic waterfront area of South Norwalk. South Norwalk is easily accessible from I-95 with ample parking available.

Identity through Theater
The New Paradigm Theater Company is a non-profit community theater, run by Kristin Huffman as artistic director with the dedicated support of a team of theater professionals with Broadway backgrounds. The mission of the New Paradigm Theatre is to further the community’s cultural identity with professional theater.

In addition to the competition partnership with the SoNo Concert Series, NPT hosts “Sunday Spotlight”, a virtual master class featuring Broadway, TV, and Film stars who offer aspiring actors and performers advice and tips on advancing their career. “Sunday Spotlight” is currently on summer hiatus, but will resume in the Fall 2013. Information is available at the Sunday Spotlight page on Facebook, the NPT blog, or by email to .

For More Information
Sono concert series
Sono Corporate center
New paradign theatre
Norwalk Symphony Orchestra
Sunday spotlight
Kristin HuFFman
SoNo Charity Concert Series flyer
SoNo Charity Concert Series Sponsorship information
Kristin Huffman photo (JPEG)
Bret Shuford photo (JPEG)
Competition forms


Monday, July 1, 2013


I am so glad the event this past Sunday went well and I am so glad it's over.  It's one thing to write a show for other non profits. When it is all about your own non profit though it is more nerve wracking.

But everyone showed up.  Everyone had a great time.  Everything went according to plan.  We are doing our follow up calls now to those folks who are interested in being on the board.  I wrote out personal thank you letters to all the guests and mailed them today.  Penny and Joe (our Board members on the Board Development committee) also follow up with the guests via emails.

Yesterday I wrote out thank you letters for the nine Broadway folks and had them in envelopes for them when they got to the country club.  When the guests arrived I greeted each one and had studied their faces and profiles the weeks before. That way I could discuss their businesses with them and sound informed.  Very "Devil Wears Prada" I know.

I think it's not enough to just have a successful event. The follow up is extremely important and sometimes neglected. The "I am so grateful you came" has to happen right away.  To everyone. Guests, Stars, Volunteers, husbands....

But I am checking it all off my list today.  Feeling so good about the momentum and positivity.

Now we are lining up follow up lunches and meetings.  All good.  Glad this is summer when I have a bit more time to do it.

And I was proud of myself for keeping perspective during and after the event.  If it's the right fit for us and for them it will happen. If not...NEXT.