I had the great pleasure of visiting San Francisco recently to see the brand new musical, Tales of the City based on Armistead Maupin’s famous serial novels. I’m a huge fan of the books and was equally excited about the new musical. Though it’s still going through development and will likely be further refined, the musical has been a HUGE hit with audiences and ACT has the ticket sales stats to prove it. We can all learn from what these producers and writers did RIGHT!
1. The Author Was Involved.
They got off on the right foot when the show’s bookwriter, Jeff Whitty, met with Armistead Maupin to talk about the project directly. While there’s a chance the creative team could have secured the rights through publisher and agent channels, they took the time to get to know the author to gain his support and input. Right off the bat the creative team began to build trust among the series fans.
2. Significant Development Process.
They went through a multi-year multi-venue development process with readings in NYC and a stint at the O’Neill Center before putting it on it’s feet. A project this high profile could have been fast tracked to production but they took time (several years) to make sure it was done right.
3. They Premiered in “THE City.”
For a show that is a love story to San Francisco, holding a world premiere in San Fran’s own ACT was brilliant. In this day and age of bringing shows into Broadway without a try-out they could have simply skipped this step or even gone elsewhere – which would probably have alienated the true SF fan base who would be many miles away. Instead, it was born in its city of origin and the natives are quick to embrace their homegrown story.
On top of all that, they have extensive supporting materials in their program and online that educate the audience about the behind the scenes process. Clearly their efforts are paying off since the run keeps getting extended. And though they couldn’t manage to avoid a (some would say premature) New York Times review they nevertheless deserve to be commended on a job very well done.
Anyone else see it in San Francisco? Comment below and let us know your opinion!