I was having a drink (not Kool-Aid) the other night with a fellow producer and we were discussing how vital it is for musical theater producers to know when they’ve been drinking their musical’s Kool-Aid.
By this I mean, know when you are too close to your new musical to truly evaluate it from your audience’s perspective. It happens to all of us and you are lying to yourself if you think it doesn’t happen to you. We work on a show, and sooner rather than later, we fall head over heels in love with the story, the people, the great songs, the wonderful dance numbers and pretty soon we are the least objective people in the room.
Writers have little choice – they have to drink the Kool-Aid. As a producer, however, you need to maintain a delicate balance that can sometimes not be done alone.
If you have the luxury of a producing partner, a great strategy is to have one producer be on-site more often to handle day to day decisions and discussions and have the other producer keep some distance so he or she can check in only at certain key times to watch the show from a more objective perspective.
If you don’t have a producing partner, it’s important to cultivate one or two people who you trust to be your objective eyes. Be sure to pick someone you’ll listen to and who can articulate what they are seeing.
Think of it as having a designated driver. When you’ve exceeded your “objectivity limit” make sure there’s someone near by who hasn’t been drinking the Kool-Aid and can have your back.