When Lucille Ball was approached to turn her radio program My Favorite Husband into a sitcom, she insisted that her husband on the show must be her real life husband Desi Arnaz, but television executives believed that America would never buy the idea of her having a Cuban husband. Determined to do the show together for the sake of their marriage, Ball and Arnaz literally took the show on the road, presenting a stage version of their sitcom concept in several large cities to great fanfare. They took it into their own hands and proved that America would buy it, and the rest is history. Even all these years later, I Love Lucy is still the favorite television show of millions and without a doubt mine.
It’s interesting that with the advent of the Internet (thanks, Al Gore!), the ability to get one’s work to the masses is easier than ever. You can write a show and post the libretto online, allow people to download your music, and network through sites like BroadwaySpace.com, Talkin’ Broadway’s All That Chat, and Broadway World.
Yet, every show that has hit the Great White Way in the past ten years has made it there going the traditional route, which is, presumably, through networking like mad, making connections with people who will actually take the time to experience your work, perhaps working your way into the industry by interning or working in a production office, or attending a program like NYU or BMI and hoping someone sees your work. No one who has posted their work online—be it an actress with a demo or a composer with his music—has ever been able to effectively capitalize on the technology.
So, the question of the day is what is the next step? How does one break down the wall around the fortress? And how does one do it without losing their dignity or attempting something that compromises the quality of their work?
Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz figured it out. It’s up to a new generation of us to do the same as well.
the Broadway Mouth
July 30, 2008