Friday, January 30, 2009

Strength in numbers.

Twenty one. That's the official "man count" at last night's sold out performance of Menopause the Musical. Six hundred and ninety-nine women, and 21 guys.

Apparently all of our bathrooms became women's bathrooms.

People loved the show. We'll try to bring them back. Kudos to the Iowa Women's Foundation for making it happen this time.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

We're off to be the Wizard...

Had a great meeting yesterday with David Kilpatrick from the Old Creamery Theatre and a handful of other Englertians to talk about this summer's production of The Wizard of Oz. This will be the first time we've worked with Old Creamery, after having done other Big Collaborations with City Circle/Iowa Children's Museum a couple of times (Seussical and Schoolhouse Rock).

Now, I'll be honest - I have never been a huge Wizard of Oz fan. Maybe it's because I had to sit through a hundred thousand endless rehearsals when my sister was a munchkin in a tedious high school production way back in the day. Or maybe it's because I always looked at the movie and thought the special effects weren't all that, well, special.

But I have to admit I'm excited about this collaboration. First, because I know it's going to be a good quality show with the peeps at Old Creamery on board. Secondly, because there are soooo many marketing opportunities, it has that side of my mind racing in overdrive.

But mostly, talking about auditions and performances and rehearsals and all that, it reminds me of how much fun I had doing community theater when I was a kid. Putting on a big show in one's spare time is unlike anything else I've experienced: getting a group of people for one purpose, for a short amount of time, having a lot of fun, working ridiculously hard on something, and then it's suddenly over. Incomparable.

Just for the record, Old Creamery is professional - not community - theater. But we are looking for a special someone in the community to be our Dorothy.

Which brings me to this: auditions. Not just for Dorothy, but for the whole show and in fact the entire Old Creamery season.
This show will combine the best of our region's talent with professional actors to create a great experience for the audience. (btw - it's not necessary to be a member of Actor's Equity, but members are of course welcome)

This Saturday, January 31st
9 AM to noon - kids
1 PM to 5 PM - adults
Anyone ages 8 to 70+ are welcome to audition

What to bring:
- Two contrasting monologues
- If you sing, two short selections from contrasting songs (an accompaniest and CD player will be provided)
- Picture and resume, if you have them

So, think you or your kids are the next Judy Garland? Start your story here, on the Englert stage. Come on down, give it a shot.

Monday, January 19, 2009


I've found that people generally fall into one of two camps:

1) "Boy, it seems like the lights are always on down there at the Englert. There's always something going on."

- or -

2) "There's never anything going on at the Englert. You guys don't have enough events."

In 2008, we had 190 "event days."

The most obvious event day is a performance, but it can also mean a rehearsal day for a big event like The Nutcracker, or a private reception in the Gallery, or other random things. Some of these events are "Englert Series," meaning we book the performer, promote the show, assume all the risk, etc. The rest - the majority, actually - are community events (theater, etc.), rentals for private events, collaborations with other non-profits, etc.

Here's a look at how our event days have grown over the last three years:

Is this a lot or a little? Well, like most things, it depends on how you look at. We started off 2008 with the following assumptions and goals:

1) There are 365 calendar days in the year, but they're not all "bookable." Take away holidays, maintenance days and home football days (scheduling against the Hawkeyes - even after the game - hasn't worked yet in four years), and that takes it down to around 338.

2) We're Iowa City, not New York City. So out of those 338 available days, we have to account for the fact that we have a relatively small market, there are a lot of other things going on, and people just aren't going to go to the theater 5, 6 or 7 nights a week. We projected that on average, we could have 4 events per week. Some weeks less, some weeks more.

3) That brings us to 188 bookable days. Our actual goal was 160, with 188 being the "max" end of the range.

We did 190. Some of that was due to displaced organizations looking for performance space after the floods. Some of it was due to more Englert Series shows than ever before.

Is that enough events? Too few? What kind of impact did it have on our budget? What about our staff? What about fundraising?

Can we do more? If we just do more events, won't we eliminate the need for fundraising? For investments from sponsors and the City?

So many questions! Answers (or at least our point of view) to come...