On Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018, the South Bay Musical Theater Board of Directors hosted its semi-annual Members Meeting at the Saratoga Civic Theater. Nine of the 12 board members attended, and a full agenda kept the meeting rolling for 90 minutes—and beyond. The lively discussion then adjourned to the lobby, where complimentary mimosas and light snacks were served. The lobby TV displayed a slideshow demonstrating the new SBMT website.
What follows is a brief summary of what took place:
- Newly elected board chair Jay Steele greeted attendees and introduced new and returning board members.
- Kevin Brownstein gave a preview of “My Best Girl,” the song he will be performing as “Older Patrick” in the upcoming fall production of Mame that opens Sept. 22.
- Molly Thornton Olivas read the CFO report, and said that SBMT is in good financial shape, thanks in large measure to the huge success of our last show, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which enjoyed the largest audience in company history. (We have seen sold-out productions in the past, but because the orchestra was housed backstage for Hunchback, we were able to fill an extra row of seats.)
- Kimberly Kay told us about SBMT’s fall fundraiser, Tacos & Tunes, which will be held at Friendship Hall (19848 Prospect Road, Saratoga, CA) on Oct. 20 featuring tacos catered by Maricruz Espinoza, keyboard karaoke featuring Bob Sunshine at the piano, and a silent auction. She listed some of the exciting auction items that have already been donated, such as tickets to Come From Away up in San Francisco with dinner at Sam’s Diner and cocktails at Smuggler’s Cove; a family photo shoot (or headshot session) with Jenni Chapman Photography; a voice lesson from Rachel Michelberg; one dozen edible image cookies from Decorated by Cami; a gift certificate for Atelier Salon; and a cocktail class taught by SBMT board member Braden Taylor. Anyone who has a service or item they would like to donate should contact Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Doug Hughes, SBMT’s new Director of Marketing, got some appreciative whoops by announcing our new website, and said that our marketing this year will make much great use of digital and social media. He encouraged members to follow the company on Facebook and to “like” and “share” the promotional videos that we will be posting.
- Jeffrey Henson, Facilities Director, reminded everyone that we have established a good source of auxiliary income by renting out our rehearsal studio to other groups. Anyone interested in rentals of our facilities, sets, or costumes should consult our website’s “RENTALS” page for more info.
- Sara Ward, Production Manager, made a plea to encourage members to volunteer. One needn’t commit to a full production run, she stressed. There is often a need for someone to serve as a substitute for one night when a crew member (such as a follow spotlight operator) develops an unavoidable conflict. Likewise, we always need helpers like ushers and concession sales staff for the front of house. Again, for more info see our website’s “VOLUNTEER” page.
- Steve Sammonds gave a detailed presentation about last fall’s patron survey, discussing the findings and what they mean. The single biggest contributor to ticket sales, patrons tell us, is the consistent quality of our productions. When the results are sorted according to age demographics, Steve reported, we sometimes see conflicting preferences for the type of shows our audiences want. In order of preference, our subscribers like well-known shows from the Golden Age of Broadway, shows with a lot of dancing, and newer releases. They do not like shows with rock or rap lyrics—or adult themes—even though younger patrons (those under 40) are open to such offerings. Younger patrons are most interested in discounted tickets, and attendees were reminded that we offer student rates to students of any age, as long as they have a valid student I.D.
Steve further explained that he compared the list of audience favorites identified by the survey with established statistics about the length of each show’s run on Broadway. That method of number crunching generated a weighted score that is serving as extremely valuable information for our season selection team.
- Sasha Motalygo, who will be our producer for Thoroughly Modern Millie, announced that auditions have been set for Nov. 11 and 12, with callbacks on Nov. 18 and 19. And then, to the delight of everyone, she tap danced to one of the songs from the show!
- Walter Mayes closed the meeting with an audience-participation feedback session to poll attendees about the specific show titles that they would like us to mount in the future. He prefaced the discussion with comments about the key learnings from our most recent season. Based on what our patrons have told us, we now believe the formula that will be most successful will be a slate in which two of our three shows are “known and loved,” while the third challenges (and hopefully delights) the audience with newer or lesser-known material. Walter invited attendees to pitch their favorite shows and why we should consider them. This led to a spirited and wide-ranging discussion of titles from the family-friendly (A Year With Frog and Toad, Seussical) to the adult-themed (Cabaret, Spring Awakenings) and from the well-known (Carousel, Annie Get Your Gun) to the lesser-known (The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Big Fish).
The meeting was adjourned as the members moved the debate to the lobby, where they continued to weigh the pros and cons of various shows—and how easily or successfully they could be mounted on the Saratoga stage. The considerations are many. It’s very hard to do shows that feature strong male dancers, for example, because such actors are in great demand. It’s harder to do shows with huge sets because there is no fly space and limited wing space at the Saratoga Theater. There are a lot of female actors among our members, but not as many roles for them in the majority of the shows that Broadway gives us.
What do YOU think?
We are always open to ideas and love hearing from our fans and followers. Let’s make this blog interactive. Use the comments field below to tell us what shows you would like to see us do—any why you think it would be well-received by our audience.
Photos from the meeting—courtesy of Steve Stubbs, and the reception—courtesy of Steve Stubbs and Barbara Heninger