T2C’s music editor Stephen Sorokoff sat down at his computer in Palm Beach and talked with CEO Seth Greenleaf and Chairman Ken Greenblatt about their current initiative during COVID-19
On Monday, May 4, GFour Productions — whose collective shows have won 56 Drama Desk and 44 Tony Awards® — announced that their international hit show MENOPAUSE THE MUSICAL® is now available for online streaming. For the first time in history, the beloved show will entertain fans from the comfort of their homes. Not only is the stream available for purchase — GFour has offered a revenue share to participating partners who market the online streaming, as a way to help venues across the country generate revenue at this time. Additionally, GFour is donating 10% of all sales to The Actors Fund, in support of their COVID-19 efforts to provide emergency financial assistance to performing arts and entertainment professionals.
GFour Productions CEO Seth Greenleaf talks to BroadwayWorld about the initiative.
- S.S. Why did you decide to offer Menopause The Musical via online streaming?
- S.G.Producers have to produce, and we had to close 23 productions world-wide as a result of the pandemic, so we’re here with a company of creative people about ready to pull our hair out, and this was one of the ideas we came up with.
- S.S. What is special about the MTM fan base?
S.G.Their loyalty for sure. They love their show, and while they might not be the most technologically advance demographic, their willingness is fantastic. We’ve kind of become a tech support company over the last week. People writing us on Facebook messenger that they don’t have the technology to watch a stream, and we have to explain to them that if they’re using Facebook, they do! It’s been pretty funny. Most of them want to buy multiple tickets for their friends, which is exactly what happens with the show, and we’re trying to find ways for people to view the stream in groups so it feels more like a live event.
- S.S. How are other venues and partners participating in the effort?
S.G. We reached out to a bunch of the venue partners and promoters that we work with with, and we gave them their own codes to promote. They needed something for their audiences too so it’s been helpful all the way around. We all have loyal audiences who love live theatre so anything we can do to give them some connection to that right now is really being appreciated.
- S.S. Can you speak a bit about the charitable partnership with The Actors Fund?
S.G. As with everyone else in our industry, we’re trying to support one another. The Actors Fund is the ultimate protector of artists so they were an easy choice to support in this. They’re an amazing organization that gives millions in emergency financial assistance, affordable housing, health care, and many other life supporting services. We’ve always been big fans, and while Menopause The Musical normally raises money specifically for women’s charities, this is a time where we had to support our own.
S.S.Seth, when did you first realize that you wanted to be in the business of show?
S.G.I grew around the theatre business and worked in just about every aspect of it, starting with school plays at around eight. I’ve just always loved it. The ability to focus hundreds or thousands of people on a shared experience, it’s more valuable than ever in our technology driven world. Funny that we’re using that technology to keep people connected to that live experience.
S.S. This is such a tragic and unpredictable time for Broadway now. People are groping for direction. What are your thoughts?
S.G. It’s a tragedy because people are dying. I know it’s a scary situation in terms of work and life getting back to normal, but the first goal is physical well-being and we all have to remember that. Theatre has been around for thousands of years, and it’s still here, just waiting until it can be life-affirming again and not life-risking. We’re a smart and adaptable industry, especially in times of crisis, and there are good minds at work on keeping people safe when the world is ready to gather again. It may take longer than we want to restore confidence, and there might be some setbacks along the way, but we will get through this. It may not be food or water, but the collective live experience is a primal need and we will undoubtedly appreciate it even more the next time the curtain rises.
S.S. Any more streaming plans in your future?
S.G. We’re looking at two other properties of ours that we do have filmed. One is CATSKILLS ON BROADWAY, from way back in the day, but it’s still great material with some of the best comedians ever, and we have those rights. We’re also thinking about MIDDLETOWN, our newest play that stars a celebrity cast reading from stands. We’re seeing how Menopause does at this point and working through the speed bumps, but it’s very possible we’ll release more content. The longer this goes, the more we will need to adapt.
S.S. What are you most looking forward to when this all past us:
S.G. Laughter. I’m glad our audience is enjoying the stream, but I miss hearing them laugh. These things can never replace live theatre, but they can be a salve for now, and if that helps us get through this, I’m all for it.