What a fantastic story from ‘Basement to Broadway’ in just a year! We have our fingers and toes crossed they make it to the Tony Awards…


The cast of Deaf West’s Spring Awakening has been on quite a ride.

Their original production opened in a 99-seat church basement in downtown Los Angeles just about a year and a half ago.  The cast came from all over and included some who were discovered on YouTube and others who were performing in front of an audience for the very first time.

A year later they were on Broadway.

And now, the show is a Tony nominee for Best Revival of a Musical.

It’s pretty amazing.  Especially when you consider some of these actors were told that they could never have a career in the theater.

But the story doesn’t end there.

Because now they’ve got a chance to perform on Broadway’s biggest night, in front of millions of people . . . on the Tony Awards.

That’s right, the cast of Deaf West’s Spring Awakening has a chance to appear on stage at the Beacon Theatre and showcase their unique talents to the rest of the world, letting everyone know that Broadway is indeed the most inclusive place on earth, and inspiring others to believe that anything is possible if they put their minds to it.

But they could use your help.

You see, performing on the Tony Awards is an incredible honor.  But it’s expensive.

What you may not know is that the the shows themselves have to foot most of the bill for their performance.  And it’s a lot of money.  (Remind me not to produce live television award shows, by the way.)

Why do the shows have to pay?  First of all, it’s important to know that they don’t have to, they want to.  Shows could turn down the opportunity to appear (if asked), but most (if not all) are happy to pay, since a performance on the show is like getting a three and half minute international commercial.  It would cost millions for that kind of exposure.

And given how expensive it is to get a number on the air (from mandated union labor expenses to tech rehearsals for each and every number to design elements used (projected or otherwise), and so on and so on), if the shows didn’t pay, there’s no way the telecast would exist . . . or it would be super boring because there wouldn’t be a number on it!  Instead, the shows are happy to put up the money.

The challenge for Spring Awakening, however, is that, as you know, its limited run ended on January 24th.  So in addition to the usual costs for performing on the Tonys, there are additional expenses, including gathering the cast from all corners of the country, additional rehearsals, dragging our costumes and props out of storage, etc.  It’s a lot more challenging than just trucking our peeps and stuff over from a midtown theater after a matinee.

How much is it going to cost?

$200,000.  At least.

On a running show, funds for a performance on the Tonys would come from the advertising and marketing budget, the hope being that the exposure would increase ticket sales, and those costs would be recouped.

But what about a show like Spring, whose limited run has ended?  When there isn’t a chance to recoup those costs?

Our show ended on January 24th.  And the financial books are just about buttoned up now.  We don’t have $200,000 to spend, no matter how important it is to all of us that this cast get the chance to appear on the show.  And honestly, even if we had the money, it wouldn’t be fiscally responsible for us Producers to ask our investors to foot this bill, especially with all they’ve risked in the first place.

At the same time, how could we not take the opportunity to show the world this courageous cast of hearing and deaf actors (not to mention the first actress ever in a wheelchair on Broadway), and to prove, on Broadway’s biggest night, what the power of inclusion and diversity can do?

Could we just say, “No, thanks.  We’re gonna pass.  We’ll have another opportunity like this another time?”

Would you?

I didn’t think so.

To fund that original production of Spring Awakening in that 99-seat theater on skid row in Los Angeles, Deaf West turned to Kickstarter to make it happen.

And now, they’re coming full circle, and once again appealing to their friends, family, fans, and people all over the world to help get their history-making cast of Spring Awakening their shot on the biggest stage in the world.


Click here to watch the video that the cast and company of Spring Awakening put together. They explain why this show is so important to them, and why it’s even more important that the world see what they’ve done.

I hope it inspires you as much as working with them has inspired me.

And I hope you can find something, whether it’s what you’d spend on a ticket to Hamilton or what you’d spend on a latte at Starbucks, to give to their incredible cause.

And spread the word.  Send this blog to folks, or share the Kickstarter page.

Or just send people to www.GetSpringOnTheTonys.com.

Cuz they’re gonna do this.  World, look out, here comes the most courageous and inspiring cast of performers you’ve ever seen.

Leave a Reply