The 20-Minute Reading

Apr 14, 2022

“Selling” a show to Producers and Investors with a “reading” is one of the most difficult things to do in our business. 

They’re in the middle of the day when the audience’s iPhones are vibrating a hole in their pocket.  They are often in rehearsal rooms under fluorescent lights.  There isn’t any staging.  No costumes or costume changes.    

And, well, the actors are, uh . . . READING their lines and lyrics.

Face it.  They are boring.  But also necessary.  

And of course, one of the greatest challenges is that a typical musical or full-length play reading is easily a three-hour commitment for anyone attending.  That’s a good chunk of an audience’s very busy business day.

And getting people to devote 30 minutes to your project in current climate is hard . . . never mind three hours!

That’s why I’m advocating that your FIRST reading shouldn’t be a FULL reading.  

I’m advocating for the 20-minute Lunchtime Reading.  Give Producers and Investors a couple tunes, a couple of scenes and maybe a sandwich, and they will be more likely to swing down, decide if the show suits their taste, and be back in time to make sure the paperwork on their desk hasn’t hit the ceiling.

Yu follow up, and if they liked it (and the odds are better that they will if I’m only seeing 20 minutes), you send a script and a demo, which the Producer or Investor can go through on their own time.

Or, you present a more complete reading a month later for the really interested parties who loved the first 20 minutes.  (I used this strategy for Altar Boyz and I got a great producing partner out of the deal.)

The other upside for this approach is that first readings are rarely as creatively successful as we want them to be.  Only because it’s the first time we’re hearing the shows out loud in front of an audience.  So . . . if we know something is going to need to get better . . . why show the whole thing?  Just show ‘em the best parts to get them on the hook, and THEN reveal the rest.  

And, 20 Minute Readings are a heck of a lot easier to produce, cheaper to produce, and more likely to be of a higher quality. 

Just like a restaurant giving out free sample in front of their store, or a test drive of a car, if you give people a taste first, they will be more likely to commit later.

Give the 20 Minute Lunchtime Reading a shot with your next show and see what happens.

If you’re planning or want to plan a 20-minute reading, a full reading, or an actual production, give my team a call to see how we can help with the resources you need. We’ve helped make hundreds of readings happen, and have saved people money and time in the process . . . and increased the odds of their success (that’s my mission).

See if we can help you by setting a NextStage strategy session with my team here.



1501 Broadway

New York, NY 10036

Phone: 646-381-4015

Email: [email protected]