New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media


Tune into Radio Jersey with Lee Mrowicki every Monday through Friday from 6pm to 8pm
Broadcast on Asbury Music!

Ken Davenport Talks About Getting The Band Back Together

By Gary Wien


Ken Davenport is an award-winning producer whose list of credits includes Broadway and Off-Broadway plays such as revival of "Macbeth", "Godspell", "Oleanna", "Speed the Plow", "You're Welcome America", "Blithe 13", "Altar Boyz", "The Awesome 80s Prom", "My First Time", and "Kinky Boots" which won the 2013 Tony Award for Best Musical. He was featured on a national commercial for the iPhone, named one of Crain's Forty Under 40 for 2008, and runs a blog about theatre at http://www.theproducersperspective.com.

Ken's new musical, "Getting the Band Back Together", makes its debut at George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick this month. The play revolves around Mitch Martino who is 40 and has just been fired from his job on Wall Street. He moves back to Mom's house in Sayreville, NJ and reconnects with the old gang for an epic high-stakes battle of the bands.

You can catch the initial run of "Getting the Band Back Together" September 24 - October 27 at George Street. Judging by his track record, the play will almost certainly be moving on to a New York City location in the near future. New Jersey Stage caught up with Ken during final rehearsals in New Brunswick.

I love the idea behind this play - a guy in his forties gets fired and moves back to his mother's house (in Jersey, of course) and reconnects with his old bandmates and puts the band back together. How did the idea come to you? Did you bump into someone with a story like that?
I think everyone has dreams of being a rock star at some point in their life, whether they're singing in the shower or watching something on tv. I don't remember exactly what it was, I just imagined that all of those people like myself - I was in a band growing up and thinking about doing it again. And then something very specific happened. After I started working on it, I was sitting around a table for a union negotiation and our lawyer practically jumped out of his seat. He had his Blackberry in his hand and he said, "Yes!" I took it as a sign we had gotten what we wanted or that the negotiation was over. I said, "What is it?" He said, "We got a gig!"

I was like "what?" and he said "My partners here at the firm and I put together a rock band and we're playing my buddy's bar mitzvah!" He was so excited he had to share it with all of us. He had found a way to bring back the joy that he had at 18, playing music, and being with his buddies - and that's so much of what this show is really about.

Is it true that your "garage band" was a jazz trio?
That is true. I also managed because I didn't have a lot of talent. I'm not really a rocker kind of guy. I managed another band that was very short lived and I was in another band where I played a little bit of bass, but the primary one was the jazz trio. We were going to play Barry Manilow tunes at weddings.

Dreaming big, eh?
Exactly.

Since word got out about the play, have people been coming up to you and telling their own band stories?
Oh, absolutely. I talk about what I do a lot and people always ask me what are you working on and when I tell them about this show I usually see their eyes light up in front of me. Because they immediately know what it means and what it's about. I usually ask if they were in a band and the memories just come flooding out.

What's it been like working at George Street Playhouse?
It's an incredible group of people. There are a couple of people that were involved in the original conception of the show that are now speaking words, some of which they helped write through improve rehearsals many years ago. I couldn't be more blessed. I was thinking about this the other day: four years ago this was just an idea in my head. Then we put all the stuff down on paper and now to be so lucky to have these actors speaking these words and singing these tunes… it's just an incredible thrill.

Do you get the same type of thrill producing a show as you do producing a show that you actually wrote? Is there a difference for you?
Well, sure there's a difference. When you're sitting in a rehearsal room like I am now and you're watching something that four years ago was just an idea in your head and now is being physically realized in front of you… it's quite a thrill.

And, a lot more nerve-wracking?
Yes, of course. (He laughs) With more thrills come more nerves! There's no question. It's like riding a roller coaster. It's exciting to get on, but you're also going to be scared.

So, what's the deal with having the schlub come back to New Jersey? It that another dig at us here? I saw an interview where you said audiences automatically laugh when you say the words New Jersey.
Look, this is a show that is set in New Jersey and is a little about that New Jersey rock and roll experience. New Jersey has given the world some of the greatest rock bands of all time. And I thought it was real important to debut the show here. Obviously, we have big hopes and dreams for the show going forward, but I thought the first audience that should witness it should be a Jersey audience.

Speaking of music that New Jersey has brought to the world... they may be a Columbus, Ohio band, but lead singer Scott Terry is from South Jersey. Tell me about your film project on the band Red Wanting Blue - "These Magnificent Miles". How did that film come about? It's hard enough thinking about doing a film about a famous band, but even harder to do one on a band the mainstream world has never heard about.
That was one of the reasons I wanted to do that. I was first introduced to that band because Scott's girlfriend was the lead (head cheerleader) in my show "The Awesome 80s Prom". One night after the show she begged me, she said, "You've got to hear my boyfriend's band." I offered her a hundred dollars if I could not go! And she wouldn't take it. She begged and begged and begged and she got me there and I was blown away. It was not only the talent level on the stage and the music, but when they were done blowing the roof off of the joint, they packed up all of their gear, put it in the van, and got ready to go to the next town. I was just amazed by that.

I talked to them over a long time about doing stuff - even a musical at one point - and I realized the story I really wanted to tell about them was their own. Most bands have a shelf life of like a year and a half or two years, but for some reason that band just will not quit. They keep going and going and going. They're so passionate, love what they do so much, and they work so hard. They sleep in that van! And I did it with them in 100 degrees heat. It's a tough life, but they will not give up. And that's an amazing story.

Final question: you have had a great string of successes in the past few years. You also are very active in social media, often speak at seminars, and run a popular blog. Do you think the constant interaction helps you have more of a pulse on what people want? Has that played a role in your success?
I'd say this, I like to listen to people. I listened to that lawyer get excited and listened to other people talk about their garage bands. I know that's something that resonates with a lot of people. So I decided to create something that could galvanize that emotion within them. I just like to listen and social media and the web allows me to do that. I write a blog, but the most interesting thing about that blog is not what I say but the conversations. I get to listen and hear what people think about the theatre today. Listening makes you a better anything. And I think listening makes me a better producer and a better creator because I have an idea what's on top of their minds.



For more by this author, click here






The Panto Company Presents "Beauty and the Beast" at The Newton Theatre
(NEWTON, NJ) -- When you think of a dying rose and a clock, candlestick andteapot who talk... you are thinking Beauty and the Beast. One of this season's spellbinding family shows from The Panto Company USA stars Dame Dotty Potty, Loopy Louie, Gaston, Belle and of course The Beast!  The company brings their show to The Newton Theatre on Sunday, March 3 at 3:00pm.
La Strada Ensemble Theater Presents "La Bella Familia" by Edwin Sanchez
(OCEAN GROVE, NJ) -- La Strada Ensemble Theater presents La Bella Familia by Edwin Sanchez from January 18-20.  The play deals with a Puerto Rican hit woman and the gentlest man in the world move next door to the neighbors from hell and everyone learns, the hard way, that family comes first.
Art House Productions Presents "The Passion Project" by Reid Farrington
(JERSEY CITY, NJ) -- Art House Productions presents the unique theatrical experience that is Reid Farrington’s The Passion Project performed by Laura K. Nicoll.  Eight performances will take place from February 21st to March 3rd. The Passion Project is a 30 minute vibration between performance, film, and installation. Carl Th.Dreyer’s 1928 immortal masterpiece, “The Passion of Joan of Arc” is the main narrative along with the history behind the making of the film, a discussion with a Danish archivist, the story of making this project, as well as Joan’s own story –– her trial, torture, and execution. The Passion Project explodes the film into the three dimensions; placing the audience inside the film, sitting next to Joan, subjecting them to the relentless rhythm of 35 mm film projection.
4th Wall Theatre Presents "Intimate Apparel" by Lynn Nottage
(MAPLEWOOD, NJ) -- 4TH WALL THEATRE continues its 22nd season with a one weekend run of Lynn Nottage’s Intimate Apparel.  The show will be presented as part of the Black History Month celebrations on February 22, 23, and 24 at the Burgdorff Center for the Performing Arts in Maplewood, NJ.  The show is directed by 4th Wall Executive Director Gwen Ricks-Spencer.
East Lynne Theater, the Henry Sawyer Inn, and Twin Gable's Inn present Murder Mystery Weekends
(CAPE MAY, NJ) -- The award-winning East Lynne Theater Company, with The Henry Sawyer Inn and Twin Gables Inn, present Murder Mystery Weekends on February 15-16, March 8-9, March 22-23, March 29-30, and April 5-6. Participants can test their crime-solving skills while staying in one of these lovely Bed & Breakfasts. East Lynne Theater Company's Murder Mystery Weekends were cited among one of the top five in the country by "AM NY."  


It's "Apple Season" at NJ Rep
Every family has stories. Some are funny. Some are sweet. Some are sad. And some are never shared. Those are often the most powerful.
Rise of the Goatman
Theater For The New City presents Beltsville/Rockville, Part 1: Rise of the Goatman, an original play by Englewood resident Matt Okin (Artistic Director of Black Box Studios), from December 27 through January 13. In this pseudo-Southern Gothic dark comedy, a vibrant group of teens from two very different suburban neighborhoods clash over class differences, drugs, and sex - and the existence of the legendary ‘Goatman’ in 1986. Cut to 2013, and the adolescent kids of those very same teens are struggling to make sense of their family histories - and the same “mythological” creature - that could be holding them back in life.
PHOTOS from "The Winter's Tale" at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey
(MADISON, NJ) -- The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s concludes its 56th season with its sixth and final Main Stage production, The Winter's Tale. Last seen at The Shakespeare Theatre in 2008, Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte directs this production of Shakespeare’s tragicomedic romance. Veteran company members Jacqueline Antaramian, Jon Barker, Erin Partin, John Keabler, Raphael Nash Thompson,Seamus Mulcahy, Patrick Toon, and Ames Adamson are among a cast of 20 actors. Performances run now through December 30. 
REVIEW: "It's A Wonderful Life" At Mile Square Theatre
Nestled in a corner of Hoboken, on the second floor, lies the studios of radio station WMST.  It’s a wonderful art deco studio, replete with fine wooden walls, embedded with colorful lights an applause sign.  On stage, we’ve got a few chairs, several microphones and a whole corner wedged with all the necessary props – piano, men’s shoes, sheet metal – to create the audio effects for the production of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Betsy Aidem Puts A Woman's Touch On George Street Playhouse's "A Doll's House, Part 2"
Betsy Aidem is a veteran actress you might have seen on Broadway. Or maybe on an episode of “Law & Order: SVU.” Or maybe on the big screen last year in “The Greatest Showman.” But over the next few weeks in New Brunswick, Aidem is adding a brand-new section to her résumé — by helming a sequel (of sorts) to a classic play that’s more than 100 years old.






Event calendar
Thursday, Jan 17, 2019


MUSIC


Open Mic Night! @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 7:30pm


THEATRE

"Apple Season" by E.M. Lewis @ New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch - 8:00pm


KIDS

AMERICAN GIRL LIVE @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 7:00pm

View all events
























New Jersey Stage © 2019 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 | info@newjerseystage.com

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.