“Godspell” is Back on Broadway, Thanks to Sturbridge’s Ken Davenport
By Christine R. Walsh
Looking back on 1971, we remember that Love Story stole our hearts on the big screen while Mary Tyler Moore stole them on our televisions at home. Tony Orlando and Dawn were teasing us to “Knock Three Times” on the ceiling if we wanted them ~ and many of us did. Stamps were about 8 cents each and gas, believe it or not, was only $.40 a gallon.
The US was still involved in Vietnam, Nixon was in office and the musical “Godspell!” ~ which began as a Carnegie Mellon College student project ~ opened off Broadway to its first of many audiences.
For over 40 years now, “Godspell!” has enchanted theatre-goers with its inspiring parables and songs like “Day By Day.” But unlike low prices at the pump, this theatrical treasure is not a thing of the past. Audiences are delighted to see the show back on Broadway with Sturbridge native Ken Davenport ~ of Davenport Theatrical Enterprises ~ producing it.
“Broadway can appear so far away,” he recognizes. Between planning transportation, hotels and finding the right theatre, this trip can seem overwhelming, but Davenport was determined “…to show people that it really isn’t.”
In February 2012, Davenport organized a stress-free opportunity for 56 people from Sturbridge, including his own mother, to purchase tickets (at group rates), hop on a bus, and go see the show. Needless to say, the trip was a grand success; the group is already asking about another.
But this is just Davenport’s way ~ he is completely dedicated to the needs, wants and lofty dreams of theatergoers. At his shows, he’s constantly meeting audience members and asking them directly what they liked or didn’t like. He also keeps an unwavering eye on online feedback, noting what is stated in reviews or on Twitter. Wherever he is, Davenport is on the pulse of theatre.
His demand for good customer service might come from being self-made and starting out in the business world at a very young age.
“My dad let me open up my first business when I was about 7 years-old,” Davenport remembers with a laugh. “I had a candy shop in his doctor’s office. It taught me about entrepreneurship, how to take control and take care of customers.”
Davenport eventually said good-bye to the candy biz and headed to Tisch School of the Arts at New York University to study acting. As he made his way through numerous internships, he realized that the one thing he wanted to do more than anything was produce.
“I was able to see all of the different positions that were available in a Broadway show ~ from stage managing to being a press agent to being a wardrobe assistant,” Davenport says. “And what I liked the most was the guy who opened up the meeting on the very first day. The producer.”
As the founder and owner of Davenport Theatrical Enterprises, Davenport’s days are busy: he reviews financial statements, deals with casting issues, attends readings, handles the marketing of the shows he produces and much more. He has a thought-provoking blog about theater which he updates regularly, he continues to write and even in his spare time he heads back to the theater, delighting in new shows as well as the classics.
In the future, Davenport sees himself trying both television and film and helping plan even more bus trips to Broadway. But theater will always be his first love.
“I want to make sure that the theater not only survives the next 50 years, but also thrives.”
Gas prices in 50 years might have us down, but we have faith that Davenport will never disappoint.
For more info on Davenport Theatrical Enterprises, go to www.davenporttheatrical.com.
To read Ken Davenport’s blog, visit www.theproducersperspective.com.