The New York theater industry is among the most robust in the world, due largely to the experts who make the industry work. Among these professionals is Ken Davenport, a Tony award-winning producer of Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. When not actively producing or writing shows himself, Ken also writes about his experiences in the theater via his blog “The Producer’s Perspective.” Moreover, he is the owner of his own company Davenport Theatrical Enterprises (DTE), which he founded in 2004.

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From theater actor to play producer

Ken was born in Phoenix, Arizona, and started acting at the age of five when his parents enrolled him in a performance at their local community theater.

Although he enjoyed acting for most of his childhood, Ken attended John Hopkins University as a young man, intending to be a lawyer. However, after seeing a performance of “Les Misérables,” Ken’s love of acting returned, and he switched career goals. He transferred to the prestigious Tisch School of the Arts (part of New York University) and earned a Bachelor degree in acting in 1994.

Ken enjoyed acting but became enamored with the business and backstage workings of the theater industry when he secured a job as a production assistant on “My Fair Lady” in the early 1990s. Ken went on to establish himself as a general manager who worked on famous shows including “Gypsy,” "Thoroughly Modern Millie," and “Ragtime.” He also produced the acclaimed one-man show of “Macbeth” starring the lauded actor Alan Cumming.

Moreover, Ken has also appeared on television, film, and a 2008 iPhone commercial as well as having designed a Broadway-themed board game, Be a Broadway Star.

Yet the establishment of the Davenport Theatrical Enterprises (DTE) took Ken’s career to the next level. From this company, he has produced shows including “The Awesome 80s Prom,” “My First Time,” “Kinky Boots,” "The Play That Goes Wrong," “13,” and “Altar Boyz,” among others. A lover of musical theater, many of Ken’s productions involve music, but the plays do not necessarily need to incorporate music in order to be considered. Through his Davenport Theatre (which holds two stages) in the Off-Broadway district, Ken promotes new works while honoring the memory of his grandfather, Delbert Essex Davenport, who was a lyricist, publicist, author, and theater producer in the early 20th century.

DTE is an excellent organization to be associated with since it includes various areas of the theater business such as group sales, marketing, and management.

Aside from being a lauded producer, Ken is known as a brilliant publicist who consistently comes up with fun and interesting campaigns to bring attention to his productions. For instance, he hosted a “Virgins Get In Free” promotion for the “My First Time” show back in 2007. Then, in 2012 he encouraged viewers of “Godspell” to tweet about the show while sitting in the best seats in the house. Ken’s use of social media has extended to crowdfunding campaigns, live-streaming plays (as he did with “Daddy Long Legs”) and sending follow-up emails to audience members after shows. He has also been friendly to investors who contribute smaller amounts of money than traditional big-spenders.

Through DTE, Ken also runs and manages numerous websites and the app and website called “Did He Like It?” which monitors the opinions of critic Ben Brantley who writes for the New York Times, as well as other large theatre review sites. For his efforts and innovations, Ken has amassed a large collection of awards and titles. He has also been invited to numerous universities to speak as a guest lecturer and has been featured on MSNBC, BBC, FOX News, New York Times, Vanity Fair, and many more esteemed publications.

Searching for scripts and playwrights

Despite all of his incredible successes, Ken remains dedicated to the fostering of the arts, especially in finding and promoting emerging playwrights. In fact, Ken is actively seeking new playwriting talent across a scope of genres and themes to be presented at his playhouse and other venues through his open submission policy. Although he is most anticipating receiving full-length finished plays, he is also willing to review works-in-progress and short one-acts.

“I actually wrote my first production, ‘Awesome 80s Prom,’ because no one would give me a script,” Ken stated in a recent interview. “Since then, I’ve produced more than twenty shows, and I really enjoy promoting new works. Every show can make a difference in different demographics.”

Ken is happy to look at musicals and non-musical plays. He is also open to shows intended for kids, families, general audiences, or adults. He is also partial to plays that include elaborate sets, costumes, and props.

“I’m looking for unique voices and originality,” he explained. “I am searching for writers who have a new way of telling a story, especially ones that move people emotionally. It can be a drama or a comedy, but at some point, I hope the script squeezes my heart.”

Ken suggests that anyone who is interested in sending him a play to review visits his website “The Producer’s Perspective” and emails him via that platform.

At present, Ken is busy promoting his most recent production called “Once On This Island” which involves a stage covered entirely in sand. He is also working on a forthcoming performance titled “Gettin’ the Band Back Together,” and all of his projects as the Executive Producer for North America for Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group.

“The most rewarding thing about being a producer is watching audiences react to shows,” Ken stated. “It’s challenging though because it is a high-risk industry, especially for a startup like myself. I wish we had more support because art can reach more hearts and minds than politicians ever could.”

Ken is an active member of the League of Off-Broadway Theaters and Producers. To learn more, visit his blog “The Producer’s Perspective” and his official website “Ken Davenport. com.”