Silicon Valley meets Broadway in 'Theatre Accelerator'

Wednesday, February 21, 2018 12:01PM
Sandy Kenyon reports on Theatre Accelerator, an online forum for musical producers and fans.

NEW YORK - A new show featuring the music of Jimmy Buffett has arrived on Broadway, and like most musicals, "Escape to Margaritaville" first played out of town where the material could be refined.

That's how it's been done for generations, but now, there's a different way. Silicon Valley entrepreneur Tim Kashani and his wife, former actress Pamela Winslow Kashani, are connecting folks from around the country with what they call a "Theatre Accelerator."

Silicon Valley meets Broadway in their non-profit group Apples and Oranges. He is in New York City, while his wife is in Irvine, California.

"You can get a sense of someone's musical just as well in the virtual world as you can live," Winslow Kashani said.

The creators of a new show pitch ideas to fans during scheduled sessions on Facebook Live. Jason Oremus is one of them.

"It would take us months, if not years, to get our voice heard in what we can do almost instantaneously with this online forum," he said.

They also get feedback from producers like Brisa Trinchero, who thinks Theatre Accelerator (a term inspired by the world of tech venture capital) is perfect.

"The start-up accelerator model applies perfectly to Broadway, because Broadway shows are start-up companies," she said.

And as a a two-time Tony Award winner who invested in "Hamilton," she ought to know.

"By being able to bring these people from all over the country, we're able to get much more diversity," she said.

Founder Tim Kashani believes technology has the ability to revolutionize the genre, and it's simply a matter of someone applying it.

"What tech has done in other industries, the music industries for example or even the film industry, is remove barriers and allowed artists to tell their stories," he said. "And we feel like we are just at the beginning of seeing that with musical theater."
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