For touring Broadway shows, the inconvenient truth is 22½.
That’s 22½ pounds of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere for every gallon of diesel fuel burned by the trucks that crisscross the nation moving shows from one road venue to another.
And Clark Transfer, the specialty shipping company that transports the majority of Rialto productions, estimates it drives 7½ million miles a year.
“Our trucks travel all around the country burning a lot of fuel,” says Charlie Deull, exec VP of Clark. “We wondered, ‘What should we do about it?’ ”
Clark has teamed with Vermont-based NativeEnergy for a program that contributes to sustainable energy projects that will eventually balance out — or offset, in eco-parlance — all that greenhouse gas.
Called Touring Green, the program sees participating shows (including “The Lion King,” “Monty Python’s Spamalot” and “Mamma Mia!”) donate a penny and a half for every mile traveled, which Clark Transfer expects to add up to somewhere between $75,000 and $100,000 in its first year.
That money goes toward three specific projects with prospective impacts that range from immediate to long-term: a methane digester in Pennsylvania; wind-generation facilities in the plains states; and a Chicago-area program to counter landfill gases.
While touring music acts like Dave Matthews and R.E.M. often work with “carbon offset” programs, as do individual pic and TV productions, the Touring Green initiative stands out because of its ongoing collaboration between many individual live offerings, according to NativeEnergy marketing director Billy Connelly.
Deull says the response of his clients to the voluntary program has been gratifying, with symphonies and ballets jumping onboard as well.
It’s not, however, a complete solution.
“This is just taking a step. It’s useful, but not sufficient,” says Deull, who adds that he plans to put information about Touring Green into playbills to encourage theatergoers to develop similar initiatives in their own industries.
“They’re inviting audiences to follow their lead, and that has a tremendous impact,” Connelly says.
When the Tonys adopted its no-swag rule in 2006, it seemed like a death blow for elaborate kudos campaigns. But Cubby Bernstein is getting around it.
A YouTube comedy clip about Bernstein — a pre-pubescent awards campaign manager who bellows things like, “Don’t be so slow! Who wrote you, Philip Glass?” — looked like a one-off lark when it turned up the day Tony noms were announced. But in the last week, it’s turned into a full-on advertising push, an ongoing online effort from tuner nominee “Xanadu” to get a laugh (not to mention a vote) from Tony voters.
Tony crusades were largely tamped down by the freebie regulations imposed by the Tony administration, which limited promotional swag to a copy of the script, a souvenir booklet or an audio cast recording.
But “Xanadu” takes it to the web, where content is almost always free, anyway. In doing so, the show joins Rialto productions including tuner competish “In the Heights” and the upcoming “[title of show]” in attempting to stir up buzz through viral videos. (And through bake sales: Cubby and the “Xanadu” cast will sell cupcakes this week in a benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.)
In the videos, recent trophy winners Duncan Sheik (“Spring Awakening”), Julie White (“The Little Dog Laughed”) and Beth Leavel (“The Drowsy Chaperone”) turn up singing Bernstein’s praises as the most effective campaign engineer out there.
And while banners for Bernstein’s website pop up on the online theater pages of the Gotham dailies, the humor is aimed squarely at the insiders who make up the 800 or so industry types who vote for the winners of Broadway’s big night, this year skedded for June 15.
“I am more serious than a Shubert stop-clause!” yells Cubby (who legiters may notice looks a lot like child thesp Adam Riegler) in one segment. The tuner’s producers show up in another clip, and even “Xanadu” book writer Douglas Carter Beane — the presumptive mastermind of the clips, although the scribe won’t fess up to being involved — isn’t safe from the pint-sized strategist’s temper.
“Please,” Cubby snorts at the mention of Beane’s name. “He’s Paul Rudnick without the Yale degree!”