Mythbusters to Hit the Road with Theater Tour

Live run of popular Discovery program will be ‘part magic show, part game show’

  • by Dave Brooks
  • Published: November 2, 2011

If you believe that a science-heavy show will never make it big on the theater circuit, then you need to meet two performers who are ready to bust this myth.

After 10 years of success with their show Mythbusters on the Discovery Channel, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman are taking their hit cable show on the road with a 28-date run through North America. Booked by WME and produced by Magic Space Entertainment’s Lee Marshall, the tour has a gross potential in excess of $5 million with forecasted grosses of $150,000-$200,000 per performance during its five-week run, beginning Jan. 6 at the Gallo Center for the Arts in Modesto, Calif.

Venues Today caught up with Marshall, whose production credentials include Mannheim Steamroller, David Copperfield and Michael Flatley’s “Lord of the Dance,” to discuss bringing science to the masses.

What is the format for the touring property?

Jamie and Adam are basically developing a new show. We’re in the process of building and creating a new format and platform for their show. The show won’t necessarily have them busting myths like they do on television. They are going to bring audience members up out of the audience to participate in little vignettes — part magic show, part game show. They’re going to have people demonstrate how others perceive myths and then dispel them on stage, with an emphasis on science.

On the TV show, they do a lot of work with explosives and pyro. Will they be blowing stuff up on the road? 

There may be a surprise at the beginning of the show that resembles an explosion, but there will be no shrapnel or projectiles. Our insurance won’t allow us to blow everything up on a nightly basis.

Is this the first time they’ve toured?

They have done lectures and screen footage of their television show for live audiences, but it's been a very low-tech production. This will feel like a rock concert with the same pacing, plus special effects, music and video. They’re going to let people take a look behind the myth and demonstrate how myths work, and how they’re dispelled.

How big is the tour?

We’re doing 28 theater dates using two trucks. We’re playing venues like Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, Beacon Theatre in New York and Keller Auditorium in Portland, Ore. It will be a two-act show with intermission, very up tempo and fast. For the most part, audience members are going to participate in every aspect of the show. It’s almost a new form of entertainment because I don’t think anyone has toured a science show like this before.

You handled the tour schedule for author Dave Sedaris, who has a very popular lecture series. Will you borrow any aspects from that tour?

Their show was very similar in the past. We did 13 dates last year and pretty much sold out 2,500-seat theaters. Now they are looking to take this to the next level. We’ve hired Jim Millan, who just directed the Penn & Teller “Play Dead” show off Broadway. Our production designer is Rob Bissinger, who designed “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” on Broadway.

What type of audience are you expecting?

The last time we did the show, it was adults and tween-age kids. One third of the audience was 13 and under — they’re rabid fans of the show and know every episode and every myth. They’ve got a very loyal fan base, 4.6 million Facebook followers and 1.5 million Twitter followers. I think this show could play arenas some day but, for now, we’re going to start off in theaters and possibly jump into small arenas.

Did you hire the show’s screenwriters to script the show?

Actually Jamie (Hyneman) and Adam (Savage) write their own stuff. And they’re working with the director who is also a comedy writer. The characters you see on TV are the same people you’ll see on stage because that’s who they are.

The television show is very science-heavy. How do you keep the show entertaining while staying true to its educational mission?

They make science really fun — it’s science meets an entertainment project. For me, it’s a brand new performance platform. 

Any special marketing initiatives to kick the show off?

Our plan is to do a national on sale on Nov. 11 through Facebook and Twitter. They have such a rabid viral following and we feel highly confident that it’s the most effective way to do it. Today we’re in the middle of editing their TV spot and they cut and edited it themselves. The spot is just them in their warehouse doing some goofy stuff that’s going to sell a lot of tickets. 

Are you co-promoting the show in any markets?

I’ve sold some dates, I’ve partnered some dates and I’m four-walling some dates. I’ve got a variety of relationships with a lot of these buildings for many, many years. For the most part, we’re involved with a lot of the dates.

Interviewed for this article: Lee Marshall, (801) 355-2200


 

  • by Dave Brooks
  • Published: November 2, 2011
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