THE PRODUCTION TAKES SHAPE

Dr. Stanton's letter was like food and drink to me.  The line between madness and genius may be thin, but the perceived line between the struggling artist and the bum is even thinner.  I shared the letter with my friends.  One, in San Jose, California, wrote back that if I wanted to go forward with a production of GRUMPUSS, he and his wife would put up $50,000.

I was moved. $50,000 was not enough, but the offer further lifted my spirits.  Other friends asked to hear the demo and between them, pledged another $100,000!  This was becoming serious.  Donning my producer's hat, I began to update my budget for the Penshurst Place production.  I still wanted to hire a marketable star to perform the rhyme, but my backers argued it was my audio performance that sold them.  If I did it, it would minimize the financial risk and they argued that a world premiere performance by the author would be marketable as an historical event.

I was not convinced. Who would book the show?  I was an unknown.  As far as the world was concerned, I might have just crawled out from under a rock!  To add to my dismay, I learned that Penshurst Place was no longer available.  Finally, I had access to development funds, but no location, no star and no hook . . .

When I began updating the budget, I called my friend in England, Philip Moores, for production crew costs.  I called him again to explain the situation.  He said there were any number of alternative locations that might be suitable and he would look into it for me.  All well and good, I replied, but where would I get my audience?  In fact, he had given that some thought and suggested an alliance with a charity.  He even had a charity in mind.  Inasmuch as Grumpuss was a wholesome family-oriented fantasy adventure told entirely in rhyme, he suggested the Save the Children Fund might be interested.
GRUMPUSS
A World Premiere Benefit Performance for Save the Children.


If I cut costs to the bone videotaped the entire show, live, on a single night, like a coffee-house performance I might be able to do it for as little as $300,000 and I was already half way there.

Save the Children listened to the demo cassette and agreed to be the beneficiary of the World Premiere performance.  That reads oddly, I know, but the Save the Children Fund is a respected and responsible charity, with a richly deserved international reputation.  They have to be very careful with whom they associate and I was delighted that GRUMPUSS and I were accepted.

By the time I flew to England to go over the contracts with Save the Children and to meet with my gathering production staff, I had decided on a black-tie celebrity gala, complete with a five-course dinner.  I planned to invite celebrity guests, all expenses paid, with the idea that the celebrities would attract corporate sponsors or wealthy individual patrons who would, in turn, buy tickets for the show.  I hoped to get an airline to offer first-class passage for my celebrity guests, but just to be on the safe side, I had arranged for a $400,000 line of credit to cover any extraordinary expenses and see me through post-production.

I outlined my plans to my English production staff and asked for suggestions for a celebrity venue. Hatfield House was mentioned, as was the New Globe Theatre, about to open in London.  One, who probably thought I was out of my mind, suggested that for an event like mine, he thought I'd have to rent Blenheim Palace.  So I added Blenheim Palace to my list.

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