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Behind the Scenes: Lisa Morris & Road Concierge makes the tours go ’round

If you have ever seen a touring show, or pre-production out of town then you probably should thank Lisa Morris and her talented travel team at Road Concierge. As the Founder and President of Road Concierge, and Lisa leads a team of travel experts in entertainment travel. With theatre and touring all on pause, it impacts not just those of us who like to see theatre but also professionals like Lisa who work to keep art accessible, on the road, and on budget.

Lisa Morris brings a theatrical background and understanding to her work in travel. This has allowed her to build the best entertainment travel company, one that truly understands and can provide services theatricals tours need that are specifically tailored to each tour’s specific needs.

Photo Credit: Lisa Morris

With clients like COME FROM AWAY, DEAR EVAN HANSEN, ANASTASIA, LES MISERABLES, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, and more, Road Concierge has been responsible for some of your favorite performances reaching a town near you. As an essential behind the scenes company, it seemed like a good time for a deeper dive into how they keep the shows going on. So first, what exactly does entertainment travel involve?

We handle all the travel logistics for theatrical productions on Broadway, the West End, and touring as well as for live music, film, and TV productions. We research, negotiate the hotel contracts, organize transportation, and deal with the nonstop changes. We specialize in finding resolutions to the inevitable travel headaches that will happen when you live on the road. I spent many years on tour as an actress, and I really understand what life is like on tour.

It’s safe to say that with everything shut down and no longer touring or playing that business has been decimated. It’s easy to think that when the shows stop moving there is nothing for them to do, but even if the tour has stopped the work does go on.

With corporate travel, music, theater shows shutting down, all of our work is also shut down. However, unlike most people working on the productions who are now on pause and hopefully collecting unemployment, our work does not stop when the tour cancels.

We continue to work to unwind all of the bookings for all of the tours. Every single booking that we worked weeks or sometimes months to finalize now has to be canceled. We work to protect all of our clients, make sure the hotels and bus companies refund any deposits, and do not charge any cancellation fees. It takes months to unwind that many productions. Even worse, we are not paid at all for this time!

The pay for the work comes from the hotels after the groups stay, so if no one stays they don’t get paid which leads to an even more sticky current situation.

If the rooms cancel, we are never paid. We payout money for the employees many months in advance to do the bookings on the front end, with the expectation that we will be paid on the back end. When the shows cancel, we are never paid for any of that time or the time it takes to cancel.

It has been brutal, but we understand that safety has to come before profit. The travel industry has been hit hard.

Lisa is also a Broadway co-producer so her depth of understanding of the theatre industry is what makes her and her team so valuable to the industry. It also gives her a unique view of seeing all the wonderful things about the theatre community both in New York and around the world.

Theater people always find a way to adapt and to connect. I love how quickly people moved to find ways to keep the art alive. The resiliency of the people who work in our community is incredible.

From the wardrobe folks sewing masks and gowns to the writers debuting their plays on a virtual reading, to the producers coordinating fundraisers, everyone finds a way to still participate in the world. “The Show Must Go On” has turned into “Life Must Go On”, and as usual, the Arts community is right there doing it.

Besides working on 2021 dates in anticipation of touring resuming, Lisa has also been working to help get needed supplies to those in need, and necessary laughter to her friends by documenting her personal challenge of learning how to cook.

I have been using connections that I have to help get PPE to the hospitals and governments that need it most. I am also attempting to learn to cook, which is not going well, but it is a source of great amusement to friends on Facebook. People seem to find great joy in watching the culinary train wreck that is me.

As a travel professional and as a producer, what does she look forward to when things start to reopen and the theatre is open again?

First, the ability to make a paycheck again. Second, the thrill of sitting in the dark, clutching my adult Sippie cup full of whiskey, my bag of $20 candy, and my Playbill…just tingling with excitement as the curtain starts to rise, and I know that once again I can be transported to another world and immersed in a story.

If you are interested in supporting the theatre community now and in the future, Lisa has some of her favorite organizations to help keep the ghost light shining until those opening night lights come back on.

I have been the sponsor of the “Actors’ Fund Special Performance Series” for many years. I think the “Actors Fund” is an essential organization for our entire community, so I would absolutely promote supporting them. I have also always supported TDF (Theater Development Fund) and they need support more than ever now in order to continue to make theater accessible.

I have a soft spot in my heart for a tiny little nonprofit called “Broadway For All”, which sends underserved public school students to see their first Broadway shows, and provides top quality training with top theater professionals for the most talented, regardless of their race, gender, or ability to pay for training. I think it’s important to make Broadway an art form that can inspire kids from an early age.

When Broadway opens up again, I would love to find generous donors to sponsor entire classes of students to come to fill up the audience which will lift their spirits, and lift the spirits of the performers who are bravely returning to the stage.

Thanks to Lisa Morris and her amazing team at Road Concierge for the work they do keeping shows moving to a city near you, and for her openness in this interview. If you’re interested in what they do you can find more information at www.roadconcierge.com

Looking for more  ideas of what to do during this time of quarantine? Click here for more suggestions

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