Look at how much ink Broadway Producers and Investors got.

I get my NY Times Sunday Arts and Leisure section delivered to me on Thursday.  Yep, in case you didn’t know, the sections of the Sunday Times that aren’t “headline dependent” are printed well in advance, and as a courtesy provided to those folks out there that fill it with ads, the Times will get it to you earlier.

When I got my copy last week and saw the headline, “I Want To Be A Producer (Me, Too!),” and the accompanying story, I was intrigued.

When I finished the copy of the front page, I flipped to the “continued on” page, and I literally yelped out a “Holy moses!”

The article, about Broadway Investors and how so many have transitioned to above-the-title producers, had another two plus full pages on the inside of the paper.

(The cynical side of me wondered whether the Times gave it that much space to try to encourage more Broadway Investors to become Producers so they’d buy more NY Times ads!)

It’s a fascinating article, centered around last year’s Tony Award winning Cinderella Story, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.  The article reveals that they had trouble raising money as opening night loomed, and the Producers cut some super aggressive deals with investors while the show was in previews to make sure the show got what it needed to open.  And, in one of the best turnarounds I’ve seen in the last couple of decades, it snags the most Tony Nominations of any musical, and then gets the Best Musical trophy on top.  And sales took off.

It’s such a dramatic story that it could be a musical itself.

I know there is a faction of folks within the business that sneer when they hear stories about Producers reducing the “value” of the above-the-title Producer slot . . . and I recently heard a rumor that the Broadway League might be considering a “minimum raise” in order to get a credit on a show (there is already a minimum required in order to get membership into the League.)

And while, sure, if an investor comes to me and says, “I do this for the credit, and on my last show, I got that credit for X,” it makes it harder to stick with the numbers I’ve laid out to receive credit.

But, and this is the rub, every show is different.  And if some shows need to offer more aggressive title deals to make sure the show happens, then who-the-eff cares?

I vary the deals on my own shows all the time.

When I produced Macbeth, I had to raise the money in 6 weeks, and more importantly, we were only doing 6 shows a week for 14 weeks, so the risk was higher.  So I reduced the threshold for the above-the-title slot to only $100,000 as a way to mitigate the risk for Producers/Investors (while we didn’t recoup, which I announced here, we did get to 90%).

On Somewhere in Time and Gettin’ The Band Back Together, the above-the-title slots are a much more customary $500k, but I reduce those amounts depending on when the Producers and Investors get involved (before we announce the theater gets a lower threshold versus those that get involved after we announce the theater).

When products are different, terms, including titles, are different.  And I don’t believe we can “legislate” that with required minimums, just like we can’t legislate other parts of the Producer deals.  What’s the difference between offering a title for a lower than usual amount or offering better financial terms?  Or the number of opening night tickets?   Just because one is visible and one isn’t?

And if more Producers means we get to see more risk on Broadway (this all started with Spring Awakening, and I for one am so glad that show made it to Broadway), then it should be applauded.

We are Producers.  We are business owners.  We are entrepreneurs.  And we should will do whatever it takes to get our show off the ground.

To read the article, click here.


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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.