The Business of Broadway – July 2018

 

It’s July! Where did 2018 go? Did you see any shows? Attend a marathon day of theatre? It’s summertime. The Administration is up to the same antics and we are trying to find escapes that turn off the activist in us for a little bit. This month’s update is about money. Well, every month’s update is about money. So, here’s the update for July!

Updates: July 2018

 

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Updates: July 2018

 

Chapter 10 (Investors & Producers)

            Former Wall Street trader Jim Freydberg invested $500,000 in The Phantom of the Opera when it opened on Broadway in 1988. He has earned a $15 million profit from the show and is fond of remarking that only his Apple stock has been a better investment. And the hits are making more money than ever. Of course not everything’s a hit.

According to NY Post critic Michael Reidel, in the late 20th century, financial barriers to entry as a new investor on Broadway were raised. In the 1980s, you could get into a show with an investment of $10,000 to $15,000. Now the minimum unit for most shows is $250,000.

You’re not backing the shows, you’re backing a producer whose taste, intelligence, and integrity you believe in, Reidel says. Let them pick the show. Finding the hits is their business, not yours.

 

Chapter 2 (The Jobs)

Current 2017/18 season statistics regarding gender: Percentage of women holding the following positions on Broadway:

   ONSTAGE AND ADMINISTRATION

37%    Principal acting roles

19%    Directors

18%    Choreographers

16%    Writers

53%    Stage Managers

38%    Company Managers

40%    Music Directors

CREW

0%      Carpenters

25%    Props

65%    Wardrobe

4%      Electricians

11%    Sound Engineers

71%    Hair & Makeup

   DESIGN

20%    Set Designers

54%    Costume Designers

19%    Lighting Designers

4%      Sound Designers

38%    Hair Designers

67%    Makeup Designers

 

Other stats:There were 100 producers involved in 60 shows on Broadway this past season.  Average price for a musical: $105. Average price for a play: $93.

Chapter 22 (Theatre Owners)

The 2017/18 Broadway season that just concluded with record high ticket sales of $1.7 billion…good news for theater owners, producers, royalty participants, and the hundreds of people they employ. Were they also good news for Broadway in the long term? The answer to that is more complicated. “We’re in the moving business,” James M. Nederlander, the late patriarch of the theater owning- and producing family, was fond of saying. “We move ’em in and we move ’em out.” … Not counting special attractions, the season that just ended saw only 30 new productions, down 25% from 40 the season before. (The 1927-1928 season set the record with 264 shows: 183 new plays, 53 new musicals and just 28 revivals.) Today’s Broadway is looking more and more like the long-term leasing business.”

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Updates: June 2018

Chapter  5: (Promotion and Marketing-The Female Audience)

According to the Broadway League’s The Demographics of the Broadway Audience 2016-2017, 65.9% of Broadway’s 2016-2017 audience was female. And that percentage has grown steadily for the last 20 years.
The League’s research shows that not only are women more consistently the decision makers when it comes to a ticket purchase, but when men do make the purchase, they’re more likely to bring women to the show. In fact, 48% of men reported bringing their girlfriend or wife, while only 32.5% of women reported bringing their boyfriend or husband.
17.9% of women said they brought their kids or grandkids to a show. Only 13.9% of men brought the young ones. Women are one third more likely than men to bring their parents to a show.

Chapter 5: (Promotion and Marketing-Advances for the Disabled Audience)

19% of the US population lives with some type of disability. If we accept the statistic that 35% of those over 65 years old have some kind of hearing loss, that would mean that almost 600,000 Shubert Organization theatre audience members each year could benefit from closed captioning or assistive listening. (Note: the Shuberts own 17 Broadway theatres. There are no statistics for the other Broadway theatre owners.)

As of June 1, all shows on Broadway will offer some sort of on-demand access services. The Shuberts now offers on-demand closed captioning, assistive listening, audio descriptions, and language translations at every theatre through the free “GalaPro” app. The app only operates on a dark setting, on a closed network, and in airplane mode (so users won’t receive phone calls or texts during the performance).

Unfortunately, many disabled are totally unaware of these advances and don’t even know about discounted wheelchair accessible seating in every theatre (with advance notification to the box office!)

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Updates: May 2018

 

May 1, 2018

 

Chapter 6: (Tony Awards)

 

Nominations for the past season have just been announced. A little perspective is in order: What is the real effect on the ticket-buying public?

According to a recent study by Utah Professor Russell Warne (all statistic to be taken with a questioning eye, of course), Broadway musicals that are nominated for the top prize are almost 60% less likely to close quickly than the musicals that are not nominated. (Not sure about the time frame since all shows eventually close except perhaps Phantom of the Opera!“ There is one Tony that matters: Best Musical,” Ad exec Nancy Coyne remarked. Publicist Chris Boneau echoed her observation: “The one award that really counts is the one for Best Musical.”

For the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical, being nominated is often not enough. The winner might get a longer run, but those who ONLY get a nomination often end up with a shorter run. The public may see the revivals that don’t win an award as “losers”.

Reviewing over 400 shows from between 1988 and 2017, Professor Warne observed, for example, that “nominations for the directing awards are also associated with longer runs of Broadway plays but not for musicals.” He estimated that plays whose directors are recognized are about three times less likely to close than plays whose directors are snubbed.

Positive effects of a Tony nomination on the show’s longevity: 1) lead actor/musical; 2) featured actress/musical; leading actress/play. Negative impact: 1) leading actor/play (strange). No particular effect at all: 1) featured actors/play.

This new research could possibly help Broadway producers and their marketing teams make better decisions when designing expensive marketing campaigns for the Tony Awards. Personally, most Tony campaigns have little effect on good performances, great word of mouth, or a stand-out winner in the public’s eyes.

CHAPTER 6: (Tony Awards plus Pulitzer and other awards)

In 1918, the first Pulitzer Prize for Best Drama went to a forgotten—and forgettable—comedy entitled “Why Marry?” The Pulitzer Drama Prize was so often laughable that in 1935 a group of Broadway reviewers formed the New York Drama Critics Circle expressly to give better awards. One of the founders, Brooks Atkinson, summed up the Circle’s accomplishment almost thirty years after its beginning, writing, “The average taste of the Critics Circle is no more discerning than the average taste of the Pulitzer judges. Neither the Circle nor the Pulitzer prizes can be intimidated by genius.

In the late 1940s, the Tony Awards began as a small event for the theater community sponsored by the American Theatre Wing, a charitable group from the war years. The presentation happened at a banquet with dancing in a hotel ballroom, with the prizes chosen by an ad hoc handful of people. In the first year, a Tony was given to Vincent Sardi, Sr., in thanks for Sardi’s Restaurant!

Twenty years later the Wing was in financial trouble and it joined with the Broadway League to continue the Tony Awards. Within a year, the ceremony morphed into a big television event. That changed everything about the Tonys and a lot about Broadway theater.

Still, the televised Tony Awards has also made major gaffes and provokes debate. For example:

  • Harveywon over The Glass Menagerie
    • Hello, Dolly! won over Funny Girl
    • The Music Man won over West Side Story
    • Nine won over Dreamgirls
    • The Sound of Music won over Gypsy

Today, there are six major, very different organizations giving best play and best musical awards, for diverse reasons, chosen by very unalike procedures. It feels great if your show gets one, but does it have any sure, lasting meaning?

In short: so many prizes; so little to celebrate. Even after 100 years.

—–
(Adapted from Tim Donahue, the author most recently of Playing for Prizes: America’s Awards for Best Play and Best Musical.)

CHAPTER 15 (Actors)

Actors’ Equity votes to change the name of the Gypsy Robe. After hearing concerns about the insensitivity of the name, the union has voted to rename the robe that is awarded to the chorus member with the highest number of Broadway credits on opening night of a show. The 60-year-old tradition of the robe will continue with a new name next season.

BONUS: The nominees for the 2018 Tony Awards

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The Business of Broadway – May 2018

 

May 1, 2018

 

Chapter 6: (Tony Awards)

 

Nominations for the past season have just been announced. A little perspective is in order: What is the real effect on the ticket-buying public?

According to a recent study by Utah Professor Russell Warne (all statistic to be taken with a questioning eye, of course), Broadway musicals that are nominated for the top prize are almost 60% less likely to close quickly than the musicals that are not nominated. (Not sure about the time frame since all shows eventually close except perhaps Phantom of the Opera!“ There is one Tony that matters: Best Musical,” Ad exec Nancy Coyne remarked. Publicist Chris Boneau echoed her observation: “The one award that really counts is the one for Best Musical.”

For the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical, being nominated is often not enough. The winner might get a longer run, but those who ONLY get a nomination often end up with a shorter run. The public may see the revivals that don’t win an award as “losers”.

Reviewing over 400 shows from between 1988 and 2017, Professor Warne observed, for example, that “nominations for the directing awards are also associated with longer runs of Broadway plays but not for musicals.” He estimated that plays whose directors are recognized are about three times less likely to close than plays whose directors are snubbed.

Positive effects of a Tony nomination on the show’s longevity: 1) lead actor/musical; 2) featured actress/musical; leading actress/play. Negative impact: 1) leading actor/play (strange). No particular effect at all: 1) featured actors/play.

This new research could possibly help Broadway producers and their marketing teams make better decisions when designing expensive marketing campaigns for the Tony Awards. Personally, most Tony campaigns have little effect on good performances, great word of mouth, or a stand-out winner in the public’s eyes.

CHAPTER 6: (Tony Awards plus Pulitzer and other awards)

In 1918, the first Pulitzer Prize for Best Drama went to a forgotten—and forgettable—comedy entitled “Why Marry?” The Pulitzer Drama Prize was so often laughable that in 1935 a group of Broadway reviewers formed the New York Drama Critics Circle expressly to give better awards. One of the founders, Brooks Atkinson, summed up the Circle’s accomplishment almost thirty years after its beginning, writing, “The average taste of the Critics Circle is no more discerning than the average taste of the Pulitzer judges. Neither the Circle nor the Pulitzer prizes can be intimidated by genius.

In the late 1940s, the Tony Awards began as a small event for the theater community sponsored by the American Theatre Wing, a charitable group from the war years. The presentation happened at a banquet with dancing in a hotel ballroom, with the prizes chosen by an ad hoc handful of people. In the first year, a Tony was given to Vincent Sardi, Sr., in thanks for Sardi’s Restaurant!

Twenty years later the Wing was in financial trouble and it joined with the Broadway League to continue the Tony Awards. Within a year, the ceremony morphed into a big television event. That changed everything about the Tonys and a lot about Broadway theater.

Still, the televised Tony Awards has also made major gaffes and provokes debate. For example:

  • Harveywon over The Glass Menagerie
    • Hello, Dolly! won over Funny Girl
    • The Music Man won over West Side Story
    • Nine won over Dreamgirls
    • The Sound of Music won over Gypsy

Today, there are six major, very different organizations giving best play and best musical awards, for diverse reasons, chosen by very unalike procedures. It feels great if your show gets one, but does it have any sure, lasting meaning?

In short: so many prizes; so little to celebrate. Even after 100 years.

—–
(Adapted from Tim Donahue, the author most recently of Playing for Prizes: America’s Awards for Best Play and Best Musical.)

CHAPTER 15 (Actors)

Actors’ Equity votes to change the name of the Gypsy Robe. After hearing concerns about the insensitivity of the name, the union has voted to rename the robe that is awarded to the chorus member with the highest number of Broadway credits on opening night of a show. The 60-year-old tradition of the robe will continue with a new name next season.

BONUS: The nominees for the 2018 Tony Awards

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The Business of Broadway – April 2018

Apparently, Winter loves to be fashionably late, this year. International travel can be a pain but, it also can connect us on many levels. This month, have some updates to that effect.

 

http://www.justlearnsomething.us/updates-april-2018/

 

 

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Updates: April 2018

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April 1, 2018

Chapter 5 (Marketing), Chapter 10 (Producers & Investors), Chapter 13 (Box Office)

While this book is not about London’s West End, we can gain insight into how ticket prices rise and how much of it ends up as profit. For example, in London, about 20% goes to cover the cost of production and 20% pays the VAT (taxes). In New York, we do not have admission taxes (see The Turkus Award in Chapter 4). Another 20% goes into marketing and promotion (as well as group sales commissions etc.). Theatre costs (including utilities, staff etc.) eats up about 7%. Royalties of all sorts can add up to 20%, leaving profits of 13% on each ticket sold at 50 pounds (L50).

Of course, L50 is dirt-cheap compared to Broadway prices, but it still represents a significant rise in West End prices. The UK has always subsidized its theater community. America does very little in comparison. Also, theater costs on Broadway can be significantly higher. So while these percentages are not exactly the same for a New York show, they do help to break down where the consumer’s money is going.

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The Business Of Broadway – March 2018

March is here! We look forward to new productions moving onto The Great White Way, we spring forward and we eagerly anticipate the change in the weather. Yet, the Business of Broadway continues to change. Here are the updates for March 2018.

 

Updates: March 2018

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Updates: March 2018

March 1, 2018

Chapter 5 (Marketing, Promotion etc.)

International Travelers: Research is now telling us that 17.5% of Broadway customers are from other countries. Broadway Inbound is a company that specializes in marketing to these countries, and BroadwayCollection.com uses many other languages to do the selling.

Appendix

International marketing: BroadwayCollection.com & BroadwayInbound.com

New Free App: Broadway News (insider info)

Chapter 10 (Producers & Investors)

Phantom of the Opera turns 30 this year! And it almost didn’t happen. Composer Andrew Lloyd Weber’s wife was turned down by Actors’ Equity when he applied for a work visa claiming she was a one-in-a-kind star. Of course, in those days in the U.S., she was not a star. Equity’s job is to protect American acting jobs and AEA must approve all foreign actors working in the U.S.- usually by guaranteeing an equal number of American actors working in foreign countries like the U.K. Well, the powerful Mr. Weber eventually won and Sarah Brightman opened the show on Broadway.

 

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Updates: 2017

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The Business of Broadway is essential reading for anyone interested in producing, investing, or working in theatre. Engaging and illuminating, Mitch Weiss and Perri Gaffney explain the myriad of people and roles they play to collaborate on a show from development to opening night and beyond.


 UPDATES FOR READERS OF “THE BUSINESS OF BROADWAY”

2017 Updates

January 2017

March 2017

April 2017

May 2017

July 2017

September 2017

October 2017

November 2017


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