Updates: April 2016



April 1, 2016

Tony nominations deadline in May means that there will be a rush of new plays and musicals opening this month. It drives many critics crazy and stretches audiences thin, competing with the long-running hits and other recent openings.


Chapter 10 (Producers & Investors):

For many years, producers added a ninth performance for the week between Christmas and New Years to milk every penny from the throngs of tourists visiting New York City. This is allowed without added penalty if one of the surrounding weeks is reduced to seven shows rather than eight to guarantee a day off. Of course, a ninth performance can be added any week as long as all employees are paid time and a half (of their usual show day salary), or in certain circumstances, twice their salary. Easter/Spring Break week is now considered equally lucrative and therefore worth paying the premium salaries for the extra performance. This past Easter’s “9-in-one-week” show added significant income for a few big hits that took the hit to pay the added union premiums: Aladdin, Wicked, and Lion King.

Chapter 10 (Producers & Investors):

We are reminded of the major risks involved with producing when half a week of 2016’s Shuffle Along previews were cancelled due to the illness of Audra McDonald, one of its many stars because the understudy was not prepared to go on. To save money, understudies are rarely hired early and are not required to be hired until 2 weeks AFTER the first performance of a show (or opening night whichever comes first). Costumes are rarely built for understudies until the producer knows the show has a chance of running beyond a few weeks. This financial tradition has backfired more than once, requiring wardrobe staff to hustle and provide last-second alterations for makeshift costumes when absences due to illness are a surprise. For stars, cancellation insurance is available, but there is almost always a two-performance deductible so it provides no relief for short-term absences.

Chapter 10 (Producers & Investors)

Scandal is never good for business. While not illegal, it is always a bad sign that a producer is collecting investments right up until opening night. New York State law says that full capitalization (100% of the production budget) must be in the bank by opening night but some producers choose to go into rehearsal on the promises of investors, expecting the check to arrive momentarily. Going into rehearsal without full capitalization is playing Russian Roulette with salaries and the livelihood of many small businesses that provide materials and services to the Broadway community. That’s what has just happened to the expected Broadway production of the musical Nerds, due to open this month. One day the lead producer announced he had just lost an investor and the show would not go on. Everyone was suddenly out of work and many bills may never be paid in full. Union members are protected by the posting of bonds (2 weeks of salary and benefits paid upfront), but it doesn’t protect them from missed auditions or other work they might have found if they had not been hired to work on this show. More to come…

Chapter 10 (Producers & Investors):

A success story! A 20 year old fell in love with a musical on its pre-Broadway tour. He somehow raised $175,000 from people in his hometown in Branford Ct. (without any of his own money). The show –A Gentlemen’s Guide to Love and Murder– won the Best Musical Tony Award, recouped its $7.5 million investment in full, and has been adding profits every since.

Chapter 15 (Actors):

The massive hit Hamilton is influencing directors everywhere. Diversity in casting took another step forward this week when City Center’s Encore series produced a multi-ethnic version of the Tony-winning musical 1776.

Chapter 26 (Resources):

Theatreaccess.nyc – a new website that showcases productions/theatres that accommodate people with “physical disabilities or autism or other sensory sensitivities.”