Next to Normal recouped its investment.
Crushing current conventional Broadway wisdom, this non-spectacle, non-star-driven musical about a woman suffering from bipolar disorder fought through a steady rain of a season and made it into profit. Oh, and it did it in a pretty timely fashion (the recoupment was announced exactly one year from the show's first preview).
Super kudos to everyone involved in this production who fought the biggest of uphill battles getting into the black.
How did they do it?
IMHO, there are three reasons why N2N recouped:
1. A killer score
I've said it before but I'll say it again, when the root word of musical is 'music,' there's a lot riding on that score. Normal's score is so fantastic and fresh, it took down the mighty Elton John and won a Tony. Nothing spreads word of mouth faster than great tunes.
2. A "committed" team of Producers and Creatives.
Does anyone remember that in addition to trying out at the NYMF in '05 under the title Feeling Electric, the show came into New York to soft response at Second Stage, then left New York for DC, then came back to NY? That's like showing up at a party underdressed, leaving, and coming back a few hours later in a new outfit like nothing happened. But something did happen, alright. The team worked their tails off. It took faith and a giant set of grapes to do what they did.
3. A low capitalization and even lower running costs.
A Broadway musical for $4 million bucks, even with all that development? That's the way to do it. To tell its intimate story, N2N didn't need a chandelier and a helicopter. More importantly, everyone on the team obviously knew that this one wasn't going to be easy, so they structured it to make economic sense given the material, and now everyone is making a lot more dollars and cents.
The recoupment of Normal on Broadway in this environment is a major event. It demonstrates that smart material and smart producing can yield positive results, despite what we think is our audience's appetite.
So when everyone is telling you that your show won't work, you should remind them that a trend is a trend . . . until one show changes it.
And that show might as well be yours.
You can read all about the recoupment in Patrick Healy's New York Times article here.
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