Surprise, surprise! A show recoups sans star!

Here’s something that you probably didn’t expect to hear (I know I didn’t) . . .

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.

  • AVB says:

    I believe social media also added another layer to their buzz. With their high level of Twitter interaction with fans, Alice Ripley’s Facebook and YouTube accounts, and the more recent additions of Kyle Dean Massey’s videos, I can’t help but wonder, numbers-wise, how much this internet word-of-mouth helped to increase their audience and bring loyal fans back to the theater multiple times.

  • dan mason says:

    I saw the show last April, and the very next day, there was a personalized message to me in my email inbox linking me to the social media pages for the show and giving me a 30 percent discount code to forward to my friends who I think would be touched by the show. The next day I saw “Shrek” at the Broadway theater (ashow that I also enjkoyed). Three weeks later, I got a very spam looking email from telecharge (not the show itself) trying to push me to a website to buy merchandise. One show did it right… one show didnt’. One show recouped. The other lost a boatload of money.
    On a totally seperate topic, with the “special theaterical events” category being removed from this year’s Tony Awards, I would like to start a movement to add a new category. “Most self-indulgent Tony Speech at last year’s show”. I would like to make Alice Ripley to odds on favorite to win. Just sayin’….

  • Sarah says:

    Astounding and inspirational. Recouping without a star and without a tried-and-true source material *is* possible! Love reading news like this.

  • Esther says:

    I mentioned this on my blog and I wish Patrick Healy had asked the producers about it. Next to Normal has shows on Sunday and Monday nights, two times when there aren’t a lot of options on Broadway, especially if you want to see something new. I was in the city in July on vacation and I saw N2N on a Sunday night and it was packed. There were hundreds of people at the stage door afterward.

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