It’s a recoupment record!

What I love about working on Broadway is that there’s always a shocker.  Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, something comes along to remind you that you don’t.

Par example . . .

One year ago today, would anyone have bet that a small, semi-sad, non-spectacle musical based on an independent Irish movie (that cost only $160k, by the way) would sell out its run at New York Theatre Workshop and bounce to Broadway on the backs of a Director and Authors that were all making their Broadway debuts . . . only to defeat the Disney juggernaut Newsies for the coveted Best Musical prize?

What were the odds of that?

And if that isn’t enough of a story, how about adding on this coda . . .

Two days ago, that musical in question, Once, announced that it recouped its investment after a mere 21 weeks, making it the fastest musical to recoup in more than a decade.


The Once story is a great one . . . but what’s really great is that it’s not without its predecessors.  Rent, Avenue Q, and Spring Awakening are just a few of the shows in the last 15 years that proved that while we may think that all that gets produced, and all that is successful, are jukebox musicals tuned up for tourists . . . but it’s simply not true.  The public, the critics, and the voters reward the different, the challenging, and the unique (most important) more often than we rant.

So congrats to Once and to its courageous Producers for surprising us all.  It’s good drama.

(By the way, a very deeply embedded blog reader reminded me yesterday that every single Best Musical Tony Winner of the last ten years has gone on to recoup its investment.  So here’s a smack-me-in-the-face-it’s-so-obvious tip:  want to recoup?  Win a Best Musical Tony.)


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  • This makes me ridiculously happy. I shared the link immediately, as I have done with so many pieces of news about this beautiful show. I was wondering, what is the Broadway PLAY that holds the recoupment record? Would be so lovely if it was a show that had the same kind of everyman/underdog/full of heart quality…or if not, if one that DOES comes in and sets a new record this year! 🙂 Thanks for your blog, Ken…I LOVE LOVE LOVE it.

  • Mark says:

    The 90s weren’t as nice to Best Musicals. I doubt PASSION recouped; did TITANIC, SUNSET BLVD or KISS OF THE SPIDERWOMAN (all Best Musicals).

  • Walt Frasier says:

    Happy to hear. Not surprised at all. Great shows can be produced on the backs of great talent writing, directing and performing, saving millions on unneeded spectacle. This is Broadway not Disneyland or Vegas. Tell a great story and it will find an audience.

    PLUS this is a show that will easily be produced by regional and college theaters, collecting royalties forever. Compared to a Spiderman, a show that is all about spectacle that would be impossible to sell down the line.

    PURE PROFIT from here for ONCE!!! Congrats to you. Lesson learned for rest of Producing community

  • Elisa Christina Clayton says:

    I’m so happy for all involved. I loved the film and I’m happy they brought it to the stage. Hopefully its success will inspire Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová to write more music for the theatre.

  • mark zimmerman says:

    not so sure about that fact that all “best musicals” have reccouped. Memphis has yet to recoup.

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