If they don’t go to opening night, then who should?

A friend of mine, and to protect the innocent, let’s call that friend . . . uh . . . me . . . was recently offered a chance to invest $50k into a Broadway musical.  A high unit price, but fairly typical for a higher priced musical.

While I wasn’t sure it was for me, I happened to have an investor that I thought might want the piece.  And I have no problem putting my people into other people’s shows.  What goes around comes around, and if my investors are happy that’s all that counts.

I asked some budgetary questions, as I do, and did the due diligence that I talk about in this seminar.

And just when I was about to recommend the investment to my guy, I was told that for the $50k, this investor would not be allowed to go to opening night.

Uhhh, come again?  You did say you wanted $50k, right?  Not $5k?

I know theaters have fixed capacities, and I know there are a lot of people that put on big musicals that deserve to be there to celebrate the big Broadway debut. But isn’t someone putting up fifty grand in a very risky proposition due the right to a couple of seats in a big theater?

I’ve planned opening night parties as a Producer.  I’ve been a GM and a CM on opening night parties.  And I know who gets to go to these things.  Everyone and their brother and their assistant who has ever even thought about working on the show.   (And the Company Manager usually always has a few emergencies in their pocket at the end as well!)

And all of them should go.

But the moment we start telling $50k investors that they can’t go?

That’s the moment we start losing investment dollars to other industries.

The perks are one of the few things that separate us from other investment opportunities.  When you buy 100 shares of Coca-Cola, they don’t give you a 6 pack of Coke, right?

But we can give you billing, insider access, and you betcha, opening night tickets.

Needless to say, my friend . . . and by my friend I mean moi . . . passed on this opportunity.

Why?  Because Broadway Investors are the reason why we get to do what we do.  They/we/you deserve to be celebrated for what they do, and therefore they deserve the respect of being invited to our celebrations.


(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below!  Click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

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  • Kevin Lambert says:

    Oy vey? Would love to know what the “reasons” were for the non-invite…..

  • Joey P says:

    That seems odd. Producers need more notarity to the public and opening night should be as much about them as the actors and director.

  • Mark Briner says:

    So the people who made it all possible aren’t even entitled to see what they invested in?? Losers…..

  • Andrew Michael Storm says:

    I am sorry….but you can bet if I am asking someone for a nice chunk of change fir a show, they WILL be at opening night unless THEY do not wish to be there! THAT id just STUPID!! The ultimate arrogance by a Producer! “Sorry your paltry 50k is just not enough to get you seats at opening night….but you can stand across the street and wave”. Give me a break!

  • Queerbec says:

    Perhaps a non-existent investor, as a condition of his willingness to put up nearly one half of funds required, has demanded all the opening night seats….?

    Opening night’s a big thing…even though you don’t get to spy on the critics and see what they’re whispering to their companions…you get to mingle with the celebs, the celeb spouses of the cast..that’s a great incentive! Did this producer also expect the investor to pay for his own tickets for another night?

  • While I certainly only wish well to their production, it sounds to me like your “friend” may have made a good investment decision, if this is any indication of how they plan to run things overall.

  • Rich says:

    On the surface, this Producer must have been crazy to so turn-off a potential heavy-weight investor. A possible zany rationale? It’s an image thing: make the Play look so certain to recoup that they can afford to irrationally discriminate among big $$ investors. Bigger picture is that any savvy investor seeking a substantial ROI (i.e., not a ‘patron of the arts’) would look beyond this emotional issue and examine the play’s earning potential solely on its merits.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have been involved in the planning of several opening night celebrations on Broadway, and I feel compelled to comment here. I see the same pattern repeated over and over again.

    1. If the show is in a Shubert house, the Shubert Organization takes 50 tickets right off the top as well as tickets to the party and they usually demand reserved seating at the party. Most of these reserved seats remain empty while other party guests roam around awkwardly balancing a drink in one hand and a plate of food in the other while searching for an empty seat.

    2. At first (several weeks out from opening night), the lead producers are very stingy with their invitations EXCEPT they allow the press agents to invite every C-list celebrity in town. Meanwhile, the other producers and associate producers are told either that there are not enough seats for their investors or that their investors must purchase full-price tickets to the show and the after-party.

    [This is off-topic, but I’ve seen situations in which producers are allowed only 10-12 word bios in the Playbill.]

    3. The lead producers spend hours and hours going through the opening night seating chart, assigning the best seats to the “most important” guests. Meanwhile, many of these guests have already seen the show out of town and in previews.

    4. Once the RSVP date has passed, there are still hundreds of seats to fill.

    5. On the day of show, producers panic at the thought of empty seats and ask the company managers to “paper the house.” Seats get filled with interns, students and random guests.

    6. Most of the publicity is centered around the red carpet arrivals at the theatre. Very few of the “celeb” guests actually attend the party following the show.

    7. Press nights are held several nights in advance of the official opening night to allow time for the critics to make their deadlines, therefore it’s not the members of the press who are taking up the seats on opening night.

    My opinion is that everyone who participated in the making of the show should be invited to opening night, including the investors, designers, the people who handle the advertising, promotions, and marketing, the lawyers and accountants, and the artists’ agents and managers. It’s hard to believe that even on a big show (and even allowing for some VIP celeb guests) that these people would take up 1,200+ seats.

    Since the parties don’t do much to generate publicity, I think they could be much more modest and held at venues which allow everyone involved in the show to actually mingle with each other. I miss the days when a producer and/or director would make a toast and congratulate everyone. These days, it seems as though everyone’s nervously hitting the “refresh” button on their devices to see if the review has posted to the NYtimes.com. Regardless of the content of the Times review, opening night a time to celebrate everyone’s hard work. It’s a huge accomplishment to get a show across the Broadway finish line and it takes a huge community of people, each making his or her own contributions to the show.

  • Malini says:

    I think we are still to insular a community to have a strange request like that. The best part of being involved in a show, in any capacity is to be there on opening night. It doesn’t matter if it is a red carpet galarific opening or a community theater opening. A producer/high level donor should always get an invitation to opening night.

    And simply, it’s normal day-to-day etiquette.

    You treated all of us PoGs well. Even though we weren’t invited to the opening night show because that would have been insane, most of us grabbed the opportunity to be at previews and the run. I had no problem sporting my button throughout the run. And held zero feelings about not being there opening night. As a matter of fact, I started thinking about how I can be on a red carpet.

  • Jen Adame says:

    In every business, you have to remember which side your bread is buttered on. Opening night tickets seems a small price to pay for such an investment. It’s just good PR…

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