Results revealed: Macbeth on Broadway recouped . . .

In case you missed it, yesterday I blogged about how so many people I run into think that Broadway is a pass/fail business.  And in their defense, why would they think anything else, since we only announce when we recoup!

So a show screams from the rooftops when it makes money, or goes radio silent, embarrassingly sulking off into a dark corner somewhere if it doesn’t.

And that’s why I’m going to put myself and my show out there and announce the actual recoupment percentage for Macbeth on Broadway.

But let’s see what you thought first!

I asked all of you to tell me what you thought Macbeth recouped, and the average of all of your guesses was . . . 69.66%.

That’s even higher than I expected.  You have faith in me!  Most of my above-the-title Producers told me their friends, associates, and investors told them they never expected to see a penny back on a one-man Shakespeare performing six times a week.

And the actual answer is?

Macbeth on Broadway recouped 89%.

Ooooooh, so dang close!

Now look, I am not proud of the fact that we got to the 25th mile of our marathon only to come up just short.  My goal as a Broadway Producer is to get 100% of everyone’s money back.  Because if I return my investors cash, they’ll be more inclined to invest in Broadway again . . . and I am confident enough in my work that if I get enough at bats, I’m going to knock one outta the park.

So, I’m not celebrating the 89%.

But, first I hope that we show potential investors out there that . . . yeah, our ‘recoupment rate’ may only be one out of five . . . but one of those other four may have returned 89% of its money.  So if that 1 out of 5 is a . . . oh, I don’t know . . . a Kinky Boots, well, overall, you’re doing just fine (isn’t that how your stock portfolio works?).

And more importantly, I hope by announcing that we came so close will also show other Producers and Investors that there is room on the Commercial White Way for artistic risk.

This was a one-man Macbeth set at a mental institution.  It was developed in Scotland.  We only had 14 weeks total.  And we only did six performances a week!

And we still recouped 89-freakin’%.  (UPDATE:  As 6/1/14, we have now recouped 90% – we found some change in between the cushions on the couch.)

So I’m not proud of it.  And next time I will work even harder to get there.

But I hope by announcing it, others out there will take similar risks, challenge our economic model and produce adventurous pieces of art  . . . that get to 100%.

Because you can.

(A big shout out to all my above-the-title partners on Macbeth who had the courage to take this risk with me: Hunter Arnold, Carl Daikeler, Cody Lassen, Joan Raffe & Jhett Tolentino, Julia Broder, Luigi & Rose Caiola, Michael DeSantis, Neil Gooding, John C. Hall,Marguerite Hoffman, Ken Mahoney, Elliott Masie, Dean Roth, Bellanca Smigel Rutter and Kat White, as well as all the investors.  As I said when I accepted the Audience Choice Award for Best Revival this year, it’s very easy in today’s economic climate to take a crack at the number of names above our title.  But we shouldn’t be making jokes about it.  We should be thanking them.  Those names, on my shows and all the shows in town, make art happen.  And I for one am supremely thankful.)


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  • Simon says:

    Too bad you never were as transparent about godspell.

  • john Sweeney says:

    Ken, at the end of a project it is always good to ask what worked well and what didn’t. Are there any lessons to capture that can help you do a better job next time. Since you have started down the transparency path, I think that analysis would make a good blog post. “Lessons learned from a nearly successful show”

  • And no writer’s royalties to pay out.

  • Ken…

    Great post and I am one of the producers who is happy to get our 89% back!!!

    The reason that we (and most others) produce Broadway is all about “Stories”! We want to invest and support the telling of Great Stories by Great Actors!

    It is awesome to cash our Kinky Boots checks – and those are used to take risks – some that pay 89% back – or even one that we just closed “A Time to Kill” that will pay very little back. But, we are producers to make these stories come alive – and in the end – our “portfolio” of 7 shows – will even out or be ahead.

    Broadway Producing is an Art and even a Sport. And, the myths of losing it all happens rarely and is leveled out in the long term of being an investor/producer. Keep it up, Ken!

  • Bill Brown says:


    Excellent post. So appreciate your perspective and sharing information that is impossible to come by otherwise. Your fearlessness, vision and integrity in this crazy industry is inspiring.

  • Randi says:

    See this is why this information should be shared regularly! That is an incredibly impressive result, even if it’s not as great as was desired. But I would call that a relatively successful run, and you should all be proud of that.

  • Michael DiGaetano says:

    I’m curious which elements you feel may have helped you get to 100% plus profit if things were different. Theatre rental? Union requirements? Insurance?

  • Ron Bruguiere says:

    I suppose Alan Cumming had nothing to do with the 89%.

    Aren’t you remiss in not mentioning him?

  • Ken, I’ve been following your blog for several years and yesterday and today’s entries might be your best yet.

    Elliot Masie, well done and well said.

  • George Rady says:

    I had it at 75% so I was knocking the ball to the same part of the field…

    I think this is more indicative of what to expect when you have a – well produced – show, but NOT expecting into bring in the Tourists.

    I’m really curious how “The Winslow Boy” does – because that – too – is an esoteric show that would be expected to bring in the Theatre Goers and miss – most – of the Tourists… though I still think that “Downton Abbey” fans would give another British Drama a try (if they couldn’t get tix to anything else if they are only in town for a few days…

    And I gotta say, “Alan Cumming” just isn’t the actor that is gonna make me shell out for a Broadway Ticket… now… Ian McKellen! I’d pay $1K to see him live (while he is still alive) which is what I paid to see Anna Netrebko in “L’Elisir de Amour” at the Met!

    But I’m not a typicaal Theatre Goer by any stretch of the imagination… either.

    Hey 89% on One Man Shakespeare – Tragedy – is a Win! IMHO



  • George Rady says:

    You know – there is also the Investor angle on this… IF you can feel fairely confident that you can keep your losses to 10% – putting $$$ into a theatrical production for a period of… what? A year? More? isn’t a bad way to – preserve – capital i.e. we all know that the market has to crash… could be tomorrrow… could be months… it won’t be more than a year… they can’t keeping priniting and laundering money forever… having a good chunk of your portfolio in a theatrical production isn’t a bad hedge against a 2008 hit in the Market. Tell me Investors wouldn’t have been grateful to get 90% on their dollar after taking a bath in the Market…

    Only problem – the Market Meltdown will spill over to Broadway and all those over priced hotels and restaurants will finally have people asking “How can I afford to spend all this money in NYC?”

    That’s why Investing is am Art and not a Science!


  • Scott Kirschenbaum says:

    Im SO GLAD to be WRONG!
    and VERY HAPPY for your investors!!

    (esp since I had lowballed the return and screwed up the overall average of the estimates).

    I know that a loss is a loss–but it’s quite a small loss–in comparison to many other investments of this sort.

    Great job on such a tricky project!!!

  • Malini says:

    Congrats on 89% recoup on a one man Shakespearean piece set in a mental institution. That could have been a huge flop but the creative marketing and publicity of the piece definitely contributed to your recoupment.

  • Maureen says:

    Did I miss the call or do you ever ask your bloggers to invest in shows?

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