Why theater owners should produce more . . . again.

Back in the day, the theater owners were some of the most prolific Producers on Broadway.  They produced in part by necessity . . . if their theaters were dark and they needed a booking, they just produced a show to fill the slot.

But as theater became more expensive, and therefore more risky, and as more and more Producers raised their hands and said, “I wanna be a Producer,” the theater owners backed off and said, “Be our guest.”

But the recent announcement of theater owner Jordan Roth’s upcoming revival of Falsettos reminded me that they should all start producing again with the same frequency that they did decades ago.


I hear that one of the mission statements of current Broadway leadership is to try and control costs, after watching them climb year after year.  Plays now cost $4mm.  Musicals cost $15mm.

And their thought (and mine) is that they don’t need to.

But it’s hard keeping those costs in line.  I’ve seen a huge shift in power over the last few years to agents and vendors, as Producers get more desperate to get their shows up.  I’ve walked away from a bunch of people and projects instead of agreeing to something that would simply be a bad deal for the show, and therefore a bad bit of producing.

And while it was the right decision . . . it left me without a show to produce.  And when that’s what you want to do, it’s hard not to just capitulate.  We’re too emotional.

You know who has more power than the actors and agents and all the vendors combined?

The theater owners.  It’s harder for an agent to say no to them.  It’s harder for an actor to walk away from them.

Which is why I’d like to see them produce a heck of a lot more.

Controlling costs requires leverage.  They’ve got it, now and forever.  And it’s time they use it.  Again.


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  • David says:

    This is more a question than a comment. In your opinion what is driving those costs up and what do you think you and the current Broadway leadership can do to try and get them under control? I guess it’s really two questions. I will also comment that I love both your blog and podcast. I find them entertaining and extremely educational. Thanks for taking the time to do them.

  • Rich Mc says:

    Great blog. And it’s high time for viewers and potential investors alike to be given a detailed breakout of the detailed costs associated with launching & maintaining a b-Way Play or Musical. Lotta investors on the sidelines remain tentative because they do not fully understand associated costs, which constitute fully half of the recoup equation (and where pressure can be exerted incrementally to reduce costs). The ball is in your court to provide greater elucidation & transparency!

  • Arnold Kuperstein says:

    If the Nederlanders had not produced Peter Allen’s LEGS DIAMOND, the Mark Hellinger Theatre would still house legitimate shows instead of being a church. Your viewpoint is short sighted.

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