What Broadway does that tours should do, and a “Will it Recoup?” update!

When a Broadway show recoups its capitalization, the Producer and the Press Agent scream it from the hills like they were Mel Gibson in Braveheart going into battle.  “Recooooooooouuuuuupppppment!!!!”

And they should.

Recouping a Broadway show ain’t easy, so everyone involved (including the artists and actors, btw) should be so proud of what they’ve done.  (And besides, those press releases are the only way our all-too secretive industry can put some kind of recoupment research together.)

You know who doesn’t announce recoupment?

National Tours.

Go on, think about it.  When was the last time you saw a headline on Playbill.com that said, “National Tour of Some Show with a Soap Opera Star Recoups!” Or even, “National Tour of Last Year’s Tony Award Winner Recoups!”

We just don’t do it.


Is it because National Tours have an unbelievably high recoupment rate?  Since National Tours have the opposite business model of Broadway productions, tours usually don’t even hit the road unless they are as-close-to-guaranteed-as-possible that they’ll finish in the black.  (It’s why a lot of Broadway investors invest in the original Broadway productions . . . to get the right to invest in the tour(s).)  So since it’s more of a “given,” do we just not think it’s special enough to put out there?

Or are we afraid of putting it out there for the public for fear of getting the attention of unions and vendors who want a bigger piece?  (If so, I think we have plenty of losses on Broadway to point to that balance the equation.)

Or are we afraid of putting it out there because the Presenters of the tours might be losing money, while the tours themselves are making money?

There are a bunch of reasons why not to, I guess, but I for one would like to see more tours trumpeting their profitability when it happens.  (Quick tip: follow the press releases for a small public company – they spit more out than you can keep up with – we can learn from that.)  I’ve always believed that the more positive news there is about our business in the press, the more people want to get involved.   The more people involved, the more product that we can produce, the more jobs we can create, and the more risks that we can take . . . which just creates better art, and a better business at the same time.

And isn’t that our goal?

Hey!  While I’ve got recoupment on my brain (and what Producer doesn’t have it on his/her mind most of the time – recoupment to a Producer is the equivalent of you-know-what for a teenage boy), let’s get you a “Will It Recoup?” update!

You forgot about my fantasy Broadway game, didn’t you?  Well, we’re in the thick of it now!  Of the six shows in this year’s race, four of them have already had their fate decided:

  • Fish in the Dark – recouped!  (Even if they haven’t announced yet, we know they have or will.)
  • The Audience – recouped!
  • The Heidi Chronicles – did not recoup.
  • Living on Love – did not recoup.

The last two shows that will decide the winner are . . . Skylight and Wolf Hall.  Gonna be a nail-biter!  Stay tuned to find out who wins the $500!

And then maybe one of them will go on tour and announce their recoupment, too.  🙂


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  • Jared says:

    I definitely think if tours start announcing recoupments (and as you said, most of them probably do recoup) it will reopen the can of worms between Equity and tours regarding payment. And I don’t think that is a bad conversation to have – everyone in this risky industry deserves to have the best chance at earning a living, both actors and producers. But it will be a messy one.

  • Ken Wydro says:

    SKYLIGHT will recoup. WOLF HALL, won’t – unless it extends past July 5. The Part 1 and Part 2 model did not turn out quite as expected. SHOULDA BEEN YOU and THE VISIT won’t recoup either. The best shows now running, both from an artistic and financial point of view, are SOMETHING ROTTEN, AMERICAN IN PARIS, CURIOUS INCIDENT and KING AND I. All will embark on a National Tour and wind up in the West End, where CURIOUS INCIDENT has been sitting down for a long while anyway. The bottom line is – exciting theater. Those that recoup have energy and style. Kinetic inner fire. Those that do not recoup are usually just dull. CINDERELLA has recouped on the road, and still has about a year more bookings. Go figure. If you have not risked anything, recoupment should not matter that much. You did your job and got paid for it. High risks, high reward. Low risk, low reward. C’est la vie. Plus ca change . . .

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