What Harry Potter’s theater choice means for Independent Producers.


That collective sigh of relief you heard last week was every single Independent Producer on Broadway reacting to the big news that Harry Potter, the one-show-that-could-out-gross-Hamilton, will set up its Hogwarts in the soon-to-be renovated Lyric Theatre.

In case you missed the news, the Cirque show currently in residence at the Lyric was the subject of a showus-disapperus spell, and was given about $20mm to make way for Harry.  And if that wasn’t enough of an investment from the theater owner, The Ambassador Theatre Group also promised the Producers of Potter that they’d reduce (!) the size of the theater from 1900 seats to 1500.

I for one am thrilled at ATG’s creativity in coming up with this deal and their aggression in going after Potter.

Why am I levitatus-on-airus about it?  And why are other Independent Producers too?

If you recall, I wrote a blog a few months ago about how Broadway was about to have an unheard of three mega-hits in less than three years. Hamilton, Harry Potter, and Frozen all have the right stuff to run for 10+ years for sure.

While that sounds great for the industry and great for the investors in those shows, it’s awful for the Independent Producers . . . because it means that three choice theaters will be unavailable for new shows.

Well, well, well, that all changed when Harry went to the Lyric, a venue that the independents don’t think too much about, as opposed to the sought-after Hirschfeld (where I heard they were going until ATG put their money where their balcony was) or the big bad Broadway.

The Lyric is a tough one to book, because of its barn-like size, and requires a certain type of mega-show . . . as opposed to the types of shows independents like me produce.

So yeah, another theater went off the market and will be off this market for a decade at least if not Lion King-like longer.

But it’s one that was never on the Independent Producer’s shopping list anyway.

Although, in 20 or so years, when it’s an intimate 1,500 seater that has housed one of the biggest hits in the history of Broadway, right smack on 42nd St, it could be at the top of my list.


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  • Linus Goldsteinn says:

    Why do they want to reduce the seating capacity? If you want the Lyric, wouldn’t you want it for it’s size?

  • Julia L. Collins says:

    Right-sizing spaces is crucial. While a huge house may be desirable for a presentational production/event and a fairly short run, “barn-like” isn’t a moniker any producer should allow their space to command. Part of the Producer’s role is to create a relationship between the show with the audience, and the current layout of the Lyric isn’t particularly conducive to that relationship (though their website gives us the important buzzwords of “intimate” and “contact”).

    I applaud this choice, and appreciate Ken’s wisdom in bringing this to front of mind.

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