Which Broadway show would you rather invest in?

“So . . . who’s in it?”

This is the most common question I get whenever I’m raising money for a Broadway show . . .  whether I’m talking to a new Broadway Investor or a seasoned angel.

And it’s a good question.

But it’s not a great question.

When I’m evaluating a Broadway Investment opportunity, I have a very specific due diligence process that I go through to rate the risk of the production.  Because all opportunities carry risk . . . including walking down the street.  The real question is how risky is each opportunity . . . and what’s the upside?   (Is there a Pinkberry across that street???)

And the “Who” in this moneyball-like equation is a factor, for sure, but it’s not the most important one.

So when I get this question these days, I usually return the question with a question.

“Let me ask you,” I say, “Which of these Broadway shows would you rather have invested in:  Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, Come From Away, Rent, Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, A Chorus Line, etc . . . or . . . INSERT NAME OF STAR-DRIVEN VEHICLE HERE.”

Who’s in a show may give an investor some comfort when a show is launched, but since all shows carry risk, and since the upside on star vehicles can be so limited thanks to the shorter runs and the higher salaries, the savvy investors go drilling for the real oil, which isn’t located in Star Town.

The gushers aren’t dependent on stars.  In those cases, which are the ones we all want, the ones that send out double-digit distribution checks every month, the show is the only star.

So the next time you’re raising money, remind your prospect that having Madonna in your show may make it easier for them to write a check, but it will mean they won’t get many back.

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  • Debbie Saville says:

    It is refreshing to read this blog this morning. It is a good way to start my day. We certainly are in changing times and words are having a tremendous impact. From the audience perspective, I think there is a shift on what the public is going to choose to spend their money on and hopefully investors will shift to other lanes as well in their decision making process. If they are basing decisions on “star” quality, they are misguided. Because as I sit far away from “The Great White Way”, I am creating shows that entertain because that is why an audience attends. I have stepped away from watching award shows and now most recently professional sports, because I am not able to “escape” anymore from the reality of everyday life. I want to see the thrill of someone winning a Tony, Oscar or Super Bowl based on talent and hard work that inspires us all to keep moving forward when we are trying to take our dreams into reality. But instead we are drowning in a world of reality, that takes away the magic of the theater stage. For me, time and money are very valuable resources, just sayin’ I don’t have much after I pay my bills….but I have a weekend trip to NYC coming up….and I am going to see a Broadway show with my best friends and trust me when I tell you, our decision on which show to attend had nothing to do with who was in it. Great blog Ken!

  • Eli KW says:

    … or in Great Comet?

    (sorry to name names… Just such a perfect example from this season)

  • L. Bulow says:

    For me, the stars are not as important as a good show that stirs the heart — something that is entertaining, but also thought provoking and pleasing to all the senses, with a wide range of emotions. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog for a long time 🙂

  • Jay Z says:

    Actually Ken, in all the hit shows you mentioned, the “star” — the element talked about most in the press when they launch and when they are remembered… is THE CREATOR: Jonathan Larsen, Lin Manuel, Pasek & Paul, Andrew Lloyd Weber… all these shows were shows the writers had a passion to create and a reason for creating them besides a producer’s check. Find a great writer, support their passion, and you’ll get a hit.

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