First recoupment and now this!

It’s raining good news over at the Booth Theatre on Broadway.

Less than two weeks ago, the unlikely hit, Next to Normal, defied expectations and announced that it had recouped its investment.

Yesterday, in another “shocking” turn of events (get it?), N2N took home the biggest drama prize of them all . . . The Pulitzer!

To say that this was a surprise, would be like saying Alice Ripley’s character in N2N is just “in a mood.”

From the sound of the fallout, the choice was a surprise to the prize.jpgckin’ insiders as well.

First, Charles McNulty of the LA Times, and a member of the Drama Jury that was chosen by the Pulitzer Board to give recommendations on nominees, ripped the board a new one for ignoring the Jury’s recs in his article entitled, “On The Year’s Drama Award, The Pulitzer Board Blew It.”

Then came Patrick Healy’s revelation that “a lot” of Pulitzer Board Members saw N2N the night before their important vote for the winner (and you and I both know that awards are most likely to go to shows that are “fresh” in voters’ minds, right?).

And this morning, the HE in DidHeLikeIt Himself, Mr. Ben Brantley, wrote a very interesting op-ed piece in the New York Times expressing his frustration about the process, having been the Chairman of the Drama Jury in 2007, when the board overrode the Jury’s recommendations as well.

Whatever happened, it’s a fantastic story for a show that almost didn’t make it to Broadway and has now not only recouped, but also been awarded an incredible distinction.

Will this big prize have an impact at the BO?  Let’s watch and see . . . (my guess is that the people who the Prize means the most to have already seen the show, although I’d also bet that the ad agency is designing a big sign for the front of the theater to trumpet this news to all those tourists).

Congratulations to everyone involved for this incredible honor.  I’m sure they are all thrilled.

In fact, I heard a rumor that that lead character was so happy about the big win, it cured her depression.

– – – –

Normal is only the 8th musical to take home the P Prize, and it’s in great company.  Can you name the other seven?  Give it a shot, then click here for the answer.

Surprise, surprise! A show recoups sans star!

Here’s something that you probably didn’t expect to hear (I know I didn’t) . . .

Next to Normal recouped its investment.

Crushing current conventional Broadway wisdom, this non-spectacle, non-star-driven musical about a woman suffering from bipolar disorder fought through a steady rain of a season and made it into profit.  Oh, and it did it in a pretty timely fashion (the recoupment was announced exactly one year from the show’s first preview).

Super kudos to everyone involved in this production who fought the biggest of uphill battles getting into the black.

How did they do it?

IMHO, there are three reasons why N2N recouped:

1.  A killer score

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, when the root word of musical is ‘music,’ there’s a lot riding on that score.  Normal‘s score is so fantastic and fresh, it took down the mighty Elton John and won a Tony.  Nothing spreads word of mouth faster than great tunes.

2. A “committed” team of Producers and Creatives.

Does anyone remember that in addition to trying out at the NYMF in ’05 under the title Feeling Electric, the show came into New York to soft response at Second Stage, then left New York for DC, then came back to NY?  That’s like showing up at a party underdressed, leaving, and coming back a few hours later in a new outfit like nothing happened.  But something did happen, alright.  The team worked their tails off.  It took faith and a giant set of grapes to do what they did.

3.  A low capitalization and even lower running costs.

A Broadway musical for $4 million bucks, even with all that development?  That’s the way to do it.  To tell its intimate story, N2N didn’t need a chandelier and a helicopter.  More importantly, everyone on the team obviously knew that this one wasn’t going to be easy, so they structured it to make economic sense given the material, and now everyone is making a lot more dollars and cents.
The recoupment of Normal on Broadway in this environment is a major event.  It demonstrates that smart material and smart producing can yield positive results, despite what we think is our audience’s appetite.

So when everyone is telling you that your show won’t work, you should remind them that a trend is a trend . . . until one show changes it.

And that show might as well be yours.

You can read all about the recoupment in Patrick Healy’s New York Times article here.

SIGN UP BELOW TO NEVER MISS A BLOG

X