Treasures from Jacksonville’s underground Craft Movement

BASEMENT JAX

THERE’S NOTHING STOPPING YOU THERE’ T THERE S NOTHING STOPPING YOU THERE’S NOTHING STO PPING YOU RE’ E OTH NG STO PPING YOU TH NG STOPPING O TO

JUNE JUNE UN

A FAMILY AFFAIR
SUMME

R SPEC

IAL

Thrill rides, aquatic adventures and a food odyssey fit for a pintsized palette

New York’s Finger Lakes District takes on Germany with picture-perfect Riesling vineyards

WORLD CUPS

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BUSINESS

ANYTHING GOES ON 42ND STREET, WHERE THE PRODUCERS HOPE TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING BUT OFTEN STRUGGLE TO PAY THE RENT AND THEIR STAFF OF MUSIC MEN, DREAMGIRLS AND CHORUS LINES.
I T T A K E S R E A L B U S I N E S S S AV V Y T O S U R V I V E I N T H E U LT R A C O M P E T I T I V E W O R L D O F B R O A D WA Y T H E A T E R . TA K E A P E E K B E H I N D T H E C U R TA I N T O S E E H O W ENTREPRENEURS ENSURE THE SHOWS G O ON.
BY

M AT T H E W W E X L E R

H HEN THE CURTAIN goes up on any given go production, p an audience is silenced into a e kind of awe and reverie— k what they don’t know is w what happens behind the w production p in the weeks leading up to opening night. l While NBC’s hit show Smash W (picked up for a second season) ( chronicles the evolution of a c Broadway musical with theatriB cal impresarios to esarios tossing martinis and the creative team wrapped up in torrid love affairs, the real nuts and bolts of building a Broadway showstopper is an ever-evolving puzzle of artistry, finance and good old-fashioned luck. If there was a tried and true formula, all 40 of Broadway’s theaters would be occupied and at capacity all the time. Theater is a wild card, though, which

perhaps makes it that much more elusive for those who want—and can afford—to invest, it also makes it nearly impossible to predict a success or failure. A tight economy over the last several years has led to more hands in the pot to get a show off the ground but those investors are on to something—but Broadway is by no means bankrupt. In fact, last year its gross earnings topped $1 billion, even in the midst of a recession. Nevertheless, the line between investor and producer has blurred—what once was a profession has become fair game for smalltime “donors.” This season, shows like Godspell, are being produced like a Kickstarter campaign. According to the New York Times’ theater critic Patrick Healy, “Broadway musicals usually cost $5 million to $10 million to produce, and that money often comes in checks for $50,000 or more from experienced investors who wouldn’t mind the tax write-off if the show flops. But this season’s revival of Godspell has introduced a new breed: shareholders who have invested as little as $1,000.”

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BUSINESS
BROADWAY BY THE NUMBERS:

Anyone who has invested in a show will likely tell you they are a producer, but the real producers are on the front line assembling the creative team, managing the financial health of a production and overseeing all of the intricacies to market and sell their product. The lead producers of Peter and the Starcatcher, a prequel to Peter Pan, established a weekly producer’s meeting to engage investors, create buzz and provide details on rehearsals, marketing and tickets sales. Peter and the Starcatcher incubated at Williamstown Theatre Festival, La Jolla Playhouse, and New York Theatre Workshop. The Book of Mormon opened cold though they had Avenue Q’s Robert Lopez and South Park’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone included in the creative equation. It’s been a runaway hit with a record-breaking premium ticket price of $487. Rich Entertainment Group, the producers hoping to bring Becoming Chaplin to Broadway next season, have gone a step further by presenting workshops not only to backers who may have a specific vested interest, but also to test audiences. Star power (think Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig) is always a factor when producers are looking for ticket sales from a more mainstream audience. Earlier this year, Harry Connick, Jr. headlined a revival of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever for a reported $50,000 per week as compared to the average actor’s weekly salary of $1422, but even this classic crooner couldn’t save the show, which closed after 57 performances. Academy Award winner Philip Seymour Hoffman resurrected Death of a Salesman to sold-out houses. Casting Director Duncan Stewart, whose talent roster for the long-running musical Chicago has included everyone from Jerry Springer to Christie Brinkley, says, “For every star you put into a show, you better damn well have the finest Broadway caliber talent to back it up.” But the ultimate prize is a Tony Award, which is worth its weight in gold in consequent ticket sales. And that’s why 25 percent of all the new shows in the 2011-12 season opened in late April, to squeak in opening night before the cut off date for Tony eligibility. So, what’s the real secret to Broadway’s success and failures? Timing, luck, instinct and talent—just like any other business venture...only slightly more drama.

12+ million
tickets sold each year

THE “IT” PRODUCER
orget Eva Peron and keep your eye out for Eva Price, one of Broadway’s coming hottest up and producers. Recently

44% 77

of tickets are purchased online.

named by Crain’s New York Business as one of 2012’s “40 Under 40,” she has quickly moved up the ranks from her first Broadway venture in 2006. This season Price is a lead producer on Peter and the Starcatcher as well as one of the driving forces behind the much-anticipated revival of Annie, scheduled too open this fall. Here are three questions Price asks before dropping (or raising) the greenbacks: “Why does this show exist? So many times a show opens on Broadway and people are scratching their heads. Is it a completely rethought revival? A star-turn for an actor? Or a monumental style that’s never been seen before?” “Show me the commercial profit. What is the branded appeal? I want to see something smart and relevant. Last year’s Tony Award for Best Musical went to The Book of Mormon—it’s volatile and exciting and it makes people happy. That’s a winning combination.” “What is the emotional connection? You cannot have good theater if this doesn’t exist. You might as well be watching TV. Live theater is the only thing left in entertainment that demands a connection with the viewer, and that’s what makes it so exciting.”

shows on the boards last year

$10 billion
Broadway’s contribution to New York City’s economy.

65%

Broadway audience is female,

$244,100
average income of Broadway audience

years old–average age of Broadway theater-goer

44

83%

of admissions are made by Caucasians

$75 million
Spiderman: Turn off the Dark The most expensive show in Broadway history.

30%

of Broadway audiences have a college education

LONGEST RUNNING SHOWS OF ALL TIME 1 Phantom of the Opera 2 Cats 3 Les Misérables 4 Chicago (Revival) 5 A Chorus Line (16) Life with Father
NUMBER OF PERFORMANCES 0 1,000 2,000 3,000 BROADWAY’S LONGEST RUNNING PLAY 4,000 5,000 6,000 7,000 8,000 9,000 10,000

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