Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Turning Theater Fans into Investors

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Turning Theater Fans into Investors

Article excerpt

They say you can make a killing on Broadway, but you can't make a living.

For every megahit like "The Phantom of the Opera" or "Wicked," there are dozens more shows that lose all of their multimillion- dollar investments.

Raising money for new Broadway productions has never been easy, but it has apparently grown increasingly difficult in the last few years.

Plans for the first major Broadway revival of "Funny Girl" fell apart late last year because of money shortages. Producers of several other would-be Broadway efforts announced plans, but they haven't been heard of again. The New York Post reported recently that "Bonnie & Clyde" opened in December without all of its financing in place.

Thankfully, despite all that discouragement, there are still dreamers out there who believe in the future of the theater. People keep creating new shows and somehow find people with money who are willing to do what it takes to get the shows on stage.

With costs for musicals usually topping more than $10 million, producers today keep trying new ways to raise the money they need. Sure, they may still have friends they can call on to kick in hundreds of thousands of dollars, but a new age requires new methods.

Ken Davenport went directly to the public for the Broadway revival of "Godspell," asking individuals to invest at least $1,000 each toward the production, which opened to mixed reviews in November. They're called "The People of 'Godspell.' "

There are several people from Sarasota who have become players on Broadway as well, so it wasn't surprising that producer Robert Nederlander Jr. came to town last week on behalf of a new musical called "Chix 6." It's part of a several-city fundraising effort to get the approximately $7 million needed to open. Nederlander said the show will open by early next year, possibly before the end of 2012. His family owns nine theaters on Broadway and more around the country.

At the invitation of Sarasota businessman Marvin Kaplan, about two dozen people came to hear a pitch for the show and see a video of songs from a recent production at the Queens Theatre in New York. …

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