The big change [on Broadway] has without question been the corporatization of commercial theatre producing.
—Frank Rich, former theatre critic for the New York Times
The good side [to corporate producers] is that independent producers, no matter how bright and wonderful they were, if they didn't have millions behind them, never knew whether or not they could raise the money. For major corporations, if they say they are going to do something, there is seldom any issue about getting financing.
—John Breglio, theatrical attorney
Everyone's afraid of corporations taking over Broadway, unless they can get their idea produced by a corporation.
—Thomas Schumacher, president, Disney Theatrical
At the center of the most intense debate on Broadway in recent years is the impact of corporate producing. The presence over the last decade of Disney, Clear Channel Entertainment (and its predecessors), Stage Holding, Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group, Madison Square Garden Productions, and the now defunct Livent has occasioned a series of prognostications that the pendulum is swinging inexorably in the direction of corporate hegemony. A new lexicon, with terms like vertical integration, synergy, product, focus groups, and corporate branding, has found its way onto the street. The entry of corporations into what was essentially a boutique industry has raised questions about the future of Broadway among not only independent producers—who would seem the most threatened by the competition—but also artists, union leaders, and other theatre practitioners.
While some independent producers gamely point out that competition, a broad spectrum of theatrical tastes, and a variety of approaches are in the best interests of a healthy Broadway, several privately concede that if for no other reason than their deeper resources on every front, corporations may eventually reign supreme. There is no way to compete with corporations, they aver, given the continued escalation of production costs, unless they form partnerships with other producers, ceding