Stage Money: The Business of the Professional Theater

By Tim Donahue; Jim Patterson | Go to book overview

3
Risk and Return in the Commercial Theater

Since at least the 1920s, Broadway theater has been dubbed the “fabulous invalid” —always dying but somehow never dead. Since then, theater professionals have been concerned that the likely return from producing commercial theater was too small to justify escalating risk. Later Robert Anderson, author of hit plays and screenplays, put the concern with risk and return in such sharp words that they’ve become a proverb: “It is next to impossible to earn a living in the theater. But you can make a killing.”

Oscar Hammerstein II was certainly a great and successful man of the theater. Although he is popularly remembered as a lyricist and book writer of some of the greatest musical comedies, including Oklahoma!, South Pacific, and The King and I, he was also a theatrical producer. He came by it naturally—his grandfather Oscar Hammerstein I was a renowned opera impresario and theater builder. Hammerstein’s flop rate as a producer before he cowrote Showboat in 1927 was 65 percent; before Oklahoma! in 1943 it was 53 percent. That is, Hammerstein never had a success rate higher than 50 percent. Yet he was considered an eminently successful commercial Broadway producer.

More recently the producer Margo Lion said of investing in the commercial theater, “It’s like going to the track or to Las Vegas. Only 20 percent to 25 percent of the productions on Broadway make back their initial capital.” She said this despite the fact that Lion has been a producer of many wonderful Broadway shows, such as Caroline, or Change; Hairspray; Elaine Stritch at Liberty; The Crucible; Angels in America; Jelly’s Last Jam; and I Hate Hamlet. Many of these, but not all, earned back their initial investment and made a profit.

Despite the high likelihood of the total loss of investment, stories of profit on Broadway abound. For example, the New York Post reported in the summer of 2007 that the revival of Eugene O’Neill’s play A Moon for the Misbegotten, a limitedrun import from London starring Kevin Spacey, returned a 30 percent profit to its investors. The investors put up $2 million to capitalize the show which closed June

-30-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Stage Money: The Business of the Professional Theater
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 175

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.