Hi Cast, Crew, and Curious Critics

As a remember of the production team, I’ve been trying to display my ‘talent’ to keep up with the rest of the class.  After a failed attempt (albeit an attempt none-the-less!) at dancing, I think I’ll stick to what I was brought on board to do and talk about the non-creative aspects of the production.  Although the actors get the limelight, the production team focuses on a different type of green: the greenback.

The idea for a new musical can come from a writer, composer, or performer, but it can only be realized by a producer. He or she must raise the money for the production; the amount required is called the capitalization.  Although we have a unique situation where Duke is funding the project almost in it’s entirety, the production team will still focus on raising money, both for the experience as well as to filter in as much money as possible back to student organizations.  We will be selling advertisement spots (quarter page, half page and whole page) in the playbill to local shops and vendors to help generate money to supplement ticket sales.  We will also solicit parents and active advocates to donate to help fund the arts and continue Duke’s tradition of excellent productions across all artistic disciplines.

For educational sake, I will also explore raising money in for-profit endeavors that typical productions reflect.  From a PBS documentary ‘Elements of a Musical,’ the financial proposition is explained.  The amount of money raised must not only cover getting the show to opening night but also create a financial cushion for several weeks or months until the show catches on with audiences. The producer usually called backers or “angels,” and pays himself a salary.  (I wish this was in my contract!)  If the show is a success and makes back its initial expenditure (recoupment), investors get whatever percentage of their contributed amount back in profits.

Some fun facts about the cost of musicals:

  • An average broadway musical costs >$10M to produce
  • 30 years ago, this number was around $1M
  • Cameron Mackintosh’s four shows (“Cats,” “Les Misérables,” “The Phantom of the Opera,” and “Miss Saigon”) have run on Broadway for more than 62 years total and, internationally, have made more money than these four movies — Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, and Titanic — put together.
I will be sure to continue my expose on the dollars and cents behind musicals later in the semester but until then, I’ll head back to ‘The Show Biz’ and continuing sending e-mails asking for financial and emotional support