Podcast: The Mechanics of Closing (and Unclosing) a Broadway Show with Daniel Kuney, Kevin McCollum
the-play-that-goes-wrong-broadway-general-manager.jpg

KGM Theatrical President, Daniel Kuney, sat down with Oliver Roth and Kevin McCollum to chat about the reasons a Broadway show might close, how to best prepare for closing a show, and how a closing campaign can sometimes help a show.

On this Season 2 premiere episode of BroadwayWorld's theatre business podcast, "The OHenry Report," Broadway producer and investor Oliver Henry Roth goes inside the mechanics of closing a Broadway show with veteran theatrical general manager, Daniel Kuney.

Then Oliver chats with four-time Tony-winning producer Kevin McCollum about how the decision to close a show works from his perspective, but also what goes into the decision to reverse course and push back an announced closing date, as he did with Broadway's "The Play that Goes Wrong."

You can listen to the full episode here.

How much does an Off-Broadway Show Cost to Produce?
broadway general manager.jpg

One of the first things producers want to know is how much their project will cost to produce Off-Broadway.

The short answer is probably at least $500,000 and likely not more than $3,000,000.

Most shows are squarely in the middle.

Below are the major factors that will influence your Off-Broadway budget.

Physical Production

Scenery for an Off-Broadway show can cost anywhere from $15,000 for a few homemade backdrops and a used couch, to over $200,000 for an elaborate set manufactured at a professional scene shop.

And how much you spend on the set will likely influence how much you will spend on lighting, video and sound. If you're spending $200,000 on a set, you are probably going to be renting some fancy gear to make sure it looks (and sounds) great.

Costumes are going to run you anywhere from a few thousand dollars to purchase contemporary clothing for a small cast to over $50,000 for a large musical with period costumes and multiple costume changes.

The Size of Your Venue

Off-Broadway theaters range in size from 199 seats to 499 and, as you can imagine, the rents go up as the theater gets bigger.

Right now, we are seeing rents that range from $10,000/week to $25,000/week.

The size of your venue will also influence how much you pay your actors, musicians, director and designers since each of the unions that represent Off-Broadway employees takes venue capacity into consideration when determining the rates you will pay.

The Size of Your Cast & Band

This is fairly straightforward, but a show with 17 actors and 5 musicians is going to cost a whole lot more than a show with just 2 actors.

Also, the more people you have on stage, the more employees you'll need to hire to support them, from stage managers, to wardrobe crew, to company managers.

How Much You Want/Need to Spend on Advertising

This is one of those times in life when something may seem arbitrary, but it actually isn't.

It doesn't matter what size show you are mounting, you probably need to spend at least $125,000 in advertising prior to your opening night.

For a large musical I would go up to $225,000.

However, most shows just can't afford that, and will have to get creative. It's 2018 so there are ways to have incredibly effective Facebook, Instagram (and, yes, still Google) campaigns for a fraction of that cost.

Sometimes that will suffice but not always. It's a noisy marketplace. If you want to reach consumers, you need to spend money.

Your General Manager will help you assess how far you can stretch your budget and when you really need to make sure you are not shooting yourself in the foot. It may not make sense to pay $200,000 for an amazing set that no one will see because you're only budgeting $25,000 for pre-opening advertising.

Your Own Priorities

People often give us a quick set of facts and ask if we can estimate how much their show will cost.

Seems straightforward to think that a show with 5 actors and 2 musicians will always roughly cost the same thing.

But we always work closely with our clients to understand their unique priorities. One producer may feel strongly that a show needs to have an elaborate set or a very unique special effect, while another feels that their show will work best on a bare stage and a single spot light.

Similarly, one producer may feel strongly that a television campaign is the right way to sell their show, while another with a background in online marketing will want to have a digital only campaign on Instagram and Facebook.

These are the intangibles that can both offer cost savings and push costs up.

If you're contemplating producing an Off-Broadway show, take our 7 question assessment to see if you have everything in place to ensure a successful production.