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In a Broadway First, 'On the Town' Producers Seek Investors Online

By Jon Sobel j.sobel@classicalite.com on Aug 15, 2014 11:51 AM EDT

In a first for a Broadway show, the producers of the 70th anniversary revival of On the Town, set to begin previews in just over a month, are soliciting investors via a website.

Howard and Janet Kagan, lead producers of the $8.5 million musical, are offering equity stakes in the production to investors who meet certain financial requirements. The minimum investment is $10,000, and the New York Times reports that would-be investors must have a net worth over $1 million or an annual income over $200,000 individually or $300,000 jointly.

While those numbers may seem steep, it's worth noting that an income of $200,000 doesn't even get you anywhere near "the one percent." And according to real estate website Trulia, $1 million won't even get you an average-priced condo in New York City.

This is the first attempt to sell equity stakes in an imminent Broadway production through a custom-made website, though London producers have experimented with the method. With fewer financial requirements and therefore a larger pool of potential investors, a crowdfunding website generated about 15 percent of the capitalization of the current production of The Pajama Game at the Shaftesbury Theatre.

The Kagans have backed several successful Broadway shows in recent years, including Pippin, which opened last year and is still going strong, and the controversial The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess starring Audra McDonald the year before. On the Town is considered somewhat risky because it has neither a marquee star nor a new concept (unless you count the "gimmick" casting of the winner of TV's "So You Think You Can Dance" as a concept).

The Leonard Bernstein/Jerome Robbins/Betty Comden/Adolph Green musical premiered on Broadway in 1944 and ran for more than a year. Two subsequent revivals were not commercially successful despite the presence of Donna McKechnie, Phyllis Newman and Bernadette Peters in the first and Lea Delaria in the second.

The new production is directed by Tony Award winner John Rando (Urinetown), with costumes by Tony winner Jess Goldstein and choreography by Joshua Bergasse (TV's "Smash") in his Broadway debut. A tryout run last year at the Barrington Stage Company in Massachusetts was well-received.

Previews begin September 20 at Broadway's Lyric Theater.

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TagsOn the Town, broadway, Broadway Musical, Musical, musical theater, Howard Kagan, crowdfunding, Pajama Game, one percent, pippin, The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Robbins, Betty Comden, Adolph Green

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