“Jersey Boys” Wowed Madison–Ends 12-Year Run On Broadway Today
Two weeks ago I attended my first Broadway show. Jersey Boys performed at Overture Hall and James and I enjoyed every moment. While I have seen countless plays, concerts, and performances of one stripe or another over the decades that show simply blew me away. There is so much to be respected and admired with men and women who use their talents and spirit to sing, dance, and act. There is so much work with sets and production and lighting. I was moved by the experience in ways words are hard to convey.
About a decade ago I saw my first opera and that music and power of performance was so impressive I wanted to have that type of light from the performing arts in my life on a more regular basis. We have made a good effort at doing that over the years. While watching Jersey Boys I thought back on my childhood when I wished for the experiences of this kind. The Phantom Of The Opera is only a month away!
The reason this city has the ability to attract such performances to sold-out audiences is due to the Overture Center. It remains a jewel of this city. As a I watched the show I thought about the young people in attendance and wondered if perhaps one of them would be so moved by the sights and sounds to want to have a life on the stage. That is the ultimate power of such performances in the transformative power they can create.
Today in the newspaper there is a story about the investors to Jersey Boys–a show that after a 12-year run on Broadway closes today.
A local dentist put in $12,500. A venture capitalist was good for $1.4 million. There were a literary agent, a psychotherapist and a smattering of doctors, lawyers and academics, all investing together in a promising musical at their hometown theater that was seeking a shot at Broadway.
That small posse from San Diego ended up pooling a significant portion of the $7.8 million necessary to deliver one of the most popular Broadway musicals in recent decades, “Jersey Boys.”
And these novices did something that most theater investors never do: Made big money. Roughly three out of four Broadway shows fail financially, even though many of them are backed by entertainment industry pros.
As “Jersey Boys” closes in New York on Sunday — the 12th-longest-running show in Broadway history — those early investors from California have made back many times what they put into the show, which has grossed more than $2 billion worldwide. The San Diego investors are now mourning the end of a production they first saw at the La Jolla Playhouse that has since become a major part of their lives.
Dr. Richard Harmetz, the dentist who started with a $12,500 investment and continued to put money into subsequent productions, estimated his profit at $250,000 to $300,000. Edward and Martha Dennis, a biochemistry professor and venture capitalist who started with a $10,000 investment, estimated a similar return.
“When we tell people we’ve made 22 times our investment, their eyes get big, like they did with tech investing,” Ms. Dennis said. “They have to lose four or five small investments before they realize it’s not so easy. ‘Jersey Boys’ is such a unicorn.”
A spokesman for the show said that profitability estimate was too high but did not offer an alternative figure. The lead producers, a New York-based partnership called the Dodgers, would not discuss their financing.
“Jersey Boys” is in some ways an example of how Broadway shows are financed: The industry is rooted in New York, but many plays and musicals have financial backers who live around the world — theater enthusiasts with an appetite for risk and a taste for show business.