The lead producers behind the 1940s song-and-dance Broadway revival of "On the Town" are offering a modern twist for its financing: accredited folk can buy a part of it for as little as $10,000.
Producers Howard and Janet Kagan hope their creation of a new online investment site will attract people who want to invest in the $8.5 million show and maybe stick around to infuse the ranks of Broadway producers with new blood.
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"The idea is to identify people who we wouldn't otherwise know that want to invest in theater, and they might become a tradition kind of investor for the next show," Kagan said Wednesday. "This will allow us to reach out to a new universe of potential investors."
Kagan said the new approach takes advantage of recent changes to federal regulations that encourage capital formation for small and medium businesses.
The Kagans' Maxolev Productions have launched a new automated online portal as part of its outreach effort and hope to take advantage of the elimination on the ban on "general solicitation," meaning it can seek accredited investors outside the smallish pool of current Broadway investors.
Unlike crowdsourcing sites, the new investors will get equity in the Broadway show and some of the perks that go along with that. They also assume the risk of investing in a show and that is still risky — seven of 10 usually fail to make their investment back.
"On the Town," about three sailors on shore leave in New York City, was picked to be the guinea pig this time because it's the first of the Kagans' current shows to make it to Broadway. "Whichever show is next, we'll use it for that as well," Kagan said.
The Kagans won the Tony Award for best revival of a musical for in 2013 for "Pippin" and in 2012 for "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess" starring Audra MacDonald. Their other shows include "Hands on a Hardbody" and "The Anarchist."
Kagan said he picked the $10,000 figure because it is at the low end of typical Broadway investing but not so low that "it was like using your credit card to buy an airplane ticket. It is an investment. We want people to view it that way."
The federal Securities and Exchange Commission defines an accredited investor in several ways, including a person who has individual net worth, or joint net worth with their spouse, that exceeds $1 million, and a business in which all the equity owners are accredited investors. Kagan said he would consider the new system successful if it attracts $1 million of the show's total cost.
"On the Town," which was last on Broadway in 1998, also was made into a 1949 film starring Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra. It features the songs "New York, New York," ''I Can Cook Too," ''Lonely Town," and "Some Other Time." In the show, the three sailors jump around the city looking for love before having to return to their ship.
Kagan said the democracy of the new investment tool was fitting for the upcoming show: "It actually is a particularly appropriate show to do this with because I think 'On the Town' has broad appeal, it's a show that appeals to lots of different age groups and audiences, it's a known title because of the movie, so in that respect I think it's a good show to start with."
The new revival, which starts previews Sept. 20 at the newly named Lyric Theatre, will be directed by John Rando, who won a Tony for helming "Urinetown." It also will feature choreography by Joshua Bergasse, an Emmy Award winner for "Smash." Both men teamed up for a version of the show last year at the Barrington Stage Company.
Mark Kennedy is on Twitter at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits