Bring Your Questions for Broadway Producer Rocco Landesman

Rocco Landesman

Rocco Landesman is a Broadway original, a producer with the heart of an artist, and a rogue businessman if ever there was one. (He is also, I am happy to say, an old friend of mine.) He is president of Jujamcyn Theatres, one of the big three Broadway theater companies, and is also one of the most prolific and award-winning producers in history, with a resume including Sweeney Todd, Angels in America, Urinetown, and The Producers.

In 1994, Landesman was immortalized in a New Yorker profile by David Owen, which is not available online, though its abstract sums up Landesman nicely:

… president of Jujamcyn Theatres; has helped write two novels by Jerzy Kosinski; has owned a string of racehorses; has been (and is) a co-owner of two minor-league baseball teams; has managed a very successful mutual fund; has been a professional gambler; has been an assistant professor of dramatic literature and criticism at the Yale School of Drama; and has written book reviews for the Wall Street Journal.

Despite working feverishly the past few weeks during the Broadway stagehand strike, Landesman has agreed to field your questions. I’ve included a few of my own below, just to get things rolling. Check back here in a few days for his answers.

What’s the trend in Broadway attendance? Why do people still go to the theater at all when it’s so much more expensive than other forms of entertainment?

What’s the state of Broadway ticket scalping, and what’s your position on it?

What will Broadway theater look like in 20 years?

If I’m not mistaken, you were the first producer to charge $100 for a ticket, for the Producers. What was the impact and response?

How true to life is The Producers?

If Jujamcyn scores a big advance sale, how do you invest the money?

Tell us about the economics of hiring a star for a Broadway show versus a non-star. As much as stars draw box office, they also spike the budget and, I assume, limit a potentially long run. Is it worth it?

Where do Broadway audiences come from (geographically)? What’s a surprising place that a lot of customers come from?

Assuming that the vast majority of Broadway customers come from out of town, why is there so much Broadway advertising in New York City — on buses, e.g.?

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  1. Adam says:

    So much of Broadway seems to be derived from movies today (partly thanks to The Producers, which has done it better than anyone before or since). Is this a healthy trend? More broadly, will people still produce original plays and musicals in 5 or 10 years, or will originality be left to off- and off-off-Broadway? What message should playwrights take from this trend?

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  2. Adam says:

    So much of Broadway seems to be derived from movies today (partly thanks to The Producers, which has done it better than anyone before or since). Is this a healthy trend? More broadly, will people still produce original plays and musicals in 5 or 10 years, or will originality be left to off- and off-off-Broadway? What message should playwrights take from this trend?

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  3. Wayne Steinhardt says:

    It seems to me that in the last few years, there have been a number of shows that exist primarily to showcase the music of one particular artist or band. Billy Joel, ABBA, Elvis and others have had shows made out of their music. Is this a trend for the future as well? Should we expect to see Madonna: The Musical in the next five to ten years?

    And how well do these shows do when measured against traditional musicals?

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  4. Wayne Steinhardt says:

    It seems to me that in the last few years, there have been a number of shows that exist primarily to showcase the music of one particular artist or band. Billy Joel, ABBA, Elvis and others have had shows made out of their music. Is this a trend for the future as well? Should we expect to see Madonna: The Musical in the next five to ten years?

    And how well do these shows do when measured against traditional musicals?

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  5. Momindant says:

    If you weren’t a succesful producer, indeed, were not in the entertainment industry at all, and you had a beautiful high school daughter with straight A’s, would you encourage her to pursue Broadway or chemistry?

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  6. Momindant says:

    If you weren’t a succesful producer, indeed, were not in the entertainment industry at all, and you had a beautiful high school daughter with straight A’s, would you encourage her to pursue Broadway or chemistry?

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  7. JH says:

    What benchmarks do you use to judge the success of a show?

    Do you lose more sleep when you first started producing than you do now?

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  8. JH says:

    What benchmarks do you use to judge the success of a show?

    Do you lose more sleep when you first started producing than you do now?

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