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.?