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Friday, December 3, 2010

Musical Boom On Broadway

It's hard to recall a Broadway season full of so many expensive musicals like the upcoming first half of 2011. One, “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” with its record-setting price tag of $65 million, has disproportionately skewed the shows’ total costs of more than $135 million, in their Broadway debuts. Among the other coming big-budget musicals are “Wonderland,” at a cost of $15 million and featuring music by Frank Wildhorn, who works regularly on Broadway (“Dracula, the Musical,” “The Scarlet Pimpernel”); “Catch Me” at $13 million, featuring music by the Tony winners Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (“Hairspray”); “Sister Act” (with music by Glenn Slater and the Academy Award-winning composer Alan Menken) and “Priscilla” at about $10 million apiece; and “The Book of Mormon,” whose cost has not been disclosed but is likely to total at least several million dollars. The “Mormon” music is by another new team, Robert Lopez of “Avenue Q” and Trey Parker and Matt Stone of the television series “South Park.” One reason for the bounty of new musicals is ready money. The stock and bond markets remain uncertain investments, but there is still plenty of investor money sloshing around, as record-setting art auctions have shown. While only 25 to 30 percent of Broadway shows make back their investments each year, a hit musical has been an abiding dream for generations of investors, and taking a chance on Broadway can be considerably more fun than watching stock tickers, producers say.

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