Best Musical Recoups Initial Capitalization in Eight Months
This past week, the 2015 Tony Award winning Best Musical Fun Home recouped its initial capitalization, and has officially begun earning profits for its investors and producers. This small-scale musical has been playing in the 776-seat Circle in the Square Theatre since it began previews on March 27, 2015, followed by its opening night performance on April 19, 2015. The Broadway run follows the prior Off-Broadway run at the Public Theatre, where the musical played from September 2013 to January 2014. At that time, the play was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and the Off-Broadway production was nominated for nine Lucille Lortel Awards and eight Drama Desk Awards. Upon transferring to Broadway, the musical took home the coveted Tony Award for Best Musical, in addition to four other Tony Awards: Best Direction of a Musical for Sam Gold, Best Book of a Musical for Lisa Kron, Best Original Score for Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron, and Best Leading Actor in a Musical for Michael Ceveris, as well as seven additional nominations. This awards recognition certainly boosted box office for the musical, which managed to earn back its $5.25 million capitalization in eight months.
If winning Best Musical wasn’t enough to deem Fun Home a hit, the fact that it has recouped its initial investment in well under a year has certainly sealed the deal. The first international production of Fun Home has therefore been announced: it will take place in Manila, the Philippines, starting in late 2016. The role of Helen will be played by Lea Salonga, who is presently appearing on Broadway in Allegiance, and who has also starred in Miss Saigon and Flower Drum Song. Furthermore, a national tour is in the works, slated to commence in fall 2016; the cities have not yet been specifically announced, except for Chicago. Furthermore, it is likely that a London production will be mounted in the short term as well. And beyond theatrical awards recognition, the soundtrack for Fun Home was also just nominated for a Grammy Award.
Keeping Costs Low and Buzz High
Fun Home was able to recoup its investment in a time when the majority of Broadway plays and musicals flop. One principal reason is that its capitalization was very low at $5.25 million, when it is common for musicals to be capitalized at $15 million or higher. Furthermore, weekly running costs were kept low; though this number has not been revealed, the producers stated that they are making money each week, even when the weekly grosses dip to just over $500,000. Beyond the crucial factor of winning the Tony Award for Best Musical, the 7 million viewers who tuned in for the Tony Awards broadcast were spellbound by the impressive performance of the young actress Sydney Lucas, who plays Small Allison. These factors together made Fun Home a consistently hot ticket, defying odds for a show on an alternative topic based off a graphic novel, which addresses the theme of lesbianism with no apologies. For these reasons, the success of Fun Home is more important than just financial gain; it is the mark of a transition in commercial musical theatre, which is now embracing a wider spectrum of subject material than ever before.