Thursday, March 10, 2011

Brian Mackey: UIS wins local Broadway tug-of-war

Will Springfield support two competing Broadway series?

When Broadway in Springfield announced this week that it would move its remaining shows from the Prairie Capital Convention Center to Sangamon Auditorium and exit the market at the end of the season, that question seemed to have been answered with a clear “no.”

That was the conclusion of Todd Rossi, an executive with the series.

“It’s been a little bit tougher than anyone would have liked as far as overall sales,” he said.

The reality, however, is more complicated.

The failure of the Broadway in Springfield series appears to come down not to the appetite for theater among the people of Springfield but instead to the cost of trying to stage a theatrical show in a multi-purpose arena.

The series was created by Chicago-based Theatre Council Productions, which had programmed the Broadway series at Sangamon Auditorium from 2005 through last season.

Last year, Sangamon Auditorium management decided it wanted more of the profits from the Broadway shows and took the booking and production duties in-house.

“I do value their role in small markets, but we just don’t need that since I came on board here,” said Bob Vaughn, the director of Sangamon Auditorium. He used to program the Broadway series at his previous job, and so “with the cuts in state appropriations and the economy,” he felt he couldn’t go on sharing profits with an outside promoter.

The Broadway Series was featured in a March 10, 2011, article in The State Journal-Register.

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