What it Costs to Make a Musical: A Reality Check

"Let's put on a show!" Mickey and Judy make it look easy but there's a little more to it if you want to get out of your backyard and onto a stage.

We all  know it’s not polite to talk about money but if you are writing, producing or putting on a musical, its vital to understand what you’re getting into in “real” dollars and cents. It’s important to note, that there are as many exceptions, as there are rules (and cast and orchestra size can make a big difference) but let’s start with some basic ballpark figures for making a musical.

Baby Steps

  • $100 — The cost of getting some friends together to do a reading of a new musical in your living room over pizza and beer
  • $5,000 – $10,000 — The  cost of a 29 hour reading. Includes paying equity actors, space rental, photocopying, marketing, misc. Source NYTimes

Now, You Got it

  • $25,000 – 75,000 – the cost to do a full scale production at a small community theater
  • $150,000 – 250,000 — the cost to do a full scale production at a professional non-equity theater

Playing with the Big Boys

  • $1,000,000 — The production and operating costs per production at most regional theaters
  • $1.5-4 million — The cost to do a major pre-Broadway tryout at a regional theater. Includes the planned Broadway cast and with the intention that the bulk of the sets and costumes will transfer. Source TheaterMania
  • $5-$20 million — The cost to open a musical on Broadway (puts Spiderman’s $65 million in some perspective, doesn’t it?). Source NY Times

While these numbers may seem positively jaw-dropping to you when thinking about putting on your own new musical production, they’re not meant to be discouraging, but rather a reality check of sorts. Take heart, musicals are being made at all of these price points, everyday (and at every dollar amount in between).

Though shocking at first glance, worry not my friends — this is why I’m here. In future posts, I’ll go through the what, why and how of navigating each of these tiers, providing tips for funding and finding your new musical a home.

Keep an eye on us here at MakeMusicals.com as we dole out guidance and advice on all fronts from writing, producing, composing, developing, staging and funding your new musical endeavor — or better yet, subscribe so you’re sure not to miss a thing.

4 Responses to What it Costs to Make a Musical: A Reality Check

  1. Joseph John Klei says:

    Hence when Jerry Orbach asked David Merrick if he wanted in on a poker game the eve of the opening of “42nd Street”. . . “Jerry, this is my poker game.” ANTE UP!!

  2. erica denise says:

    I am producing my first musical in September. Any information will be helpful at this point.

  3. Brisa says:

    Thanks for checking out the blog! Check out the archives for all kinds of posts about creating and producing musicals. If you have one or two specific questions, feel free to send them to me directly via the contact form. Break a leg on your first musical.

  4. I’ve been asked to submit ‘production requirements’ for my musical. What does that mean? Novice.

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