Is there more than butts in the seats?

This is a tale of two shows. One, BAT’s current Holiday show, The Christmas Carol Rag, and the other In The Next Room, or the vibrator play which BAT produced in 2016.

The former is currently in production. The run is half over and it has sold out five performances. It looks like that trend will continue throughout the run. BAT is a small house, but a show that consistently sells out is a very good thing.

During the entire run of In the Next Room, or the vibrator play the show was seen by just over half as many people who are likely to see The Christmas Carol Rag. GET YOUR TICKETS HERE.

So, by the butts in the seat measure, The Christmas Carol Rag is a better show for BAT. Right? About twice as many people will see it. Well, it may not be the best show for BAT.

Here is the thing. BAT’s shows rarely make back more than a little over their costs. All of BAT’s overhead comes from donations. This is a model that many many theaters live by. This holds true especially for theaters like BAT, whose annual budget hovers around $100,000.00.

There is no question In the next Room, or the vibrator play had smaller audiences. It looks like it may end up at about half of the audience that will see The Christmas Carol Rag. But there is more to the story.

The Christmas Carol Rag is a musical. In the Next Room, or the vibrator play was a

Photo by Michael Brunk / nwlens.com

straight play. Musicals are much more expensive to produce than a straight play. A musical needs a music director, a choreographer, typically, although not always, more and/or more complex costumes and a band. Most straight plays do not need that. For BAT, a musical typically costs twice as much as a straight play to produce.

Although all the numbers are not in yet, it is very safe to say The Christmas Carol Rag will cost BAT more to produce than In the Next Room, or the vibrator play cost to produce. Because it was a period piece, In the Next Room, or the vibrator play cost more to produce than many straight plays BAT has produced, but it was not a musical.

Here is the key difference. The audience made donations during the run of In the Next Room, or the vibrator play. In fact, to date, the audience gave 32 times more during In the Next Room, or the vibrator play than they have given so far during The Christmas Carol Rag. That is a huge difference. That is less than $300.00 compared to about $9,000.00 in donations.

To put it bluntly, the difference in donations more than made up for the difference in ticket sales.

So, looking at the bottom line, In the Next Room, or the vibrator play was financially a much greater success than The Christmas Carol Rag will likely be, and The Christmas Carol Rag has the Holiday giving season going for it.

As BAT looks at shows to produce, we are reading scripts for the 2017-18 season now, we must take into consideration more than will the show put butts in the seats. Other questions include will patrons make donations because of the show? (There are other questions too, but they are more than this post can handle.)

If you want to show your enthusiasm for a show and sway BAT to do more of what you like, remember to give during the show. DONATE HERE. A few dollars from each of a lot of patrons is a big indicator that they liked the show. It is a strong message. It was the strong message BAT got from In the Next Room, or the vibrator play.

So, as BAT looks to future seasons, and the selection of plays, there is more than butts in the seats to think about.

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