As the Hamilton Players just closed a box office record breaking Pride & Prejudice production and are preparing the 2016 / 20th anniversary season, it seems a good time to take another look at what it actually takes to mount a theatrical production. The details may come as a surprise to you. As a rule, scripts are not free to the public. Most scripts are copyrighted and theaters are required to pay a substantial royalty to produce them. Each licensing house has a slightly different formula for determining royalties that can be as simple as a set price per performance (as is often the case for non-musicals) or as complicated as a proprietary algorithm combining number of seats available, ticket prices, actor pay scales, and professional/amateur standing into a per-performance royalty. The performance rights for non-musicals are less expensive than those of musicals and are often a set price regardless of venue size or ticket price and averages $75/show. There is no materials deposit: you buy and keep the scripts. Musical licensing is more complicated. Musical royalties for the Hamilton Players average $200 per show, and in addition require that you RENT the musical scores and scripts as well as provide a security deposit. All this is due prior to advertising auditions, much less starting rehearsals! Add to these licensing fees the artistic budget (set, costumes, hair, makeup, props, tech, SFX,); artistic payroll (director, music director, choreographer, musicians); marketing budget (print ads, digital ads, posters, flyers) and direct show expenses (programs, concessions, box office personnel, ticket stock and fees); and the average Hamilton Players production costs $7450 for a non-musical and $13,695 for a musical. What’s more, these numbers do not include venue overhead (phone, heat, lights, internet, property tax, cleaning, maintenance), or administrative costs (office management, grant writing, fundraising, insurance) or the thousands of other expenses a venue generates (snow removal, repairs, supplies).
Expenses are only ½ of the equation. There is another set of numbers that needs to be considered when discussing a community theater production and that is volunteer hours. In the most recent Hamilton Players production, Pride & Prejudice, more than 4200 volunteer hours were put in to make the show come to life. 27 actors rehearsing 14.5 hours/week plus 9, 5.5-hour show days equal over 3600! In addition there was an average of 5 volunteers working 5 hours/Saturday for 6 weeks building set (150 hours), 3 costumers working 12 hours a week for 6 weeks, (216 hours), house volunteers for the shows (70 hours), and offsite hours for artists that equaled more than 350 hours! As employees, at minimum wage these hours would be valued at over $32,000! As volunteers, their hours are priceless and indispensable.
So what exactly does it take to produce a show? Money. Passion. Commitment. And community. The Hamilton Players invite you to be a part of the magic in their 20th Anniversary Season. Volunteer. Buy a ticket. Sponsor a show. Keep the arts alive in the Bitterroot Valley. For more information, visit the Players online at www.hamiltonplayers.com.