Broadway Shows Aided by Celebrities Who Invest, ‘Present’


The Times examines the latest in Broadway trends tonight, explaining that an increasing number of celebrities, rather than helping out shows by taking roles on the stage, instead have started taking out their checkbooks. A surprising number of big names — Elton John, Jay-Z, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, Lily Tomlin — have recently signed on to produce Broadway shows. The idea is to create some buzz and excitement to help a show stand out in a cluttered field, especially ones that don't boast any famous actors.

In the case of John, who put up a “six-figure sum” in a $2 million production of the Broadway play Next Fall, he hasn’t even seen the play yet!

"Such artists, who in general have put money into their shows, tend to have little to no creative involvement in them; instead they hope to use their prestige as tastemakers and trend setters to help shows stand out at a time of declining theater attendance," the Times explains.

Of course, the stars get something out of it, too: If the shows earn Tony awards or financial profit, they share in the success. And, well, as with most things involving celebrities, there’s something of an ego element to it all:

“[We didn’t think] they should recast for Broadway and recruit a star name for one of the roles,” John said, in reference to the idea of recasting Next Fall with more famous actors. “Being the high-profile names is our job in this production.”

Celebrities in a New Theatrical Role: ‘Presenters’ [NYT]