News Column

Tennessee Theatre looks to build on 'Broadway' success [News Sentinel]

August 17, 2013

YellowBrix

Ticket sales to the 2013-14 "Broadway at the Tennessee" series are up from last year, and Tennessee Theatre Executive Director Tom Cervone sees the venue offering even more popular touring productions in future seasons.

Earlier this week the theater had sold more than 1,200 season "Broadway" subscriptions. That's up by 450 over last year's total, said Cervone, and sets a record total. On Monday, Aug. 12, single show tickets went on sale and were selling well, he said. Early popular shows for those tickets were "Disney's Beauty and the Beast," "Elf the Musical" and "Memphis."

The 2013-14 "Broadway at the Tennessee" season opens Sept. 30 with "Beauty and the Beast" and continues with the eight-show April 29-May 4 "Jersey Boys." (Individual tickets to "Jersey Boys:" go on sale at a later date; the show is part of the season subscriptions.) Other 2013-14 shows are "Elf" Nov. 16-17; "Memphis" Dec. 6-7; "Million Dollar Quartet," Jan. 24-25, 2014; and "Stomp," March 7-8.

Cervone says the theater's recent membership in the National Broadway League will allow the Tennessee and A.C. Entertainment to build on the recent success of the "Broadway" series. AC Entertainment books and manages the theater.

In fact, being part of that national organization has already been a plus for Knoxville audiences. Adding the musical "Jersey Boys" to top off the 2013-14 season was done after the theater was admitted into the organization in April. "Jersey Boys" tells the story of the 1960s musical hit group "The Four Seasons."

The National Broadway League, the national trade association for the Broadway industry, is a 700-member, New York-based organization. Members are theater owners, operators, producers, presenters and general managers in more than 200 United States cities. To gain admittance, the Tennessee had to apply for membership, include information about its ability to attract audiences for Broadway shows and send in letters of support.

Being part of the Broadway League, said Cervone, gets the theater "a seat at the table" to be considered for the most popular touring productions of Broadway shows. "It opens up a number of doors in terms of programing and what is available." That can, in turn, bring some of the most popular and attractive touring Broadway shows to Knoxville.

"We are now in a more visible position to talk to people (about touring shows.) We have shown we can support an eight-show run," Cervone said.

"It also gives us the opportunity for people to call us when in the past we were sort of chasing them. A production could say, 'We are routing through Atlanta and maybe we can stop in Knoxville.' "

Being part of the league gives the theater management more connections with promoters of touring productions. It also offers surveys, demographics and analytics to help the local theater select productions it'd like to bring to Knoxville.

"Broadway at the Tennessee" began in 2008. In the past two seasons it has included eight-shows runs of the popular "Les Miserables" in 2012 and "Mary Poppins" in 2013. Both of those productions set attendance records, averaging more than 10,000 theatergoers.

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