The Stable Musical Theatre UK
The Stable launched in 2014 and was created to commission, develop and produce the work of an exciting new wave of musical theatre writers
The Stable aims to produce ten new musicals over the next five years. Unlike traditional theatre investment, where financial returns rely on the success of a specific show, investment is in The Stable Musical Theatre UK Ltd, which holds the rights to all of our productions, therefore spreading the risk.
Investing in The Stable enables you to play a part in supporting what could be the ground-breaking musicals of tomorrow.
In the last eighteen months, since the formation of The Stable, we have produced ‘Maria Friedman and Adam Guettel in Concert and Conversation’ at The Ambassadors Theatre in the West End and presented developmental workshops of two of our forthcoming musicals Fanatical and The Happy Prince.
Mountview Drama School will present Fanatical next year, prior to its professional outing, which provides an opportunity to refine the show.
We have worked closely with The Kevin Spacey Foundation as judges on their Artists of Choice Initiative (Musical Theatre) and are working with the Royal Academy of Music and Mountview Drama School on initiatives that help nurture new writing.
Last month we were awarded a grant from The Wellcome Trust for the development of a new musical The Rythm Method by Gwyneth Herbert and Diane Samuels.
How do we commission, develop and produce musicals?
The starting point, once we have decided on an original idea to turn into a musical, or have secured the rights to a property we wish to adapt, is commissioning the work from a writer (or team of writers) for a fee. There are three key elements to a musical; book, music and lyrics, and these may be provided by one person (such as Lionel Bart who wrote book, music and lyrics to Oliver!) but tend more often than not, to be written by two or three individuals.
A draft is written and then workshopped with actors and musicians to see if the narrative works and to establish an appropriate musical landscape or language for the piece. This is early stage development and tends to be quite experimental and will be presented to a handful of trusted practitioners for feedback.
This workshop informs a second draft which may lead to a reading (sitting round a table with actors and a musical director reading the script and singing the music), or may call for a second workshop, which usually leads to further rewrites.
The inaugural production will be financed through a range of income streams – the originating theatre may contribute to costs for a future interest in the work, there may be support from Arts Council England or specific trusts and foundations if their criteria are met, crowdfunding, sponsorship and advertising are also ways to support a production. Theatre tax credits have also been introduced recently offering reliefs on pre-production costs.
The above are all non-recoupable sources of income where the support is for the production or for a tangible benefit such as delivering specific social benefits, providing publicity for a sponsor or complementary tickets and invitations to cast parties,
Investment is another method of financing a production where an investor underwrites the risk on a production in exchange for a share of profits post recoupment.
Because we plan for our shows to premiere at leading off West End and regional venues, the costs are a fraction of a West End opening, whilst the ability to attract critical attention and generate strong word of mouth is retained, thus acting as a shop window for future exploitation.
We estimate the cost of commissioning, developing and producing a Stable production with a small band and cast of less than ten, in a mid-scale Off West End venue culminating in a four to six week run to be approximately £220,000 per production and plan to finance this through a mix of the investment streams outlined above.
We know that if word of mouth for the premiere is good and reviews are strong then a number of commercial options may present themselves such as:.
- A transfer – another producer pays a royalty or license fee to present the work in The West End or on tour or in another country. In such a case, The Stable would licence the show and take a fee or royalty and net profits from subsequent productions for the work done as originating producer. We forecast that this revenue stream could equate to just over £200,000 per annum for a show that plays to good houses in a mid-size West End theatre (600-800 seats).
- Our model is predicated on two of the first ten shows being commercial hits. We define a commercial hit as a production that runs for two years in the West End and then tours for a year with two additional productions in other territories (Germany or America for example). We forecast that over its commercial life, each hit would deliver a figure of approximately £1,000,000 in revenue back to The Stable.
- There may be additional revenue from filming productions or from merchandise or recordings.
The Stable may use its network of contacts to help raise investment for the transfer of a show it originates.
American Psycho and In The Heights are examples of recent productions in the UK that started at intimate venues (The Almeida and Southwark Playhouse respectively) and are now embarking on the next stage of their journey, withAmerican Psycho opening soon on Broadway and In The Heights moving to the larger Kings Cross Theatre.
This Is My Family by Tim Firth is a recent example of a musical that started in an intimate regional space (Sheffield Studio) before moving to a larger theatre and subsequently a National tour.
Shows such as The Rocky Horror Show, Jerry Springer: The Opera and Little Shop Of Horrors all started at intimate venues for their inaugural productions before proliferating into tours, transfers, albums and films.
On our launch we received media coverage from Broadway World, Musical Theatre Review, The Upcoming, Startups.co.uk and Angel News and subsequently were featured in The Sunday Times –http://www.thestablemusicals.co.uk/press-media/
Funding To Date
To date we have secured £360,000 in funding from investment, Theatre Box Office Income (Maria Friedman and Adam Guettel Launch Concert) and grants from Trusts and Foundations.
How We Will Use Funds From The Raise
Monies used from the Crowdcube campaign will be used to rigorously develop and workshop the productions we have commissioned to date. This includes collaborating with actors, musicians and a creative team to read and perform material being written and inviting industry and public feedback as to what works and more importantly what doesn’t to inform the next draft. A musical can take a number of years to write and refine before it is ready for a public outing.
We already have three shows in development the first of which is planned to go into production in late 2016 and have just commissioned The Wigmaker’s Tale by celebrated actor/director and songwriter Douglas Hodge and Bryony Lavery (Frozen/Treasure Island at The National)
Shows In Development:
- The Happy Prince book by Michael Barry, music and lyrics by Hal Cazalet, inspired by the Oscar Wilde classic. The show was workshopped in June this year by celebrated director and quadruple Olivier Award winner Maria Friedman (Merrily We Roll Along at Harold Pinter Theatre, West End/High Society at The Old Vic) and rising star of the choreography world Drew McOnie (Bugsy Malone at Lyric Hammersmith/In The Heights at King’s Cross Theatre).
- The Rhythm Method a musical with a book by Diane Samuels and music and lyrics by Gwyneth Herbert exploring issues around fertility. Gwyneth Herbert is an award-winning singer/songwriter with several albums to her credit, including the critically acclaimed ‘The Sea Cabinet’. Diane Samuels’ play Kindertransport has had multiple productions including a run at the Vaudeville Theatre, West End and Manhattan Theatre Club, New York.
- Fanatical book by Reina Hardy, music and lyrics by Matt Board – a romantic musical comedy set at a science fiction convention. The show was shortlisted at the Twitter Search For A Composer and received plaudits at the 2015 Chicago Musical Theatre Festival.