Forbes

October 31, 2016

Despite Lawsuit, Josh Groban Helps Broadway’s ‘Great Comet’ Soar

Lee Seymour

Despite Lawsuit, Josh Groban Helps Broadway’s ‘Great Comet’ Soar

With his Broadway debut, Josh Groban is learning just how dramatic the biz can be. The singer-songwriter is headlining new musical Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 as the show weathers a battle between Ars Nova, the nonprofit that developed it, and Howard Kagan, the commercial producer now in charge.

Lee Seymour , CONTRIBUTOR
I cover theater, money, and their ongoing love-hate relationship

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Josh Groban, having sold more than 20 million albums, now headlines a new Broadway musical under fire (Photo: Joe Imel/AP)
Josh Groban, having sold more than 20 million albums, now headlines a new Broadway musical under fire (Joe Imel/AP)

With his Broadway debut, Josh Groban is learning just how dramatic the biz can be.

The singer-songwriter is headlining new musical Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 as the show weathers a battle between Ars Nova, the nonprofit that developed it, and Howard Kagan, the commercial producer now in charge. Over the weekend, the nonprofit sued Kagan for breach of contract, after billing on the show’s program did not reflect the terms drawn by both parties earlier.

All signs point to Ars Nova being in the right, and Kagan’s track record is less than stellar. One can only imagine what he is thinking by drawing the ire of the biz’s literati. It’s a tiny pond, and Kagan is far from the biggest fish.

The good news? The show has grossed over $1 million each week since beginning performances, in a large part due to demand for Groban’s long-awaited bow. If anything, the lawsuit is likely to goose interest even further, following the precedent set by Spider-Man’s ”no such thing as bad press” attitude (though hopefully not mimicking its spectacular nosedive into debt).

Elsewhere, the Halloween spirit seems to have scared off customers, with Broadway’s overall sales sinking 8.19% from last week. The biggest of these included Wicked (which can afford to take that kind of hit) and Fiddler On The Roof (which can’t).

There were a few survivors of the Halloween scare. Hamilton rebounded back into the ultra-exclusive $2 Million Club (it remains the only member), while both The Front Page and the real Frankie Valli posted gains upwards of $100k each. Falsettos also saw a reasonable boost of $42k after some rapturous reviews, but otherwise almost every show dropped from the week prior.

Twenty-one shows fell more than $50k apiece, and of those, 13 were in excess of $100k. Next week sees the addition of new musical A Bronx Tale to the boards.

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