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Topic: Would YOU do it?
Message: Posted by: M.Frymus (Nov 8, 2009 04:27PM)
So, a local college has a theater. All you need to do is rent it for $1,500.
A capacity of 1,050.
About half the ads and advertisements will be done by them, but you should still make general of the advertisement.

Would you go out and rent the theater for a show if is this cheap?
Normally costing about $5,000-$8,000 to rent this kind of a theater.
Message: Posted by: Father Photius (Nov 8, 2009 04:30PM)
Nope, a whole lot goes into a show like that to fill the seats. I rarely do free shows, and sure not going to pay to do one.
Message: Posted by: Dynamike (Nov 8, 2009 04:37PM)
I think you misunderstood it, Photius. The sell of tickets will go into your own pocket.

I never been there before. But if it looks good, of course I would rent it for $1500. I will be able to take home 5-10 times amount money, ($5-$10 per ticket). If you sold the tickets for $15, and only 100 show up, you are even (accept for the over cost).
Message: Posted by: Blair Marshall (Nov 8, 2009 04:52PM)
Bring on a couple of sponsors to cover the base cost, and then go for it!

Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Nov 8, 2009 05:03PM)
What do you know about selling tickets and promotion? There is your answer.

If the answer is enough to sell lots of tickets, then go for it. If not so much, then think twice.
Message: Posted by: Pizpor (Nov 8, 2009 05:23PM)
Just a thought - Try a smaller theater first and see how it goes. Even a 100 seat house can be hard to fill sometimes - but it just depends on the show and the promotion.

Around here a lot of the local cabaret theaters work on a split the door basis. You usually get about half the door. But it includes phone reservations, on-line pre-sale tickets, tech, and box office. The advantage is they book your act to fill time slots and they are already in the advertising food chain like the City Pages and stuff. So a bulk of your advertising is already done. You just have to go hang posters, drop off postcards, tell everybody you know on FaceBook and stuff like that.

Try your idea on a smaller basis and see what you think of the whole business. Good luck!! I hope it works out for you.
Message: Posted by: RJE (Nov 8, 2009 05:32PM)
A lot of very talented magicians have lost their shirts thinking they could just rent a theatre, buy some advertising, then put on a show and make some money.

There is a lot to consider. Here's my advice.

I see that you are in the Oakville area, so am assuming that you are thinking of performing in either the Sheridan or Mohawk College theatres.

I have done well over 50 shows in the Mohawk theatre, Hamilton Place main theatre and Oakville Place theatre over the past 20 years. Each time I have done so for a production company that handled all the ticket sales. The sales were done as "phone sales" and the production company always was working for a recognized charity.

The production company has a full time dedicated office with a computerized phone system and 10 to 12 operators to reach the maximum number of potential ticket buyers. (Some people refer to this as "boiler room" but I personally find the term offensive.)

The production company had amassed a huge list of clients that had purchased tickets in the past as well as many corporate sponsors who had donated each time. Because the profits were going to the charity, the corporate sponsors were more inclined to give.

The production company works for themselves and for at least 15 years, I was their talent booker. They do not freelance their system to independent performers. They are a legitimate business that has raised millions of dollars for Canadian charities over the years.

The shows themselves were large variety shows with the absolute best talent available and occaisionally just 90 minute magic shows with a large, well known touring illusionist.

Now, with all that experience and technological advantage, ticket sales rarely, if ever, sold out the theatre. They would sometimes be decent and sometimes weak.

The bottom line, based on real life experience in your area, YOU WILL LOSE A FORTUNE IF YOU DO THIS ON YOUR OWN.
Message: Posted by: w_s_anderson (Nov 9, 2009 01:43AM)
That is not true for everyone. The first public show I had ever performed and sold tickets to was at a local community college. The rental of the theatre was close to the cost of the theatre at the top of the thread. I paid to have tickets printed up, and paid the college book store 1 dollar for each ticket sold. I posted flyers all over the college. I was a little worried on the day of the show, because I had yet to break even with ticket sales. However, ticket sales at the booth were excellent. We didn't fill the entire theatre, but I make a profit of a few thousand dollars. Not bad for my first time selling a public show.
Using sponsors is a great idea. The last public show I performed before I deployed had all overhead costs of renting, and advertising covered by sponsors. In return for this small tax deductible fee they had their names and logo's on all promotional material.
Message: Posted by: Skip Way (Nov 9, 2009 06:33AM)
I'm actually preparing to do something like this for kids and families. I'm very nervous about it, but with our sponsor line-up and promotion strategy, it actually looks as though the worst case scenario is that we'll lose a couple of hundred dollars or break even. Best case - we could pull a couple of thousand in profit. I'll be happy with anything in between. We figure that the lessons learned from this first experience will be well worth a couple of hundred investment...if the worst happens. I've gone out and enlisted the guidance of a close friend who has managed these sort of things before - so, I'm not going in blind.

We're selling advance tickets through the local PTA, church and Scout groups as a fundraiser...similar to W. S. Anderson's college book store deal. Our sponsors and vendors are covering the facility rent. Ticket sales will cover marketing, insurance, labor and show prep. We've also incorporated as an LLC just in case the while thing goes south for some unpreventable reason.

Buddies of mine, Brad Roberts and Bill Robinson in Vegas and Josh Lozoff here, have been quite successful with their four-wall programs...with a few nasty learn-as-you-go bumps here and there.

Bottom line: Sensible growth requires reasonable risk. We'll never know until we try.
Message: Posted by: Paul Prater (Nov 9, 2009 09:05AM)
M. Frymus,

I don't know you and I don't know your level professionally, so I will explain my position. Your question is would I do it. At this point, no and I will state why.

I have been working on a full evening parlor show. I have all of the effects, the outline of the routines and most of the script done. I still have to work out the details like blocking, lighting and sound, but they are getting there. After all of this is done, I still need to have my friends in theater production look it over for their opinion.

Next, I need to gather my props, memorize my script and start rehersal. Once this is done, I need to practice each of the routines in front of an audience to determine how well they are received and determine if I need to make changes or scrap the whole effect and go for something else.

I wouldn't want to try routines for the first time in front of a large paying crowd and I am assuming you are not doing this either. So for the new effects, personally, I go to a local flea market and set up with a tip jar and do the effects. Not the whole show, mind you, just stuff to try out. This can give some valuable insight into how an effect is received. I have found that just slight changes in presentation can make a big difference.

Some of the routines I will be presenting I have performed hundreds of times, but I performed them in a living room or at a flea market or on a large floor, never on a stage with proper lighting and I need to consider all of that before renting a space.

So, I am starting out by looking at smaller venues where I don't have to pay. Little Rock isn't a bustling metropolis so my options are pretty limited. I plan on looking at some local clubs first to judge my audience, tweak my routine, get some publicity first and then look at booking a theater as you have suggested.
Message: Posted by: M.Frymus (Nov 9, 2009 09:56AM)
All of you guys are completely true.
You could loose hundres/thousands on this, or you can make a lot of money doing this. And, I agree that its best to try the tricks on other audiences first.

This wasnt my idea exactly, I was talking over it with others and this is what it came out to. So, I was just asking if you had the opportunity as I do to do this, would you do it.

I know I would presonally, but at this time probably not. Perhaps in a year as I want to change my scripts and routines a bit. but, in a way I would.
Message: Posted by: Dynamike (Nov 9, 2009 12:57PM)
Another idea is to have two or three other magicians join you in the rental. Each of you split the cost. More magicians being in the show might increase the audience.
Message: Posted by: JAlenS (Nov 11, 2009 02:12PM)
I agree with Dynamike. Something no one has mentioned yet is that campus theatres attract more people than the downtown drama theatres, not in all cases but in many. This is a great idea and something to look into even if the rental fee is larger.
Message: Posted by: magicofCurtis (Nov 11, 2009 04:52PM)
Don't forget about the cost of production, lighting-sound tech, curtain tech ,stage manager, stage hands, ushers, ticket takers... Usually another $3,000+
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Nov 11, 2009 04:58PM)
Plus the more you divide by the less you are going to make. PLUS it also costs a bit of money if you actually want anyone to know that you are doing it in the first place.

I also was shocked to hear the "it is best to try the tricks out on other audiences first" line. I would recomend trying them out HUNDREDS of times before you are ready for something like this.
Message: Posted by: M.Frymus (Nov 12, 2009 09:34AM)
Having more people perform with you would be a great idea, but then the show would need to be divided equally between the other magicians.. which will result in a longer and possibly a better show, but reduce the amount of money that each person makes.

And, $3000+ for additional costs?!? Won't it be less than that?
Message: Posted by: RJE (Nov 12, 2009 10:34AM)
For newspaper and radio ads tack on another $2500 to $3000.

And keep in mind that you are in a market that has been overloaded with family magic shows and getting the public to buy even 50 tickets to your show is going to be very tough. You are in a market that I am VERY familiar with.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Nov 12, 2009 11:12AM)
On 2009-11-12 10:34, M.Frymus wrote:
Having more people perform with you would be a great idea, but then the show would need to be divided equally between the other magicians.. which will result in a longer and possibly a better show, but reduce the amount of money that each person makes.

And, $3000+ for additional costs?!? Won't it be less than that?

This sort of questions makes me think you should not do it.

One more problem with having other performers is that if one wants to spend X dollars on whatever and another does not you will have trouble.
Message: Posted by: JamesTong (Nov 12, 2009 12:17PM)
The more people that are involved the more disagreement there may be.