Broadway returning to Great Falls

Broadway is coming back to Great Falls next year.

This week, the Great Falls Symphony announced a two-show Broadway series in 2023 with Legally Blonde and Cats.

The last Broadway show was in 2019 after the symphony and partners reduced the Broadway series due to economic pressures.

Hillary Shepherd, symphony executive director, said that she’s excited to bring Broadway back to Great Falls but it’s “a high risk sort of venture every time we do this.”

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For a show to break even, they have to sell about 1,500 tickets per show, she said.

She said for the new Broadway season, they sold nearly 200 packages in the first 24 hours and is hopeful that it will be a profitable season.

She said that the symphony is working with partner IAE, a national routing company, and starting small this season to mitigate risk with the hope of growing the series again.

Shepherd said the margins were small before COVID, with a five percent profit margin being a near sell out season, but costs have increased.

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Great Falls is “an extremely challenging market” since the population isn’t dense, routing national tours can be difficult and costs are high for Broadway productions, she said.

The 2017-2018 season was their biggest with six shows and it didn’t make money, which is a pressure for their for-profit partners, and also for the symphony, which is a local nonprofit that relies on donations for much of their operating budget.

Shepherd said that they’re already looking at shows for the next season and “I would love to see Broadway thrive again.”

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She said it’s a great thing for the community and fits with the symphony’s mission of making Great Falls better through music.

“If you believe Broadway is a good thing for our community, you’ve got to come out and support it,” Shepherd said.

Legally Blonde is Feb. 8 and Cats is May 21 at the Mansfield Theater.

Subscribers from the 2018-2019 season get to renew their subscriptions by Dec. 30 to keep their same seats before tickets go on sale to the general public.