The Great Falls Symphony’s annual "Broadway In Great Falls" season will be smaller than usual this year.
“Last season was a little bit unique in that we did take a lot of risks and do some really big shows,” Great Falls Symphony executive director Hillary Shepherd said.
Their schedule for the upcoming season has just one show: Mannheim Steamroller, who will perform on Thursday, December 12.
“Usually for a really great season, we’re looking at a super-small margin of profit,” Shepherd said.
Because of costs, the symphony made the decision to bring one show to Great Falls. In previous years, people could attend five or six performances during Broadway season.
“There’s always a risk that the show might not sell as many tickets as we were anticipating and then we all share the loss,” Shepherd said.
The symphony has two partners: Innovation Arts & Entertainment of Chicago, and The Roberts Group of Indiana.
Shepherd says Innovation Arts & Entertainment helps route professional shows through the region.
“We benefit from getting a decent rate as a run as opposed to just a one-off show, which ends up being a little more expensive for everybody,” Shepherd said.
One the other hand, The Roberts Group helps market the shows.
“They are a really great partner in making sure we can get the work out to all of our patrons,” Shepherd said.
And then at the ground level, those employed at the Great Falls Symphony work with contracted labor unions, coordinate with the Mansfield Theater, pay bills, and print locally.
“If we need any print material, that gets done here in town. We make sure business that can be done locally, is all done locally,” Shepherd said.
Shepherd says last year’s average show cost roughly $97,000 but typically a show can cost between $60-100,000 to bring in.
“Sometimes even if the show does really well we only walk away with maybe $400 each as a partner. We consider that breaking even,” Shepherd said. “If we do really well it’s a few thousand dollars.”
There are other reasons behind the decision for having one show this Broadway season.
“This season the lineup season options weren’t all to that standard and there was some overlap with some shows happening in the same timeframe or they were the same holiday theme. We just felt like presenting that line up a wouldn’t be fitting to follow up last year’s great season and also cost was a factor too. We wanted to make sure that we could continue to provide excellent shows year after year and in this case, we did make the decision to cut back a bit and only offer one show to begin with. Next season were looking forward to just jumping right back in and provide that great line up like we normally do,” Shepherd said.
Shepherd says the symphony plans to renegotiate some costs at a local lever and look at numbers to see what they can do next year.
“Last year’s season for Broadway was huge. It was amazing. All of our shows were so good. We are really committed to bringing those high quality shows to Great Falls every single year,” Shepherd said.
For now, she’s focusing and excited about this year’s performance.
“It’s an awesome classic, Christmas, holiday show. It is going to be featuring our orchestra. The actual Mannheim Steamroller group is performing, as well. I highly encourage anyone who has never see Mannheim Steamroller to come out and see it. Those who grew up with the music like I did, it’s going to be amazing,” Shepherd said.
Although there is only one "Broadway" feature this season, the Great Falls Symphony has several other events scheduled;
click here to visit the website to learn more