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Some leaders don’t push, they drag

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About 80 percent of Broadway musicals lose money. Jeffrey B. Seller is trying to change that.

The 40-year-old producer of such quirky musicals as Rent and Avenue Q is leading—that is, dragging— Broadway into a new era of ticket pricing based on practices in other industries.

Example: When he launched Rent nearly a decade ago, he persuaded his partners to offer some front row tickets at a low, low $20 to help attract a younger crowd. Today, everybody on Broadway does it. Now, he’s trying airline-style seat pricing to ensure a full house at every performance.

Aside from marketing stunts and innovations in pricing, Seller is pushing the envelope in another area: location. This spring, he planned to move his off-Broadway show Hurly-Burly to a bigger theater ... but not on Broadway. It’s going to his new venue called 37 Arts, a complex of three theaters that’s opening on Manhattan’s far West Side after five years of construction and $28 million.

Some in the business would like to claw Seller’s eyes out for abandoning the home turf, but they may end up playing follow the leader.

— Adapted from “To Push Musicals, Producer Shakes Up Broadway Tactics,” Brooks Barnes, The Wall Street Journal.

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