BOSTON — The collapse of a fledgling theatrical presenting company in Beantown has left the Boston and Philadelphia runs of “Crazy for You” without a local presenter. Nevertheless, the runs will take place and are likely to echo the success of the Broadway original and recent road stands.
“Crazy” producers Roger Horchow and Elizabeth Williams have terminated their contract with Kramer Prods. Inc., founded late last year in Boston by venture capitalist Mark Kramer, with Robert Foley, former general manager of Boston’s Wilbur Theater, as vice president and general manager. Horchow and Williams are considering a breach of contract claim against Kramer for failing to come up with the $ 900,000 guarantee for the three-week Boston run of “Crazy,” slated to bow March 15.
But any action may be futile.
“Given the losses we’ve suffered, we have no choice but to close the company, ” Kramer told Variety March 2. “We’re currently in discussion with a number of creditors and will do our best to make them whole to the best of our ability.”
Kramer Prods. launched in December with tours of “The Sound of Music” at the Forrest Theater in Philadelphia and “La Cage aux folles” at Boston’s Shubert and D.C.’s Warner theaters. Winter weather helped keep audiences away from “La Cage, ” though the underwhelming quality of the production may also have been a factor.
In a December story about his plans, Kramer told the Boston Globe that the company was “well-capitalized,” adding that “I’m a businessman approaching the theater the same way I approached venture capital.”
Horchow and Williams have presented the touring edition of the hit Gershwin musical in Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago and Detroit but have worked with outside presenters elsewhere. She called Kramer’s failure to come up with the guarantee “a huge blow.
“There could always be a shortfall in the amount taken at the box office in Boston,” Williams said, “if we have another huge snowstorm, for instance. And that possible shortfall is why we like to have guarantees upfront.” The potential for the Boston run is over $ 2 million; the advance stands at about half that.
Kramer was an investor in “A Few Good Men” and “Tommy,” and a founding manager of the Broadway Fund, a $ 2 million investment pool for Broadway and touring shows generally affiliated with Jujamcyn Theaters. Conceding that Kramer Prods. got off to a “rough start,” Kramer said the bad weather wasn’t the only reason he was unable to come up with the Boston guarantee for “Crazy for You” but declined to specify other factors. But while negotiations to share the risk of the Boston “Crazy” stand with Horchow and Williams had failed, he said he didn’t think the Boston run is in any jeopardy.
The Boston and Philadelphia venues are both owned by the Shubert Organization. Shubert exec VP Philip Smith says no hard rule applies in Boston, where Shubert sometimes works with a local presenter, sometimes doesn’t. More to the point, Shubert is not a producer of the show or the tour.
Kramer says he’d be surprised if Horchow and Williams took any action against him before the Boston and Philadelphia runs of “Crazy for You.” But two months after that hopeful launch, Kramer Prods. has succumbed to a serious case of frostbite.