Growing legit concern takes 'Duet!' to Actors Playhouse

The Adobe Theater Company is moving up in the world, making its first commercial transfer in the form of “Duet! A Ro-mantic Fable,” from its smallish Ohio Theater Off Off Broadway to the Actors Playhouse on Off Broadway.

The move results as much from the rave press reviews and audience support (the show sold out virtually every night) as it does from financial intervention from Broadway juggernaut Dodger Endemol Prods. The Dodgers, the Broadway powerhouse that puts out high-priced tuners like “Titanic,” has agreed to provide the heft of its considerable marketing and advertising prowess; but, it also will general manage the show and foot most of the bill to Amy Bloomberg, a manager at Dodger Management Group.

The Dodgers, however, may be getting more than just a youthful glow from their involvement.

“There’s no reason to believe that they won’t grow. Maybe they think that they’re going to write musicals for them. They’re really hot right now. Who wouldn’t want them indebted to you?” asked one insider. Another called news of the Dodger deal “extremely, weirdly generous, or else brilliantly savvy.”

Bloomberg however, shirks off the possibility that this is an attempt to gain access to the young and the hip that Broadway so eagerly seeks.

“They have mailing lists which they would, I imagine, give us if we asked for them. But that wouldn’t significantly help us. And that’s not really our angle, since it’s questionable if there’s crossover between their audience and ours, where the tickets are more expensive,” explained Bloomberg. “We’ve been watching them a long time, and really enjoy their work.”

Indeed, the Dodgers, along with numerous other Broadway and Off Broadway producers, had approached Adobe last season about acquiring the rights to transfer “Duet.” But Adobe management begged off, wanting to retain control of the property.

“Last year, with all the success, I felt like I was in the water, with a little bit of blood and the sharks circling,” said Roberts.

Whatever one chooses to call it, the Dodgers couldn’t be in starker contrast to non-profit Adobe. The Dodgers make their money from mega-budget tuners attracting the more traditional, older and wealthier audience, and have touring and concessions operations that operate nationally and internationally.

Adobe has, since 1992, made its claim on the younger, hipper set that Broadway craves, using comparable-to-movie ticket prices and pay-what you will concessions, to say nothing of razor sharp and often surreal pop-culture-skewering work.

“You see a bunch of theaters behaving in ways that they have never behaved before,” said Mike Rosenberg, managing director of Drama Dept., which has struck an unusual deal with New Line and Fine Line Cinema to produce its season.

The Adobe Company is essentially a multi-talented band of theatrical family members: “Duet” thesps Erin Quinn Purcell and Gregory Jackson are also writers at Adobe. “Duet” Helmer Jeremy Dobrish is also Adobe’s artistic director as well as “Duet’s” helmer.

“We initially said there are all these people who will, on a Friday night, spend money on a burger, buy Coke and popcorn, and see a movie that the only thing they know about is the genre,” said Christopher Roberts, Adobe’s producing director.”

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