SFX subsidiary gains legit house American Artists

BOSTON — Ever-expanding New York-based SFX Entertainment Inc. has taken another giant step into the legit theater arena with the acquisition through its subsidiary Pace Theatrical Group of Jon B. Platt’s Boston presenting and producing company American Artists. The price was $25.7 million.

This means that SFX now owns the intimate two-theater Charles Playhouse and holds the leases on the Colonial and the Wilbur, two of Boston’s leading commercial theaters that seat about 1,700 and 1,200 respectively.

With the Colonial, Wilbur and Charles in its pocket, SFX will be a leading player in Boston commercial theater. The city’s two other major legit theaters are the jointly run Wang Center for the Performing Arts and the Shubert Theater.

Along with its purchase of American Artists via Pace, SFX is also taking over its “Broadway in Boston” subscription series, which will include in the coming season the touring “Ragtime” and the Broadway-bound dance musical “Fosse.”

Platt will continue as founding president of American Artists and as president of “Broadway in Boston” and will also continue to run the nightclub in the Wilbur’s basement. His staff of 12 will remain intact with future staff increases planned.

This latest of SFX’s many acquisitions comes at the same time that it has entered into a $100 million merger agreement with Magicworks Entertainment Inc. to acquire all outstanding Magicworks shares for $4 a share in cash. Magicworks is a leading producer of touring Broadway shows, as is Pace, which SFX had already acquired.

Pace and Magicworks have had a long-standing relationship co-producing such theatrical events as David Copperfield’s magic shows, the musical “Jekyll & Hyde” and the upcoming tour of a revival of “Evita.” They’ve also worked closely as two of the principal co-owners of the country’s largest theatrical booking agency, the Booking Group.

SFX executive chairman Robert F.X. Sillerman says that “given Pace’s extensive involvement with Magicworks in the past, we are especially pleased to announce this acquisition. It further expands our entertainment roster and represents an almost perfect complement to our current operations.”

Sillerman points out that SFX owns the domestic rights to the worldwide Irish smash hit “Lord of the Dance,” and that Magicworks will bring with it the international rights. In addition, Magicworks will add important distribution outlets for SFX theatrical tours in several new markets including Salt Lake City, where it has a particularly strong subscription base.

With the acquisition of Boston’s American Artists, following SFX’s purchase of the 4,800-seat Oakdale Theater in Wallingford, Conn., several months ago, the vast promoter, producer and venue operator for live entertainment events further enlarges its New England legit theater holdings.

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