JAM, SMG partner with regional venue

WASHINGTON — D.C.’s venerable National Theater, a Shubert-managed property for the past 30 years, will partner with Chicago-based JAM Theatricals and Philly’s SMG in an effort to expand its booking options and co-produce with area theaters, according to the National. The new arrangement begins Oct. 1, at the expiration of National Theater’s contract with the Shubert Organization.

Under an arrangement just inked by the parties, SMG will manage the house while JAM will handle most bookings to include a Broadway series as well as dance, concerts and other fare. SMG’s concert division is also expected to bring in entertainment.

JAM Theatricals prexy Steve Traxler said the company anticipates a “full slate” of Rialto touring shows beginning with the 2013-14 season, as well as a variety of other events. National Theater exec director Tom Lee said he hopes to find additional bookings during the current season to augment a three-week run of “Les Miserables” in December, the Shubert Org’s last show under its contract.

“This is a new era for National,” said Lee, who added the venue will broaden discussions with local theaters and arts groups to bring in regional theater productions through a variety of arrangements.

The 177-year-old National, one of the nation’s oldest continuously operating facilities, enjoys a storied history as a tryout spot when theater product was more plentiful. But with only 1,600 seats, the venue hasn’t been able compete with the Kennedy Center Opera House for top touring fare.

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