Broadway company's topper becomes principal owner
In a recent transaction with previous co-owner Rocco Landesman to purchase the lion’s share of Jujamcyn, Roth has become the principal owner of the theater chain. Landesman, holding onto a small interest, will take on a president emeritus title.
Roth and Jujamcyn wouldn’t disclose the financial terms of the deal, but it’s fair to estimate the transaction was in the tens of millions of dollars.
Since 2009 Roth has held a 50% stake in the privately held company, sharing ownership with Landesman. That year Roth also stepped up to the president post, which Landesman had exited to become chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.
News of Roth’s acquisition comes soon after Landesman stepped down late last year from his gig at the NEA, timing his exit to the end of Obama’s first term.
The official handover of Jujamcyn reps a rare shift in the ownership of one of the three major Broadway theater owners — companies that, as the ultimate arbiters of what productions get real estate on the Rialto, are generally acknowledged as among the most powerful and influential orgs in the legit business.
Roth, 37, becomes the youngest owner of the major Main Stem theater chains. The other two are the Shubert Organization, which owns and operates 17 Broadway venues in Gotham, and the Nederlander Org, which counts nine in its stable. Of the 40 Rialto houses, Jujamcyn owns five, including the Eugene O’Neill, where “The Book of Mormon” began its B.O.-busting run in 2011, and the August Wilson, where “Jersey Boys” has pulled in big money since its 2005 bow. (A handful of Main Stem venues are owned by nonprofit theaters or by individual private owners.)
Roth, the son of Broadway producer Daryl Roth, has been with Jujamcyn since 2005, starting out as resident producer and moving up to veep a year later. In his time in the prexy post he’s become one of Broadway’s most prominent mouthpieces, hosting a regular series of legit talks at the 92nd Street Y and showing up on TV in news programming as well as on Rialto-centric NBC skein “Smash” (including an appearance in the upcoming season preem).
Jujamcyn’s daily operations likely won’t change much under the new ownership arrangement since Landesman hasn’t been a day-to-day presence at the company since he landed at the NEA.
“We’ll continue to fulfill our mission to champion shows that push theatrical boundaries and to deliver hospitality with the goal of redefining the theatergoing and theatermaking experience,” Roth said.
During his tenure, Roth has made a point of boosting the hospitality elements of the company’s activities in interactions both with theatergoers and with the producers who rent Jujamcyn’s theaters. Recent examples of work with producers in the pursuit of unusual initiatives include collaborating with “The Book of Mormon” team on organizing free fan performances of the big-ticket hit tuner and working with “American Idiot” creatives to modify the entrance lobby of the St. James Theater so audience members could scrawl graffiti in chalk or permanent marker on the walls.
Since Roth became prexy of the company in 2009, Jujamcyn theaters have been home to notable shows including “Mormon,” “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” and “Clybourne Park,” for which Roth proved instrumental in fundraising after the last-minute exit of one of the show’s producers. Among the titles on tap to open at the company’s houses this spring are “Kinky Boots,” the tuner adaptation of the 2005 indie pic set to open at the Hirschfeld, and “The Testament of Mary,” the Scott Rudin-produced stage incarnation of the Colm Toibin novella to star Fiona Shaw at the Walter Kerr.
Prior to joining Jujamcyn, Roth’s individual producing exploits included 1999 outing “The Donkey Show,” staged in a Manhattan nightclub, and the 2000 Broadway revival of “The Rocky Horror Show.”
It’s not yet certain what Landesman will do with his post-NEA time, although he’s said publicly he intends to retire and spend more time in Miami.