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Wall Street Alum Takes Portfolio Approach to Investing in Broadway Shows

Ashley DeSimone spent more than a dozen years on Wall Street, working as an equities analyst and in investor relations. But her heart always belonged to Broadway.

After 11 years as a partner with Integrated Corporate Relations, she decided to merge her passion for theater with her financial experience to launch Fortune Theatrical Ventures, an investment vehicle for Broadway enthusiasts.

DeSimone believes Broadway producers and investors will benefit from a more formal approach to recruiting backers and interacting with them. Fortune Theatrical launched early last year after DeSimone finalized a deal to work exclusively with Main Stem veteran Kevin McCollum, who fielded two Broadway shows last year: “Something Rotten!” and “Hand to God.”

“I wanted to do something different than the status quo when it came to capitalizing a Broadway show,” DeSimone says. She started by spending a few years as a traditional investor in a handful of plays, including “The Scottsboro Boys.”

DeSimone quickly realized that most Broadway investors are well-heeled theater buffs who follow the risky strategy of betting on one show at a time. Fortune offers a chance to own minority stakes in an initial slate of seven musicals and plays in development.

DeSimone says she raised a relatively small amount of capital (in the mid-seven-figure range) from a small group of high-net-worth individuals. She partnered with the prolific McCollum to ensure access to “best-in-class productions,” given his track record.

Fortune is still a risky proposition. DeSimone calls it “an alternative-alternative investment” that is highly illiquid — a quality that is typically anathema to big-ticket investors. But the portfolio approach is her attempt to bring a little bit of Wall Street discipline to the only-if-the-stars-align process of birthing a Broadway show.

“The best producers can always get capital,” she says. “But even people who are just rich and big fans of the theater want the process to be professionalized.”

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