RWS & Associates, a producer of stage shows for cruise ships and theme parks, is looking to make a name for itself in commercial theater with the acquisition of Binder Casting, the veteran Broadway agency that’s cast shows including “The Lion King,” “Chicago” and “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.”
For RWS, the move links the 13-year-old entertainment company, which currently specializes in branded entertainment, to a longstanding agency with an established reputation in the Broadway business. For Binder, the acquisition gives the small shingle the broader infrastructure to step up its activities in theater, TV and film.
Founded in the early 1980s by Jay Binder and now a wholly owned subsidiary of RWS & Associates, the casting agency will continue to operate out of the firm’s offices in midtown Manhattan, maintaining its focus on ongoing and new clients in the theater industry. Casting duties for RWS’s branded stage shows will continue to be handled by RWS’s casting team.
RWS, which recently moved its offices from Manhattan to a 32,000-square-foot complex of offices and rehearsal studios in Long Island City, is the creator and producer of cruise ship shows — partnering with Holland America for shipboard stage fare including “Billboard Off the Charts” and “Lincoln Center Stage” — and also for theme park productions for Cedar Fair, Hard Rock Resorts and Hershey Entertainment and Resorts. Clients have also included Mattel, Westfield and Macy’s. Founded by CEO Ryan Stana, the company has a full-time staff of about 30.
The acquisition of Binder Casting is seen as the first push toward growing RWS & Associates into a developer and producer of commercial theater, as well as a one-stop shop for theater development and production. “It felt like a good next step for us,” said Bruston Manuel, the COO of RWS. “Jay’s name is well-established in the theater industry, and we can bring our infrastructure and management to help Binder Casting become more of a competitive force in theater, TV and film.”
The acquisition is effective immediately. Both sides foresee an imminent expansion in the staff at Binder, although the exact details and timeline of that have yet to be set.