Original cast members of the Broadway megasmash “Hamilton” have reached a deal with the show’s producers, led by Jeffrey Seller, to share in profits of the production, which has been one of Broadway’s top-grossing attractions since it opened in August.
The move could have a lasting impact in the theater industry, particularly in negotiations between producers and actors, who have lately begun to get vocal about compensation for an actor’s contributions to the development of a hit show over the course of workshops and first productions.
Attorney Ronald H. Schechtman, the veteran theater-industry negotiator who represented the original cast members of “Hamilton,” announced the pact. He said in a statement that “an agreement with the ‘Hamilton’ producers has been reached which provides for the cast’s participation in the profit stream from the play. The agreement for the cast to share in the success of ‘Hamilton’ resulted from a collaborative effort between the cast and the producers which recognized the cast’s role in the development and success of the play.”
The deal, details of which weren’t disclosed, isn’t unprecedented: Such profit-sharing pacts stretch all the way back to “A Chorus Line,” the 1975 hot-ticket equivalent of “Hamilton.” But the topic of this kind of actor remuneration, and the acknowledgment of an actor’s creative contributions to a show’s success, seems to have caught fire within the acting community, and stands poised to become a more serious concern in labor negotiations.
The deal for “A Chorus Line,” which was based on interviews with the actors who would become the show’s original cast, yielded an estimated $10,000 a year for each performer at the show’s height. Since then, deals have been reached that, in many cases, see original performers share in one percent of a production’s profits. Producers of “The Book of Mormon,” for instance, came to such an agreement with its original actors, and it’s said the pact brings in a few thousand dollars a month for each participant.
With the new deal for “Hamilton,” actors will share in what is likely a similar percentage of profits, which soon will come not just from the Broadway production (reportedly operating at a profit of more than $500,000 a week) but from simultaneous regional productions as well, not to mention potential stagings in London and beyond.