Seen a Broadway show lately?
If the answer is yes, then there’s a pretty good chance that Stephanie Dalton and her team at City National Bank have played a role in the financial life of the production. That can mean anything from managing the cash that a show takes in at the box office to helping a play or musical raise its initial capitalization from investors.
“We have great relationships with the people in the theater industry,” says Dalton, who serves as senior vice president and team leader for entertainment alongside senior vice president and team leader Erik Piecuch. “We understand what they need and how to deliver. My team doesn’t just put our trusted financial hats on. We really love this business, and we enjoy being part of the audience for these shows.”
Since joining City National a decade ago, Dalton has built the business to the point where it handles banking for 50% of the shows on Broadway. Additionally, she has helped the company expand beyond the Great White Way. It also works with producers in London’s West End and provides services to shows when they go on tour. Her goal is to get involved with a production as early as possible, often when it’s raising money, and to offer a range of services to suit its needs.
It’s a good time to be in the theater business. Broadway ticket sales hit a record $1.7 billion in 2018, and revenues are expected to eclipse that high-water mark in 2019. Those kinds of financial rewards have resulted in a changing roster of backers and an emphasis on different types of productions and genres. Major studios such as Disney (“Frozen,” “Aladdin”) and Warner Bros. (“Beetlejuice”) have been ramping up their theatrical efforts, and, inspired by the recent success of Bruce Springsteen’s Broadway engagement, more musical acts are looking to set up shop in New York’s Theater District.
“People crave the live experience they get from theater,” says Dalton. “It gives them a connection they can’t get on their iPad or phone.”
Dalton’s team doesn’t just work on Broadway shows. City National is the official bank to the Tony Awards. It’s a long-running sponsorship that shows the bank’s commitment to the theater community. It’s also a gig that that required the banker to take the stage at the cavernous Radio City Music Hall during last year’s telecast.
“You’re looking out an audience of 5,000 people,” says Dalton. “You’re nervous, but you just ride the energy and adrenaline.”