Despite scary reviews, "Addams Family" lures label

Sat Apr 24, 2010 12:52pm EDT
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By Kerri Mason

NEW YORK (Billboard) - The new Broadway musical "The Addams Family" opened April 8 to gruesome reviews.

But the box-office receipts have turned out to be surprisingly robust, leaving the production's parade of investors snap-snapping their way to the bank. Among them is a conspicuous newcomer to the field.

Decca Broadway is set to record and release the original "Addams" cast recording in June. But the label's new sibling division, Decca Theatricals, is a full-on "Addams" producer, with what its team characterizes as a "significant" stake in the show.

A label willing to up its ante in a new Broadway production -- beyond the cost of recording a cast album (commonly about $100,000-$200,000) -- is nearly as odd as the Addams' Cousin Itt. Even Decca Label Group chairman Christopher Roberts says that mounting musicals is "not easy -- you can lose your shirt really quickly, and everything else."

Still, Roberts says that it's good business and in line with how Decca wants to grow.

"If these shows never made any money, nobody would ever invest in them," he says. "And as a company, we're not just a record company anymore. We're more of a cultural and entertainment company. This is another extension of what we do."

The recording industry and Broadway have had intimate encounters before. In the early '80s, Geffen Records stunned theater veterans by producing a string of five consecutive hits: "Dreamgirls," "Cats," "Master Harold and the Boys," "Good" and "Little Shop of Horrors."

"I'm sure we'll not have everything we do be a hit," David Geffen told Billboard in 1983, "but I'd like to bet that between the Shubert Organization and our company, we'll have a higher batting average than anyone has had in history."   Continued...

<p>Actors Nathan Lane (L) and Bebe Neuwirth smile as they are applauded following the opening night of the Broadway play "The Addams Family" in New York April 8, 2010. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson</p>