SF Theatres To Hear Sound Of Music

Pacific Arts Presents, a production company headed up by Irv Zuckerman and Steve Litman, has made a deal with San Francisco theatrical company Shorenstein Hays Nederlander Theatres to assist in programming three of the city’s best-known theatrical venues during otherwise dark periods.

SHN’s president Carole Shorenstein Hays and CEO Greg Holland inked the deal with Pacifica Arts in order to add a wide range of events, including concerts, to the schedules of the Orpheum, Golden Gate and Curran theatres. SHN owns and operates the three venues and is the presenter of the Best of Broadway theatre series in San Francisco."I have a firm commitment to develop exciting new theater and move SHN forward as a presenter of world-class entertainment on our magnificent stages," Shorenstein Hays said in a statement. "It is always a thrill to work with like-minded colleagues who share a similar vision."

The three venues are mainstays of San Francisco’s theatrical landscape, better known for runs of local legitimate and nationally touring productions than for staging comedy or rock concerts.

Recently, the 2,203-seat Orpheum got a national showcasing when late-night TV host Conan O’Brien packed the theatre for a week of broadcasts during a sweeps period.

But SHN is looking for ways to make the most of otherwise dark days and weeks in between productions by bringing in additional quality programming.

Enter Litman and Zuckerman.

Litman brings his background in staging theatrical shows and concerts as executive producer of concerts at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis, and both are part of the team that brought Blue Man Group’s "How To Be A Megastar 2.1" to the worldwide concert stage. Zuckerman is also the former head of music for Clear Channel Entertainment, now Live Nation.

"This is the kind of thing we’re seeing more and more of: In certain markets, there are some of the most prestigious artists that want to play, sometimes for multiple nights, in a theatre like this." Litman told Pollstar, using James Taylor and Prince as just two examples. Both performed at the 2,203-seat Orpheum in 2007.

"The artist really has a chance to shine. So we feel there’s a tremendous opportunity there, and we’re stepping in to fill it," Litman said.

The Golden Gate, with 2,297 seats, is the largest of the three and the Curran, at 1,667, is the smallest.

Given the varying schedules of the three theatres, Litman and Zuckerman believe that conflicting dates should be rare – even if two venues have overlapping productions in progress, most likely the third won’t at any given time. And with established artists looking for opportunities to do multiple dates in intimate, plush surroundings, the SHN deal fits the bill.

"The initial conversation began about six or seven months ago as we were looking at availabilities for Blue Man Group. We were calling to see what was available and we began discussing concerts in general in the venues," Zuckerman told Pollstar.

"[SHN] felt they were underutilized and we agreed that we’d make a great team together. This makes a very good marriage; it’s very similar in terms of Steve’s background at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis that does theatrical shows as well as concerts. So we felt this could be a great opportunity in the concert realms while they do theatre. We’ll mix and match."

Stage productions lined up for this season at SHN’s venues include "Avenue Q," "A Midsummer Night’s Dream," "The Drowsy Chaperone," "Jersey Boys," "Spring Awakening," "The Color Purple," "The Wiz" and "Mamma Mia!"

With the finalization of the agreement between Pacific Arts and SHN, Zuckerman and Litman can begin to fill the gaps with "the sound of music."