Tommy Tune Returns; Senator Schumer’s Broadway Tax-travaganza: Live From New York

The invaluable Encores! series brought back Lady Be Good, in 1924 the first Broadway outing by brothers George (music) and Ira (lyrics) Gershwin.

Don’t expect a commercial transfer from this bit of silliness, lovingly if inconsequentially revived in concert form, even if it gives us the long-overdue return of one of Broadway’s most beloved stars:

Tommy Tune, LBD010, by Carol RoseggIn Chinese red from head to toe / Tommy Tune, tan, stole the show / A Gershwin romp that he brought with him / Wrapped in “Fascinating Rhythm” / Tapped a spell at City Center / As he morphed into his mentor / Right before our very eyes / He was, I came to realize / Carol Channing! Same broad smile / Same élan, same lack of guile / Same elastic, limber limbs / Same come-hithers aimed at hims / Some drenched-in-deepest-sapphire hues / When he returned for Act II’s / Rarely sung, barely heard / Loo-oopy “Little Jazz Bird.” / We all hope you’ll come back soon / Dancing singer Tommy Tune.

Staged for Encores! by director Mark Brokaw, choreographer Randy Skinner and musical director Rob Fisher, Lady Be Good continues its bubble-headed run through Sunday.

Tax credits are all the rage throughout the film and TV industry, and now live theater hopes to horn in on the action. U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) this week announced their plan to introduce the “Support Theaters in America Growth and Expansion (STAGE) Act” (someone worked awfully hard to come up with that).

The U.S. tax code now permits expensing of qualified film and TV production costs up to $15 million when 75 percent of compensation paid is for services performed in the U.S., says Schumer. Accordingly, studios producing movies and TV shows can recoup their investments immediately before taxes are assessed on profits. Broadway shows and live theatrical productions don’t get the same federal tax incentives. The STAGE Act is meant to redress that situation, thus encouraging investment and job creation in the live theater sector. (What all this has to do with Mizzoo is beyond my ken.)

“The current tax structure creates a disincentive for investors of Broadway that doesn’t exist in film and television,” Jordan Roth, the president of Jujamcyn Theatres, which produces shows and owns five Broadway houses, tells Deadline. “Senator Schumer and Senator Blunt’s bill will begin to fix that and will encourage investments that will keep the theater business healthy.”

Schumer points out that the legislation would put live theater production in the U.S. on an equal standing with the UK, which already allows for immediate expensing of production costs. The STAGE Act would add theatrical productions to the list of activities qualifying for immediate expensing under Internal Revenue Code 181, which accelerate deductions and precludes investors from paying income tax on profits until there actually are profits (the result being the revival of that favored mantra of all producers, There is no net!). The new legislation would allow an investor to deduct 100% of an investment from income in the year of investment, theoretically growing the pool of possible marks, er, investors.

City Harvest's 20th Annual Bid Against HungerAs it happens, New York State beat Schumer to the punch by a year, with its own incentives instituted to bring all those Chicago tryouts you read so much about back to the Empire State. (Illinois is one of four states that offer tax incentives to live theater productions.) That legislation has just gone into effect. It gives production companies a fully refundable credit of 30% of qualified production costs and post-production costs incurred in New York State. An additional 5% credit may be available for post-production costs incurred in Upstate N.Y. And for the period 2015-2019, productions with budgets over $500,000 can receive an additional 10% credit on qualified labor expenses incurred in certain counties. And Broadway producers don’t have to pay rent tax for the first year a show is running.

Anyway, Schumer gets an E for Effort and gets the last word: “New York is home to the culture and entertainment capital of the world, but without critical tax incentives, many production companies are moving elsewhere. The STAGE Act will finally put an end to the disparate tax treatment in the entertainment industry, which will mean more shows on Broadway, more jobs and more investment in and around the Great White Way.”

He went on, but you get the point.

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