By Jayne Atherton
Ordinary Investors are being invited to back a musical version of classic American sitcom Happy Days in return for a share in the profits of the new show.
In what’s thought to be the world’s first equity crowdfunding project for a big theatrical production, backers can invest as little as £10 to help get the show off the ground.
The production called Happy days – A New Musical, will start touring the UK in January and is already full funded, but is looking for £250,000 to cover unexpected expenses.
It is promising investors a combined 25 per cent share in any profits in two years time when the tour comes to an end.
With savers facing current – decidedly uncool – returns of less than 2 per cent interest per year, the investment may deliver, but there’s a chance that investors could get less than they put in or no growth at all if no profit is made.
The financing by Seedrs, a leading crowd investment platform starts today (mon) through its website seedrs.com. Director Martin Campbell said: ‘There is a risk attached, but this time the show is already funded and this is a way to gain engagement with Happy days and musicals fans who want to buy into something they love or diversify their portfolios with something fun.’
Producers hope investers will be tempted into taking a chance by the fact the show is written by Garry Marshall, the creator of the original TV series.
Henry Winkler, who famously played The Fonz in the hit 1950s-set comedy, is acting as Creative Consultant, and the production will feature original songs by Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe award-winning Hall of Fame Songwriter Paul Williams – as well as the iconic TV theme tune.
its stars include Emmerdale actor Ben Freeman as The Fonz; Heidi Range, best known as one of the Sugababes, as Pinky Tuscadero; and Cheryl Baker, of Bucks Fizz fame, as Mrs Cunningham.
Todd Ruppert, chief executive of RTR International and a co-producer of the show, said: ‘Investing in theatre productions is normally reserved for the wealthy. But with this show, we wanted to give everyone the chance to be a part of what we believe can be a big hit. We’re sure that all audiences will love the musical, but those who have backed it financially will enjoy it even more – they’ll have helped make the show happen.’
A number of theatre and film investments have raised money using so called ‘rewards-based’ crowdfunding schemes offering branded goods or discounted tickets. This is thought to be the first offering a potential financial reward.
The show will begin in January 2014 at the Churchill Theatre Bromley before a national tour. A West End version is also planned.
Martin capbell added: ‘Investors will get quarterly updates and its expected they will get preferential opportunity to invest if the production needs more investment for its planned West End run.’