Ten Moments, 25 Years

Turning points in touring musicals, according to Best of Broadway's Jack Lucas.

The World’s Fair 1974
“I continue to get the question, from visitors and even performers, ‘When was this built?’ When I say ‘1974,’ they’re like, ‘No way!’” says Jack Lucas, who has been with WestCoast Entertainment since 1987 and is now its president. “They built it with a 60-foot proscenium some of the theaters in New York are your typical 40-foot-wide proscenium. The INB Center’s proscenium is wide, deep and high and that’s what you need.”

Cats 1987
“This is the show that started it all for us. And it’s funny, because now we’re partners in a group back in New York that owns the rights to produce Cats in North America. It’s all kind of come full circle.”

Les Miserables 1991
“After Cats, this was our next big show the mega-musical of its day. The whole set was complicated built on a turntable. For everybody involved, it was a huge technical piece of work. That was the first big challenge for our stagehands.”

The Sound of Music 1995
“This was my first big assignment as I got more involved in the Best of Broadway series. A show had canceled at the last minute, and it was like, ‘You gotta find a replacement, Jack.’ So I got on the phone and somehow we landed The Sound of Music with Marie Osmond.”

Damn Yankees 1996
“I had been warned that Jerry Lewis [star of this production of Damn Yankees] could be a handful, so I went and picked him up at the airport. Walking back to the car, I must have said something, and he let out that laugh of his. People started looking up they knew that laugh. ‘Hey, is that Jerry Lewis?’ But I have to say, he was just a great, humble guy. And that monologue in the middle of the show that was not part of the original Damn Yankees. They wrote that part just for Jerry.”

The Millennial Season 1999-2000
“That was the season we did Showboat, Miss Saigon, Phantom and Les Miz it was four mega-musicals in one season. That really changed everything. The people in New York were just scratching their heads, but when we had a great season, and sold out Phantom and virtually every other show that season. They were just blown away. That season defined us to the New York community.”

Phantom of the Opera 2000
“We invested approximately $100,000 in changes to the Opera House more electrical capacity, extra steel in the ceiling, more support in the front of the stage for the chandelier. But it paid off we sold out the entire four-week run. At that time, it was the biggest show we had experienced, and definitely the most technically challenging.”

Rent 2002
“Yeah, I was a little worried about bringing in Rent. So I flew down to Oklahoma City, right in the Bible Belt, and found out the show I was going to attend was sold out. At the end, they gave it a raving standing O. I wasn’t worried after that, and we’ve run it twice, both times hugely successful.”

The Lion King 2005
“We had to remove a lot of seats for Lion King, but it remains our biggest show ever, with something like 122,000 tickets sold. Then Disney asked us to take it to Honolulu, and we did 13 weeks there. It was a tremendous risk for our company, but it turned out great.”

Wicked 2011
“I think I started talking to the agent for Wicked in 2008, and it’s another show that came down to relationships. All these people, a lot of them started out the same time I started out. We’ve all kind of grown in the business together and the touring musical business has grown amazingly over the past 25 years. But I’ll tell you, on Wicked it was never a case of whether we could sell tickets, it was just scheduling. We used to have to beat the bushes to get them to come to ‘Spo-kain,’ Washington. Now we’re just the little city that can.”

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About The Author

Ted S. McGregor Jr.

Ted S. McGregor, Jr. grew up in Spokane and attended Gonzaga Prep high school and the University of the Washington. While studying for his Master's in journalism at the University of Missouri, he completed a professional project on starting a weekly newspaper in Spokane. In 1993, he turned that project into reality...