BRIGHT LIGHTS: Lynn Singleton, president of the Providence Performing Arts Center, says a new tax credit aimed at luring pre- and post-Broadway productions gives the state more tools to enhance the theater scene in Providence.
PBN PHOTO/DAVID LEVESQUE
By Rebecca Keister PBN Staff Writer
Could Weybosett Street be the next Broadway?
Probably not, but the market is right to bill Providence as New England’s next best thing to New York’s famed theatrical strip, say supporters of a new tax credit meant to lure pre- and post-Broadway musical and theatrical productions here in order to create jobs and stimulate the state’s still-struggling economy.
“This just gives us one more item where it gets us elevated where [producers will] go, ‘Oh, this really works,’ ” said Lynn Singleton, president of the Providence Performing Arts Center.
In fact, the tax credit – an amendment to the existing film tax credits approved under the fiscal 2013 budget last June – already has proved fruitful.
Aided by the new law, which gives certain musical and theatrical productions a 25 percent tax credit against the total production, performance and transportation spending of the show, Singleton was able to convince NETWorks Presentation, a Maryland-based theatrical-production company, to bring the technical test run of its “Elf the Musical” national tour here last November, instead of a smaller theater in upstate New York.
The national tour of “Evita, ” produced by industry bigwigs Half Luftig and Scott Sanders, will launch at PPAC next August.
Singleton expects to announce within the next month two other major national tour launches at PPAC in fall 2013. One of those in discussion is a larger NETWorks production that Singleton estimates will bring in excess of $1 million in local labor bills.
The law garnered mixed reactions when it first passed because it was piggybacking on the already heavily debated film tax credit, because it applies almost exclusively to productions staged at PPAC and its subsidiary-managed Veterans Memorial Auditorium, and because it is a largely unpracticed tax incentive.
Rhode Island is only the third state in the country to offer such a tax-credit program. Illinois enacted similar legislation in December 2011 and by this past fall was home to the pre-Broadway run of “Kinky Boots,” a Hal Luftig production that Singleton said could find its way to a national tour launch in Providence in fall 2014.
Louisiana welcomed its first qualifying show, the national tour launch of the “Addams Family,” in September 2011.