At least two musicals have chosen Chicago for their pre-Broadway runs due to tax breaks offered by Illinois.
Productions of “Kinky Boots” and “Big Fish” were held in Chicago earlier this year, and both applied for a certificate that made them eligible for an Illinois state tax credit. The credit was in a package of tax breaks passed by lawmakers late last year.
“From a bigger picture standpoint, it has a huge impact to the city and state and that’s the real motivation behind this,” said Lou Raizin, president of Broadway in Chicago. “We’re getting a bite of the Big Apple before they do and I love that.”
Broadway in Chicago runs five theaters in the city.
“Big Fish” producer Dan Jinks told the Associated Press that other cities also wanted to host the pre-Broadway run of his musical, but the tax credit provided him an easier decision.
“It’s extremely smart of the legislature to realize if a brand new musical is spending all that money in Seattle, why shouldn’t they be spending it in Chicago instead?” Jinks said. “To give Chicago that competitive edge is a really smart thing to do.”
Hal Luftig, producer of “Kinky Boots,” offered up some numbers, saying his production costs around $13 million, and $2.5 to $3 million of that was used to bring the show to Chicago. He said the $500,000 tax break was a motivator to come to the city.
“Chicago is a great theater town and being able to have that help and that aid was a big driving force for us to come here,” he said.
Additionally, Illinois Senate President John Cullerton is quick to assure taxpayers the tax breaks are in their best interest.
“Taxpayers will get their money back,” he said. “We’re getting money that we otherwise wouldn’t get at all. It’s outside money. It’s why you should do it, because we get back more than we put it.”