The nearly monthlong period of activity around the launch of the “Finding Neverland” tour will have an estimated economic impact between $1 million and $1.2 million, according to Shea’s President Emeritus Anthony Conte.
The production is funded by a recently approved New York State tax credit of 25 percent for musicals that hold technical rehearsals in upstate New York theaters. Shea’s Broadway series producer Albert Nocciolino, who lobbied for the credit along with Conte and other theater owners and producers across the state, said that the first phase of shows has been so successful he has already booked another tour launch into Shea’s for next fall. He would not disclose the name of the show.
Since mid-September, when set pieces and crew members began arriving for technical rehearsals, Conte has watched Shea’s become a hive of activity. It’s something he said he had long imagined: a Broadway production using Shea’s expanded stage-house to rehearse a national tour.
“It’s incredibly exciting because it’s something we said we wanted 10 years ago. To actually have it happen is, I guess you could say, a dream come true,” Conte said. “It’s a good boost for Buffalo and the region altogether.”
Exactly how much of a boost won’t be clear until after the show closes on Oct. 15. But so far, Conte said, the crew, cast and creative team associated with the production have bought a combined total of 1,770 hotel room nights – more than seven times the amount a typical one-week tour would account for.
What’s more, Conte said, dozens of local laborers have been working on the production, including 50 people during the show’s three-day load-in period and 40 local crew members working during the tech rehearsal period, of whom 31 will stay on through the end of the run.
The increased activity at the theater has translated into the community, where Theatre District restaurants and bars are seeing a modest upswing in customers.
“I see the people that are working, making this happen, come into my deli,” said Albert Ramia, who own’s Sue’s Deli next door to Shea’s and who estimates his lunch business has ticked up about 5 percent so far.
For Nocciolino, the state’s investment has proven to be effective in spurring economic benefits for the neighborhood.
“The investment that’s made and the jobs that are created justifies the potential credit to the producer or to the party that’s doing it,” he said. “You do this because you want the economic activity and the economic impact and the classic multiplier [effect] to take place. I think this is manifesting itself exactly like we anticipated.”