With The Phantom of the Opera, Chuck Schumer Pushes Tax Break for Broadway

Chuck Schumer at today's press conference.

Chuck Schumer at today’s press conference.

Senator Chuck Schumer today joined a colorful cast of characters at Sardi’s to push a proposed new tax break for Broadway productions–and revealed his recent theater recommendations to the president.

Standing beside big Broadway stars, including Neil Patrick Harris, Bryan Cranston and actors dressed as the Phantom of the Opera and Cinderella, Mr. Schumer touted the benefits of a proposed new tax incentive that would allow producers to write off millions in production costs, like TV and movie shoots.

“Now what could this uncommon cast of characters have in common? One’s from the 60s White House, one from East Berlin, one from the Paris opera house? And then there’s me: from the Alice in Wonderland world they call the senate,” he quipped, gesturing to cast members from productions including the Lyndon B. Johnson drama “All the Way.”

“Broadway and live theater must continue to thrive in New York. But at the same time, Broadway and other live theater productions face an uphill battle when it comes to getting investors to commit money to commercial stage production,” continued Mr. Schumer, who said the new rules would “put Broadway and live theater on the same footing as TV and film.”

The break, which was recently added to the tax extender bill passed by the senate’s finance committee, would allow productions to deduct 100 percent of their first year investments, up to $15 million, regardless of whether a production turns a profit or not. The break would apply to all shows, including those on the road and Las Vegas-style reviews–“different type of show, but nonetheless available for the credit,” Mr. Schumer quipped.

Producer Harvey Weinstein, who was also in attendance, said that had the break been in place sooner, he likely would have opened his new musical “Finding Neverland” in the states instead of the United Kingdom.

“The incentives are very important,” he said. “We got a great deal and a great tax point.”

Mr. Weinstein also took the opportunity to gush about Mr. Schumer, whom he said he met back before Mr. Schumer was a senator.

“I love long shots and I liked him,” said Mr. Weinstein, who predicted the state’s senior senator and Jacob Javits “will go down as our greatest senators.”

“If the New York Jets are looking for a starting quarterback, I would truly suggest Senator Schumer,” Mr. Weinstein continued, calling Mr. Schumer “a true leader in America.”

For his part, Mr. Schumer refused to name his favorite Broadway show but sung praises for “All The Way,” which he said has been a big hit among his Washington colleagues.

“I saw “All the Way.” I was taken by it. I’ve recommended it to all my colleagues,” he said, adding that seven or eight senators had already come to see it, inducing Majority Leader Harry Reid on Saturday night.

“Harvey and I have both told the president he ought to come see the show,” he said. “Get a little LBJ going!”