Joe Leblang’s Cut-Rate Ticket Empire and the Broadway Theatre, 1894-1931

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This book is the only full-length study of a ticket agent, his business methods, and his contributions to the Broadway theatre. It contains elements of biography, economic history of the American stage, and insights into the relationship between Broadway producers and the people who sold the tickets to their attractions. This study recounts a number of then-famous battles between powerful producers and the ticket agencies, filling in several blank spots in the records. It sets the scene for readers not familiar with the period by giving ample background, and then traces the growth and development of Joe Leblang’s agency, information previously available only in snippets buried in newspapers and magazines. Leblang’s agency exerted so potent a force on the Broadway theatre that the period would not have been the same had his agency not existed.


“His exploration of both primary and secondary sources and extensive use of original and archival information, previously uncited, make a significant contribution to the body of knowledge on a truly fascinating and unique practice in early twentieth-century theatre. By introducing us to Joe Leblang, as colorful and influential a figure in theatre history as I’ve ever encountered, Eisenhour shows how a practice still used today (though in slightly altered form) originated and how it influenced the history of Broadway theatre as we know it….His conclusions are sound, well substantiated, and applicable to today’s theatre culture. They should be of interest to both theatre historians and theatre practitioners.” – Dr. Theo Ross, Chair, Department of Communication, Theatre, and Languages, Northwest Missouri State University

“Through his keen business sense and love of theatre, Leblang was responsible for the survival of many Broadway productions, including Abie’s Irish Rose, Rose Marie, and Tobacco Road. As Dr. Eisenhour points out, regardless of one’s opinion of the artistic merit of these shows, their survival had a profound effect on American theatrical fare and influenced the history of the Broadway stage….provides the reader with a first-time look at Leblang’s influence and innovations in a thorough, scholarly, yet highly readable format. Dr. Eisenhour includes a wealth of valuable information on the business of theatre during this time period, including the workings and influence of the Syndicate and Shubert Brothers….also includes an animated discussion of Leblang’s impact not only on the survival of particular productions, but on the development and character of the theatre-going public during this era.” – Dr. Jean K. Wolski, Associate Professor, Eastern Illinois University

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:
· Foreword; Preface
· Introduction
· Of Agents and Agencies: Ticket Distribution Practices in the Period
· A Broader View: The New York Theatre from the 1890s to 1931
· “From Small Beginning”: Accounts of an Immigrant Impresario
· Leblang’s Bold Move: Making “Buys from the House”
· The Move from Sixth Avenue to Times Square
· Great Success and a Few Surprises: The First Broadway Season: 1914-1915
· Prelude to Battle: Competitors and Opposition
· Ticket Wars and the Thorny Season of 1915-16
· Cut-Rate Operations: Aspects of Leblang’s Business Methods
· Inside the Bargain Basement: Accounts of Plays and Playgoers
· All Under One Roof: Leblang’s Planes for a Central Ticket Agency
· Yet More Ticket Wars: Leblang and the New York Theatre League
· Leblang’s Contributions: Theatre Owner, Financier, Philanthropist
· Joe Leblang’s Niche in Broadway History
Works Cited; Index

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