MagicSpace Entertainment brings Broadway to Utah
March 25, 2011
Combining their businesses after many years of working together, Lee Marshall, former owner of Magic Art and Entertainment and John Ballard, former owner of The Space Agency merged to form MagicSpace Entertainment in November 2010.
MagicSpace produces and promotes Broadway shows in more than 200 American cities, Canada and internationally. Marshall brought Rain — A Tribute To The Beatles, to Harry O’s on Main Street, Park City, before the show went to Broadway in 2010.
Marshall has an extensive list of previous productions including more than 30 years of experience in the business. Marshall’s first signing was David Copperfield in 1983 and he’s been producing shows for Copperfield ever since.
Both Marshall’s and Ballard’s companies continued to grow over the years and after the merger Marshall said, "The two of us together are the third largest touring company in North America for Broadway."
Marshall takes on the producing side of MagicSpace, which includes Broadway shows, concert tours and museum displays, while Ballard serves as the primary presenter and promoter. "Our company works hand and glove," Marshall said.
Currently based in Salt Lake City, MagicSpace will open a new office in Park City within the next two months. The new location will allow Marshall and Ballard to work closer to home. Marshall said he travels enough as is, spending up to 50 days in New York City per year along with visiting international cities for productions.
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From setting up venues to seeing each show through, there are several steps involved in producing Marshall said. A pre-Broadway show can take anywhere from 18 months to two years to produce and will often be featured in two to three local theatres prior to Broadway, he explained. This actually works to the company’s advantage as Marshall and Ballard can workshop and polish performances before the show has the attention of a thousand critics’ eyes in New York.
One of Marshall’s favorite productions was a museum display and tour of Egyptian royal, King Tut. "The artifacts that we toured became a part of the artifacts in Cairo…it’s pretty spectacular stuff. And all the detail…it’s astounding that the artifacts are 3,300 years old — pretty cool that I got to do that in my lifetime." Marshall said.
There has to be some aspect of your job that isn’t as appealing as the rest? Marshall responds, "Dealing with the personalities involved. In the entertainment business there are a lot of characters…when you have a show that sells tickets they sell by themselves, but when you don’t…" Marshall said. There’s only so much you can do.
Marshall has his share of unsuccessful shows too, "Sometimes you never get it right," Marshall said of 101 Dalmatians, "I thought it was a good idea, but not one of my success stories."
Wicked, The Lion King, Riverdance, Cats and Phantom of the Opera are a few Broadway musicals Ballard has brought to Salt Lake City. "Les Miserables," Ballard’s favorite show, has sold out in Salt Lake eight times, "Utah loves it!" Ballard said.
Ballard has spent almost half his life in Utah, where he met his wife and has been a Park City resident for 10 years, "One of the things that has been great (about living in Park City) is the arts – Deer Valley music festival, film festival, Kimball Arts Center…it’s fun to be able to participate in another way," Ballard said.
It seems that over the years Ballard and Marshall found their niche, "I love my job…I could have retired a couple times, but I enjoy what I do. I tell my kids all the time that I don’t have a job." Marshall said.
Marshall and his wife, Shelley are active members of the Park City community. The Marshall’s recently attended the Red, White and Snow Gala at Montage Deer Valley for the National Ability Center, where Shelley is a board member.
MagicSpace plans to bring a production of Jesus Christ Superstar, featuring longtime friend Ted Neeley, to Park City’s Egyptian Theatre next winter. Marshall and Ballard have been working on this show together for over 15 years.