Broadway Licensing Group Soars Down Under

Sean Cercone at world premiere of “Elvis: A Musical Revolution” at State Theatre in Sydney
(Getty images)

BLG continues its Growth with the Premiere of “Elvis: A Musical Revolution”, Gains Global Amateur Licensing Rights to “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA–Broadway Licensing Group (BLG) is a renowned international leader when it comes to theatrical licensing and distribution – and now the company is making a splash in Australia with a two-pronged story of success.

BLG has taken over Sydney and Melbourne with the David Venn Enterprises nationwide tour of Elvis: A Musical Revolution, a critically acclaimed stage sensation. In addition, BLG has released the exciting news that it has acquired the worldwide amateur licensing rights to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

Elvis is based on a book written by BLG CEO and founder Sean Cercone and Senior Vice President of Music and Publications David Abbinanti. The premier show is performed by an Australian cast, and the production has been called “powerful” and “emotionally charged” by Limelight Magazine. It features over 40 iconic songs originally performed by the King of Rock and Roll – and it offers dramatized scenes that influenced his star-studded life.Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is another major win for BLG, as the company leads a project to adapt the Broadway and West End hit for high school and secondary school production teams. Beginning in the spring of 2024, schools across Australia and the rest of the world will have licensing access to the global phenomenon.

(l-r): David Abeles as Ron Weasley, Maya Olivia Thomas as Rose Granger-Weasley, Jenny Jules
as Hermione Granger, Steve Haggard as Harry Potter, Joel Meyers as Albus Potter, Angela Reed
as Ginny Potter, Erik C. Peterson as Scorpius Malfoy, and Aaron Bartz as Draco Malfoy·(Photo by Matthew Murphy)

Cercone founded BLG in 2017, and quickly grew its catalog to 900 plays and musicals. In the last six years, BLG has grown exponentially, and now boasts over 8,000 marquee titles – making it one of the world’s fastest growing companies that represent live stage theatrical properties.

As of 2023, the BLG catalog includes award-winning plays and musicals – to be exact, BLG represents 38 Tony Award winners and 49 Pulitzer Prize Awards for Drama. All were obtained over the last 6 years, including creative collaborations with many globally-recognized brands and estates, due in no small part to the substantial creative collaboration between Cercone and Abbinanti.

“Sean and David met each other working together at a previous company, and it was brotherhood at first sight,” says Jeffery Keilholtz, Senior Vice President of Marketing for BLG. He adds that the fusion of these two creative minds ignited a fire of shared passion for theater, leading to BLG’s current success.

“We believe in bringing theatre to everyone around the globe,” Keilhotlz adds, stating that this is Cercone’s highest ambition for the company. As the Cercone and Abbinanti hit, Elvis, makes waves in Australia, the cast and crew prepare for a national tour spearheaded by David Venn Productions and directed by Alister Smith. The musical will show at the State Theatre in Sydney until September 16, 2023, and will then move to the Athenaeum Theatre in Melbourne and run from September 30-November 26, 2023.

Cercone leads a family of companies at BLG, including Dramatists Play Service, Playscripts, Stage Rights, and Stageworks Productions. BLG is also the parent company of Broadway on Demand, which was honored with a 2021 Emmy Award® Nomination in Outstanding Arts and Popular Culture Programing for its original series, Broadway Master Class. 

In addition, Cercone created ShowShare, a platform that allows student, amateur, and professional productions to stream their productions to international audiences. Every year, Cercone boldly leads a team that works with over 2,800 authors – in addition to overseeing the licensing of more than 24,000 productions of plays and musicals worldwide.

Rachel Keimach, BLG’s Senior Vice President of Business Operations, shares that the company has been able to uncover insights that accelerate it forward due to the fact that Cercone, Abbinanti, and her operations team emphasize the power of data.

“We embrace emerging technologies, and that has helped us to anticipate shifts in the marketplace,” she says. “We also place an emphasis on our investment in people, allowing us to attract and retain top-tier talent. All of this helped us to develop Elvis and launch it to great success in Australian theatres.” 

Nationally award-winning composer and orchestrator, Abbinanti, has used his extensive industry expertise to collaborate with Cercone on Elvis, as well as create orchestrations for adaptations of other world-recognized titles. This includes Saturday Night Fever: The Musical, which is based on the classic motion picture Saturday Night Fever; it also includes CLUE: On Stage, adapted from the screenplay by Jonathan Lynn and written by Sandy Rustin.

Cercone and Abbinanti have a professional chemistry that is renowned both within BLG and throughout the Broadway industry. This teamwork-focused mindset has become the foundation of many of the company’s original projects. 

“Sean and David are a dynamic duo when it comes to book writing and orchestrations,” continues Keilholtz. “Watching them throughout the development stage of Elvis was a thrill. They balanced each other’s process. When one was hitting the gas pedal on bold ideas, the other was offering restraint and consideration – and vice versa. Their back and forth is very intuitive, and they always seem to land at a place that is just right for the material. Audiences across Australia are seeing the result with Elvis, and it is sensational that they are loving it.”

BLG Senior Vice President of Acquisitions and Artistic Services Kent Nicholson reveals that Cercone, Abbinanti, and the executive team examine a number of factors when considering shows to develop. They look at the appropriateness for the market, conduct a detailed financial analysis, and weigh the popularity of any underlying intellectual property. 

“We also consider internal competition – do we have anything in our current catalog that would compete too heavily with a new title?” Nicholson  says. “By being strategic with our titles, we have been able to quickly build a diverse catalog that appeals to an equally diverse global market.” 

Elvis is enjoying a strong Australian tour; and the United States premiere is currently planned for October 3, 2023, at Walnut Street Theatre. The BLG team is preparing to unveil numerous additional plans as they work diligently to continue the expansion of BLG’s global impact. 

“Australia and the United Kingdom are near-term points of focus, but we are casting a wide net,” Keilholtz confirms. “We are ramping up to support a UK tour of Lizzie, a rock musical about Lizzie Borden, in 2023, which will be a lot of fun for audiences. We will also continue to leverage meaningful partnerships all over the globe, including in Asia, South America, the Middle East, and North Africa, to make our plays and musicals accessible to as many people as possible. In the end, BLG is all about doing our part, in every way possible, to make everyone a theatre person.”