“I wanted her to go into this with open eyes and know what she was getting into,” Mr. Roth said.
As with practically everything in New York, especially the insular world of Broadway, connections mean everything. Being a child of an investor in a show doesn’t secure a part or even an audition, but it can create opportunities that open doors.
“Getting to know a director and having the opportunity to observe a rehearsal or a script reading to get a deeper understanding of the business, that is a definite advantage,” said Pippin Parker, a playwright and the dean of the drama school at the New School in New York City.
Ken Davenport, a Broadway producer and blogger who raises money for shows and has worked with Mr. Roth and other investors, said he has seen more parents invest in shows to encourage a passion they share with one of their children or to bolster the child’s career prospects.
“The parents don’t have the friends or relationships, so they do it the old-fashioned way by writing a check,” he said. “All that check does is get you in the door. It’s up to the kids to prove themselves.”
Of course there’s no substitute for talent, Mr. Parker and others said.
“Investing is a wonderful and glorious activity, but unless you know what you are doing as an investor, the best you can hope for is a glass of Champagne with Bette Midler,” said Peter Cooke, the head of the drama school at Carnegie Mellon University, which sends many graduates on to Broadway careers.
The only career path he can see, he said, “is being well trained.”
There are different ways productions raise money, but for many shows, affluent individuals play a key role. Typically, these are people with at least $1 million of investable assets — what the finance industry calls an accredited investor, who is presumably able to swallow the considerable risks…