Mormon Play Publisher Purchased, Mormon Plays for Sale

Historically, LDS playwrights have had only one dedicated company distributing performance rights to LDS plays, Encore Performance Publishing. But that changed last year when Encore was sold, and now LDS playwrights’ ability to license plays is much less certain, since Encore’s new owner isn’t interested in LDS .

Encore was established by C. Michael Perry and has been a part of the LDS products industry for  several decades. But Perry ran into personal difficulties that led to the sale of Encore last year to Florida-based, 103-year-old Eldridge Publishing. Eldridge is a family-owned business founded by Harry Eldridge in 1906, and later sold by Eldridge’s granddaughters to the Vorhis family in 1985. 85% of the company’s business is in the school and community theatre markets, with religious plays making up the balance.

Nancy Vorhis of Eldridge reports that Perry’s wife Sharon approached Eldridge in September, 2007 after approaching many other publishers as well. The companies negotiated for several months, and the sale was completed in January 2008.

Eldridge was most attracted to Encore’s school plays and musicals, which fit well into Eldridge’s family-orientation. Mormon plays were something new to the company, which has geared its offerings to mainline and somewhat conservative Christian audiences.

Vorhis says that the company has contacted all of Encore’s authors about the purchase. The company’s stability is a significant benefit to authors, since they produce catalogs twice yearly, and allow potential customers “Freeviews”–allowing them to read portions of the scripts online. Eldridge pays royalties twice a year, and lists performance dates on its websites, so both playwrights and others know what performances are occuring.

However, the company says that it isn’t interested in continuing with the Mormon plays that it acquired as part of the purchase of Encore. “In the crush of working with some 300+ new plays, we have not been able to explore the marketing possibilities of the Mormon plays and musicals,” says Vorhis.  The 49 Mormon titles, 12 of which are musicals, are therefore up for sale.

Author: Kent Larsen

I grew up in the Washington DC area and served an LDS mission to Portugal. After receiving bachelor's degrees in Accounting and Portuguese from BYU, I came to New York City, where I worked in publishing companies like Henry Holt & Co., Bantam Doubleday Dell (now part of Random House), and North-South Books. I am now the owner of Luso-Brazilian Books (http://www.lusobraz.com), the largest importer and publisher of Portuguese-language materials for North America. I also run a Mormon-oriented publishing house under the imprint names Mormon Arts and Letters (http://www.mormonartsandletters.com), Mormon News Books, Latter-day Renaissance and Samuel Lamanite Books (forthcoming).

9 thoughts on “Mormon Play Publisher Purchased, Mormon Plays for Sale”

  1. The catalog also has plays by J. Scott Bronson and Orson Scott Card.

    Where can someone find out how much the LDS plays are going for?

  2. Hm. They haven’t mentoned to me that my play is up for sale. I wonder how much it’ll cost me.

  3. Scott (4), Thom (2): I doubt plays are available on an individual basis. Usually, a publisher would want to sell all those they didn’t want as a block (in this case all 49 LDS plays).

    Since authors/playwrights are usually not in the business of publishing their own plays, they wouldn’t normally tell the authors, unless the author contract had a clause that indicated they had to (which would be very unusual). Also, if the author contracts had some clause that allowed the playwrights to get out of their contracts on a sale, they wouldn’t want to tell you either.

    My “off the top of my head” guess is that they want about what they paid for these plays, and if the model of other publishing companies applies, that will be 1-2 times annual revenues (i.e., if sales for the play for the a year are $500, then $500 to $1,000 for that play.)

  4. I have talked recently with Nancy Voorhies at Eldridge. They are working on the LDS titles and there are quite a few that are now available.

    http://www.95church.com/ChurchEncoreLDSPlaysandMusicals.asp

    ABINADI, ALL THE SCATTERED LEAVES, AND SOME CRIED FRAUD, BEAUTIFUL DAY OF WREST, BLIND DATE, CELESTIAL BLISS, CHRISTMAS PROGRAMS FOR SACRAMENT MEETINGS, ELDER’S CHRISTMAS MIRACLE, FIRE IN THE BONES, HUEBENER, IF NOT ANYTHING, NOTHING WILL DO, JOSEPH SMITH – THE PROPHET,LAND OF PROMISE, MATTERS OF THE HEART, STONES, SWEET REDEMPTION MUSIC COMPANY, UNFORTUNATE COURTSHIP OF BRIAN
    Are all available on the site.
    I am also thinking of starting a new company for only LDS dramatic materials called ZION THEATRICALS. On it I will list information on every play and musical that I can find PLUS I will acquire the licensing rights to select new plays and musicals not held by ENCORE.

  5. A NEW LDS play publisher has finally arrived. Zion Theatricals is up and running. We are looking for new titles as well. We work closely with Nancy at Eldridge to promote all LDS Theatrical endeavors.
    Visit http://www.ziontheatricals.com for the compendium listing. Then click on the Zion Theatricals Catalog page for the plays and musicals that are available so far.

  6. Eldridge, Plays and Musicals, due to marketing decisions, and rightfully so, decided to drop all LDS Plays from it’s catalog except for a few that it felt fit the broader Christian market. Most of those plays are now available from http://www.ziontheatricals.com. Zion Theatricals is the new leader in LDS Theatrical Licensing and Play Publishing.

Comments are closed.