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.