This term typically refers to an individual or an organization providing financial and organizational support for a play.
   Between 1880 and 1930, producers were often theatre owners and many were creative forces, as well as savvy business people. Prior to the 20th century, plays were often produced by star actors who were also managers of repertory companies and, in many cases, owned and operated their own theatres. In the late 19th century, to consolidate power, several prominent producers established the Theatrical Syndicate with the goal of dominating ownership and operation policies. Other producers and stars battled the Syndicate, especially Minnie Maddern Fiske and her producer husband, Harrison Grey Fiske, but its dominance was ultimately destroyed by another powerful producing organization, the Shuberts.
   Producers often sprang from the ranks of theatre workers; some were box office or publicity managers while others, increasingly, were actors and playwrights. To protect their interests, dramatists created producing organizations. Other high-minded production organizations sprang from the little theatre movement (Provincetown Players) and those writers, scene designers, directors, and actors striving to elevate the quality of the American stage (Theatre Guild). George M. Cohan, a leading actor, playwright, and composer, entered into a nearly twenty-year partnership with Sam H. Harris to produce not only his own plays, but many by others under the banner of Cohan and Harris Productions. Other individual producers, like Florenz Ziegfeld Jr., had less discernible specific talents, but provided artistic vision and marketing acumen.

The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. .

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