I Went To Church At An Airport.

When I travel, I like to take the first flight out in the morning.  Less chance of being delayed, and I usually sleep better than I did when I saw  In My Life.

Recently my first flight out had me at Chicago’s Midway airport too early for me to head to my hotel.  So, I bought a WiFi connection, got a bagel, and set up an office.  Then, I heard an announcement:

“Catholic mass will be celebrated in the chapel at 8:30.  All are welcome.  The service will last 30 minutes.”

30 minutes!  As someone who was raised Catholic (hence Altar Boyz), I’ve lived through homilies that were 30 minutes alone!  And here’s a chance to relieve some Catholic guilt and say that I’ve been to mass, with only a 30 minute investment?  Done and done.

There is no question that the modern audience, for church or for entertainment, loves a short show.  Don’t your ears perk up when you hear that a show you are about to see is a short one?  Don’t you cringe when you hear that August: Osage County is 3.5 hours long, despite the great reviews and word of mouth?

Why is a quote like “90 minutes of Heavenly Hilarity” better than one without the time reference?  (tip:  if you ever get a quote that says your show is 90 minutes, use it like a toothbrush – 3 times a day).  Is it because attending the theater is a chore?  Just like church?  Is it because the theater isn’t a comfortable experience so we don’t want to be trapped?

Is it because everything in our world is shorter and faster (we’ve gone from letters to faxes to emails to text messages), and that this advancement and fast-paced lifestyle is bleeding over into entertainment?  (First sitcoms then 2 minute YouTube videos and next, micro-clips on our mobile phones?)

Or (and I worry about this one), is it because audiences aren’t enjoying a majority of the theater they see, so they want to know that if they don’t like it, at least they will be back on their couch in time to watch Will and Grace in syndication on the CW?

I don’t know the answer, but I do know that when I try to get people to see my shows, it’s a lot easier after I tell them they are ALL less than 90 minutes.

From a totally commercial perspective, it’s something to think about when creating your shows.  It’s easier to sell short.

I mean, don’t you all enjoy my blogs more when they are shorter???

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Comments
  • A. Scott Falk says:

    I prefer a short play and a medium (but not short) blog post, Ken!

  • Kevin McGowan says:

    I think show length is dependent upon whether the show is a comedy or drama as well. Comedy usually works better in a shorter time frame. For example, I have yet to see Spamalot, but if I ever see that show, I want to see the 90 minute Vegas-version. Comedies (especially musical ones) can get into big trouble when they try to extend a simple joke into a 3-5 minute segment.
    Dramas, on the other hand, need more time to develop the story and hook you in. I do love a drama that hooks you and takes you on a roller coaster ride so that the time flys by. It’s very hard to accomplish, though.
    Longer shows have intermissions, too, so if you don’t like the show, you can always leave – a practice that one of my good friends employs WAY too often.

  • Mary says:

    I don’t know. Maybe I’m in the minority here, but if I’m paying an insane amount of money for a ticket (and hello, all shows are getting pricey), I’m going to want to spend it on something that at least makes me feel like I’ve spent a valid amount of time in the theatre. All my friends are telling me to see Xanadu, but there is just no reason for me to pay that much money for a 90-minute show.
    On the other hand, someone tell ACL to either shorten the show or give me an intermission somewhere.

  • I would disagree, actually. Count me in as wanting my money’s worth if I’m paying $60-$120 for a ticket. In the end, it depends on what the show needs. DROWSY was probably about 10 minutes longer than it needed to be in terms of story, but I’d hate to see THE COLOR PURPLE cut down.
    Honestly, I was hesitant to see DROWSY because of the length. If there had been a plethora of shows I wanted to see and hadn’t already, I probably would have picked a different one based on length alone. (Also, seeing Sutton Foster in person also played a big part.) I love musicals, and you can never get too much of a great thing.

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