“The end of Broadway . . . blah, blah, blah.”
The NY Times review of the strangely suspenseful Legally Blonde reality show ended with this old chestnut . . .
. . . I’ll still be watching, even if a victory by either one takes us another step closer to the end of Broadway as we know it.
Really? That’s the conclusion? That old hackneyed “end of Broadway” whine that is usually saved for closing time at Marie’s Crisis?
Despite what I think of the NY Times as an advertising vehicle, I still think their articles are well written and edited, which is why I was shocked to see this cliche slip through the editorial cracks.
Here’s my issue with it . . .
The review seems to be preaching about the commercialization of Broadway musicals, as if the medium is too sacred a cow to exploit in this manner. This isn’t the first time members of the press and many others have made this argument over reality shows, star casting, discount promotions and more.
My point is not whether it’s too commercial or not too commercial, or whether reality shows have a place for the theater or not. We’ll save that for another blog.
My point is that . . . is the New York Times really surprised that the Broadway musical looks for commercial opportunities?
Look at the roots of the American musical. The first musical was born by accident, because a ballet company was ousted from their venue by fire and shoe-horned into another show down the block. Vaudeville, minstrel shows, burlesque, etc. were all the precursors of the American Musical, and you can’t get any more commercial than the magicians, animal acts, acrobats, etc. that made up those acts (I’d bet your yankee-doodle-dandy that George M. Cohan would have done a reality show).
The commercialism of Broadway isn’t the end of Broadway . . . it’s just doing what it has always done. We shouldn’t be surprised, and we should predict the end of art form because of it.
Instead, we should be even more proud of the Show Boats and Spring Awakenings that actually manage to get done, challenging the “quo” without alienating the audience.