Has the economy affected Broadway sales?

Broadway?  I don’t think Broadway has seen any major downturn that can be directly attributed to the current economic situation . . . yet.

But frankly, it’s too early to tell.

When there’s a drought or a famine, the first ones to go aren’t the rich folks on the hill in their big houses.  Oh no, the first to go are the smaller, the weaker . . . the poor.

In the past three months, three of the longer running Off-Broadway shows have announced their closing:  I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish and I’m in Therapy and (I still can’t believe it) Forbidden Broadway.

I Love You
ran for over 12 years, My Mother’s Italian for 2 and Forbidden Broadway has been running for 26 years (at almost as many theaters).

In those many years, these shows have seen a lot:  a dot-com bubble-busting, a black Monday, and the obvious day in September.

And they got through it all.

And they’re not getting through this.

So, either this drought is different from the rest, or expenses have inflated more than prices, so shows can’t tighten their belts as tight as they used to.

My feeling?  It’s a bit of both.

Will the drought ever reach those rich fat-cat Broadway shows on the hill?

Well, let’s hope that something settles soon, because I think it’s creeping closer . . . and closer (think it’s a coincidence that both of these “closers” are basically big Off-Broadway shows?)

Does that mean you should run for this hills if you’re looking to put up a show in the next 12 months?  Nope, but like the modern consumer, you have to be more discerning with where you spend you money and what you spend your money on.

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Comments
  • Joseph Millett says:

    Yeah, but “Perfect Crime” is still running…

  • I definitely saw an example of this today when one of my favorite theatre bloggers/reviewers posted that he wouldn’t be seeing [title of show] even with its impending closing because he had to start being more judicious in his selections of shows.
    I’ve also started to direct and produce an independent film, using a script based on a short story a friend wrote. Already in the few weeks that the project has been underway I’ve found it’s not easy to find financing for a project especially when it is this small, and is a short film that has little prospect outside of the festival circuit and web distribution (though I think there is a lot of potential in web distribution).
    Because of these factors, I have (much like you concluded) decided to be more discerning with where money is spent. For me, that’s meant slashing the budget in half (it’s now only $8,000), adopting some digital production techniques (organizing and hiring the crew through a custom website program I’ve developed, so I can easily communicate with them), and taking on the roles of Producer and Editor myself. It means more creative control, but at the expense of time; I had to push back the shooting schedule to accommodate more time for pre-production.
    Thanks for this great post; you always post insightful stuff. Can’t wait to see 13 in a month or so!

  • XANADU and [TOS] are closing, in my mind, because shows close. XANADU ran a year and struggled for reasons most shows struggle–it didn’t win any Tonys, didn’t have mass appeal, couldn’t get Roseanna Barr for stunt-casting . . . [TOS] closed because they were charging $101 to see four people on stage. People thought, “Hmmm, for a little more, I could see Patti LuPone and a BUNCH of people in GYPSY” or IN THE HEIGHTS, THE LITTLE MERMAID, etc.
    I don’t know if I would believe there’s a connection.

  • RLewis says:

    Will the drought ever reach those rich fat-cat Broadway shows on the hill?
    If it’s true that something like 70% of all Bway audiences are from another country, then the big bailout should only help the fat-cat shows. As the Fed’ poors money into the market the dollar slide will only continue, so converting foreign currency to dollars is currently a better deal than anything at the TKTS booth. But that’s not good news for the smaller, unknown, start-up shows, i.e. 13.

  • Brian Kuchta says:

    From the Library of Congress “Great Depression and World War II 1929- 1945” – ‘Even during “Hard Times” and wartime, people need to be entertained.’
    Sure, the economy is dipping. It may even be “receding,” but let’s face it. This has happened and will continue to happen in the United States and the world. History has shown that through adversity, through depressions, wars, and terrorism, people will always need to be entertained.
    Does that mean that audiences are going to want to see an off Broadway musical that has been playing for 12 years or another version of the same parody formula (granted a mostly brilliant formula) that has been around for twenty years or a one man show that appeals mostly to a specific target audience?
    Obviously not because those shows and other like them are closing/closed/going to close.
    The key is to focus on the audience – who wants to be entertained, how they want to be entertained, and how much are they willing to pay for that entertainment.
    But in the grand scheme of the universe, ‘Even during “Hard Times” and wartime, people need to be entertained.’

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