As I sat in my seat at The Laura Pels, one of the 143 Roundabout theaters, watching the new Off-Broadway musical Tin Pan Alley (directed by my ABz director, Stafford Arima), I started to think once again about the current state of Off-Broadway and more specifically, commercial Off-Broadway.
My mind wandered to when I was at NYU in the early 90s, a period that I call “The Golden Age of Off-Broadway,” when commercial musicals like Nunsense, Forever Plaid, and Forbidden Broadway, were all playing and playing profitably.
There are fewer and fewer musicals opening commercially Off-Broadway now . . . never mind running . . . and never mind running profitably.
You know what there seems to be more of Off-Broadway these days? Non-profits. I don’t have the numbers on this, but I’d bet that there are more non profit off-broadway and off-off broadway theater companies today than there were 20 years ago, and fewer commercial productions.
20 years ago, there weren’t many non-profits with Broadway houses either. Now the Roundabout has three. MTC has one. Second Stage bought the Helen Hayes. And they might as well give the keys to The Belasco to Lincoln Center, because they are the only ones that seem to want that space.
Notice a similiar trend?
So, in another 20 years, will we see only non-profits producing on Broadway?
Isn’t that what happened to opera over the last two hundred years?