When is Broadway’s birthday?
I had a bday over the weekend, and it got me thinking . . . just when is Broadway’s birthday?
My History of American Musical Theatre Professor at NYU, Jack Lee (the guy who gave me my start by recommending me for a production assistant position on My Fair Lady), would say that the birth of the Broadway musical was on September 12, 1866 when the curtain went up on the infamous, designed-by-fire, Black Crook.
This WikiAnswer says that the “first-known professional musical production was a five performance run of John Gay’s satirical British ballad opera, The Beggar’s Opera, offered by Walter Murray and Thomas Kean’s traveling theatrical troupe at the Nassau Street Theatre.”
We celebrate a lot of Birthdays through the year. Broadway should be one of them. As an industry we should pick a day and build a celebration around it. And hey, it doesn’t even have to be accurate. The Declaration of Independence is widely believed to have been officially executed in early August, not on July 4, 1776. And most people, whether they believe in Him or not, acknowledge that Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th.
Birthdays are marketing tools. Think about yours for a second. What does your birthday do? It makes people, by societal convention, turn their attention and their focus to you, right?
Let’s use society’s natural desire to celebrate a birth to our advantage. Because Broadway could use every extra bit of attention it can get.