It’s official: Broadway to Off is not just a fad. It’s a phenom.
Earlier this week, Million Dollar Quartet announced that it would be closing June 12th.
But it won’t be gone for good.
MDQ will become the latest show to transfer from Broadway to Off-Broadway as it moves into New World Stages in July.
It’s the fourth show to make such a move: Avenue Q, The 39 Steps, the upcoming Rent, and now, MDQ. And all of them taking up tenancy at New World Stages (Boy, there were times during the run of Altar Boyz when we were the only show in the building – I don’t expect a show to feel that lonely anytime soon – good news for the owners in what is a fantastic turnaround play.)
It was almost three years ago that I wrote this blog suggesting that Broadway producers look at this model, and it has been almost two since the Producers of Avenue Q courageously decided to go where no Producers had gone before and made the move (and brought us on to GM). And then the domino effect began.
Because of that blog a few years ago, and because of the surprising MDQ news, I’ve been getting a lot of questions from readers and reporters alike about what I think now that four shows have done it.
So what do I think?
It’s awesome for all the reasons I wrote about before. Avenue Q was about to close. As was 39 Steps. One can only assume MDQ was about to do the same. And I don’t think a Rent revival was in the cards in the short term.
Jobs were created. Theaters were filled. Investors continue to make money or have a shot at getting more back in the case of unrecouped shows. What could be bad about that?
Well, there is one thing.
What about new commerical Off-Broadway shows?
As if it couldn’t get any tougher for anyone trying to make a go of it with a new commercially-produced play or musical, it just did. Because Broadway . . . just got bigger. That’s right, with Broadway branded shows now appearing in Off-Broadway venues, guess where patrons are going to go first when considering an Off-Broadway show? Oh, and remember those good deals you used to get because Off-Broadway venues needed to fill a hole, or a vendor needed the biz wherever and whenever he or she could get it? Well, there’s not as much desperation anymore since mini-Broadway was born.
I’m thrilled about this new distribution model for our industry. Overall, it’s a great thing. But now, looking at the landscape, I fear for the commercial Off-Broadway musical . . . as it’s becoming an endangered species. Oh, they may pop up every now and then, but are they making money?
And the commercial play? Well, shoot, it’s becoming as much of a myth as the Big Foot.
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