Trend alert: Matinees aren’t just for Wednesdays anymore. recently sent out an email to its customers with a subject similar to the subject of this blog.


Because this summer, a bunch of shows are shaking up their schedules.

  • Baby It’s You has performances on Friday at 2 PM.
  • Chicago has performances on Thursday at 3 PM.
  • Rock of Ages has performances on Friday at 3 PM.
  • Mamma Mia has a couple of Friday performances at 2 PM.
  • (Book of Mormon had some Friday mats scheduled at one point, but has since reverted to a standard sched.)

So what’s with this new strategy?  Well, it’s the summer, so more tourists are roaming the streets of Times Square, and these shows are trying to go around their competition.  While the shows may not sell out at these “odd” times,” the theory is that there are people that want to see shows at alternative times.  And while there may be 30+ shows competing for an audience on a Friday night, there may less than a handful competing for that audience on a Friday mat.  And a show just might net higher than on a Tuesday or Wednesday night.

London has always offered earlier Friday performances, and I’ve been pitching a summer “Friday at 5” schedule for years.

Most of these shows will snap back to their regular schedule when September comes, and by then we’ll have some data on whether the experiment worked.

I’ll try to do some digging to see if I can get a source from one of these shows to share.

Whether or not they work, big kudos to the decision makers on these shows for giving it a shot.  It takes a lot to deviate from the norm, especially in this change-resistant industry.

But exploration like this is how we discover new ways of solving age-old problems.


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  • Tanya says:

    London has always had midweek matinees, but very few shows play on a Sunday… Matinee performances often sell very well to tourists, school groups and coachloads of grannies from retirement homes! I found it frustrating when in NY a couple of years ago that there was nothing for me to see in the afternoon in the middle of the week, and a five show weekend puts a much bigger strain on performers.

  • William Goldman advocated this policy over 40 years in “The Season,” his wonderful chronicle of the 1967-68 Broadway theatre season. The wheels, they do turn slow.

  • I imagine two shows could team up to offer a double-header if one show plays at 5 PM, maybe give a discount if you bought tix to both for the same day.

  • Mary says:

    How do you get the word out there about these afternoon shows? Does the TKTS booth sell the afternoon shows? And if so, do they sell them the day before because they don’t open before they start?

  • Roger says:

    Mary, they do sell Thursday and Friday matinees at TKTS. It was funny walking by there last Thursday and seeing just Chicago all by it’s lonesome up there.
    From my perspective, Baby It’s You has been doing the best job of getting the word out. They have new signage on the theater announcing the Friday matinees and it’s been mentioned in all their ads recently.

  • I think alternate times is just great – if they also
    offered a slight discount, it would be even better!!
    Demetria Daniels

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