Top 5 Broadway myths that need to be debunked.

Quick!  You just got stung on the leg by a jellyfish!  What do you do?

Pretend your limb is a pregnancy test and pee on it, right?

Wrong.  Pee is not a remedy for a jellyfish sting.  It’s just an old wives’ tale.  (Actually I think it’s more like an old bachelor party tale – because the idea of peeing on someone to cure a sting is only stupid enough for a drunk guy to come up with and another drunk guy to actually do.)

There are lots of false myths out there that, for some reason, get passed on from generation to generation, and many of them are spooky, like “Don’t swallow gum because it’ll stay in your stomach for 7 years” or “Swimming right after a meal will give you a cramp and send you straight to the bottom.”

Broadway has its own set of myths that are a bit scary in their own right, and don’t help us as we continue to market what we do for the next generations.  It’s important that all of us do what we can to debunk these myths, in order to improve our rep.

Here are five Broadway myths that I’d like to see forgotten:

1.  Broadway tickets are all expensive.

Broadway tickets are expensive, just like Major League Baseball tickets or concert tickets, etc., especially for the hit shows, best teams, or best bands.  But there are lots of options to get cheaper tickets out there.  You can sit in balconies, bleachers, or upper decks . . . enter lotteries and rush . . . check out TKTS, discount sites, 20at20, TDF, and more.  If you want to see a Broadway show, there’s a way to see one cheap. It may take a little effort, and you may not be able to see Book of Mormon, but Broadway tickets are not all expensive.

2.  Broadway investing is a sure-fire way to lose money.

Many Broadway shows make money.  More Broadway shows lose money.  No question that it’s a risky investment, but trust me, shows wouldn’t keep happening year after year if there wasn’t a way for those investors to win and win big.  My data suggests that about 30% of shows make money, which when you compare that to the odds of any startup succeeding in this country, ain’t half bad.  And, I’m a believer that if the average is 30%, then with proper due diligence, an investor can turn their own odds into 40-50%.  But it’s not putting a “match to your money” as one potential investor once said to me.  I introduced that guy to an investor in Wicked, an investor in Rent, and an investor in A Chorus Line.  He quickly recanted.

3.  Broadway actors all make big bucks

Broadway actors are the hardest working in the entertainment biz.  Period.  In a cage match of Broadway actors versus screen actors, the Broadway folks would crush their counterparts like tiny little bugs as the screen actors cried out “Where’s my trailer?  Where’s Craft Services?”  Broadway actors do it 8 times a week (sounds like a t-shirt you’d buy at Spencer Gifts, doesn’t it?).  They sing, dance, act.  And while they make a respectable living, and obviously get to do what so many others don’t, they aren’t walking away with millions.  And remember, their show can close unexpectedly and then they are back in line looking for the next gig.

4.  Broadway shows are only for old people.

Seeing a Broadway show just isn’t on the list of options for what to do on a Friday night for some many twenty-somethings.  But it should be.  American Idiot, Rock of Ages, and Avenue Q all appealed to young folks.  I know, I know, you’re saying that most twenty-somethings can’t afford these shows.  See Myth #1.  And then ask them how much they’d pay to get into a club.

5.  Broadway is dying.

There’s no question that Broadway faces challenges . . . and more challenges now than ever before, thanks to the internet age, and age of “on demand” entertainment.  But Broadway has survived the radio, the television . . . and we will survive the internet.  As more and more forms of 2D entertainment pop up on your phone, your iPad, your microwave oven . . . the more rare, and therefore, more valuable live 3D entertainment gets.

 

All of the myths above could use some stomping out.  Do what you can do to help today.  When someone says, “Broadway is dead” point them to Book of Mormon.  When someone says, “I can’t afford to go see a Broadway show,” take them to TKTS or teach them about the lottery.

And when someone gets stung by a jellyfish, don’t pee on their leg . . . unless you really, really don’t like them . . . or unless you really, really just have to go.

 

(Got a comment?  I love ’em, so comment below!  Email subscribers, click here, then scroll down, to say what’s on your mind!)

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FUN STUFF

– 59 Days to Godspell!  Read the day-by-day account of producing Godspell on Broadway here.

– See DTE Director of Online Marketing, Steven Tartick, talk about social media marketing for Broadway shows (including what we’re doing on Godspell) at the Apple Store on 5th Ave TONIGHT, Monday, August 15th at 7PM.  Click here for deets.

 

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Comments
  • Amyleigh1982 says:

    Argh. Ol’ number 4, which ends up leading to number 5. Boo.

  • Rita says:

    I love the attitude here, and I agree completely! And if the “old people” take their kids to Broadway shows, it nurtures a new generation (who can get student rush and lottery tickets in addition to TDF).
    A friend once commented that “it’s so expensive” when I told her my family of five went to a couple of Broadway shows during winter break. I asked her how much she usually spent on her family ski weekend.
    It’s about making choices, and putting things in perspective.

  • Yosi Merves says:

    I don’t think Broadway is for old people, but I am 24 and I find that many shows marketed to my age bracket are not shows I want to see, whether Myth #1 is true or not. I have no interest in American Idiot, Passing Strange, or Spring Awakening, and consider them to be terrible examples of musical theater. I love Avenue Q, but I can attribute that to the fact that I have built and performed puppets since I was 8 years old, and I already was well-aware of who John Tartaglia, Stephanie D’Abbruzzo, Rick Lyon, and Jennifer Barnhardt were before I saw the show.
    My question is whether new musicals that are worth seeing is just a myth, or whether we are consigned to “new” musicals being adaptations from movies, jukebox song catalogs, or something filled with self-referential irony by a composing team who may not be as smart and talented as they think they are. I actually don’t mind the first option if it is done well, and even the second one can be enjoyable at times, but I find new musicals that I actually want to see hard to come by, so I am inclined to stick to revivals, because there are plenty of shows I haven’t seen live but would like to, and would certainly rather see instead of some of the current options.

  • Though it is only a field treatment, the ammonia in urine may help neutralize the venom in a sea urchin–not jellyfish–sting.

  • Derrick M says:

    Great post!

  • Janiska says:

    Despite the disclaimer, numbers 4 and 5 indicate Broadway is concerned about not attracting NEW audiences. If Yosi is an example of that new audience Broadway, it’s time for Broadway do something NEW.
    It may be time to give up reviving long dead musicals, half dead stars, and near dead movies, all just for the recognizable title. It’s time we see more “Books of Mormon.”
    If Broadway is to attract new audiences, it must offer a new product. And back to #2, maybe it’s time producers take more risks by producing more NEW works.

  • John West says:

    I love that you’ve discredited some of these myths, especially number 3. I think Broadway actors are some of the hardest working people around. All the singing, dancing, acting, and in some cases a bit of gymnastics, every night is not easy. And even if you are feeling under the weather you have to push through because the show must go on.

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