Santa is bringing us a lot of presents this year. And it’s only August!

Programming around the seasons is hard to do on Broadway, mostly due to theater availability.  But something is happening this coming holiday season that has got my mittens in a bunch.

Used to be that there was one giant NY holiday attraction . . . those attractive, long-legged Rockettes over at Radio City that do 143 shows per day of their Christmas Spectacular.

And then, in the mid 90s, a Broadway-like version of A Christmas Carol by Alan Menken and Lynn Ahrens took residence at Madison Square Garden. (Produced by the same Co that produces those kickin’ Rockettes, actually.)

And that was it . . . for a while anyway.

But in the latter half of the 2000s, other shows started to pop up around Candy Cane time . . . first there was How The Grinch Stole Christmas . . . and then Wintuk . . . and then White Christmas . . . and then Elf . . .

And this year . . . A Christmas Story gives the limited run holiday engagement a go.  (And my Group Sales Department says there’s a good deal of interest in that one!)

Were they successful?

Well, some were, some weren’t, but there’s gotta be something good goin’ on for these shows, because this year?

Almost all of them are coming back!

This year we’ll see three shows on Broadway that all have their targets set on the tourists that are in town from Thanksgiving to New Year’s:  Elf, A Christmas Story and The Grinch.  And, of course, the Rockettes will still be dancing up a snow storm.

So why is there more availability this year to allow for all these shows to take up short term residence?

Is it because theater owners now know that it’s pretty common for these timely tuners to do $1mm a week for their entire run?

Or . . . is it because the recent trend of shows opening in the spring is causing a lack of shows opening in the fall, making more theater space available?

And most importantly, is there enough business to go around for all these shows with their fragile “must-recoup-in-8 weeks” model?

Only time will tell.  But I’ve got my Christmas trees crossed for all of them.


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  • Mark E says:

    Don’t forget ANNIE.

  • Solange De Santis says:

    Ken, Radio City’s “Christmas Spectacular” wasn’t the *only* NY holiday attraction. There is a show that’s been playing for 60 years, it’s in a different genre but it is a Christmas show that’s been drawing millions of parents and kids and $$$ — and that’s the New York City Ballet’s “Nutcracker.” Lots of folks who never see ballet the whole year spend money on tickets for the Nutcracker. It should be considered as part of the show business landscape at Christmas.

  • John says:

    My family was “taken” by of these fly by night shows a few years ago. I think it was a version of The Grinch….and it was awful. Completely thrown together, over-priced, lots of kids who could not sing (and could barely act). What a disappointment….never again.

  • I’m glad that “Elf” is coming back, though I hope they tweak it a bit — the disgruntled Santas were my favorite thing but they were underutilized.Give them another number! I also liked the colorblind casting and hope that continues. The big black Santa was a crowd favorite. A lot of little kids in the crowd for this show and the more diverse the cast, the better, on every level.

  • p.s. a funny thing happened at the preview of “Elf” I attended. Santa kept his ‘naughty’ and ‘nice’ list on an iPad tucked into his belt. Sebastian Arcelus played Buddy the elf. Early in the show the iPad slipt between Santa and his belt, hit the stage and then skidded across the floor. IPads were brand new and expensive — the entire audience gasped in unison. Sebastian Arcelus was closest to it so he ran over, picked it up, and impishly flashed the front of it to the audience to show that it didn’t break and was still working as he handed it back to Santa. People laughed, some went, “Whew!” and the show continued. A funny moment. Sebastian was adorable as Buddy. And quick thinking.

  • A Contrarian says:

    Why aren’t there more short runs in the fall? Nothing to transfer from London? Perhaps the recession is finally hitting Broadway?

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