The 2012 Off-Broadway Preview: Something is Missing

A few days ago, ran a great feature on the upcoming Off-Broadway season (which you can read here).  But I have to admit, there was something about the article that I hated.

There were 33 plays and musicals mentioned for the coming months.

And only 2 of them were commercial.

And neither of those 2 are plays.

Both Bare and Forever Dusty (the two commercials) are musicals, set to open this fall at New World Stages, and the rest of thirty-something entries into our theatrical atmosphere are non-profit productions.

I also think the article missed one . . . Falling, the new play by Deanna Jent, which opens in October, starring Julia Murney.

But still . . . that’s one.

Now, as the Editor’s note in the article states, “The Off-Broadway universe – like the actual universe – is wide, unknowable and ever-expanded,” so there may be a few that pop up or have been missed . . . and I do know there are a few 1-3 performance a week type shows opening in the fall that weren’t a part of this preview (which actually makes this trend even more interesting).

But as of now, there is just that 1 for-profit, eight show/week, play opening this fall season.  And only 2 musicals.

The challenges of producing Off-Broadway have only increased exponentially over the last years, and that’s no good for Producers . . . or Actors . . . or Designers . . . or Theater Owners . . . or Writers . . . or Audiences . . . or anyone.

There has to be some sort of commercial Off-Broadway stimulus package to get the for-profit productions pumping again.  It’s too vital.

Off-Broadway should be a place where artists and producers can take more risks, not a place where they run from them.


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  • Cornell Christianson says:

    When the JOBs Act takes effect in January, it will be a game changer for Off Broadway. You can raise up to $1 million from strangers through Crowd Funding investors. And you will be able to advertise. This will bring an entire new pool of investors into Off Broadway shows and make them less risky.

  • Marshall says:

    Would you go into more depth on the non-profit productions? Maybe when you need a blog topic. 😉 Assume it’s like the difference between having something on NBC vs. PBS? Does Equity have special rates? What about the unions? Can a non-profit become a commercial production if it’s successful?
    You’d help us out here in the hinterlands.

  • Tim Jones says:

    Thanks so much for this post. I am currently working on a business plan for the production of 5 poetic musicals and I’m wondering if you have any suggestions that might help me in this process.

  • TrevorC says:

    If the ‘Off,and Off-Off Broadway” producers are lacking the vision to create good commercial product for public consumption then they should get on a plane and come see how it’s done in London. Off-West End & Off-Off West End producers, production companies and theatre produce a feast of dramatic, high-quality plays and musicals work that runs on a commercial 6-8 shows a week basis in a variety of metropolitan theatres.

    Run on on shoestring – and less sometimes – often crowd funded the “Off” scene in town is vibrant with high-quality revivals and new workand eager actors, designers etc.

    Theatres such as The Menier, The Finborough, The Landor, The Union Street; they are all braving it through tough times.

    Canny New York Producer/Investors should come over and see is exportable they would be surprised.

    Can’t make the trip then subscribe to “The Arts Desk” for a weekly round up of all that is great.

  • Hugh Murphy says:

    You complain about off broadway shows but you are not prepared to take risks. I’ve written a play, One Big Onion, which shows the True Story of who Larkin and Connolly’s Trade Union were corrupted by the Belfast employers. The proof of this is on the quoted website and Sackedbyunion on Twitter. I can email you this play [without obligation] and when you read it and the circumstances – YOU might feel like taking a risk.

  • Heather says:

    There are tons of theater companies taking tons of risks in New York City every day – try looking in to the Off-Off Broadway (also known, and preferably called by many, as Indie Theater) community. These companies work extremely hard to bring new work and revivals to stages in all five boroughs, and on a shoe string. But due to lack of interest from larger media outlets (try to get Time Out New York or the New York Times to review – it’s like pulling teeth) and the nearly impossibly outdated showcase code, most of these shows only run two to three weeks with an AEA imposed cap of 16 performances.

    I’ve probably seen hundreds of new plays, some quite brilliant, in small theaters that have less than 99 seats, and if we could just get the word out I’d bet that some of these plays would find huge followings. I’ve personally taken one play from Off-Off to Off: but I’m going to be honest, we couldn’t keep it open very long because of the expense of keeping it running, despite glowing reviews. As a community of artists we don’t have the funding, despite our best fundraising efforts, and we apparently don’t interest larger Off-Broadway and Broadway producers, even when we do manage to get contact and send invitations. I think that’s because there’s a feeling that Off-Off or Indie Theater isn’t professional theater – which is simply not true. Sure, you may kiss a few frogs before you find a prince, but the same can be said for Broadway (I can’t tell you how many shows I’ve seen on the stem that made me want my time back). And sometimes I feel like this blog, by ignoring the Off-Off/Indie community is just fostering the idea that it’s less important theater. But the truth is: Off-Off Broadway is where you find the heart and soul of theater.

  • Bryan David says:

    Dear Mr. Davenport, et al:

    I know what is missing in the musical category. Kindly go back (I’m sure Ms. Caplow has a copy) Of a controversial, thought provoking, head turning, fact based, MUSICAL that has minimal sets, one costume per Actor thus an Off-Broadway show that CAN/SHOULD be produced on a bare-bones/shoestring budget offering you a small overhead/cost vs a possible LARGE return on investment…

    “Whitechapel” ©

    The Life & Times


    ‘Jack The Ripper’

    A Musical Love Story! ™

    © Copyright 1996/2007 Bryan David/Brandon Kress
    All Rights Reserved

    Let’s make both money and a little history!

    Bryan David
    Playwright & Lyricist
    774-826-6546 Mobile

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