Where you go doesn’t define what you are.

Tough love.

I had to give a little TL to a client who wanted to take the play to Broadway.  It wasn’t that I didn’t think the play was good.

I just didn’t think it belonged on Broadway.

“But that’s where it has to go!”

“Why,” I said.

“Because I want it to be a success!”

Broadway is a very unique place.  With a very unique audience.  With 65% of its attendees coming from around the country, it takes a very specific show to survive.

And, honestly, that doesn’t always mean that only the best shows are the most successful ones.

The fact is, not every show is a Broadway show . . . and that’s ok.  Shows can be successful in a lot of different ways nowadays (and yesterdays, actually).  Just ask Maury Yeston and Arthur Kopit, whose Phantom has racked up thousands of performances (and hundreds of thousands of dollars, I’m sure) at theaters all over the world, yet has never been seen inside the city walls.  Just ask John Cariani, whose Almost Maine is one of the most licensed plays in the country, and only ran for a few weeks Off-Broadway.

So, I’ll say it again . . . not every show belongs on Broadway.

It’s just one potential destination . . . one path that you can venture down should you so choose.  And sure, it’s “The Great White Way” and has a mystique about it that makes us all want to get there.  But it doesn’t define success.

And recognizing that your show may not be best suited for its boards could be the most successful thing you do in its development.


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  • Mike Lewis says:

    My thoughts: As I remember, there was a synergy between the Sullivan Street Playhouse and “The Fantasticks”, and the atmosphere and degree of intimacy of the venue was just appropriate. In my view, the character of the venue was a contributing element to the long run.

    Over a year ago when “Lysistrata Jones” moved from the Gym at Judson to the Walter Kerr, the show lost a certain venue-show connection; and that may have been a contributing factor to the short run. The feel of the show relative to the atmosphere of the Walter Kerr did not align.

    Of course seating capacity can be a more significant contributor, but that’s not where I’m coming from on this.

  • Phyllis Buchalter says:

    Talking about plays that shouldn’t be on Broadway – Just saw “The Anarchist” by David Mamet. Only because a show has two well known stars it doesn’t have to be on Broadway. This show should have been done with two good actresses in an off-Broadway venue (something like The Atlantic in Chelsea). It is one hour of Mamet-speak. Not worth the Broadway costs or The Golden Theatre.

  • There was a period when Off-Broadway didn’t just mean a show that was trying to move to Broadway. It meant an intimate show that was designed for a theater that had 499 or fewer seats. The Fantastics, Little Shop of Horrors and Ruthless are just a few examples of shows that did well in a smaller house. Little Shop actually showed better at the Orpheum. I love intimate Off-Broadway theater.

  • Stephen Marmon says:

    “Broadway is a very unique place.”

    It’s either unique or it’s not. Bad form there.

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