Can you predict Broadway’s future?

I got one of those mass emails the other day that thankfully slipped through my spam filters and got me thinking.  The subject?  “Life 100 Years Ago . . .”

The email included fun facts from exactly 100 years ago like:

  • The average life expectancy for men was 47 years.
  • The average US wage was 10 cents per hour.
  • Only 6% of the American population graduated from high school.
  • The maximum speed limit was 10 MPH.
  • The population of Las Vegas, Nevada was 30.

The end of the email left you with this to ponder . . . “Imagine what life will be like in another 100 years!”

I mean, can you even?  Really?  Hovercrafts and your thoughts moving objects and so forth come to mind, right?

Well what about Broadway?  What will it be like?  Will it even still be here?

At our first TEDx, I tried to imagine 20 years in the future with this talk.

But now I’m asking you . . . but let’s not go 100, because frankly, we’ll all be long gone by then (yes, even you youngins out there).  Let’s go fifty years out.  How’s that?  I’ve already been working in the biz for 20 years myself and I have seen a slew of changes, from Times Square to “Teletron” to online eclipsing box office sales.

So what will happen in two and a half times that span?

You tell me.  What will Broadway be like in 50 years?  Will the theaters still be here?  Will there be more bathrooms?  Or will human beings not even have to go to the bathroom anymore so we won’t even need it.  We’ll just think pee and . . . bam.  Done.

Ok, I’ve gone off the rails a bit here, but you get what I’m saying.  The people who lived 100 years ago probably couldn’t imagine what life would be like today.

But I’m taking a moment and asking you.

What will Broadway be like in 50 years?  Comment below.  And then, fifty years from now, we’ll unearth this blog (if the Internet still exists – what, what???) and see who’s right.  Whover gets a prediction correct, I’ll pay $10,000.  Of course, that’ll be the equivalent of .00284 cents.  And I’ll have gone to the Broadway in the sky, so . . .

Predict the future below!  I’ll post the best and coolest comments in a follow up blog in a week!


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  • Jake Lloyd says:

    I’m gonna believe we are going to get back to good, strong storytelling.

  • Brian says:

    Book Of Mormon will still be sold out, any seat in that theatre will be considered premium and if you pay $1000. you can be in a lottery to get a ticket to enter a drawing to for an opportunity to speak to someone at the box office who tell you the shows is sold out until 2075 and there are only limited view seats available in 2080. There will be a review of 52 Frank Wildhorn musicals called “Some are Frank, Some are Wild and Some are Horny” it opens and closes in one night and immediately has a”cult following.” Andrew Lloyd Webber attends the 75th anniversary of POTO which is still running. ALW tells the crowd he is working on a new musical that explains why people run from a chandelier that is moving more slowly than the TKTS line when filled with tourists. Chicago is stilling running and Honey Boo-Boo is playing Roxie. Sondheim has announced he has a new version of Wise Guys/Gold/Bounce called “We’ll Get It Right Eventually’. Many consider it a companion piece to “Merrily We Revise Along.” Patti LuPone is in a assisted living facility where she insists that the other residents turn off all hearing aids, pacemakers, and other electronic equipment before she enter the cafeteria. Bernadette Peters lives in luxury after designing a strapless hospital gown that has a built-in push up bra that is sold on QVC. Cher brings her 53 annual farewell tour to Broadway and is presented with a special Tony by Neil Patrick Harris. Brian Cullen is also given a special Tony when he submits his 100,00th entry into the Producer’s Prespective without ever winning tickets.

  • Elisa Christina Clayton says:

    Productions in new expanded theatre districts in major cities throughout the country will compete with Broadway productions for Tony Awards and tourist dollars.

  • Just as a matter of clarification, the main reason why life expectancy was 47 a hundred years ago is that infant mortality is always factored into the statistic, and it was much, much higher than it is now. There were plenty of really old people back then. They just had to get through the dangerous years of childhood first.

  • Steve Conners says:

    Last night on YouTube I stumbled upon a 1930 film titled: “Just Imagine”. It was really bad, but it had as its premise a guy from 1930 who had died and was reanimated in 1980. The sci-fi stretch was unbelievable. They had no idea of what the future would hold. Sadly, if they continue to use up all the stories for film, cable and TV you might find that in sooner than 50 years nobody will want to go out to theatre, or to movie houses. Bigger home screens and better sound will prevail. Soon no one will even try to come up with a “new show”, because it will just be a re-hash of all of the stories and titles that will exist in the cloud library. The future? –sjc

  • As it was 100 years ago, Broadway will be the same. It will have moved, as it has, this time because Manhattan will have been flooded. Instead of busses, there will be gondola tours through the theatre district and the old theatres.

    Broadway, or whatever it might be called, will be a combination of Art and Schlock that employs the latest in technology. Sometimes, people will get it right. Sometimes not.

    The bar will be different. Snookie will have headlined “Chicago.” Actings styles will be different, but the goal of providing enlightenment and entertainment will remain.

    Live performance will still be appreciated, as it has been for thousands of years.

    Of course, I often argued with my broadcasting professor that cable tv was “a flash in the pan.” He told me I would work in television. We were both right. I cut the cable cord over a year ago. I had to get an HD antenna to watch the Tonys.

    I’m sure, Ken, you will agree that the Tonys are better live.

    If only because there are no overt commercials when you see a show in the Selywn.

  • Dave says:

    Broadway becomes Broad-Wave. NYC Theaters are transformed into hologram recording studios – staged performances are broadcast digitally as holographic productions which can be reproduced in theater-in-the-round multiplexes that have sprung up all across North America, taking the highest levels of quasi-live quasi-theatre to even relatively isolated communities. Like motion pictures, these productions are typically limited to a two-month-long run at most, so there is a demand for a continuous supply of new material. Established playwrights are highly sought-after, and well-compensated, and actors have lots of short-lived contracts. Tech people – especially the holographers – make the most money of all.

  • Margie Goldsmith says:

    Re: Ted
    You’re a great speaker, but we knew that already. I don’t think there will ever be room for a roller-coaster in Times Square, but we COULD have a Ferris Wheel, similar to the London Eye, paid for with city money AND from each owner of a Broadway theatre. Each car would have the name of the current Broadway (and off-Broadway show)offered, one car might be sponsored by TKS, etc. etc. There IS room for a giant Ferris Wheel — just look at the people standing on the steps over TKS — it would draw as many or MORE people to NYC than the WTC Museum, trust me on this.

  • rich says:

    In fifty years, we will all own special virtual ‘goggles’ that enable us to stay indoors and program any musical we’d like to see, and have the ability to choose our own cast from a drop-down menu. Then sit back and let your customized version of My Fair Lady, starring Hugh Jackman as Professor Higgins and Charo as Liza, entertain you to your heart’s content.

  • Rich Mc says:

    Agree completely with Dave, and I’ve commented on this before. High-tech Holography will effectively render today’s Broadway obsolete. Only question is the performance venue; if technology allows for slight miniaturization it
    could even be in our homes!

  • J says:

    As ticket costs skyrocket, producers will have to find cost effective alternative ways of reaching more people. Live streaming of broadway productions to your personal electronic devices, will be the new thing (or to local theatres/classrooms in lieu of touring)
    The regional aea theatres that survive will still be struggling to keep afloat. For every one that fails five non-AEA(or partial) theatres seem to take its place, and I sadly don’t see that trend ending any time soon.

  • Mitchell says:

    Broadway theatre capacities will shrink as audiences grow… physically, that is. Within 50 years, Broadway houses will have to replace their already-too-small-for-expanding-bottoms seats with wider seats, thus decreasing capacities. People aren’t getting any smaller anytime soon, drink dispensers in the post-Bloomberg era will offer 100-ounce sodas and Squishees, and the only way to attract audiences will be to introduce wider seats (at a premium?) for a more comfortable experience. (Just ask the airlines!)

  • As far as the performers, it won’t be enough to be able to dance, sing and act…you will have to be an acrobat, gymnast, cheerleader and Lord knows what else! Talk about evolving bodies!
    We will now experience Broadway theater thru virtual reality, and it sure won’t be cost efficient. Out home/wall screens will be the server. Should you still wish to see something live, you will be charged an inordinately expensive ticket price, but should you wish to sit, that will involve another cost…I won’t even mention the so called” handling fees!”
    Doubtful that story lines will improve,it will be sheer spectacle, and we’ll not have live music, the pit will be gone and the music will be all electronic, piped in thus more seats can be installed. There will be a charge for the bathroom, and the program. Don’t dare applaud, they might charge you for that also.

  • Really when someone doesn’t understand after that its up to other people that they will help, so here it takes place.

  • whole of the UK but of course most of our work is in London .

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