5 Ways to get Straight Guys to go to a Broadway show.

Bros on BroadwayI can always tell when something in the theatrical news has hit a nerve because I get a whole slew of emails from readers saying, “Have you seen this?”  And when I get a bunch like that, I know that it’s something I should talk about too.

The subject in question is the recent NY Times article about  the dearth of people with both an X and a Y chromosome in Broadway audiences.  In other words, “Where are the dudes?”

In the above article, The Times reported that in 1980, 42% of the audience was made up of men.

In 2013, it was only 32%.

What happened to that 10%?  Could this be why our audience has flatlined???  Is it that men who used to go are just staying home instead and keeping their wives and significant others with them?

This article should definitely serve as a call to action for our friends in Broadway research to find out what happened to the vanishing dudes.

In the meantime, I put my testosterone-filled thinking cap on and came up with Five Ways to get Straight Guys to a Broadway Show.  And they are . . .


If you look at some of the more recent shows that have been hits with the fellas, it has been a lot of comedies:  Spamalot, The Book of Mormon, The Producers, even.  And notice, even among those three, it’s a particular brand of comedy . . . a little bit wise-ass and a little bit crass.  Produce one of those types of shows, and you’ve got a good chance of breaking through to the boys (can someone say, Gettin’ The Band Back Together?).


Guys like to identify with other guys just like them . . . that rise above their every-man like status and accomplish some massive, superhuman goal.  Superman, Ironman . . . Jean Valjean.  We like to fantasize that we’d save the world from destruction, fly like a bird or a plane, or that we’d  be wrongfully imprisoned and then become honest men, rescue a young girl from foster parents and raise her up as our own, and fight in the French Revolution while rescuing our daughter’s beloved on our back.  You know, shows that make you want to be a better . . . and super . . . man.  With a hero on stage, wanna-be heroes may come.


If we want more guys, then we have to tell the girls to tell them how happy a Broadway show will make them.  Yesterday, I took a quick Twitter/Facebook poll and asked what ladies would prefer to get from their significant other – Broadway tickets or a dozen roses.  Over 50 people responded, and over 50 people said tickets.  Believe it or not, us guys want to see our ladies happy.  If we only knew how happy tickets would make the ladies, we’d go more often.  And that’s why we gotta let our guys know that “Broadway is the new dozen roses.”


. . . put some hot girls in the shows.  Now before you call me a pig, remember, musical theater audiences were originally filled with men!  It’s where the business folk went to relax.  I know women are the purchasers now, but do you think they were purchasing tickets back in the early 1900’s?  Why did the men like to go to the theater back then?  Because they liked to go check out those long legged chorus girls!  That’s what The Black Crook was all about!  A musical was born when the ballet corps and their toe-toe exposing tutus danced across the stage of a play.  And all those Ziegfeld follies?  Lovely ladies were everywhere.  Men are visual by nature, and they can’t help but enjoy “pretty women.”  So they’ll enjoy the theater that much more if the scenery is pleasant.


In Ben Brantley’s review of Heathershe makes a point of saying, “And though I’m loath to advocate drinking and theatergoing, this might be a show to see while slightly buzzed.”  For a lot of non-typical theater going guys?  All shows need to be seen while slightly buzzed.  So let ’em.  Most shows are now allowing all patrons to bring sippy cups to their seats , but all shows should.  Make people comfortable, and they’ll enjoy their experience even more.


What do you think will entice the missing 10% of men back to the theater?  Tell me your thoughts in the comments below!


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  • Brad says:

    I agree with all of this except the sippy cup. I can’t tell you how annoyed I was with the guy in front of me who was slupring all during Wicked.

    “The Wizard…SLUPR…and IIIIIIIIII.”

    Not cool. As far as I’m concerned, they can bring anything they want into the theater, as long as it doesn’t bother other patrons.

  • Lisa Brownstein says:

    I have to agree. All you mentioned happens every night at Rock of Ages – the girls, the belly laughs, the nostalgia of guys and girls identifying with the songs of their teen years (ok, mine too) and the drinking – I mean serious hawking of alcohol during the show. Wait service at the seats for your wine cooler and Jell-O shots… It is ridiculous and fun. I love it more thanI should. And it has broken the top 40 of longest running Broadway shows! Their 5 year anniversary is being celebrated next week. However, I caution that without “heart”. All this merriment and fluff is just gimmick. You still get to route for the underdog, the dreamer, the lover, while routing against the villain. Basic stories that appeal to both genders.

  • Joe G says:

    I echo your number #1 thought. I think it generally comes down to the types of shows being produced, and more importantly the quality of them. Some bros may never end up sitting in a Broadway seat, but the ones with even a slight inclination have an interest – just like anyone else – in being IMPRESSED.

    On a totally seperate note, I think a lot of analyis regarding attendance have to deal with the modern issues facing Broadway (non for profit versus for profit, the Disney machine, Studio-fostered adaptations) … All interesting topics covered on this very blog!

  • The Times article buried the lead, sadly. The key notion they are really highlighting is found in the seventh paragraph.

    “While a night out at the theater used to be a staple for cultured American men, fewer shows are grabbing them these days.”

    The key here, that you miss by a mile, is “cultured American men”. There are no cultured American men getting loaded and vomiting all over the Helen Hayes Theater during Rock of Ages. The cultured American men referred to in this article are six feet under at cemeteries all over the tri-state area. The ones that aren’t have graduated to the TDF membership that they share amongst their friends and family. They don’t have any reason to buy full price tickets, they know how to beat the ridiculous premium/discount apparatus that passes for Broadway pricing these days.

    The conjecture offered by the article is debatable, but likely close to the mark. Why would any straight male pay up for the Lifetime Movies of the Week that pass for Broadway fare these days? Or happily trudge into the city with the whole family to a kiddie show that will cost more than their mortgage payment that month?

    Let’s see. The straight males have gone. The Jews are lessening (and retiring to Florida). The locals have been priced out the game. You are left with older women, gay men and tourists.

    I guess we’ll just have to wait until Oprah gets around to deciding on when and what she wants to do on Broadway.

  • Michael DiGaetano says:

    If bars have Ladies NIghts, Broadway can have a Dudes NIght. Cheaper seats, free drink coupon and a bag of M&M’s. Maybe every other Thursday.

  • LA Producer says:

    My gf and I saw the “We Will Rock You” road show in Dallas a couple weeks ago. Want dudes in seats? Try Queen music, a tongue-in-cheek sci-fi plot, funny stoner character, cool futuristic set and a kick-ass live band that’s featured throughout the show. (Spoiler alert: Bohemian Rhapsody is saved ti the end.)

    I know “Rock of Ages” has a huge fan base and as a bro I’ve tried to like it. But the plot seems so hackneyed and predictable and…(dare I say it?)…girlie.

    “Hedwig” has some great rock music but I squirm thinking about that “angry inch.” 🙂

    Have to wonder what the male/female ratio tally was for “Full Monty The Musical?” Local theatre productions have been SRO with an overabundance of gals. But it’s such a “guy” story. Hmmm. Guess Ken’s point of a little sex works both ways! 🙂

  • Josh Ruben says:

    YES! YES! YEESSS!!! I’ve been preaching this to my classes and fellow teaching artists for YEARS!!! I honestly believe that in a few years, heterosexual men will make up a small fraction college graduates and participation in the performing arts is a fundamental reason.

    I try as hard as I can to produce shows that straight boys (and their fathers, uncles, etc.) will enjoy. But it is a constant struggle.

    Here’s another reason why shows like “Spamalot” and “…Mormon” attract these men: THEY ARE GREAT SHOWS!!! How many musicals being produced now are truly remarkable? For fans like us, a great many. But in order to recruit new audiences, we cannot produce shows that are just “good” or even “entertaining” They must be BRILLIANT!

    And remember, long running epic shows like “Phantom,” “Les Miz” and now, “Jersey Boys” all are the hits they are because of their appeal to all audiences, including straight men.

  • Bruce says:

    If it takes the 5 things you talk about to get guys to the theetre, I say “leave them at home.” Just what we need…more drinking in the theatre! Why not more cell phones and candy to unwrap during the performances? And let’s not forget about texting. There’s an idea. Allow texting and you may get more guys in the theatre. All this already exists. It’s called the circus.

  • Andrew says:

    And be sure to add a number six: Dumb it down. Straight lugs don’t want to think–they just want to sit down and quaff a few and belch. How many straight guys are ashamed to tell their bros that they went with their wives to a Broadway show? Or “I went to NYC on business and took in a show.” You don’t hear that–you hear about the restaurants or a trip up to a casino or to a great bar. Plus the local straight guys are too worried about the next deal to go to Broadway where they can’t use their cell phones. Sit in a theater for two hours without making a trade in a foreign market–they be losing out to the guy who sits next to them. Bad boy comedy with plenty of cheesecake, now that might work. “Beavis and Butthead Get Knocked Up”–just make sure there are no gays in the cast.

  • Mark Nassar says:

    Reading some of the previous comments on this blog might give you an idea why straight men might avoid the theater. Are all straight men beer swilling dumbass frat boys? Really? If this is the take on straight men to the theater crowd and theater producers and creators in general, that’s a problem. It’s a pathetic caricature. For me, a straight man in the theater(okay, I outed myself),the turn-off is that the stories, the songs and the books are often beyond CORNY. Kinky Boots was great fun with wonderful music, dancing AND it’s a hit, but the story is so sentimental and so absolutely predictable it’s hard to take and that’s one of the best shows. And of course it has to have the white working class lug be the dumb, narrow minded character as all straight men are, according to some on this blog. Business men in plays today are always the bad guys, so why would they want to go see this stuff. Would gay men want to go to see plays where they’re depicted as one dimensional sissies? Of course not. August Osage County is one of the best non-musicals to be on Broadway in years. Yes, it borrowed from every classic there ever was, but I loved it. All the characters are beautifully layered, EXCEPT Steve, the 50 yr old business man who makes his money in sketchy ways OF COURSE and hits on a teenager throughout the play. Trust me, we all like to see men behaving badly, but it’s offensive when they’re so predictably one demential.

    Music, TV and Films sell macho, to a fault and we certainly wouldn’t want the theater to trade on it at the same level, but come on, a dose of it would be good. A small dose, ala Jersey Boy’s… a knockout. And no, we don’t want to see a male classic like Rocky, turned into a musical. Sorry, but it’s a sacrilege. And please God, we don’t want The Godfather singing, “I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse.” Look to TV, which in many ways is having a Renaissance and learn – talk about men behaving badly – Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead … and ah… the old classic … The Sopranos. And how about New York, which has the greatest characters in the world and the most recognizable accent, but these days, you’ll never hear it in a New York theater. Theater loves the working class, but only if it has an Irish accent. It’s so pretentious. Find something down and dirty New York with a touch of macho and it will fly with men AND woman, straight or gay. Do Wolf of Wall Street as a musical. It would make the Book of Morman look like Mr. Rodgers and kill at the box office. And at the very least – please theater Gods – give us a Sherlock Holmes.

  • George Rady says:

    SERIOUSLY? Why do “guys” not go to the Theatre any more? Ask yourself What on Broadway has any REAL significance to the “average” Guy???

    ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. And I say that as a “guy” who got back into Theatre on the Production angle… but having had a Life Long love for the Theatre that started with a European Education where that Arts are a part of one’s Life… not an “elective””

    I don’t think any of suggestions above describe why the guys that I work with – in a Male Dominant field – chose NOT to go to the Theatre anymore (nor do the descriptions strike me in anyway descriptive of 90% of the guys I know and have worked with for the past 25 years…)

    Let’s start with “Les Miz” – yes – GREAT Guy show! Did You see the recent article in the NY Post boasting that the Jean tears open his shirt and shows his “chisled pecs and washborad abs” – the publicity machine has sexualized the main character – to appeal to women and homosexuals… any “guy” who reads that (and know nothing about the story) would assume it’s just one of those “fruity” muscials and take a pass PERIOD. You may as well sell the ladies in the audience that there are a dozen young beautiful women in the show that show their ta-tas….

    Nor do I agree that putting more leggy showgirls in the cast will sell “guys” on coming back to the theater (or, in more likely, coming for the 1st time) Interenet Porn has made that laughable irrelevent.

    Sports? “Rocky?” Maybe “Putthing the Band Back Together” as more guys have dabbled in R&R at some point… but – really – do most of the guys I know wanna see a show about “sports” – when you can catch a Yankee Game or take a trip out the New Jersey, er Giant/Jet Stadium? And are guys liklely to dwell on past Roads Not Taken? Not to my mind.

    As for the Roses – most of the guys I know aren’t cheating on their wives… so they aren’t blow hundreds of dollars on that tactic and – when – they take their wives to the Theatre they grin and bear what SHE wants to see… which only deepens the attitude that there is NOTHING on Boradway that has anything to do with a “Guy’s” Life…

    So What Does?

  • George Rady says:

    Here’s the problem (and, btw, I don’t think it can seriously be addressed… so it’s a moot point and I continue to gear my Production strategies to bringing in the Ladies that make up closer to 90% of the audience the farther one strays from NYC!)

    1st Theatre is overtly “Socialist” i.e. Govt is the solution to all our problems – if only those “rich” people would be forced to hand over more of their money and give it more power to “fix” things… most “guys” who have HALF of every dollar they make – taken from them in some tax or another – don’t really buy into this Idea… so they are immediately turned off by anything that smacks that “they” should be giving more $$$ to fund Govt…

    The reality for 40/50/60 year old “guys” is that – after working 15/20/30 years – you could be kicked out on your a** it will take months to find another job in your field… you will probably NEVER make the salary you made before and you are fully aware that every dollar that was stolen from you from Socialist Security and Medifraud will NOT be there when you reach 65 (not to mention that the – every dollar the Govt keeps printing means that every dollar you have stock away is worth less-and-less) so you are looking at a long bleak future…

    There aren’t no “Death of a Salesmans” out there that are even aware that every “guy” I know is fearing for the future.

  • Debbie Saville says:

    My husband does auto body repair for a living. He is a salt of the earth kind of guy. A tournament bass fisherman, knows everything there is to know about animals. When we met, we were about as opposite as two people can be as I parallel between the corporate world and 30 years in the theatre. Opposites really do attract as they say and here’s why it works. I go fishing with him and he has always helped me build sets and has attended everything I ever directed or was in.

    Now in reference to this blog, so far there were two “must see” touring Broadway shows for him. One was “Jesus Christ Superstar” and the other “Jersey Boys”, both he would see repeated times. What drew him to the theatre? Music he can relate to. Music he grew up with. Will he attend others? I believe he will.

    This is why I am so intrigued at bringing creative musicians to the theatre stage or my first idea of a mission statement “Out of the bars…into the theatre!”. Not only should talented musicians have an opportunity to be more than background music in a bar, but those who follow these musicians and bands will follow them to the theatre stage and that is why I am creating musicals around them and having them directly on stage, in the show.

    A recent comment I heard from a guy who was listening to the original music of this production based on a Pittsburgh blues band said “These songs sound like…” and then he mentioned several blues bands from his era and continue with…”Man, you wouldn’t want to get up and use the bathroom, you wouldn’t want to miss any of this!”

    “Hook, line and sinker”, I believe this gentleman will be at our show later this summer. 🙂

    I say don’t bribe men into the theatre with gimmicks, make them want to be there because they can relate to the performance and then give them a brilliant performance that will make them want to return.

  • George Rady says:

    2nd – Belly Laughs at “Book of Mormon” Most of the “guys” that I know – while not necessarily church or syngogue going guys – are religious, they have some “fear” of a Greater Power than themselves and judgement… and while they may be tolerant of other faiths (or even those of no faith) its kinda hard to get a belly laugh by making fun of another person’s religion… even if you don’t necessarily ascribe to that religion… so Broadway Shows like that – while they appeal to a “theatre” audience… strike a person of a religious believe as offensive and they simply stay away.

    Now that sure hasn’t hurt that show (and the Mormon’s God Bless ’em have embraced it and use it as their new marketing tool… which is perhaps why they are the #1 Fasting growing religious group???)

    But MOST of Broadway is Secularist and this bias against people of any faith seeps out, intended or not, and it only takes ONE line in a play to simply turn away a person Christian, Jewish, Muslim… or in my latest experience Hindu.. which quickly spreads amongst the tight knit group that shares that faith and voila you’ve lost dozens of potential ticket buyers because the show expressed a contempt for people who “believe” in a Religion or a God. Poof! It’s like Magic – lost Sales.

    And – like I said – most of the guys I work with may not go to Church… but suggest to them that people who believe in “god” are fools or worse… well, you wouldn’t suggest it even the most relaxed venue…

  • George Rady says:

    3rd – Why should “guys” go to the Theatre when all “guys” are depicted like “idiots” who wouldn’t be able to put on their pants if their wives and kids didn’t run their lives?

    And not just theatre – but television…

    Look at the commercials and sitcoms… from “Father Knows Best” we have the “media” singularly devouted to the msg that “Father Know NOTHING” – every “dad” knows less that his wife… can’t understand his kids… spends too much time at “work” and is, well, the troglodyte that seems to be the only “group” that one can openly mock and ridicule w/o any backlash…

    Is it really any wonder IF “guys” ignore all this and retreat to Sports and Action Movies?

    What does “Broadway” have to offer these “guys”” that they can’t readily – ignore – on television? Takes a play that I REALLY thought the BEST work in a while “Vanya Sonya Masha and Spike” – would I recommend it to any of the “guys” I work wit’ ? NO! There is NOT a male character in there that a guy could identify with…

    90% of the guys I work with ARE the “breadwinner” and many that were dumped out of the corporate life – started their own business and are making ends meet by working far more than the corporate 40 times 4…

    If they were half the idiots that they are depcited as – they wouldn’t have survived this long – in fact – a some were dumped by their wives when the economy first started to go sour in early 2003 and are stuck with child support with their wives living with some boyfriend in the house that was bought with their life’s savings and they get to see the kids once a week… trying to keep up expenses doing jobs where they are making half of what they were making…

    So – do you want to market “theatre” to these guys when most of theatre has no respect for the “breadwinner” anymore?

    I’m afraid it goes far beyond T&A and Sports and Roses… the Theatre is completely out of touch when it comes to the challenges that are being faced by these “guys” so it should be of no great wonder why they do not attend Live Theatre any more (if they ever did?)


  • George Rady says:

    All that said – you want to market to “guys” – take the BBC “Sherlock” – the Guys that I know LOVE that series! It has everything that the GUYS I know would love to see in the Theatre… if it were offered… no T&A, no Sports, not “dummed down” the producers went out of their way to dismiss homosexuality (while the Robert Downey movie puts it out there) so that a “guy” could just relaxe and enjoy the intrigue of two great friends who take on the world…


  • Kyle says:

    As a young straight male the main factors that lead to my friends missing out on Broadway musical/theatre are:

    1. Assumed price
    2. Topic
    3. Value

    1. I say assumed price because unless you’re in the theatre game (like I am) you have NO CLUE where to find affordable priced tickets for Broadway, so then you go see your friend in an off-broadway show for $40 bucks, it’s awful, and then you assume that broadway will be at minimum double the price of the crappy off-broadway show you just saw. I used to be an engineer and all of my nerdy friends from that and business friends in the city always call me asking where the hell to get tickets to see wicked or lion king to take their gf or wife out that aren’t the $150+ they saw on the interwebs… Without me as their theatre liaison, they would probably never end up going to see a show.

    2. If you’re wife or gf loves theatre (and especially if she loves musical theatre) and you’re just not in to that, you take them out to see a show knowing full well that you’ll probably be bored out of your mind, but you know it will make them happy so you do it anyway. I’m a server in Times Square and I get most of my reviews of broadway shows from my guests, and that is a common story. Husband takes wife (and/or kids) to go see kinky boots or Matilda, etc., has 3 beers before going and wife fully expects that he may fall asleep during the show. Unlike a TV show that you watch from the comfort of your own home with beer/scotch/margarita (pick your poison) going to see a show requires a full “production value”. It’s not something you feel like you can do in your sweats. I went to see Rocky, and I loved it, but the entire time all I wanted was to be in my sleep shorts watching it from my couch because I had worked a double at work that day… So there really is maybe one, possibly two shows per year that I would go see by myself for the purpose of topic (so far just Rocky in this first quarter… I’m quite intrigued by this Holler if you Hear Me thing I’ve been reading about tho), otherwise it’s get tickets for the gf and set my standards nice and low so she doesn’t feel like I’m bored with her at legally blonde.

    3. The overall value of me deciding to take my gf out to see a B’way show is actually pretty low. For a broke twenty something who thought he was going to be an engineer and thusly rang up way too much college debt, the $80 for nosebleeds/getting bled on we were so close at Rocky, plus dinner beforehand, plus treats depending on what the occasion is, etc. racks up a pretty penny on my debit card… I get much more value if I go to see a show by myself, which as an actor I do all the time. But because the Broadway topics are rarely geared towards lower income, non-Caucasian, straight men (which might literally be the anti-thesis of what the statistical majority is of a broadway audience) i find myself at off-broadway shows more often than not. I’m not upset at all, in order to make money you have to sell your product to the people who are buying… And that’s where the 10% loss is!

    but you could make that 10% back by saying – k c you!!! To the older straight Caucasian males you’re missing out on… And say hello to your minority community. And I don’t mean black, as for some reason the word minority somehow gets misconstrued as such, but I mean continue to diversify the show topics. I loved seeing Janis Joplin as a topic, my mom even came up from DC for that one. Glad to see Josh Henry and sutton foster right there on 42nd st with Violet, great pairing that will bring in their diverse fan hoods… Like I said, holler if you hear me, I hear Bull Durham talks, Lin Manuel back in the game wi a historical comedy piece Hamilton… Don’t stop this trend, broadway should be topically accessible to all!!!

  • Include more men in the artwork/graphics of print and online advertising materials showcasing the Broadway play.

  • Bobby says:

    I and several friends have discussed this and the following are some of the things we came up with:

    One. We are tired of seeing MOVIES made into MUSICALS. Where is the original Broadway Musicals/plays gone? It like the writers are only writing movies into musicals, now days.

    Take “Rocky” as and example: I asked a Buddy about whether he would go see it. His first comment was “Why do I want to see a Broadway Musical about it when I have seen the movie twice. So I think some is dealing with that Broadway is running dry in creating original musicals/plays to do. Let movies be movies and Broadway be Broadway. I think it is time that we quit producing and bringing movies to the stage. Lets get some original stuff back in the theatre.

    The second thing we came up with is the COST..not just on Broadway but on Traveling Broadway shows too. The average local guy cannot go out and spend $400 on 2 tickets to a Broadway show, etc. Plus, people visiting NYC from other states cannot handle the cost of hotels, theatre tickets, dinners, etc. without nearly paying a small fortune.

    Why does it have to be a well kept secret on where and how to find discout tickets. Plus, most of these guys do not know where you can find cheaper tickets to the shows because no one lets them know how to go about it. Most guys only know of Tkts and that is it and you have to spend half your vacation time standing in lines. Even traveling Broadway shows are getting to be way over $140 dollars and our budgets now days will not allow us to go.

    Ken that might be a good BLOG for you. How to find reasonable Broadway Tickets.

  • Bobby says:

    Sorry that written poorly…did not have a lot of time to proof read it.

  • Elisa Christina Clayton says:

    I can’t wait to see how Sting’s “The Last Ship” fairs. It’s seems manly man but women like it too!

  • James says:

    Isn’t the whole premise of this column rather like saying “What are we doing to get gay men and women to buy hockey season tickets?”

    What percent of that 32% or 42% were straight men to begin with? Seems there is a whole lot more market share to capture with the friendly audiences before the need to stretch to capture the elusive “hetero male” demographic.

  • Steffen says:

    Thank you, mainly for making me realize, why Phantom, Miz and such shows leave me cold. I do not know, what would bring American men to the theatre, but as it is put forward here, it simply looks like the ongoing fight for Hearts and Minds between gay and straight people has been won by the gays. Is this really true? Is it not more that the straight male potential theatre-goer has more options than ever to shy away from live theatre and the demands it puts on him, and has always put on him?
    But, of course, when I teach drama at schools, I play the fabulous Tony opening number from 2011, which is universally praised, and understood. When I play it for good friends my own age, they never have patience to watch it to the end. But from what I read here, men are spoilt by movies, which give them ideals to relate to, while the theatre is and has always been about people’s missing ability to cope, even with apparently happy endings.

    • Steffen says:

      Apart from that I am also looking forward to Sting’s “The Last Ship”, which sounds great, and which possibly could have great production also beyond Broadway.

  • George Rady says:

    Looks like the Producers are hitting it on the head – here – there really is NOT much in the wway of theatre that would interest a “typical guy” and I think the post about appealing to Gays and Women to attend a “Hockey Game” was dead on!

    That said – let’s just be aware that Historically Theatre was a Male dominanted Art form… why? Shakespeare’s Heroes… no need or opportunity for T&A there… just guys fighting, falling in love, being betrayed, being ambitious… dying.

    And – back on the other side of the pond – Opera remains fairly well supported and attended by (cultured) guys (who got a musical education from Grade One!) and the stds remain popular because they are about Guys – “Traviata” was just about the only “Female” center opera that Verdi wrote (off the top of my head) all the Guys in his works are Hetro, Alpha, Males…. the Action Movies of the 1800s

    So it really is a conscious decision amongst the Intellectual Elite to steer the arts – away – from the Male experience over the last 20/30/40 years… and I think – as a Producer – it’s not really worth trying to buck the trend.


  • Nasli H says:

    Love the blog, Mr. Davenport. Longtime reader, first time commenter. At the risk of sounding impertinent and even downright rude, while I think you’ve raised some interesting points, I think the biggest hurdle to getting more young, straight men to attend the theatre is the quality of the writing in the average Broadway musical produced today. Yes the shows you cited as successes with straight male audiences were musical comedies with big belly laughs, but they were also very well written. As others have pointed out, we are in the midst of what many consider to be a golden age of television drama – from The Sopranos, to The Wire, to Mad Men, True Detective, Friday Night Lights, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad and on and on. Yes, most of these shows feature incredibly compelling, often dark, antiheroes portrayed by gifted actors. But they also feature great writing. Every Sunday night millions of young, college educated and fairly cultured men (and women, of course) are watching exceptionally well written television. And, then, on Monday morning, they read hundreds of blogs, reviews and messageboards dedicated to in-depth analysis of these Golden age tv dramas. I believe that the widespread availability of exceptionally well written television shows and the democratization of critical analysis and appreciation, have made us more discerning audiences.

    We know that musicals make up the majority of Broadway productions and are the most recognizable brand on the Great White Way. When you say, “let’s go see a Broadway show” to the average American they’re going to probably equate that with seeing a musical. And, unfortunately, if that illusive straight guy we keep talking about has been dragged to a musical by his ladyfriend in the past 5-10 years, chances are he’s experienced something lacking or uneven in quality. Perhaps he got lucky and his lady took him to something well written, but the chances are just as good – if not greater- that he’s experienced some bad writing on Broadway. I’d wager that if you go back and look at major reviews for new Broadway musical productions from the past 10-15 years, the most frequently panned elements of the productions will not be the acting, directing or production design, but the writing — lousy books and lackluster, uninspired or serviceable scores. I’m not suggesting that there haven’t been good — even a few great — musicals produced in the last 15 years, but I think they’re the exceptions and it’s more likely that that “straight guy” was dragged to one of the less successful ventures.

    Today’s audiences of 20-45 yr olds have spent the last 10-15 years experiencing easy access to the highest quality writing imaginable on their phones, ipads and flatscreen tvs. And, I think one experience of bad writing in the theatre has the potential to turn off someone who could have, with some coaxing from his ladyfriend, been a lifelong theatregoer.

    And to be clear, I think this will be a problem for younger generations of BOTH genders. As they continue to demand (and get) better work from their at-home entertainment, so will they expect this quality from all other forms of entertainment — film, music, literature, and, yes, theatre. And if theatre can’t supply writing as strong as ‘Mad Men’ or ‘The Wire’, well then HBO, AMC, and Netflix sure as heck will with their next batch of shows constantly in development.

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