BROADWAY’S RECOVERY PART II: 3 Reasons Broadway Will Bounce Back . . . FAST.

Yesterday, I postulated that Broadway will come back fast and strong . . . whenever the @#$% we actually come back.

If that sounds like I’m frustrated, it’s because I @#$%ing am.

I mean, Broadway was booming like never before when COVID reared her ugly invisible head.  And not only will the theater be one of the last industries to return to full operation, but it has more hurdles than many of the other industries struggling to get back on their feet.  (I’ve actually said to myself a few times, “Why couldn’t I have fallen in love with making movies instead?”  FYI, right after I said that, I made my wife punch me in the face, so I’m fine now.)

All that said, I not only believe we’ll bounce back . . . but as I said (and drew!) yesterday, I believe we’re going to have a very swift comeback story . . . a story so good that it might be worthy of a musical itself.

Why am I so bullish?

Well, just like you, I’m pretty damn frustrated with how long we’ve been down.

But the fact is . . . the longer we are out, the stronger we’ll be when we return.

That’s right . . . #LongerIsStronger.

Here are three reasons why I believe we’re gonna bounce back fast:

1. We can watch the rest of the world.

As NYC remains on lockdown, other cities, states, and countries are loosening their lockdowns.  And we’ve got a front-row seat for their “opening night.”  We’re able to watch what works.  We’ll see what doesn’t.  We’ll learn from shows in Seoul, churches in Texas, and other gatherings all over the world.  It’s like a movie, where there’s a group of people staring into a dark cave . . . and we get to insist everyone else goes first.

Not only will this education assist us in making our shows the safest they can possibly be for audiences and for our employees, but as people gather around the world, they’ll start to become more comfortable with the thought . . . so seeing a show won’t be the first time they are in a group with others who they don’t know.

2. Making our audience wait, makes them hungrier.

While I’m concerned that we’ve got a “habit-problem” to address with our avids, our delayed return is also creating pent up demand for live entertainment.  Streaming can only go so far to satisfy our craving.

Scarcity of a product can make people want it even more (provided you stoke that scarcity with marketing – which the smart folks at the Broadway League are already doing with great skill, and they’ve only just begun).

How many of you have been drooling for a Starbucks?  Or just to sit in a Starbucks?  Same thing . . . but oh so much better.  Or remember how frustrating it was to wait for Game of Thrones to return?  People were legit angry . . . and they tuned in anyway.  When we return, Theater Fans are going to want to be at that first night of theatergoing more than any other place in the country world.

Which that brings me to . . .

3. We’re a word of mouth industry.

This is the big one.  See, by waiting longer, whether that’s September or later, we’re making sure that we can come back when we can fill our theaters, and ensure everyone the communal captivating experience that they want from a Broadway show. And that first night back is going to be one of the most thrilling in the theater’s history.

Can you imagine it?  Think for a moment . . . the curtain going up for the first time . . . and Rob McClure from Mrs. Doubtfire stepping on stage . . . or the wives from Six . . . or Evan from DEH or the ensemble from Hamilton . . . you can hear the ovation now, can’t you?

Now think about that . . . for fifteen minutes.  Because it will still be going on that long.

There will be tears.  And cheers.  And standing.  And many an actor breaking the fourth wall in the best way, and probably breaking down.

Have the chills yet?

It’s going to be magical.

And remember, we’re a word of mouth industry.

And everyone who is in a theater that night is going to tell EVERYONE they know they were there.  And that it was sensational.  And they felt safe.  And that they are healthy.

And that word will spread faster than a virus can.   (And imagine the press attention!)

And those people will want to be in a theater too.  They’ll want to experience that same joy.  That same thrill.

And they will.  We may not sell premium tickets like we did.  But we sell lots of tickets.

 

And that’s why the industry will bounce back and fast.

Because it’s a primal need to gather in groups and hear a great story told from master storytellers.

And by staying out longer, we’re guaranteeing our fans that we’ll be able to get back to the Broadway they know and love, rather than a streamin’ substitution.

So as much as I am drooling to get in a theater tomorrow, I can wait as long as it takes, because I know . . .

#LongerIsStronger

And I just can’t stop thinking about that first night.  I wonder what show I’ll see.  What show will you want to see that night?

Kind of makes you want to buy tickets now, doesn’t it?

🙂


TONIGHT ON THE LIVESTREAM: I’m sitting down with Playwright and Bookwriter Lisa Kron (Fun Home & Well) at 8pm EDT. We also invited Youtube Sensations Mat and Savanna Shaw to be the Special Guests. You can now watch on my Facebook page or Twitter, on Broadway Podcast Network’s Youtube channel, or Broadway On Demand.

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Comments
  • Solange De Santis says:

    Ken, there’s a very big elephant in the room – whether it’s economic to reopen a show if you can only sell half the tickets in the theater. This may mean a comeback that’s not really a comeback. If the only way a show can re-open is with drastically lower costs, then that has implications for theater owners, unions, governments, etc. It would seem to be more complex than all closed or all open. Disney’s permanent closing of “Frozen” is, shall we say, chilling.

  • jean elliott Manning says:

    Most EXCELLENT post, as are all of your efforts to champion live theatre, dear Ken. Just curious: when you say….: “when COVID reared her ugly invisible head” …I wonder: Do you see COVID as female? ….Why?

  • Samantha Pauly says:

    As one of those SIX wives, this article has given me the positivity I’ve been aching for over the last two months. I’m so tired of all the doom and gloom articles about Broadway. We know it won’t be back for a while, we’re all well aware. It’s not lost on any professional actor right now that things are bad and times are uncertain. What we need is more articles like this, so THANK YOU for writing it. It made me smile and gave me hope xo

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Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

I'm on a mission to help 5000 shows get produced by 2025.

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