My Revised Look At What Broadway’s Recovery Will Look Like

Things have changed since May of 2020.

Shoot, things have changed since yesterday!

But since May of 2020, when I first posted my “What The Broadway Recovery Will Look Like” series? Well, dang it, can any of you have imagined that we’d only have one Broadway show running a year later?

Not me. Not me.

Now that we’ve been through the great theatrical drought of 2020 (thanks, Covid!), I thought it was time to revise my prediction.

Because, in case I didn’t mention it. Things have ch-ch-ch-changed.

If you click here, you’ll see that last May, on this very blog, I predicted a “fishing hook recovery”, as opposed to a V-shaped or U-shaped recovery.

Here was my analysis in bullet point form:

  • Prior to the pandemic, things were going along gangbusters.
  • Then we slammed into the Covid wall and Broadway went from 60 to zero in zero seconds flat.
  • And we stayed there . . . and are still there . . . 
  • I then predicted a supersonic rise the moment that Broadway turned its lights back on.
  • After that, we’d have a continual upward trend, getting us back to where we were before in due time.
  • See here for the visual.

So what has changed?

It’s those last two bullet points that could use a rewrite.

Broadway is going to roar back to life when the big shows open back up. The pent-up demand, the support from locals, and the incredible amount of press that Broadway’s reopening is going to generate, is going to sell tickets. (If I had a show running, I’d be working hard to get as early an opening as possible, so I could be part of those press stories.)

And oh the word-of-mouth!

As I’ve been saying since the start of the shutdown, close your eyes for a moment and imagine what it’s like to be at the first performance of Hamilton . . . the first performance of Mrs. Doubtfire . . . Hadestown, or whatever your favorite Broadway show is. I mean, the ovation, the tears, and yeah, the word-of-mouth that’s going to sizzle through the city later that night. (Makes you want to buy a ticket right now, doesn’t it? Here’s a link! Do it!!!)

That said, I’m now predicting that we’ll have a fantastic fall and an even better holiday season.  (Of course, this comes with a big “Delta Variant” asterisk – with hopes and prayers that the unvaccinated begin to understand that they have the power to stop this thing.)

But, after the holidays? Well, that’s where the big change in my thinking is.

Am I doomsdaying?  No, no . . . NO.

Broadway will return to its pre-pandemic glory days. Thankfully, the economy is still roaring along, unlike in 2008. Our ticket buyers still have disposable income to spend on entertainment (and our tickets will also be cheaper – so maybe they’ll see more shows with the same money!)

The recovery is going to take longer, however. And more specifically, in January, I expect a big dip.  

In other ‘doodles,’ here’s how I think Broadway’s recovery is going to look now.

Why?

Well, it’s simple. January/February is always a difficult time. And while New Yorkers and locals will support our shows in the fall . . . the winter is something altogether different. Many aren’t even in the city!

Second, and this is the big one . . . NYC tourism, especially international tourism, which makes up a little of our usual winter-slack, will not have returned yet.

See, last May, we never thought we’d be down this long. And the longer we’re down, the longer it takes trends like tourism to restore to previous levels.

Here’s a prediction from NYC & Company from the NY Times:

New York attracted a record 66.6 million tourists last year and was expected to break that record again in 2020, according to NYC & Company, the city’s tourism promotion agency.

The virus upended those expectations, and the city may reach only a third of last year’s total. NYC & Company has forecast 38.2 million visitors in 2021, rising to 69 million by 2024. Still, it predicts that the number of international visitors will take even longer to return to pre-pandemic levels.

With one-third fewer tourists going into 2022, we’re definitely going to have a smaller audience.

Broadway’s demographic is about 65% tourist. And 18% international.

And they’re not going to be here right away. And definitely not in January. Unfortunately, that means, we may have a little thinning of our herd come winter.

So, we’re coming back, people. But like everything in life, from the Dow Jones Industrial Average, to your own personal career trajectory, it’s not going to be a straight line up, like I had hoped (and should have known).

Broadway’s recovery is going to go up, take a step back, and then start to climb again . . . and just take a little more time than any of us would like. 

But, with hard work, great shows and even better marketing, we will get there. (I do think Summer of ‘22 will see a nice surge – and the good kind.)

And I can’t wait until the YEAR that we once again celebrate a new yearly Broadway box office record.

I’ll be around. You?

For more conversations on the state of the industry, you can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Come say hi!

Your last chance to do this, TheaterMakers.

At the beginning of the pandemic, I called everyone I knew for advice. I’m talking big time theater people, as well as big time business people.

“What should I do?”

I got amazing advice. And it reminded me how important it was to ask for advice from others who are at places in their lives where you want to be. (And not just from a business “producer’s perspective” . . . but from a family perspective, a health perspective, a spiritual perspective, and more.)

One of the best pieces of advice I got was . . . “Ken, the people and companies who are going to come out of this ahead are the ones who are going to make use of this time.”

“But how,” I wondered. “Give me something practical I can do while I can’t do theater? I need a to-do list!”

“First, realize you’re not the only one whose business is shut down,” she said.

“Right,” I thought.

“Second, now is a great time for businesses to look at the plumbing of their business.”

I must have looked as confused as my 3-year-old when I asked her if she wanted to watch golf instead of Frozen.

“I don’t have plumb -,” I started to say.

“I’m not talking about literal plumbing. I’m talking about the stuff that makes your business operate. Open up the walls. Clean out the metaphorical closets. Fix the things that you never have a chance to fix when you are working as fast as I know everyone in the theater works when you’re blasting towards an opening night.”

So that’s what we did. A few examples of how we looked at our “plumbing” over the last 15 months?

Redesigned my company and this blog site from top to bottom. (They re-launch in September – watch for the announcement)

Established “flexible hours” and “flexible vacation” work schedule for all my employees.

Took over the bookkeeping of my office myself to understand how we could make it more efficient. (Cutting costs was pretty important through the last year.)

Had the entire office take unconscious bias training. 

Established partnerships with charity.

Established a new plan for social media.

Read at least 30 books on business and wellness.

Hired a business coach to help us figure out how to work on the plumbing of my business.

Closed three businesses that were taking up my time and not aligned with my goals.

And more.

I don’t tell you all this to say . . . “Look what we did.”

I tell you all these to give you ideas on what you can do . . . before the theater roars back at breakneck speed.

Because this pandemic is ending. And it will end. Despite this annoying last ditch attempt by the Delta variant. And despite the annoying individuals who are promoting anti-vaccination misinformation.  

Already there is a frantic pace amongst the Broadway TheaterMakers I talk to daily.

So if you want to look at the plumbing of your business . . . and you should . . . time is running out. 

Oh, and if you’re a one-person band, artrepreneur, TheaterMaker . . . and don’t think you’re a business . . . the first thing you should do . . . is realize you are one.  🙂

Opening up the walls and addressing what keeps you running isn’t the fun part of what we do.  There is no standing ovation for a clean Quickbooks account.  

But it’s one of the many things that will make the next year your best yet.

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If you need some referrals for “plumbers” or people who can take your theatermaking business to the next level, from websites, to logo designers to bookkeepers, email me. We love connecting theatermakers with people who can help them clean up and step up their game.

July 9, 2021: What TheaterMakers Are Talking About This Week

Here’s what TheaterMakers were talking about this week . . .

1 – Actors’ Equity Lifts Mask Restrictions

The light at the end of the tunnel is getting closer! Actors’ Equity announced this week that it will be lifting mask requirements for fully vaccinated companies around the country. New safety standards for Broadway and regional theaters include COVID Safety Officers and ventilation tests. Full details on the current protocols can be found below.

Read more: www.broadwaynews.com 

2 – Remembering Nick Cordero

A year after the loss of actor Nick Cordero, Amanda Kloots released a heartfelt tribute to her late husband. Read her full statement below.

Read more: www.deadline.com

3 – Waitress Returning to Broadway

We’re OPENIN’ UP! Waitress will return to Broadway this September with its composer Sara Bareilles reprising her role as Jenna. The limited engagement will run at the Barrymore Theater until January. Who else are you hoping to see back at the diner?!

Read more: www.playbill.com

4 – Hot Vax Summer at the Delacorte

You know New York is back when the Delacorte is open again! The Public’s ‘Merry Wives’ is officially open for this summer’s Free Shakespeare in the Park with the incredible help from playwright Jocelyn Bioh and the director Saheem Ali. And I don’t know about you, but I cannot wait to get myself back to the Delacorte.

Read more: www.nytimes.org/

5 – Hamilton Actor Publishes Memoir

Straight from the room(s) where it happens! West End’s Giles Terera has just released his new book, ‘Hamilton and Me: an Actor’s Journal’, documenting his journey from auditions to curtains up as London’s Aaron Burr. Read about Terera’s process below and then grab your copy here.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

 

Fun on a Friday:

Watch the first trailer for the new movie Encanto, featuring brand new music from Lin-Manuel Miranda.

 

Watch the video here:

 

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June 4, 2021: What TheaterMakers Are Talking About This Week

 

Here’s what TheaterMakers were talking about this week . . .

 

1 – Jordan Fisher Will Return to Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway When It Reopens

The Broadway production will resume its run at the Music Box Theatre on December 11. Jordan Fisher confirmed on Good Morning America that he would once again lead the company as Evan Hansen, alongside the company that was appearing in the show when theaters shut down.

Read  more: www.theatermania.com

 

 2 – Broadway & Beyond: Access for Stage Managers of Color has updated its website to include a contact database for stage managers of color 

Broadway & Beyond: Access for Stage Managers of Color provides opportunities to stage managers of color to learn from people in the industry and provide insights to help stage managers of color start, maintain, and advance a career in the arts through free networking and educational events.

Read more: www.broadwaybeyondaccess.com

 

3- Broadway’s Hottest Marketing Tool: Streaming Shows

The Pandemic has helped normalize streaming theater and it seems here to stay, and there’s a business model there.

Read more: www.variety.com

 

4 – Black Theatre Coalition Announces Paid Fellowship Program for Aspiring Theatre Makers

The application submissions will be accepted for six weeks beginning June 1, 2021 through July 16, 2021 with 12-month Fellowships.

Read more: www.broadwaynews.com

 

5 – New York City to Tie Tourism Campaign to In the Heights

NYC & Company, the city’s official tourism organization, is launching a campaign tied to the film to promote Washington Heights.

Read more: www.wsj.com

 

Fun on a Friday: 

Jordan Fisher performs ‘You Will Be Found’ from Dear Evan Hansen.

 

 


Want to be part of an online community of theatermakers? Join 1,000+ producers, writers, actors, directors, and more here. Best part? It’s completely free.

May 14, 2021: What TheaterMakers Are Talking About This Week

From even more Broadway reopening dates and why Broadway is waiting to reopen until the fall to Indie Venues finally receiving their “Save our Stages” money and more . . . here’s what TheaterMakers were talking about this week . . .

 

1 – Hamilton, The Lion King and Wicked will return to Broadway on Sept. 14

Hamilton, The Lion King and Wicked are all set to return to Broadway this Fall! The “Big Three” were long-rumored to reopen the industry due to their popularity.

Read more: broadwaynews.com 

 

2 – EXPLAINER: Why Broadway is waiting until fall to reopen

The four-month long wait is explained. Producers and union leaders must reach agreements on all issues before shows open while also gauging their audiences back.

Read more: apnews.com

 

3- SBA Expects ‘Save Our Stages’ Money to Finally Reach Indie Venues Next Week.

Indie venues have been struggling to keep afloat since the pandemic began more than 14 months ago. They have received no aid thus far, news states the payments will begin starting next week.

Read more: variety.com 

 

4 – Hollywood Bowl reserves 85% of seats for vaccinated guests. Everything you need to know.

Want a seat at this year’s Hollywood Bowl? Get vaccinated! The remainder of the tickets will be reserved for those showing proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of a given performance and masks will be required for all patrons.

Read more: latimes.com

 

5 – Cut the intermission, please. Why I hope the pandemic ends a theatrical tradition.

It’s hard to believe after the lockdown, people will want to maximize their time indoors. Will this pose an issue on the theatrical tradition of a 10-15 minute intermission? Or will intermission be of that of the past, moving towards uninterrupted performances?

Read more: latimes.com 

 

Fun on a Friday:

If you’ve been following the Bridgerton Musical trend on TikTok, you may have seen this new cover with Darren Criss (Hedwig and the Angry Inch, How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying).

@abigailbarlowwwSurprise!! @darrencriss  is on tiktok and we burn for him. #bridgertonmusical @emilythebear♬ original sound – Abigail Barlow

 

 

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