The Top 25 Longest Running UK Productions: A By The Numbers Infographic.

Jolly ho there mateys!

Wait.  That’s not British.  That’s British meets some kind of weird Australian pirate or something.

Anyway, what I meant to say is . . .  Our infographic series is back!

Over the past few bloggin’ years, we’ve published a bunch of “By The Numbers” infographics to demonstrate that while theatre is an art, it also has business trends and statistics that can’t be ignored, especially when you are building your next show.  (And in some cases, we need to know about the dominating stats so that we can come up with initiatives to change them!  Ahem! Diversity!  Ahem!  Sorry, something in my throat there.)

If you’ve missed some of our previous infographics, there’s a summary of them at the bottom of this post.

But today’s is all about our friends from across the pond — the UK!

In my continuing quest to determine what works over there (so far, all that I know is that they love jukebox musicals and shows that make fun of Americans – true, true – think about it), I decided to analyze the 25 longest running shows in the UK.  And, well, I’m going to let these numbers speak for themselves.

One thing to remember before you take a peek . . .  there is not as big of a dividing line between the size of shows and theaters in Londontown.  Off-West End ain’t like our Off-Broadway.  So, you may see some titles below that you might not think should be in the same list as, oh, a Phantom.  But, in the West End, they don’t discriminate like we do.

Hmmmm, maybe that’s one takeaway right there . . . what if there was no “Off-Broadway” . . . Hmmmm.

Enjoy the numbers!

Interested in checking out our other Infographics?  Take a look and give a click:

What do the Top Grossing Broadway Musicals have in common?

The Last 20 Years of Best Play Tony Award Winners

Musical to Movie Adaptations

How do you become one of the 50 Longest Running Broadway Shows?

Who is the Broadway Investor?

An idea I don’t know how to execute. Maybe you do?

Ok, problem . . . theater tickets are too expensive.

Solution?  Who the @#$% knows?!?

(Actually, the truth is, there are plenty of inexpensive seats to lots of theater, from Off-off Broadway shows to Off-Broadway to yes, even to Broadway shows.  When people say theater tickets are too expensive, they’re generally talking about the most in-demand shows and the most in-demand seats on the most in-demand days.  Which is the equivalent of saying, “Mercedes-Benz is too expensive!  And Telsa, well, don’t even get me started!”  Know what I mean?  There are other cars to buy and plenty of incentives (i.e. discounts) that make that purchase more accessible.)

Don’t get me wrong, of course, I’d love to see even more affordable ways for people to see theater, wherever that is.  I’m often walking up and down the streets wondering how to get more butts in seats, while at the same time paying the high costs of our labor-intensive industry.  And the other day, while riding the subway, and watching someone play Mario Kart on their Samsung, I got an idea. . . that I have no effin’ idea what to do with.

So I thought I’d throw it out to all of you.

Another form of entertainment that’s super expensive?  Video games.  The Mercedes of this industry can be around $60 or higher per game.  Now, that may not seem like a lot compared to one orchestra ticket for Hamiltonbut when you consider the demographics of the video game purchaser, it might as well be the same.

And this is a special problem for mobile game manufacturers.  It has always been challenging to sell a game for a smartphone, because the functionality is less than a desktop, and frankly, there are so many free games available.

So what did the video game companies do?

They added in-game purchases.

You want special features for your character in your favorite middle-ages era role-playing game?  Buy ’em for $1.99.

You want to get a tip on your mobile trivia challenge?  $.99.

The gaming companies are getting you to in their doors for cheap (or nothing!) and then they find a way to charge you when you’re in the door.

Software companies even have “free versions” to get you hooked and when you want a special feature that makes the software actually function, BAM, you gotta pay.

I couldn’t but wonder if there was an application for this theory in the theater.  One could argue that food and beverage or merch income is a version of this idea in action (although on Broadway, we don’t control f&b – all that cash goes to the theater owner).  And certainly, we’re not going to stop a show to ask for $5.99 from every audience member to listen to the heroine sing a higher note than what is in the “free” version. (Although I’d love to see this at a charity gala . . . can you imagine waiting for someone to bid $10,000 for Idina Menzel to sing an optional higher note in “Let It Go“?)

What do you think?  Is there a way to get butts in seats for less, and then have additional and OPTIONAL income provided by those who want whatever ‘extra’ we have to offer?

I haven’t cracked this yet.  And maybe it shouldn’t be cracked.

But sometimes it’s the craziest of all ideas that morph into something that makes sense . . . and cents.

You have an idea?

 

An out-of-town tryout . . . in town.

Here are the hard facts about looking for a regional theater for your out-of-town tryout in the teen 2000s:

  1. They are hard to get. Just like a lot of shows are waiting to land a Broadway house, even more shows are waiting for their close-up out-of-town.  That means it’s getting even harder to secure one of the hotter tryout spots across the country thanks to the sheer volume of competition.
  2. You may have to wait for years. Regional theaters plan seasons well in advance, and from what I hear, they’re starting to do this further and further out, especially with their enhancement slots.  That means even if you are lucky enough to snag a coveted spot, you might be waiting two or three years for it to happen.  That means your option agreements may expire, your team may drift away, your cast may age out (!), etc.
  3. They are more expensive than ever. On my podcast, Des McAnuff, who helped build the whole idea of tryouts at regional theaters, called the current financial enhancement model around the country “dangerous.”  That’s because so many theaters are relying on these supplemented shows to help balance their budget.  And, like any smart business owner, as regional theaters have gotten more in-demand, their prices have gone up.  Can’t blame them, but it doesn’t stop your budget from ballooning.

So that’s just the way it is, right?

Wrong.

We’re never satisfied here at TPP and you shouldn’t be either.  The enhancement path was and still is, at times, a great one . . . but it may be time for a little innovation and a whole lotta disruption.

So, what do we do?

Here’s one idea.

Off Broadway is super challenging and unfortunately, much riskier than Broadway.  But, since the price of a first-class Off Broadway musical can be as much as a regional theater enhancement . . . why not produce it Off Broadway?  

You get the trial audience.  You get the reviews.  You get elements of the physical production you can take to the next step.

And it’s even easier for the Broadway theater owners to check you out if they’re interested.

And if it doesn’t work?  Well, your show is much more likely to be licensed or even go on tour if it’s played New York, rather than just played an out-of-town tryout.

Here’s the bonus . . . you won’t owe a regional theater 1-1.5%.

So, for the same budget, you actually own more of the show.  That makes it actually cheaper!

Downside?  You expose it to the critics early . . . but you’d be doing the same thing if you were trying out at The Public or any of the city-based Non-Profits.  And you’d take one of those if they came up, right?

With rising costs and a logjam of titles, producing your show in-town might be the only way to get your show up with a shot at Broadway, which makes it worth the risk in my book.

And it just might save Off Broadway in the process.

Broadway Grosses w/e 4/22/2018: It’s coming down to the wire.

The following are the Broadway grosses for the week ending April 22, 2018.
The Broadway grosses are courtesy of The Broadway League
Read more here:

Why movie attendance has dropped, while Broadway’s has risen.

Movie attendance dropped by almost 6% last year, returning it to a number that hasn’t been seen since 1992. (No wonder why so many Hollywood stars are looking to Broadway to make a buck.)

Butts in seats at your local cineplex has been on a decline for years . . . while Broadway’s jumped a few year’s back and has been holding steady for the past few.

What’s the problem with movies that super-expensive Broadway seems to avoid?

Two things:

First, movie theaters got pummeled by other distribution methods for their content.  Here comes YouTube, Netflix, iTunes, OnDemand, and more delivering an endless supply of movies for your enjoyment in your own home, or on your laptop, or on that 2×2 inch screen in your pocket.  Sure, sure, you may not get the absolute latest release, but with the “long tail” of content available, consumers had plenty to keep their nights busy.

Second, the technology of home theaters and those laptops and yeah, those even ‘smarter’ phones in your pocket has advanced at such a rapid pace, the viewing experience at home can rival that in the theater.  So “seeing it on a big screen” isn’t as much of an argument to get your a$$ to the multiplex.

What’s the takeaway for the theater?

Spoiler alert, it’s a good one.

See, as more and more distribution methods for Hollywood’s content pop up, and as technology for the consumption of that content advances, our content, live content, becomes even rarer.  And when something is rarer, it becomes more valuable.

There is no alternative distribution method for live.

There is no technology to replace the live actor, on stage, crying her eyes out while belting out a tune.

Nothing beats it.  And nothing ever will.

It’s why the theater is still hopping after thousands and thousands of years, and the invention of the radio, the TV, and yeah, the internet.

So theater ain’t no “fabulous invalid” anymore.

We just might be saying that about Hollywood soon enough.

 

P.S. Want to learn how to write a musical? Click here for all the tips, tools and training you need.

SIGN UP BELOW TO NEVER MISS A BLOG

X