Over the last several months (!), the #1 question for the professionals working on Broadway and the avid fans of the best spectator art on the planet has been . . . “When can we see a show in a theater again?”
But there is another important question to be asked and it isn’t about what will be on Broadway when the lights go back on . . . rather what might fill Broadway theaters in the months and years after!
The best business people I know don’t focus only on what’s happening today . . . but they think about what is going to happen tomorrow. That’s their job. This is why stocks of companies that are losing millions of dollars can have exceptionally high values, because investors are betting on what WILL happen, not what is going to happen.
That’s why a company or industry’s health isn’t only measured on what product is being “produced” today (whether that’s diapers, drugs, or Broadway musicals), but what new product(s) are in the pipeline.
Broadway has had a pipeline so full over the last few years that it has been clogged with product. I heard a rumor that before this whole corona-bologna happened, there were more than 30 (!) plays and musicals looking for a theater on Broadway this spring alone!
Will there be the same log jam now? Will more theaters be available?
And if there are . . . my question is . . . will there be new plays and musicals ready to fill them?
See, Broadway shows aren’t the only things that are shut down. So are readings, workshops, labs, and all the development work that goes into the creation of a new piece of theater. I had four musicals that were set to debut in the next 18 months in February. I still have four musicals set to debut . . . but they’ve all been pushed back. Not only because we can’t produce theater right now . . . but also because we can’t develop theater.
So the question so many Producers have been asking is . . . where will readings and workshops fit in the phased-reopening of New York City?
I keep thinking that a rehearsal of a reasonably sized musical would be similar to a medium-sized office reopening. So will we be able to come back when mid-sized companies do? Then again, there’s often singing involved in our readings. And also . . . what if we wanted to bring in an audience? That seems like a no-no. I guess we could socially distance a reading. Or work with smaller cast sizes (just work with principals, etc.).
Zoom readings and online development work can only go so far in a medium like the theater. So while we certainly can’t commence this work tomorrow, I’m hoping that development can find a safe way to come back before our productions do.
Otherwise, we might have an empty pipeline . . . which would mean empty theaters.
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Want to hear about what’s in our pipeline? Click here to learn about the shows we’re developing.
P.S. And if you’re looking to hear directly from people in our industry share what they’re doing to keep creating during this time, tune into my Facebook page every night at 8pm EDT. Tonight, I’m going LIVE with Tony Award-winning Director, Des McAnuff (Jersey Boys, Ain’t Too Proud).