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!

[SPECIAL] Tonight on the Livestream: From a Quarantine in Korea, Director to Watch, Sammi Cannold!

Everyone in the Broadway biz knows that Sammi Cannold is a director to watch.

That’s why she made the Forbes 30 Under 30 List for up-and-comers in Hollywood and Entertainment.

And Tonight at 8 PM EDT, she will LITERALLY be one to watch when she appears on my livestream!

And get this, it’ll be 9 AM where she is . . . because she’s in Korea . . . under quarantine! Yep, she’s working on a film project there about the South Korean response to getting theater back up and running, so she’ll have lots to talk about on what they are doing right . . . and how Broadway can learn from the Korean response.

I’m also eager to get her take on how she’s going to create in the post-pandemic world, since she is one of the most creative directors talked about today.  She helmed the Evita at City Center and right before COVID shut down the world, her production of Endlings at New York Theater Workshop had a 4,100 gallon pool on stage. (I just want to say, “I noticed her” – check out this blog I wrote back in 2013 talking about her production of Violet – before I knew who she was, but knew she’d do amazing things).

And, she’ll be directing my new musical, Joy, for me . . . because, well, I couldn’t think of a better person to direct a show about a young, passionate, female entrepreneur like Joy Mangano than a young, passionate, female artrepreneur like Sammi Cannold.

She’s also going to appear on a “creating for the new world” panel at my conference in November, but we’re going to get a preview tonight!

So tune in at 8 PM Eastern, 9 AM Korean time to hear all about Sammi’s take on theater safety, how the pandemic is sparking her creativity, and whether or not she truly likes Kimchee.

Click here to get a reminder or to go there RIGHT NOW!

And look who is joining us over the next few weeks:

 

Tuesday, July 21st – Steven Pasquale (Actor – American Son, Bridges of Madison County)

Tuesday, July 28th – Danny Burstein (Actor – Moulin Rouge, My Fair Lady, Fiddler on the Roof)

Tuesday, August 4th – Norm Lewis (Actor – Phantom of The Opera, Porgy and Bess, Les Miserables)

Tuesday, August 11th – John Cariani (Actor/Playwright – Something Rotten; Caroline or Change; Almost, Maine)

 

You can catch me every TUESDAY at 8pm EDT (7pm CDT/ 6pm MDT/ 5pm PDT) on my Facebook, on my Twitter, on Broadway Podcast Network’s Youtube Channel, and on Broadway on Demand.

To learn more about our guests and the organizations for which we are raising money, visit www.TheProducersPerspective.com/LIVE.

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?

We’re having a Theater Maker Social . . . in LONDON!

One of my goals in 2019 is to learn more about the hard-working people who make theater and the people who dream about making theater all over this world.

So, during my next trip to jolly old Londontown on Tuesday, January 15th, from 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM, I’m having a Theater Maker Social!

Thanks to my friends at The Really Useful Group, The Social will be held at “The Other Palace”, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s theater, which is dedicated to supporting new theatremakers and giving them a home.  (And they’ve got a great bar and some snappy apps.)

And the first drink is on me!

So, whether you’re a Writer, Producer, Actor, Designer, whatever, you’re also a Theater Maker.  And I want to meet you and hear about what it’s like to make theater in London or wherever on that continent you come from (Hey you Frenchians – you’re like an hour and a half away by chunnel – so come on down).  Maybe we can even come up with some ideas on how to help you make more theater and faster.

Or maybe when you come, you’ll meet a new collaborator or re-meet an old one.

One thing I know for sure, when passionate Theater Makers get in a room (and a bar qualifies as a room), good stuff happens.  Every single time.

And I guarantee some good stuff at this social.

So come to our London Theater Maker social and network, brainstorm, say hello to me and put a drink on my tab.

See you there!

(OH!  You MUST RSVP.  We’ve got a limited amount of space and we’ve got a lot of Pros in the area already so only people on the list will be admitted.  Sign up now. And tell your friends to do the same.)

Here are the details:

Ken Davenport’s Theater Maker Social
Tuesday, January 15th
6 PM – 7:30 PM
The Other Gin Palace – Foyer Bar Area
12 Palace Street
London, England
SW1E 5JA

RSVPs a MUST.  You are not confirmed until you get an email saying “You’re in!”

RSVP NOW.

5 Marketing Hacks From A Fancy French Restaurant (in France!)

I was in London town last week for my work with Really Useful, and since my wife had never been to Europe before, I packed her up and took her along with me.

Of course, one of the spectacular things about Europe is that so many different countries and cultures are just a train ride away.  You can go to Paris from London in the same time us New Yorkers can go to Atlantic City (you never thought Paris and AC would ever be in the same comparative sentence, now did you?).

And so we did.  We jumped on the ‘chunnel’ (or jumped under, I should say) and shot up to gay Paris.  We saw all the big sites in 36 hours (stay tuned for the debut of my new blog…www.HowToSeeParisWithYourSpouseIn36HoursAndNotKillEachOther.com).  But, of course, what she really wanted to do was eat at a Fancy French Restaurant (or FFR, as it’s known by husbands on the new blog).

“What kind of restaurant do you want to go to, hon?”

“Surprise me!”

Gulp.  The two words that can send shock waves of fear through the heart of any husband.  Am I right, men?  I knew, in my hot little Googlin’ hands, I had the power to make or break the entire trip with this one restaurant choice.

“Choose wisely, my son,” I heard the god of Husbands whisper in my head, “Or thou shalt be banished to never play golf on a Saturday morning again…and also binge watch the entire season of Downton Abbey.  Twice.”

So I chose.  And we ate.  And now you want to know where, and more importantly, you want to know…DidSheLikeIt?

Well, before I tell you that, let me tell you that in addition to some extra calories, I also added some marketing hacks to my toolkit that I had to share.

As you’ve heard me say before, the basic principles of marketing are the same for any business, and we can learn from all industries.  But restaurants and the theater are even more aligned than most (perishable inventory, labor intensive, product consumed at a specific location rather than in the home, etc.).

That’s why I thought you’d enjoy these Five Marketing Tips I learned from this FFR, so you can apply them to your show or your theater.  Here we go!

  1. They showed us the history.

Along the walls of the restaurant weren’t photos of France or even fine art.  Instead, they hung framed menus from their past…and we’re talking from the way, way back.  There were hand written menus from the 1940s and earlier!  (And oh, those prices back then!)  Walking to the restroom was like walking through their own private museum.  I found myself staring at the walls looking to find the oldest menu in the room.

These pieces of fine dining art were subtly saying to me without screaming it in my ear, “Hey, we’re not just old, we’re historic.  And if we’ve been around that long, then you know we’re good, because it’s not easy to hang around in this biz.”

How long have you been around?  And how can you show your consumers that you were “Established in 1985” without just saying it?

  1. Obama ate there.

Actually, that’s not true.  Obama didn’t eat there.  The Obamas ate there.  Both of them.  On a date.  When they were in Paris.  And yes, this was the #2 reason why I chose this restaurant (keep reading for the #1).

Celebrities matter…especially when they are on brand with what you are selling.  It doesn’t mean as much to have Will Ferrell show up at a production of Macbeth. But get him to a brand new comedy?  That’s on message and will help you spread yours.

  1. It was casual.

We dressed up for this FFR, but it wasn’t necessary.  There was a very casual and comfortable vibe in the place that made us feel at home.  In fact, we went to dinner straight after seeing a museum (or 7), and we didn’t feel any pressure that we were underdressed.

While all of us theater snobs lament the days of when people dressed up for the theater, ask yourself, is that what you’d really want to do if you were on vacation?

Tourists, Broadway’s primary audience, try to pack in as much stuff as they can into their 48-72 hours with us.  And getting back to the hotel and putting on a suit (that they didn’t have room for in their extra bag that costs them $75 to check) is a pain.

And more importantly, if they’re wearing something because they have to, and something that doesn’t make them comfortable (ever wear a tie in July?), how much do you think they are going to enjoy what they are about to see?

Make your audience comfortable and they’ll be more likely to enjoy what they are about to see.  Make them uncomfortable?  You’ve got a lot harder job to do.

  1. They offered us menus…in English.

Going to an FFR can be stressful, especially when you only speak “un peu” of the language.  I was prepared to ask for an English menu…but I didn’t have to.  The non-snooty waiter asked us as soon as we sat down if we’d like an English or French menu, and didn’t turn up her nose when I answered, “Anglais, s’il vous plaît.”

While we may not all be able to have audio language translations of our shows on Broadway (though we should all strive for it), we can work to make things easier for our foreign audience (which makes up 18% of our audience).

If our box office attendants don’t speak other languages (and at least one should speak Spanish, I’d think), we could easily have signs in other languages, or “menus” of ticket options, synopses, etc. to hand them to make their ordering easier.

  1. No matter what the language. WoM is just as powerful.

I told you that the Obamas ate there, right?  And that was the #2 reason I chose this specific restaurant?

Well, the primary reason I chose this eaterie was because someone recommended it to me.  In fact, two people recommended the same place to me, and both had lived in France, so I felt like I was getting a “local” rec instead of a tourist rec., which always feels stronger.

I may have checked TripAdvisor later.  And I may have googled the “eff” out of this FFR, but it was good ol’ Word of Mouth that got me thinking about it in the first place.

Word of Mouth is the strongest motivator for purchase for all products out there. It always has been, and it always will be.  Every other bit of marketing just supports that WoM.

Your job is to make sure you stay top of the mind with your audience to make sure they are recommending you…and that they have the tools to recommend you easily and often.

The restaurant?  It was this one.  And yes, I recommend it as well.

Because the wife loved it.  The food was great. The wine was great.

And,  an added bonus?  We started talking to the couple next to us just as we were ordering dessert.  Turns out they were from the U.S. as well.  About 60 miles from where my wife and I got hitched.

And they had invested in Dear Evan Hansen.

– – – – –

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