A test case for a “troubled” (?) musical.

– Disappointing out-of-town reviews.  Check.

– Disappointing message board buzz from early out-of-town previews.  Check.

– Director replaced.  Check.

– Michael Riedel taking swings at the show on an almost weekly basis.  Check.

The Addams Family had all four of these unfortunate items marked off the “troubled musical” checklist well before “it” came into town.

Now that TAF has been in performances for a few weeks, let’s look at some more of what The Addams Family has to buzz about.
– w/e 4/18/10    $1,261,490

– w/e 4/11/10    $1,240,377

– w/e 4/4/10      $1,391,177

– w/e 3/28/10    $1,302,707

– w/e 3/21/10    $1,328,460

– w/e 3/14/10    $1,192,213

Now, all of a sudden, some people talking smack on a message board back in October, about performances in Chicago, doesn’t seem so bad, does it?

Producers, actors, authors, etc. are constantly worried about bad industry buzz and how it will affect a show. No one wants the label of a “troubled” show.  Well, if ever there was a test case that proved that there is a giant chasm between what our industry hears about the development of a show, and what our audience hears about the development of a show, The Addams Family is it.

TAF feels like a big Broadway musical.  It has stars.  It has a powerful brand.  It has a powerful brand that’s funny.  It already feels musical because of its popular theme song.  It is about a world that provides for spectacle.  Etc.  Etc.

And all of those elements are what a huge majority of the Broadway audience wants to see, no matter who is replaced or who is writing what.

Don’t worry about what insiders may say.  Worry about what your audience will say.  They are the ones who actually pay for their tickets.

And when they really want to see a show, they’ll have no “trouble” paying premium prices.

“When I say Broadway, you say . . .” Survey Results revealed.

My staffers and I got into a discussion last week about what the word ‘Broadway’ meant to our ticket buyers.  What sort of images did it conjure?  What did they associate with it?  In other words . . . what did the brand of Broadway actually mean?

We decided to find out.

I sent a couple of my loyal staff members (and the ones with the warmest coats) to the TKTS booth to ask 100 female theatergoers the following question (we asked only females because they drive the majority of the ticket purchases):

“What is the first word that comes to your mind when I say the word . . . Broadway?”

Below is a list of the responses (only responses given by more than one person are listed):

Shows 15%
Plays 9%
Musicals 8%
New York 8%
Music 6%
Dancing 5%
Wicked 5%
Fun 4%
Singing 4%
Lights 3%
Theater 3%
Chicago 2%
Crowds 2%
Fabulous 2%
Lion King 2%

Pretty interesting, huh?

Kudos to the three shows that got on this list.  When your show equals Broadway, you’re doing pretty well.  The other good news is what was NOT on this list: expensive, uncomfortable seats, etc.  Actually, only one person out of the hundred associated the word Broadway with “expensive,” and that one comment was the only negative word associated with Broadway in the survey.

Since we found this information to be so valuable, and since my staffers’ coats were really warm, we decided to ask another question in the same style, to the same people.  Ready?  Here goes:

“What is the first word that comes to your mind when I say the word . . . Off-Broadway?”

Below is a list of their responses:

Plays 12%
Don’t Know 9%
Cheap 6%
Not as fun 6%
Theater 4%
Altar Boyz 3%
Fun 3%
New York 3%
Shows 3%
Small 3%
Avenue Q 2%
Comedy 2%
Dancing 2%
More shows 2%
Shoes 2%

Pretty scary, huh?

9% of the individuals surveyed couldn’t even come up with a word to describe Off-Broadway!  And not only were there negative associations in this top group, as opposed to Broadway’s survey which had only positive, but these negatives continued on with the rest of the sample.  Words like “sad” and “meh” and “wannabes” were amongst the single responses we recorded.  In total, over 30% of the people surveyed had a negative first thought about Off-Broadway.  (For those of you who think we misspelled “shows” and put “shoes” instead, unfortunately, you’re wrong. Google Off-Broadway.  The second search result is the reason why 2% of our survey said shoes.)

The takeaway from this survey is pretty obvious: Broadway’s brand is healthy and positive, while Off-Broadway’s image is damaged . . . kind of like Martha Stewart when she went away to prison.

But Martha came back . . . and so can Off-Broadway.  It’s just not going to happen on its own.

A model for the rebranding of Off-Broadway tomorrow . . .

What is the first word YOU think of when you hear Broadway?  Off-Broadway?  Comment below.

(Special thanks to Lindsey and Ashley for braving the elements for this sake of this study.

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