We need younger audiences. But who hasn’t?

The cry in advertising and marketing meetings all over the country is, “We need to find younger audiences!”

And I agree.

But . . . something tells me that this same cry has been heard for every decade of theatergoing.  I have to wonder if even Shakespeare himself was frustrated because he couldn’t get college-age kids to put down their PBR, leave their sorority parties and come listen to some verse.

Back in this country, over the past 75 years, has the theater ever been something that the youngins have flocked to organically?

Nope.

Unfortunately, that means it’s going to take a lot more than a $25 ticket or a ‘bring us your empty PBR can and we’ll give you a free t-shirt promotion’ to win over this lot.

It’s going to take the right product.

Unfortunately, product that appeals to this sect, doesn’t necessarily appeal to the traditional theater going sect, who are the fuel that keeps the theater going economically.

And, as ol’ Bill would say, “there’s the rub.”

Because we do need them.  And yes, every generation may have said that, but I believe that this generation needs it even more, thanks to the declining attendance on Broadway and the declining participation in the arts nationwide.

While young audiences may not be the answer for your short term sales needs, if you’re looking to stay in this business for a long time, they are the future of your long term needs.

Because they grow up.

And eventually they grow out of PBR-soaked hangovers and would rather enjoy a night of Hamlet instead.

Broadway’s 3rd Quarter results: The final furlong begins.

We’ve rounded the last turn on this Broadway season.  There are just thirteen weeks to go before we put another one in the books.

But will this one go in the record books?

It looks like the answer is yes . . . for two very different reasons.

At the end of the third quarter, our grosses are still up a fractional .5% over last year’s numbers.  If we can hold on to that itsy-bitsy growth, Broadway will have another record-grossing year.

To be honest, I thought we’d have dropped into negative territory this quarter, but we managed to hold steady. How?  Remember those 2 million dollar Wicked weeks?  Our biggest hits, including Wicked and J-Boys, mastered variable and premium pricing this year, and made up for the big grossing shows (Steady Rain, Hamlet, etc.) that came and went.

On the other end of the spectrum, our attendance is still down an unfortunate 4% from last year, which means my pre-season prediction of a drop in seasonal attendance for the third year in a row looks to be as sure as a Tony nom for Liev Schreiber.  Why will this drop go in the record books?  It’s the third drop in a row, and that hasn’t happened in 25 years.  (To cut us some slack, this last year we were in the midst of a slight economic crisis, in case any of you haven’t heard.)

But we’ve still got one quarter left, and a couple of big musicals in big houses yet to open, not to mention all those plays.  Maybe we’ll see a turnaround?

As we head into the final furlong, I’ll be cheering hard for a come-from-behind win at the wire.  But I’m not rooting for the grosses to go up . . . it’s that attendance figure I want to even out.

Unfortunately, that one’s a real long shot.

To take pictures or not to take pictures, that is the question.

I received an invite to Fuerza Bruta‘s “Twitter Night” on Thursday, Dec. 3rd where I would be “encouraged to live tweet with pictures and video.” Benefits to the show, obvious.
I also saw Hamlet last week, and a couple of enthusiastic fans (at least one being from international waters) took photos during the curtain call. She was greeted with a flashlight in the face, and a security guard yelling at her. Damage to the show, obvious.  (It reminded me of the time I got in trouble!)

It was the curtain call, guys.  They weren’t shooting pix during Ophelia’s mad scene.

I had to wonder . . . are the actors really opposed to curtain call photos, or is this just one of those union positions that we’re holding on to that no one is that concerned about anymore?  Wouldn’t those actors benefit from having their mugs on facebook pages and tweeted like the ones at Fuerza Bruta on 12/3?  Could we get a curtain call provision that would allow photos to be taken only then?  It’s not “uncontrolled” because the actors know what they look like, what they are wearing, etc.  It’s much better than a shot on the street, which we can’t prevent.

If the actors are opposed to curtain call photos, then I respect it (Jude has had issues with camera folk before, so maybe he has asked for none to be taken).  But if that really is the case, let’s treat our fans with a little more respect as well and not make them feel like they took a picture of the Mona Lisa (I still have nightmares about those security guards at The Louvre).

I guess I sort of understand the question of, “Do you really want all these flashes going off at the end of a show?  It’ll look like a baseball game!”  Ok, ok, I get it.  But baseball games are exciting.  And when people take pictures, they want to capture excitement so they can reminisce later.  The marketing power of those photos for the show, and for Broadway, is more significant than we could ever muster on our own.

And since we allow the press to take curtain call photos (with or without a flash), why can’t we allow the fans? Nowadays, the fans actually have more distribution outlets than members of the press anyway.

At the end of the day, here is how I saw these two experiences:

Fuerza Bruta is harnessing the power of the fans.

Traditional Broadway has a habit of turning fans away.

 

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