It’s official: Broadway to Off is not just a fad. It’s a phenom.

Earlier this week, Million Dollar Quartet announced that it would be closing June 12th.

But it won’t be gone for good.

MDQ will become the latest show to transfer from Broadway to Off-Broadway as it moves into New World Stages in July.

It’s the fourth show to make such a move:  Avenue Q, The 39 Steps, the upcoming Rent, and now, MDQ.  And all of them taking up tenancy at New World Stages (Boy, there were times during the run of Altar Boyz when we were the only show in the building – I don’t expect a show to feel that lonely anytime soon – good news for the owners in what is a fantastic turnaround play.)

It was almost three years ago that I wrote this blog suggesting that Broadway producers look at this model, and it has been almost two since the Producers of Avenue Q courageously decided to go where no Producers had gone before and made the move (and brought us on to GM).  And then the domino effect began.

Because of that blog a few years ago, and because of the surprising MDQ news, I’ve been getting a lot of questions from readers and reporters alike about what I think now that four shows have done it.

So what do I think?

It’s awesome for all the reasons I wrote about before.  Avenue Q was about to close.  As was 39 Steps.  One can only assume MDQ was about to do the same.  And I don’t think a Rent revival was in the cards in the short term.

Jobs were created.  Theaters were filled.  Investors continue to make money or have a shot at getting more back in the case of unrecouped shows.  What could be bad about that?

Well, there is one thing.

What about new commerical Off-Broadway shows?

As if it couldn’t get any tougher for anyone trying to make a go of it with a new commercially-produced play or musical, it just did.  Because Broadway . . . just got bigger.  That’s right, with Broadway branded shows now appearing in Off-Broadway venues, guess where patrons are going to go first when considering an Off-Broadway show?  Oh, and remember those good deals you used to get because Off-Broadway venues needed to fill a hole, or a vendor needed the biz wherever and whenever he or she could get it?  Well, there’s not as much desperation anymore since mini-Broadway was born.

I’m thrilled about this new distribution model for our industry.  Overall, it’s a great thing.  But now, looking at the landscape, I fear for the commercial Off-Broadway musical . . . as it’s becoming an endangered species.  Oh, they may pop up every now and then, but are they making money?

And the commercial play?  Well, shoot, it’s becoming as much of a myth as the Big Foot.

 

(Got a comment?  I love ’em, so comment below!  Email subscribers, click here, then scroll down, to say what’s on your mind!)

– – – – –

FUN STUFF

– Come to our Tony Awards Party THIS SUNDAY!  Click here for more info and to get your ticket now!

– Enter my Tony Pool!  You can win an iPad!  Enter today!  Deadline is MIDNIGHT TONIGHT!

– Enter to win 2 tickets to see the screening of Company!  Click here.

– My next Get Your Show Off The Ground seminar is coming up on June 25th.  Get info here.

 

Favorite Quotes Vol. XXXI: Let Shakespeare entertain you. Let him make you smile.

I talked to an angry author a couple of weeks ago, who was irritated that his “important” play had not attracted a wider audience.  I tried to explain in the nicest of all possible ways, but like his play, I also failed.  Then I stumbled upon this quote from Robert Greene’s book that summed it up so much better than I ever could.

“Shakespeare is the most famous writer in history because, as a dramatist for the popular stage, he opened himself up to the masses, making his work accessible to people no matter what their education and taste.”

It’s like a comedy of errors that Shakespeare is considered one of the great geniuses in the history of the written word, when his primary objective was to entertain. Obviously his work went way beyond making people laugh, cry and get angry, but he never let any message get in the way of the entertainment.  His plays are like a perfect cake – with delicious and beautiful frosting on the outside, but underneath is where the real buttery goodness begins.

Writers today who forget why people go to the theater in the first place and put message first run the risk of having less people hear their voice.  There’s nothing wrong with that style, of course.  It’s the choice of the artist.  But you can’t complain when no one comes.

The quote also made me wonder . . . 500 years from now, who will be considered a Shakespeare?  Stoppard?  Sorkin?  Stephen King?

What writers today will be remembered tomorrow for their “baking” ability?

 

(Got a comment?  I love ’em, so comment below!  Email subscribers, click here, then scroll down, to say what’s on your mind!)

– – – – –

FUN STUFF

– Come to the Broadway Investing Seminar THIS Tuesday, May 31st.  RSVP here.

– Come to our Tony Awards Party!  Click here for more info and to get your ticket now!

– Enter my Tony Pool!  You can win an iPad!  Enter today!  Entry Deadline changed to 6/9!

 

 

The Top 10 Most Performed Plays & Musicals in High Schools (Updated 2018).

Every year, the folks at the Educational Theatre Association publish a list of the most performed plays and musicals in high schools around the country.

Here’s what drama clubs were up to this year (click the links to read more about the shows):

Top 10 Plays

1) Almost, Maine
2) A Midsummer Night’s Dream
3) You Can’t Take It With You
4) Noises Off
5) Twelve Angry Men
6) Alice in Wonderland (various adaptations)
7) The Crucible
8) Our Town
9) Neil Simon’s Fools
10) A Christmas Carol (various adaptations)

Top 10 Musicals

1)
 Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
2) Seussical
3) Grease
4) Into the Woods
5) Footloose
6) The Wizard of Oz (multiple adaptations)
7) You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown
8) The Music Man
9) Once Upon a Mattress
10) Thoroughly Modern Millie

So, for those of us who don’t have kids, why is this important to us?

If you produce and/or invest in a Broadway play or an Off-Broadway play or musical (and sometimes in a revival), you are usually entitled to receive a percentage of the subsidiary income that the authors receive for productions in regional theaters, community theaters, and yes high schools.

And with the right show, this can be a substantial number.

In fact, the possibility of a lucrative post-Broadway life is a reason why so many (smart) Producers and investors choose certain projects.  While a show may not make it to the recoupment finish line on Broadway, the subsidiary market can often get it well beyond the profitability mark.

In film terms, the regional, community, and high school theater market is like the DVD market.

So when you are contemplating investing in a Broadway show or Off-Broadway show, or producing a Broadway or Off-Broadway show, take a look at one of these lists.  Does your show have similar characteristics (big casts, positive messages, colorful costumes)?

If so, you could have a very nice “stock and amateur” insurance policy in case your Broadway dreams turn into a nightmare.

(Click here to read a follow-up story on that play at the top of the list.)

_ _ _ _

Did you enjoy this post? Check out the most recent version of this list on my post The Most Licensed Plays & Musicals of 2015-2016!

Get High School and College Drama mailing lists, monthly newsletters and webinars, plus a Tip of the Week email, when you join TheProducersPerspectivePRO today.

Join the club here.

Broadway audience demographics for 2009-10 released!

It’s that time to year!  Time to looking into the Broadway stocking and see what Santa stuffed it with.

Every year, The Broadway League studies the demographics of the Broadway theatergoer.  And every year, we take a look at the Executive Summary to determine if things are changing from year to year, and to see what changes we should implement in our businesses in order to encourage even more theatergoing from this group in the future.

Here’s what the study said about the Broadway audience this year:

  • In the 2009-2010 season, approximately 63% of all Broadway tickets were purchased by tourists.
  • 63% of the audiences were female. This reflects the trend of the past few decades.
  • The average age of the Broadway theatregoer was 47.9 years, older than in the past few seasons.
  • Three quarters of all tickets were purchased by Caucasian theatregoers.  Although still mostly homogeneous, audiences have become slightly more diverse in the past decade and there was a higher percentage of Asian theatregoers this season.
  • Broadway theatregoers were a very well-educated group. Of theatregoers over 25 years old, 77% had completed college and 39% had earned a graduate degree.
  • Broadway theatregoers were also quite affluent compared to the general population, reporting and average annual household income of $200,700.
  • The average Broadway theatregoer reported attending 4.5 shows in the previous 12 months.  The group of devoted fans who attended 15 or more performances comprimsed only 6% of the audience, but accounted for 31% of all tickets (3.7 million admissions).
  • Playgoers tended to be more frequent theatregoers than musical attendees.  The typical straight play attendee saw seven shows in the past year; the musical attendee, five.
  • 34% of respondents said they bought their tickets online.
  • Also, 34% bought their tickets more than one month prior to the show.
  • The most popular sources of theatre information were Broadway.com, The New York Times, and word-of-mouth.
  • 69% of those making the purchasing decision were female.
  • At musicals, 46% of audience members said that personal recommendation was the most influential factor in deciding to attend the show while 23% cited critics’ reviews.  On the other hand, at plays, 31% cited personal recommendation and 32% named critics’ reviews.
  • In general, advertisements were not reported to have been influential in making the purchasing decision.
  • 72% of the Broadway audience said that some kind of incentive (discounts, freebies, add-ons), would encourage them to attend shows more often.

Fascinating stuff, right?  Check out previous year summaries by clicking here.  Compare the year to year!  It’s fun!

The full demographic report goes into much further detail than the above.  If you’d like to get a copy, you can order it here.  If you’re developing, writing or producing a show for Broadway, these reports are required reading.

Because this is your audience, whether you like it or not.

What a musical really needs, by Walter Kerr.

Walter Kerr was the Ben Brantley of the ’60s and ’70s.

What’s interesting about Kerr is that prior to his Pulitizer Prize-winning career as a critic for the NY Times, he was a book writer for Broadway musicals, and contributed to six shows on the Great White Way.  (What is also interesting to me is that he was one of Sondheim’s toughest critics and I often wonder if he’d change his tune if he’d been able to see any of the recent revivals.)

Kerr was pretty knowledgeable about what it took for a musical to work, and he said so in a very simple way on January 28, 1968, in his review of the original Off-Broadway production of Your Own Thing:.

Do you remember those little light bulbs that used to pop into place over the heads of comic strip characters whenever one of them got a bright idea?  All a good musical really needs is one such light bulb, for starters.  The wattage doesn’t matter, where it comes from doesn’t matter, the only thing that matters is the quick sharp click that lights the place up and lets us see things in sudden color.”

Kerr so poetically puts into words something that I think about all the time.

Yes, the play is the thing.

But without the right idea, the play is nothing.

How many pitches for shows have you heard that you just knew weren’t going to work?  They don’t feel musical.  The stakes don’t feel high enough.  They are too complicated, or not complicated enough.

When deciding what project you are going to spend the next several years of your life on, make sure the concept passes Kerr’s test.

The idea alone has to light up a room, so that the show can light up the stage.

To read the full article, including Kerr’s review of the yet-to-be-revived Your Own Thing, click this link:  Download ‘Kerr Has a Happier Time

Special thanks to my office historian, Jen, for putting this article on my desk.

X