Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The big biz of Broadway

Checking out the NYTimes today online, I found two stories almost back to back about the current state of how "big business" more or less is dictating the movements on the Great White Way.

It's unfortunate to me in a lot of ways that it's all become big business. "Legally Blonde will be the new Wicked!" "How do we get more shows up that appeal to tweens?", "Let's produce a new works festival as a gold-panning sifter to maybe find the new RENT!"

I suppose it's just an illustration of how when you actually do a decent job turning something into a successful business, you become even more dependent on selling a ticket.

Does quality suffer, or do we possibly slow actual artistic advancement by first deciding what's hot and what will appeal to the lowest common denominator? Is it somehow backwards to establish an audience to exploit over having a good idea?

The idea that tweens are driving any Broadway market is astonishing to me, considering the cost of a Broadway ticket. Where are these kids getting the money?

They do establish that a show can't appeal to tweens exclusively, because a show would never last in New York on that alone due to the sheet volume needed in ticket sales from not only locals but tourists.
In other words, by appealing not directly to the ticket buyers but to the people who exert major influence on them — their daughters — “Legally Blonde” brings adults into the theater. Ideally, they then have a good time and tell their adult friends. “If we go after the tweens, we’ll get the adults,” Mr. Luftig said.
For years, the knock was that Neil Simon, Edward Albee and Arthur Miller couldn't get produced on Broadway. Today I read that now Sondheim can't get a break as producers and audiences alike dig around for something more bubblegum.

The long and short of our current cycle?
The news would appear to be that the American (and English, and Australian) musical is still alive and kicking, often literally. You want great art? Get over it.

2 comments:

Truffles said...

Our fellow West-Enders aren't exactly producing "original ideas" either. Checking the listings of popular West End shows for an upcoming trip to London, I found only ONE muscial that isn't based off of a movie or has had a movie made of it (We Will Rock You - the musical about the rock group Queen is the exception). Mind boggling choices include - Dirty Dancing the Musical, Billy Elliot the Musical, and my favorite - The Lord of the Rings the Musical.

David J. said...

There's a reason we're not making any attempt to see any theater while abroad this winter. Well, that and we really wanted a real vacation that had nothing to do at all in any way shape or form with what could be considered work.