In a poor economy, people tend to start cutting out all of the things that they do not need to survive. No. 1 on that list is entertainment. Over the past year, several sections of the entertainment industry have taken big hits; however, there has been something in each department to soften the blow. The music industry had CDs from breakout artists like Lady Gaga and Susan Boyle to help its sales. The movie industry had mega hits like Transformers 2 and Avatar to help its ticket sales. There is, however, one industry that has remained overlooked in this economy: The world of live theater. Broadway remained somewhat strong throughout the past year, proving that no matter how bad things might get, people still love a live show. One thing did change on Broadway, though. If people are going to put out $50 or more to see a show, that show has to be perfect.
This brings up the question, what is the perfect show? Several shows opened last year hoping to be big-time hits; however, not even half would survive to celebrate a one-year anniversary on the Great White Way. So, what went wrong? Well, some shows just did not appeal to a wide enough age range. 9 to 5 the Musical, Finian’s Rainbow and Guys and Dolls found this out the hard way. All three shows appealed strictly to an older fan base and therefore all of these shows closed within a few months of opening. Shrek the Musical thought that its appeal to both children and adults would do the trick; however, producers forgot one thing: It does not matter how good the new score might be, parents are still going to choose The Lion King.
The year was not all terrible. Some shows did find the perfection that they were shooting for. Shows like Billy Elliot the Musical, Hair and Next to Normal are finding great success. Each show contains a great story, great cast and great score. Even Rock of Ages, a show featuring the great rock hits of the ’80s, is seeing huge success. It all comes down to entertaining your audience. If a show can entertain, people do not mind spending the money to escape the realities and struggles of the world for two hours.
It is now time for the pre-Tony Awards rush to hit Broadway. This is when tons of new shows take to the stage in hopes of being nominated for theater’s highest award. The question now becomes, Will they be successful? Right away there are several shows that seem doomed to fail. Come Fly Away (based on the music of Frank Sinatra), Million Dollar Quartet (centers on the music of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and others) and Promises, Promises (based on a movie from the ’60s) face the generation challenge. They are not geared towards a wide ranging audience and, therefore, will probably close not too long after opening. Shows like American Idiot (based on the Green Day album) and The Addams Family (based on the comic strip), however, seem to be closer to the best show out there. The truth of the matter is that no one really knows. Only time will tell which of these shows will go on to great success and which will wish they had just stayed off of the stage.
While some shows might close and some might succeed, the main thing to remember is that they are all worth seeing. Even if, at the end of the day, you did not like the show, you at least had a fun day in New York City.
– Ryan Oliveti
Sophomore elementary education and fine arts major