Leadership / 12.27.17
As Tourist-Friendly Musicals Take Over, Broadway No Longer Belongs to Playwrights
Original article published in the Washington Post (12/27/17) by Peter Marks
The popularity and longevity of new, for-profit plays on Broadway is on the wane as more blockbuster musicals take up theaters and tourist dollars, to such a degree that American playwrights are no longer targeting Broadway productions. Twenty-four of the 31 currently running Broadway productions are musicals. Regional and off-Broadway companies are emerging as the premier incubators of new plays, while Broadway's nonprofit venues, which stage productions for two- to three-month engagements, appear to offer limited sustainability for new works. Commercial plays' waning cachet is largely attributed to the past several decades' tourist-centered branding campaign by Broadway's trade and marketing branches. The market entry of entertainment corporations such as Disney, with a library of animated movies it could convert into stage musicals, has been a major force, competing with independent producers for Broadway's few dozen commercial theaters. Combined with increasing sponsorship from travel-related firms, the rehabilitation of Times Square into a more family-friendly neighborhood, and booming tourism, theatrical properties soared in profit potential, with musicals the mainstay. Tourists now comprise an estimated 70 percent of current Broadway audiences, which independent producer Tom Viertel says has "put us in a position where producing plays is the exception rather than the rule." Meanwhile, production and ticket costs have been rising, which has elevated the risk of staging a commercial play.
Read the full story on the Washington Post website.
Tags: Theater , News , Musicals , Broadway