Are the Broadway Boom Times Busting?

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Two articles lately seem to indicate that Broadway’s high-flying post-Sept. 11 years may be either coming to an end or entering a particularly rocky period.

The first was from Michael Riedel, who went through all the shows — a growing list — that announced Broadway berths that turned out to be stillborn, either temporarily or perhaps permanently, including the revivals of For Colored Girls…, Brigadoon, and Godspell.

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What’s also amusing is that while Riedel raises a red flag about the forthcoming Shrek (“A real laggard…that…has yet to break $5 million in advance ticket sales”), in a later story Riedel suggests otherwise (“Broadway hyenas lying in wait for DreamWorks to stumble are going to have to find some thing other than Shrek to gnaw on this fall”) while maintaining that box-office isn’t great for this show so far (“Advance ticket sales in New York are weak, and sources report rows of empty seats at the back of the house in Seattle”).

Anyway, now comes Variety into the discussion, reminding us that there are other shows on hold, too, although the reasons vary. For example, writes Gordon Cox, “the Harry Connick Jr. starrer Nice Work if You Can Get It indefinitely postponed a Boston tryout when producers were unable to reach a deal that satisfied all the parties involved.” This is code for the fact that Kathleen Marshall is, ahem, no longer part of the project and that she was the glue holding it together, more or less. This isn’t a money thing, but it makes the project more vulnerable to fiscal pressures hitting the industry.

Indeed, I don’t think Broadway’s boom times are fading, but I do think people are being more circumspect — everyone got all excited a year ago when, a year ago, it was announced that Spike Lee was directing Stalag 17 and certain people got on my case for not being politically correct enough with my language (as if certain people have exclusive contracts with political correctness). Well, that production has yet to materialize, and that, too, may be a financial thing or it could be a logistical thing. Either way, it appears things are getting tougher on the Main Stem. But hey, let’s keep raising ticket prices, right?

  • Anonymous

    Shrek numbers don’t look so bad — in Seattle at any rate. Variety reported numbers that suggested the show is doing 85%, and we know the last big try-out there didn’t report their numbers!

  • RLewis

    LJ, check out this article for a different pov on this topic…

    http://www.crainsnewyork.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080810/FREE/832591150

    Me thinks, Reidel doth protest too much. Of course, give him a month, and he’ll be same the opposite.