5 Ways to get Straight Guys to go to a Broadway show.

Bros on BroadwayI can always tell when something in the theatrical news has hit a nerve because I get a whole slew of emails from readers saying, “Have you seen this?”  And when I get a bunch like that, I know that it’s something I should talk about too.

The subject in question is the recent NY Times article about  the dearth of people with both an X and a Y chromosome in Broadway audiences.  In other words, “Where are the dudes?”

In the above article, The Times reported that in 1980, 42% of the audience was made up of men.

In 2013, it was only 32%.

What happened to that 10%?  Could this be why our audience has flatlined???  Is it that men who used to go are just staying home instead and keeping their wives and significant others with them?

This article should definitely serve as a call to action for our friends in Broadway research to find out what happened to the vanishing dudes.

In the meantime, I put my testosterone-filled thinking cap on and came up with Five Ways to get Straight Guys to a Broadway Show.  And they are . . .


If you look at some of the more recent shows that have been hits with the fellas, it has been a lot of comedies:  Spamalot, The Book of Mormon, The Producers, even.  And notice, even among those three, it’s a particular brand of comedy . . . a little bit wise-ass and a little bit crass.  Produce one of those types of shows, and you’ve got a good chance of breaking through to the boys (can someone say, Gettin’ The Band Back Together?).


Guys like to identify with other guys just like them . . . that rise above their every-man like status and accomplish some massive, superhuman goal.  Superman, Ironman . . . Jean Valjean.  We like to fantasize that we’d save the world from destruction, fly like a bird or a plane, or that we’d  be wrongfully imprisoned and then become honest men, rescue a young girl from foster parents and raise her up as our own, and fight in the French Revolution while rescuing our daughter’s beloved on our back.  You know, shows that make you want to be a better . . . and super . . . man.  With a hero on stage, wanna-be heroes may come.


If we want more guys, then we have to tell the girls to tell them how happy a Broadway show will make them.  Yesterday, I took a quick Twitter/Facebook poll and asked what ladies would prefer to get from their significant other – Broadway tickets or a dozen roses.  Over 50 people responded, and over 50 people said tickets.  Believe it or not, us guys want to see our ladies happy.  If we only knew how happy tickets would make the ladies, we’d go more often.  And that’s why we gotta let our guys know that “Broadway is the new dozen roses.”


. . . put some hot girls in the shows.  Now before you call me a pig, remember, musical theater audiences were originally filled with men!  It’s where the business folk went to relax.  I know women are the purchasers now, but do you think they were purchasing tickets back in the early 1900’s?  Why did the men like to go to the theater back then?  Because they liked to go check out those long legged chorus girls!  That’s what The Black Crook was all about!  A musical was born when the ballet corps and their toe-toe exposing tutus danced across the stage of a play.  And all those Ziegfeld follies?  Lovely ladies were everywhere.  Men are visual by nature, and they can’t help but enjoy “pretty women.”  So they’ll enjoy the theater that much more if the scenery is pleasant.


In Ben Brantley’s review of Heathershe makes a point of saying, “And though I’m loath to advocate drinking and theatergoing, this might be a show to see while slightly buzzed.”  For a lot of non-typical theater going guys?  All shows need to be seen while slightly buzzed.  So let ’em.  Most shows are now allowing all patrons to bring sippy cups to their seats , but all shows should.  Make people comfortable, and they’ll enjoy their experience even more.


What do you think will entice the missing 10% of men back to the theater?  Tell me your thoughts in the comments below!


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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.