8 shows a what?

Does anyone know where the 8 show a week model came from?

Is it arbitrary?  Is it based on The Beatles song?  Was there any business analysis done on the actual demand for theatrical performances at the time?

My gut says that someone just picked it.  It somehow made sense at that moment, which was probably at least 50 years ago.

And thus, all of our agreements with labor unions, with landlords, etc., were based on this archaic idea that the demand for all shows, regardless of their cast or their subject matter, is the same.

So Mamma Mia does eight shows a week and so does Macbeth

That’s like Barnes and Noble stocking the same number of copies of the latest installment of Harry Potter as a Hungarian cookbook.

Smarter industries have more of a throttle on demand.  There are more flights by an airline during the holidays (and the prices go up).  There are less waiters and cooks on staff at a restaurant during a Tuesday lunch hour.

Wouldn’t it be great to find a way to break this model?  For so many shows (especially Off-Broadway), there isn’t the demand for 8 shows, but since we have to pay for them, we all do them.  And, we end up chasing our advertising tails, by spending huge bucks trying to fill the additional shows, when we could save money if we had fewer shows to fill.

And the fewer shows would be better sold, creating a harder to get ticket, which would actually increase demand as well as increase the experience for that audience (an audience of 500 is never as good as an audience of 1000).

I can hear the naysayers now:  “Ken, but there are people that want to see a show on Tuesday night, so you should capture whatever you can.”  Are you really telling me that if 2 people wanted to come to see Altar Boyz on a Tuesday, that they wouldn’t come on a Thursday if the Tuesday wasn’t available?

Two of my shows do less than 8 shows a week.  It’s a challenge to make it work with the venues, my staffs, etc. but I’m very lucky to have wonderful forward-thinking partners that make it possible. 

Yep, it’s definitely a challenge.  But I’d have a much greater challenge if they weren’t running at all.

Related Posts


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.