Halftime shows for shows?

I’ve been thinking a lot about sports lately.

Maybe it’s because I’m sore from my basketball game last night.  Or maybe because we’re getting close to the pennant race and my BoSox are gonna make another run for it.

Or maybe it’s because of the email I got from one of you about my traumatic Tibor post.  The email asked why it was ok to take photos of a professional athlete like LeBron James at a basketball game, but we weren’t allowed to take photos of actors in a curtain call?

Interesting point, right?  With all due respect to my Broadway actors, the images of LeBron and his peers are probably worth more than the ensemble of Hair, don’t you think?

But that’s not what this post is about.  The point is, I have sports on the brain.

What else do they do in live sporting events that we could learn from?

They overcharge their beverages.  So do we.

They have uncomfortable seats.  Check.

They have halftime shows.  Hmmmm?

Why do we have an intermission anyway?  To sell F&B?  To build tension in the story?  To change the sets?  To give the actors a break?  To give the audience a break?

All of the above.

Sporting events also do something very interesting during their act break.  They have cheerleaders and musical performances and audience interaction (the $1,000,000 half court shot), oh my!  It’s a bit circus-like, but it keeps the audience revved up, and actually enhances their experience.  And it’s in the style of the entire evening.

What do you do during your intermission to enhance the experience?

Don’t take me literally.  I’m not saying we should keep the curtain up and have the Spring Awakening cheerleaders do a pyramid onstage to a remix of “Totally F*cked”.

But I bet if you thought about it, you could figure out some sort of intermission activity that would be appropriate, and add to the experience and excitement.  And give people something to talk about.

Like . . .

People are always peering into the pits during intermission.  Maybe it’s an usher standing by the pit asking if anyone has questions, and talking about how important live music is to the Broadway experience.

Maybe it is a continuation of what’s going on onstage in a lesser form (a couple of those Hair hippies hanging around in the stands would have made sense).

What about some video of early television shows during intermission at The Farnsworth Invention?

Maybe it’s too much.  I don’t know.

But I do know this.

If you were buying a $100,000 full page ad in the New York Times, you’d spend time and money making sure you were taking advantage of every column inch in the best way possible.

Well, your most important ad is what happens in your theater every night.  And there’s 20 minutes of column inches going to waste every night.  You’ve got your audience captured.  Give them something else to do, other than get frustrated at the long lines at the bathroom.

Because that’s certainly not going to get the audience in the S-P-I-R-I-T for Act II.

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.