Here’s a trend that will (and should) continue.

The onslaught of new musicals this spring made folks change-up their normal operating procedure.

Competing shows opened on the same night.  Ad campaigns were created in 48 hours.  Creatives were working on two or more shows at once.

One byproduct of our overstocked pond could end up as a Broadway version of Viagra – in the way that Viagra was meant to solve one problem (heart disease) and ended up solving an entirely different one. 

Here’s what happened:

At least two shows I know of had challenges scheduling their opening nights. 

As I wrote about in this blog, Broadway show openings are often scheduled for the timing of when reviews will hit, in order to get maximum eyeballs.  Although this has changed drastically over the years as the newspaper disappeared, it’s still a widely used and smart strategy.  Opening nights are one of the biggest awareness plays a show gets early in its run – and the media is free!  So best to schedule your night when you’ll get the most bang for your no-bucks!

This year, for a few shows, it was impossible to find a good night to have an opening that got you a strong review drop the next day . . . AND have a party.

So what did these shows do?  They smartly split the night into two.   They held what has become affectionately known as “Gala” opening night parties – that were NOT on the same night that the reviews dropped.

And from what I heard . . . they were a big, big hit.  

Gone was the anxiety of walking around the party checking your phone every five minutes for the Did They Like It email to land.  The cast, creatives, producers, investors and everyone could do what they wanted to do and deserved to do . . . celebrate the massive accomplishment of getting a show to Broadway, no matter the outcome.

(If you’ve ever been to an opening night party when a negative review hits the wires, then you know they have a way of killing the vibe and clearing the room.)

A day or so after the gala, the reviews come out.  And because they’re not backed up against the Big Night, they don’t seem as impactful, either way.

Another benefit?  If the night that’s best for your strategic opening happens to be a night when all the big venues in midtown are booked, you can save some money by shifting your gala to an off night!  In these days of super-inflationary Broadway expenses, that savings could be worth the two-for Gala and Opening Night combo.

The industry accidentally bumped into this thanks to our traffic jam this Spring.  I’m hoping we can bump into a few more . . . or better yet, all put our brains together on different ways of doing things over the next few . . . years decades. 

Because despite the amount of shows this spring, we’ve got a similar sized set of challenges that face us in our future.

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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.