Starry, Starry Night 2.0.

There has been a lot of chatter about stars in shows these days, including this recent article from The Hollywood Reporter that features a few quotes from me.

While I was being interviewed, I remembered a blog I wrote back in 2007 (!)  called “Starry, Starry Night,” that took a look at the 10 longest running Broadway shows of all time and the people that were in them.

Since five years have passed since that blog (!!), I decided I should take another look at that list of 10 shows to see if anything had changed in my conclusion.

The following is a list of the 10 Longest Runnings Shows on Broadway:

1.  The Phantom of the Opera
2.  Cats
3.  Les Miserables
4.  Chicago
5.  A Chorus Line
6.  The Lion King
7.  Oh Calcutta
8.  Beauty and the Beast
9.  Rent
10.  Mamma Mia!

What changed in the last five years?  Chicago shot up from 8 to 4, and look out Les Mis because Chi-Town is hot-cha-cha on your tail to take over the the 3rd spot in less than a year.  Miss Saigon got bumped off the list for Mamma Mia! and Lion King went from 10 to 6, and will soon to take A Chorus Line down a peg.

What didn’t change?  Well, the point of my blog five years ago, that’s what.  In fact, I’m just going to repeat it verbatim, because I still believe in it 101%.

Ready?  Here goes!  (I’m making that little Wayne’s World doodle-deedle sound and moving my hands up and down now as we go back in time.)

– – – – –

“What do 9 of these 10 shows have in common?

Not one of them opened with a Star.

Make the show the Star.  That’s the key to a long runner.  In a new show, stars are nothing but expensive insurance policies for those who lack the confidence in their own material.  Stars make us lazy.  And they ask for crazy things like special luxury wallpaper (true story).

And once you go Star, you can never go back.  Save the Stars for the revivals (like the 1 out of the 10 above) because they need them.

Now, look back at that list . . . how many musical theater Stars were born from the shows above?  I count at least as many as there are shows on that list.

Make Stars, don’t count on them.” (!!!)


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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.