The Wednesday Matinee may not be just for Wednesdays anymore. (Updated 2023)
At long last, a triumvirate of Broadway shows are leading the alternative-performance-time charge and adding Thursday matinees to their regularly scheduled program. Mamma Mia!, Phantom of the Opera, and Cinderella collectively announced that commencing April 3, 2014, they will each have a Thursday performance at 2 PM.
There have been a few stray Thursday mat performances before . . . I remember Crazy for You having one back in the 90s. And maybe even a stray Cats Thurs mat way back when.
But this is the first time a collective has gotten together in an attempt to start a movement.
It reminds me of the “Tuesdays at 7” revolution of a decade ago, albeit that had many more participants, which has now become the norm for 80-90% of the shows out there.
Will Thursday mats become standard for all shows? Nope. Because that’s not the point. With so many shows on the boards these days, having performances at alternative times gives everyone a better shot at filling up, rather than everyone fighting over the same Wed mat audience (How many shows do you think will be up at the TKTS board on a Thursday matinee, hmmm? Give you one guess. Three. How’s that for lack of competition?)
It reminds me of London, where because of the incredible number of shows, they have alternate performance times all over the place. (My favorite is “Fridays at 5” which captures all those weekending tourists in the summertime who are in town at the start of the weekend.)
Will this work? I bet yes, although it’s going to be a bit slow out of the gate, which is why I’m giving a standing ovation to the Producers of the three shows above for leading the way for the rest of us. Believe it or not, this slight performance change is a radical shift and a big risk, but it’s the kind of thing our industry needs in order to give each show a shot at recoupment, especially with our flatlining attendance. In order to continue to do what we do, we have to break free from the traditions of what we’ve always done.
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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.