7 Things I’m Thankful for On Broadway This Season

Gobble, gobble yo.  It’s Thanksgiving on The Broadway! (For full effect, say that last sentence out loud and put the emphasis on the “way!”)

It’s so easy to pick and fuss about all the things wrong with our fabulous invalid known as the Broadway theater.  And G-d knows, we do it on this blog every other day.

But on this  wonderful holiday, it’s important to remember that despite our dysfunction, and the many things that don’t make sense about what we do, we still have a lot to be thankful for.

So, in honor of Thanksgiving, here are 7 Theater Things I’m Thankful for on Broadway this season:

1.  Remember that time there was a strike?

Six years ago, there was a massive stagehands strike that shut down almost all of Broadway.  Since then, each and every contract negotiation with all the unions has been relatively quiet.  Phew.  Thanks be.

2.  Times Square is anything but “square.”

A massive Times Square renovation is underway . . . again . . .which will make the center of our city even more friendly for pedestrians.  And while many people may be bothered about what’s happening to the crossroads of the world, I’m hugely appreciative that Broadway’s front yard is becoming more and more of a tourist destination unto itself.  The more people drawn to the square, the more people that will end up inside our theaters.

3.  LaGuardia would be proud.  Finally.

Fiorella LaGuardia had a musical written about him.  And an airport named after him.  Guess which one would have him rolling in his grave?

If you’ve flown out of LaGuardia International anytime in the last decade, you know the answer.  After years of consistently being ranked as one of the worst airports in the country, there is finally some progress on a renovation.  A 6-10 year (which probably means 15), 3.6 billion dollar reno project will begin next fall aimed at bringing the airport into this century.  Why is this important to Broadway?  65% of our audience comes from outside the tri-state . . . and a lot of them arrive and depart through LaGuardia.  We want them to feel good when they land, and when they leave . . . and not like they’re flying on a cargo plane into a third world country.  What took us so long, people?

And can Port Authority be next???

4.  A Disney show is knockin’ on the door.

This spring, another Disney show arrives, and this one comes via magic carpet!  Aladdin opens at the New Amsterdam Theatre (which was the cornerstone of the entire redevelopment of 42nd St, btw).  I know what you’re saying.  “Disney?  You’re thankful for Disney?”  Yeah, dudes.  I am.  There ain’t another Broadway Producer around that has the ability to train an entirely new generation of theatergoers like Disney.  Thanks to their titles, from Beauty to Lion King to Newsies to Aladdin and to next season’s (?) Jungle Book, massive amounts of kids have come to the theater for the first time.  And I’ll bet you a big percentage of them keep coming into their adulthood.  In fact, hmmmm . . . Beauty and the Beast opened in ’94.  Broadway had an attendance and gross boom shortly thereafter (check out the graphs for yourself).  The Disney factor?  You betcha.

5.  The Rockettes don’t have to miss us anymore.

How hot is it that the Tonys are back at Radio City?  Sure, sure, The Beacon production was very well done, but I’m thanks-a-licious that we’re back at the city’s biggest and baddest live performing arts venue.  I’m also thankful that the price of the Tony Tickets dropped since we were in a venue with a lot more seats.  (Oh, wait, sorry, I dozed off for a second there and was dreaming . . . cuz that price drop surely didn’t happen!)

6.  We’re a resilient little bugger.

I was shakin’ in my boots at our Q1 results this season, but as I reported yesterday, “things are lookin’ up,” to quote a Gershwin tune from a certain musical (guess which one before clickin’ here).  Once again, our resiliency surprises even may.  Some might say  (are you ready for this one?) . . . Broadway is like a cockroach.  No matter what you throw at us (the internet, a depression-like recession, etc.) we just keep comin’ back!

7.  One word.  You.

I remember when I wrote my very, very first blog, and I wondered if anyone would care about this kind of Broadway stuff as much as I did.  And, well, I’m incredibly thankful that every year a few more of you join our passionate theater-lovin’ ranks.  I was lucky enough to win a Tony Award this year, and I’ve also been lucky enough to have received a few other honors in the past, but nothing, nothing is a bigger compliment than having you read my stuff.  So for the bottom of my stuffing-filled stomach, on this Thanksgiving, I say a huge thank you, gracias, merci, to all of you.

That’s my list.  And now, your turn . . . What are you thankful for this theater season?


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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.