What my father said that pi$$ed me off.
My dad really knows how to get my “billy” goat. (That will make sense in a minute.)
About five years ago I got my father tickets to see the Metropolitan Opera . . . in HD. You know about that, right? It’s the program that the Met has that brings the opera to the rest of the country/world by showing telecasts in movie theaters.
See, my father loves the opera. But he doesn’t love going to New York City. So the Met brought the opera to him.
When I first gave him the tickets, he refused them. “No,” he said in his fusion of an Indian/British accent. “That is not the way to see opera. It is meant to be seen live!” (He’s a bit of an opera snob, as you can tell.)
But I forced the tickets on him, just like I forced a VCR on him in 1983, and an iPhone on him in 2010.
And, well . . . he hasn’t missed a telecast since.
And when he sees one he likes, he calls me to tell me how I should go see the actual production . . . and that he’ll buy me tickets (word of mouth, anyone?).
The telecasts are working for my dad, they are working for the Met, and more importantly, they are working for the opera . . . a challenged art form that used to be one of the most popular forms of live entertainment, which is now only produced by non profits.
So what did my dad say that made me so mad?
“Kenneth,” he said (only about 3 people in the world call me that, by the way, so don’t you start!), “When I was at the opera this afternoon, they showed a preview of Billy Elliot . . . they are going to telecast it in the movie theater. I’m going to see it!”
(That’s a slew of expletives if you didn’t figure that out yet – and now do you get the “billy”-goat reference?)
I loved Billy Elliot. And I actually want to see it. That’s not why I’m irritated. What I’m mad about is that this is a British production, being recorded in and broadcast from Great Britain . . . and not from Broadway.
The British are winning the war on the telecasting of theater. First it was the National Theatre and their plays, and now this. And where are we? Still floundering, trying to figure out how to do it.
Sure we’ve had a few attempts (Romeo and Juliet, a Roundabout here or there, and Memphis was probably our highest profile production), but nothing in any regularity, and nothing that has demonstrated a financial model that makes it worth doing again.
And we have to figure this out.
Some say it’s the unions. Well, to the unions I say you’re missing out on a whole slew of work by not offering a financial incentive for Producers to do this more often. I don’t even think Producers are looking at this option to make a ton of money. We just want it for the promotional value, and to not lose a ton of money.
Some say it’s the production costs. Well, to that I say, in this day and age, we can’t figure out an easier way to shoot stuff? And hey – production companies – stop looking at this as a “one-off” and realize you could have 10 shows a year easy if you made your costs more reasonable.
There are a bunch of obstacles in our way. And I know that anything new in Broadway makes everyone nervous that they are going to give away the store if they agree to it, so they just don’t do anything.
And what happens when we do nothing? The British kick our butts.
I always say that New York City is the theater capital of the world. London is starting to tell everyone . . . through telecasts . . . that I might be wrong.
And that really pi$$es me off.
(Tune in tomorrow for another piece of evidence that demonstrates London’s desire to steal the title of “theater capital of the world” away from us.)
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