What’s the West End doing right that we aren’t?
Sometimes I think of the different corners of the theatrical world . . . Broadway, Chicago, The West End . . . like baseball teams in a giant theatrical league. We’re all in this together, and we have to work together to continue the advancement of what we do.
But at the same time, Broadway is my Red Sox. And The West End is my Yankees.
Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of respect for The West End, just like I have a lot of respect for the Bronx Bombers (that now have a Broadway show named after them, ironically). And The West End has done a lot for our “sport.”
But I don’t like losin’ to ’em.
Yesterday, The Society of London Theatre reported another record year with revenues up 11% over last year’s figures.
I know, you’re thinking what I’m thinking. “Big deal. Anyone can increase revenues. Just raise prices!” That’s what we’ve been doing over here, anyway.
But get this . . . their attendance also went up 4%.
(This is where my jealous monster wants to come out from the closet and play.)
Wait, there’s more.
The year before last, their attendance rose by a gob-smacking 9%.
And the year before that, it went up another 1.3%
That’s three years in a row of more bodies seeing theater!
Let’s compare that to Broadway.
We’ve had a decline in attendance for the past three years. (Click here to see some disappointing graphs on the subject.)
You know how that makes me feel? Like The Yankees won the World series three years in a row, and The Sox came in dead, dead last.
What are they doing right and what are we doing wrong? Is it the economy? Is it the way they distribute tickets (with discounts on every corner)? Is it the alternating performance schedules? Is it just simply better shows???
Whatever it is, we’ve got some work to do in the off-season. Because increasing revenue is great in the short term, but the future of the theatre is not writ in dollars, it’s in bodies.
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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.