Where did we think Broadway was headed? A look back.
Listen to this quote:
“Ever since the advent of talking movies in the twenties, pundits have fretted over Broadway’s demise. The Great White Way is still around, continuing as it has for years – rarely prosperous, very occasionally brilliant, usually irrelevant, Broadway right now looks like a dinosaur. That doesn’t mean that the theater is doomed, however.”
It could have been written yesterday, right?
Nope. Jump in your DeLoreon and go back in time, because it was written in 1995 . . . 16 years ago . . . when I was just 1 year out of Tisch and playing Policeman #2 in the Yeston-Kopit version of Phantom at the Carousel Dinner Theater in Akron, Ohio.
The quote was the introduction to a fascinating article in NY Magazine called “Reinventing Broadway” by Michael Goldstein. In it Michael offers “12 tough starting points” to reviving Broadway after describing it like this:
It’s disorganized, shortsighted, and out of date. The unions are strangling it. Its audience is aging, its economics insane. Forget about customer service. Broadway is gasping for breath.
His 12 points:
- Admitting that Broadway has a problem that must be confronted
- Finding a leader
- Taking on The Times
- Just saying no to designers
- Busting unions
- Securing tax breaks for new shows
- Opening the Tony awards to Off Broadway
- Introducing the virtual box office
- Scalping one’s own seats
- Creating profit-sharing plans
- Serving up McTheater
- Bringing in new music
Interested? Read his explanation each point here. It’s a great read, whether you agree with him or not (and I do and don’t depending on the subject). But it’s fascinating to see how much things have changed since 1995 and how much has stayed the same.
I got a hold of Michael, actually . . . and hoped to hire him to write an updated version of the same article to see what 12 points he could offer us 16 years later . . . to make sure we’re still around 16 years from now to complain about the same issues.
But unfortunately, Michael has left the biz.
So maybe we could write our own! Comment on this blog with one tough to-do that would help Broadway reinvent itself like Michael wanted. Make it a tough one. But make it realistic.
And maybe 16 years from now, we’ll check back in and see where we are. By then, you won’t have to write blogs, you’ll just have to think them.
Got it? Go. One Tough To-Do.
But before you comment, read the article. (If you click this link from a phone, scoot past the awkward article that pops up and go to page 27.)
(Got a comment? I love ’em, so comment below! Email subscribers, click here, then scroll down, to say what’s on your mind!)
– 84 Days to Godspell! Read the day-by-day account of producing Godspell on Broadway here.
– Win 2 tickets to The Voca People. Click here!
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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.