Why Broadway May Have An Advantage Before It Opens Back Up
At the start of my first of seven (!) Zoom calls today, one of the participants said, “Ok, new Zoom rule – we are not allowed to talk about when Broadway is coming back.”
We all echoed electronically.
Then we broke that pact about seven seconds later.
We just couldn’t help it!
Since none of us can avoid this “Who shot JR” question I might as well talk about it here too.
Here are the two things that we absolutely know, for a fact, about Broadway’s return.
- We don’t know when Broadway is going to come back.
- It’s going to be later than everyone wants.
Sorry, but that’s ALL that we know.
So now what do we talk about?!?!?!?
I’ve got an idea . . . how about we talk about that 2nd thing . . . and how being later gives Broadway an advantage over any other gatherings out there. And how that advantage could mean our audiences come back quicker than elsewhere.
See, here’s the thing . . .
Broadway is not going to lead the comeback of theater.
Hard to imagine, but Broadway is not going to be first.
We’re the epicenter, for goodness sake. And our theaters are smaller. And the lines for the bathrooms. Scheez.
We shouldn’t come back first.
And, as we know, states are already starting to loosen their stay-at-home restrictions. And, provided they go well (everything crossed!), after bowling alleys and hair salons will come churches and restaurants . . . and eventually, theaters.
That’s right, the theater will come back in the United States via community theaters, regional theaters, touring productions . . . before Broadway.
In fact, right now, theater IS back in other places around the world. (Seoul, Korea has a production of Phantom performing now, as well as others!)
The upside to being last?
We get to see how everyone else does it before we even try.
Broadway will get to learn from all these theatrical test cases before we let one patron enter our blessed buildings. We get to watch what other markets do and find out works, what doesn’t . . . and what we need to do better.
We’ll have tons of data on how to do it the right way. AND, here’s the double-bonus . . . if the theaters open around our country and around the world and there is no increase in infection rate? Well, they’ll be that much more comfortable coming to see a show in the theater capital of the world. They’ll have dipped their toe into the gathering-market.
So, while it usually isn’t good for any business to be last-to-market, in this case, it may be a blessing.
Because of this, I’d have Broadway minds and Regional Theater minds working together. Our success is their success and vice-versa.
(Action Item: If you’re a theater owner, operator, or just plan TheaterMaker – reach out to a peer in another state, or even someone who might in “ordinary times” be considered a competitor and work together. Never before has the theater world been so connected. And it’s that connection that will get us through this.)
P.S. Want to get ahead? Join our tribe of theater makers who are already pivoting to the new normal! The TheaterMakers Studio offer the tips, tools, and resources you need to get your show produced. Click here to try it out for 30 days free.
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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.