Why Rock & Roll on Broadway is here to stay.
Rock musicals ain’t no new thing.
They didn’t dominate our industry, by any means.
But they’re about it.
Here’s why rock/pop musicals will be the most popular form of music on Broadway from this day on.
It’s all about math.
(My wife just stopped reading when she got to the M word, by the way.)
Rock and Roll was born in the late 1940s but didn’t achieve mainstream success until the early 1950s. For the sake of this blog, let’s call the birth of Rock and Roll 1954, the year that Bill Haley and the Comets recorded “Rock Around The Clock” and a young Elvis Presley recorded “That’s All Right.”
Now, in the 1990s, when I was working on my first Broadway gig as a Production Assistant, rock musicals still had a “not for everyone” label.
Let’s do the math . . . of the age of our audience.
In 1994 (the year I graduated from college), people who were born in 1954 (and therefore were raised on rock and roll as a dominating music genre) were only 40 years old. They were not yet the average age of the traditional theatergoer (which is approx 44 years old).
And since so many of our theatergoers are older than 40, born before the birth of Rock and Roll and raised on a much different style of music, you can see why pop/rock musicals didn’t appeal to everyone. It’s why shows like Will Rogers Follies, City of Angels, Passion, and Titanic were Tony winners and box office winners to boot.
It’s now 2019. Those who were born in 1954 are now 65 years old. For the first time, the majority of our theatergoing audience was raised on Rock and Roll.
There will always be room for outliers, but our audience has aged into Rock and Roll and popular music being (is becoming) the norm on Broadway.
So if you’re writing more traditional stuff, you may have a harder time getting an audience to pay attention.
Because over the next ten years, it’s only going to get rockier and hip-hoppier on Broadway.
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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.