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There are a few less lights on Broadway this week.
In the fallout of the current economic crisis in the United States, nine Broadway musicals let their stages go dark with their performances yesterday. To be fair, two of them were limited engagements (Irving Berlin’s White Christmas and a Liza Minnelli show), but that still means that seven full-time shows have shut down. Young Frakenstein, Hairspray and Grease were just some of the ones that have made their way off the Great White Way.
Personally I don’t think it was fully tcorrect to blame the current financial atmosphere, these shows have simply priced themselves out of the realm of reason. When I was recently considering one of my umpteen aborted attempts at taking a vacation, I was looking at going to New York City. The friend I was going to visit had told me that the prices were through the roof, but I really wanted to see a show. I got the idea I would surprise her with tickets, since it would be my treat, she wouldn’t be able to complain much. Well, after I went online and saw that two tickets were going to run me over $400, I scratched that idea.
How can these shows possibly think that they are worth north of $200 a ticket? How can anyone get introduced to the genre at that price? How could a family possibly afford to go? Yet, if I want to go see a show of a touring company in St. Louis, I will pay in the neighborhood of $50 or $60. Sure that’s still a bit high for two hours of entertainment, but at least it is still in the realm of sanity.
It does make you wonder why in the world tickets to the New York version would run around 300% more. It’s the same number of actors… the same sets… the same amount of crew, and heck, the road show has to pay gas, lodging, some food expenses. It just doesn’t add up.
While I am sorry to see so many shows close, I also have to say that Broadway needs to be looking in the mirror a bit more as to who is to blame for this.