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Broadway Is A Vanity Project

A Director
#1Broadway Is A Vanity Project
Posted: 12/1/23 at 1:21pm

ALW is at it again. https://www.broadwayworld.com/article/Andrew-Lloyd-Webber-Broadway-is-Now-Almost-a-Vanity-Project-20231128?utm_source=newsletterweeklyuk&utm_medium=email

He has lost it!

If any show is a Vanity Project, it's BAD CINDERELLA!  May no ALW show ever appear on Broadway or any theatre in this country again.  Keep your shows and your ego in London.

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bwayphreak234
#2Broadway Is A Vanity Project
Posted: 12/1/23 at 1:28pm

I do find it funny that he made these comments after he brought over BAD CINDERELLA... The textbook definition of a vanity project.


"There’s nothing quite like the power and the passion of Broadway music. "

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muscle23ftl
#3Broadway Is A Vanity Project
Posted: 12/1/23 at 4:42pm

But he has a point, people only seem to pick 5-10 shows to go see and they will not see anything else! The paying audience is very brainwashed and won't see anything unless someone tells them to do it.


"People have their opinions and that doesn't mean that their opinions are wrong or right. I just take it with a grain of salt because opinions are like as*holes, everyone has one". -Felicia Finley-

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darquegk
#4Broadway Is A Vanity Project
Posted: 12/1/23 at 5:03pm

He's not wrong, he's just being a diva about it. 

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ErmengardeStopSniveling
#5Broadway Is A Vanity Project
Posted: 12/1/23 at 5:04pm

I don't know if "vanity project" is the right word, but his point makes complete sense in context.

“Theatre is, in my view, in the UK, an incredibly exciting and good investment. Broadway is now almost a vanity project and the only shows that can survive on Broadway are shows like The Lion King or Hamilton, which are so huge that they can more than break even. To put a musical on Broadway now would cost roughly $20 million.”

Broadway is becoming prohibitively expensive and even "small" and risky shows are costing a fortune. There's no cushion for a show like HOW TO DANCE IN OHIO to take 3 months to find its audience, and it's a tall order to ask people to pay $100+ for a show they know nothing about. The costs of union labor, physical production, goods & services, and development are astronomical in New York, and it creates high risk. The odds are not in investors' favors. So to that end, I'm not shocked that we're seeing an increase in British imports (and not just because of people like Sonia Friedman and ATG). I expect we'll see more musicals with American creative teams starting in London.

Updated On: 12/1/23 at 05:04 PM

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Highland Guy
#6Broadway Is Now Almost a Vanity Project
Posted: 12/1/23 at 5:25pm

Correcting the subject to what he is actually quoted to have said.


Non sibi sed patriae

JasonC3
#7Broadway Is A Vanity Project
Posted: 12/1/23 at 5:27pm

muscle23ftl said: "But he has a point, people only seem to pick 5-10 shows to go see and they will not see anything else! The paying audience is very brainwashed and won't see anything unless someone tells them to do it."

Tens or hundreds of thousands of people have been brainwashed?  By who?  How?  And who are powerful voices who tell people to see a show and get a programmed response?

You're offering a pretty condescending view.  Differing tastes among audiences for any form of culture, some more limiting than others, have been true since the beginning of time and likely always will be moving forward.

There are conversations to be had about how to increase the range of shows potential audiences might choose to attend, but insulting those same patrons with sweeping generalizations probably isn't the place to begin.

Updated On: 12/1/23 at 05:27 PM

emlo99
#8Broadway Is A Vanity Project
Posted: 12/1/23 at 5:37pm

He really could have said commercial theatre needs to have commercial appeal for it to be… commercialized? But he had to call it vain lol.

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CATSNYrevival
#9Broadway Is A Vanity Project
Posted: 12/1/23 at 5:38pm

Andrew Lloyd Webber is the wrong person to make this point. He and Cameron Mackintosh are basically responsible for “brainwashing” audiences and inventing the modern day juggernaut. Highly commercial musicals with no stars, hugely recognizable marketing campaigns, merchandise, tours, cast albums and flagship productions in New York and London that run for decades. They did that.

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TaffyDavenport
#10Broadway Is A Vanity Project
Posted: 12/1/23 at 5:47pm

To me, he was saying that so few shows are able to recoup on Broadway that they might as well be vanity projects, which is pretty accurate, although I think less "vanity," more "in vain," from a financial standpoint.

Updated On: 12/1/23 at 05:47 PM

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ErmengardeStopSniveling
#11Broadway Is A Vanity Project
Posted: 12/1/23 at 5:48pm

CATSNYrevival said: "Andrew Lloyd Webber is the wrong person to make this point. He and Cameron Mackintosh are basically responsible for “brainwashing” audiences and inventing the modern day juggernaut. Highly commercial musicals with no stars, hugely recognizable marketing campaigns, merchandise, tours, cast albums and flagship productions in New York and London that run for decades. They did that."


I wouldn't call most of Andrew or Cameron's works "highly commercial" ideas on paper. Most of them were big, risky, serious-minded shows that happened to catch on, not unlike Hamilton...adaptations of 1800s French novels (Phantom, Les Mis), musical epics about war & global politics (Miss Saigon, Evita), musicals steeped in religion (Superstar, Joseph), an adaptation of one of the greatest films ever made (Sunset Blvd), a character-driven dance piece (Song & Dance). Cats and Starlight Express are a little sillier than those mentioned above, but they were still driven by art. These shows would not have succeeded without artistic merits –– as opposed to something like Back To The Future, which is selling solely because of the IP that inspired it.

The dumbing-down of Broadway came from those who latched onto the ALW/CM model and tried to exploit family-oriented properties or film IP or pop song catalogues.

Updated On: 12/1/23 at 05:48 PM

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uncageg
#12Broadway Is A Vanity Project
Posted: 12/1/23 at 6:00pm

TaffyDavenport said: "To me, he was saying that so few shows are able to recoup on Broadway that they might as well be vanity projects, which is pretty accurate, although I think less "vanity," more "in vain," from a financial standpoint."

 

That is what I got from his comments also. 

 


Just give the world Love.

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James885
#13Broadway Is A Vanity Project
Posted: 12/1/23 at 6:39pm

Yeah, I think he could've phrased it better but I agree with what he means. The current economics of Broadway have probably never been more challenging. It's tough for shows without star power or big IP to turn a profit. Like Emergarde said, convincing people to spend several hundred dollars on a show they've never heard of without big names is a very tall order. 

To that end, it's not surprising that a show like Back To The Future is playing so well; similar to many movie box office hits these days, the IP is the star and the draw for audiences, not the lead actors or the creatives.


"You drank a charm to kill John Proctor's wife! You drank a charm to kill Goody Proctor!" - Betty Parris to Abigail Williams in Arthur Miller's The Crucible
Updated On: 12/1/23 at 06:39 PM

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Impeach2017
#14Broadway Is A Vanity Project
Posted: 12/1/23 at 8:13pm

Of course his minions on here will line up to praise him.  The comparison of Broadway and London is a poor one because the UK receives federal funding (of which he is currently begging for more of) - something that we do not have here, except for the one time Covid payments.  

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inlovewithjerryherman
#15Broadway Is A Vanity Project
Posted: 12/1/23 at 8:39pm

James885 said: "Yeah, I think he could've phrased it better but I agree with what he means. The current economics of Broadway have probably never been more challenging. It's tough for shows without star power or big IP to turn a profit. Like Emergarde said, convincing people to spend several hundred dollars on a show they've never heard of without big names is a very tall order.

To that end, it's not surprising that a show like Back To The Future is playing so well; similar to many movie box office hits these days, the IP is the star and the draw for audiences, not the lead actors or the creatives.
"

But even Back to the Future tried out in London; something of that scale doesn't have the luxury of coming to Broadway without having previous commercial success. He's being dramatic as usual but he's not wrong.

Honestly the commercial options in London right now are plentiful and much more interesting than what we have on Broadway at this time, in my opinion. And it'll stay that way.

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RippedMan
#16Broadway Is A Vanity Project
Posted: 12/1/23 at 10:20pm

But also to note that Back to the Future is paying its bills. But I wouldn’t say it’s doing gangbusters. It’s skating by which by today’s standard are pretty good. 

verywellthensigh
#17Broadway Is A Vanity Project
Posted: 12/1/23 at 11:02pm

ALW: Says something truthful.

BWW:

Broadway Is A Vanity Project

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Broadway Flash
#18Broadway Is A Vanity Project
Posted: 12/2/23 at 4:32am

When Phantom closed, he compared Broadway to luxury stores on 5th avenue.  You never see people in the stores but they need to be there.  Most of these shows on Broadway turn a profit on tour or licensing.  Let's also remember, the West End doesn't pay their actor's sh*t.  

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binau
#19Broadway Is A Vanity Project
Posted: 12/2/23 at 4:51am

CATSNYrevival said: "Andrew Lloyd Webber is the wrong person to make this point. He and Cameron Mackintosh are basically responsible for “brainwashing” audiences and inventing the modern day juggernaut. Highly commercial musicals with no stars, hugely recognizable marketing campaigns, merchandise, tours, cast albums and flagship productions in New York and London that run for decades. They did that."

Exactly. So weird that ALW when powerful/relevant was happy to be exactly what he appears to be criticising - but when things aren't going his way suddenly he pretends that he is a struggling off-broadway artist or Sondheim. He isn't wrong of course about the troubling state of Broadway economics, but it's just funny to see the personality dynamics at play behind this.


"You can't overrate Bernadette Peters. She is such a genius. There's a moment in "Too Many Mornings" and Bernadette doing 'I wore green the last time' - It's a voice that is just already given up - it is so sorrowful. Tragic. You can see from that moment the show is going to be headed into such dark territory and it hinges on this tiny throwaway moment of the voice." - Ben Brantley (2022) "Bernadette's whole, stunning performance [as Rose in Gypsy] galvanized the actors capable of letting loose with her. Bernadette's Rose did take its rightful place, but too late, and unseen by too many who should have seen it" Arthur Laurents (2009) "Sondheim's own favorite star performances? [Bernadette] Peters in ''Sunday in the Park,'' Lansbury in ''Sweeney Todd'' and ''obviously, Ethel was thrilling in 'Gypsy.'' Nytimes, 2000
Updated On: 12/2/23 at 04:51 AM

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Kad
#20Broadway Is A Vanity Project
Posted: 12/2/23 at 9:21am

A largely correct message from the absolute worst possible messenger for it imaginable.


"...everyone finally shut up, and the audience could enjoy the beginning of the Anatevka Pogram in peace."

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sinister teashop
#21Broadway Is A Vanity Project
Posted: 12/2/23 at 12:41pm

He's not wrong about Broadway but he is also boosting the West End and glossing over problems that burden the West End and Broadway equally. Ticket price inflation in the West End, though much less than Broadway, is making audiences grumble. Production costs might be less in the West End but livable wages for ensemble performers combined with the lack of affordable housing in London makes London a worse place to be a theater worker than in NYC. Both cities have much in common in when it comes to "come with millions or don't come at all". 

Updated On: 12/2/23 at 12:41 PM