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An Oversaturated Spring? Data and opinions...

An Oversaturated Spring? Data and opinions...

macbeth Profile Photo
macbeth
#1An Oversaturated Spring? Data and opinions...
Posted: 1/25/24 at 7:24am

First Adam Feldman writes "Too many shows get jammed into April, and we've got the data to prove it."

https://www.timeout.com/newyork/news/let-me-tell-youbroadway-in-april-is-too-damn-crowded-012424

BTTF's Casey Likes seemed to agree, noting:

 

An Oversaturated Spring? Data and opinions...

An Oversaturated Spring? Data and opinions...

binau Profile Photo
binau
#2An Oversaturated Spring? Data and opinions...
Posted: 1/25/24 at 7:53am

Does there need to be some kind of centralised governance on the programming of Broadway and opening schedules for the greater good? Realise in practice it’ll be a nightmare and highly political. 


"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

Kad Profile Photo
Kad
#3An Oversaturated Spring? Data and opinions...
Posted: 1/25/24 at 7:59am

It’s not the spring overall but rather the month of April that’s overstuffed- as Feldman points out, 11 shows are opening in a span of 9 days, which is just insane. 


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

Broadway Flash Profile Photo
Broadway Flash
#4An Oversaturated Spring? Data and opinions...
Posted: 1/25/24 at 8:06am

Under saturated audience?  How does he know how many people want to go to the theatre.  The people interested in seeing Hells Kitchen is generally going to be a different audience than those interested in seeing The Who’s Tommy. I suspect for some of those people, it will be their first Broadway show. This is about finding your audience and selling your show to those who are interested. Not a zero sum game like people are making it out to be. 

Broadway Flash Profile Photo
Broadway Flash
#5An Oversaturated Spring? Data and opinions...
Posted: 1/25/24 at 8:14am

It’s also effectively blaming the landlords.  It’s not their fault people don’t know how to put on a good show. 

pablitonizer
#6An Oversaturated Spring? Data and opinions...
Posted: 1/25/24 at 8:19am

I don't think the problem is an oversaturated spring. Each new show needs to find their audience as it's always been, right? That's always been the rule on Broadway. However, I do see a few titles from the list of shows opening this spring that have the word 'flop' all over. But that's not related to the oversaturated season, I simply think they won't ever work no matter the season or the amount of competition.

 

I think the problem on Broadway are the costs, that deserves a deep and detailed discussion imo

Kad Profile Photo
Kad
#7An Oversaturated Spring? Data and opinions...
Posted: 1/25/24 at 9:07am

Broadway Flash said: "It’s also effectively blaming the landlords. It’s not their fault people don’t know how to put on a good show."

It’s not blaming the landlords, nor does it have anything to do with people knowing how to put on a good show.  It is a producing decision to push production openings as close to the Tony cutoff as possible. 
 


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

Broadway Flash Profile Photo
Broadway Flash
#8An Oversaturated Spring? Data and opinions...
Posted: 1/25/24 at 10:01am

My comment was in response to the guy from back to the future who said the market was over saturated and that it’s irresponsible. 

RippedMan Profile Photo
RippedMan
#9An Oversaturated Spring? Data and opinions...
Posted: 1/25/24 at 10:51am

Everyone wants to be featured on the Tonys and get some good press. Makes a lot of sense. No guarantee you can open in Sept and still be running by June. 

ErmengardeStopSniveling Profile Photo
ErmengardeStopSniveling
#10An Oversaturated Spring? Data and opinions...
Posted: 1/25/24 at 11:32am

binau said: "Does there need to be some kind of centralised governance on the programming of Broadway and opening schedules for the greater good? Realise in practice it’ll be a nightmare and highly political."

The landlords at various points over the years have tried to help the April glut of shows by having shows close by the first Sunday in January (not doable for every show). Let's say the earliest a new show can start is 6 weeks past that (give or take), which puts you at mid-February previews –– not the best time of year to build WOM. And then sometimes hands are tied by artist scheduling.

This year is no worse than past years but it still causes some of those late-April shows to get memory-holed by people (press, voters) seeing shows 4-6 nights a week.

We also must remember that the time of year wouldn't matter a bit for some shows: they would fail whether they opened in January or April or September. (Ohio, Grey House, Once Upon, Shark, etc). A really good show with a sustainable audience base will rise up from the crowd. Heart of Rock & Roll is going to be hurt even more by opening smack dab in the middle of some of the most hotly anticipated works of the spring *and* on the same night as Patriots. Spamalot's numbers have been pretty decent, and it helps that it's the only musical comedy in town with something of name value; it might sputter out by springtime, but for now it looks ok.

Updated On: 1/25/24 at 11:32 AM

HogansHero Profile Photo
HogansHero
#11An Oversaturated Spring? Data and opinions...
Posted: 1/25/24 at 11:34am

It is well to remember that producers are inflicting this on themselves, and they are the stakeholders. Why some of them can't find an earlier Spring slot in which they would have more breathing room is bizarre, but in the end this is their calculus and their call. There is no question that there are a ton of issues driving scheduling that no one here is likely to fully appreciate, but there are plenty of examples of producers (individually and collectively) who seem pretty clueless about how to market their show, i.e., nurture their audience. But the answer is definitely not "centralised (or -ized) governance." Although I suspect the employer of Casey Likes would like some way to govern the editing capability of what comes out of its employees' mouths and keyboards.

chrishuyen
#12An Oversaturated Spring? Data and opinions...
Posted: 1/25/24 at 11:43am

General knowledge was that people wanted to open as close to the Tony cutoff as possible because it would give them the best chances at the Tony, but Adam Feldman mentions that in the past 20 years over half of the Best Musical winners did not open in the spring, so I wonder if it's just a paradigm shift that needs to happen? To be fair, if your show closes before January, I do think your chances at winning Tonys becomes a lot slimmer, so it's about playing the game to remain open until the Tonys, which would be harder it you open earlier, but then it also becomes about creating a show people want to see, marketing it to those people, and keeping finances under control so that you can still run through some leaner months (all of which, in my view as an outsider, you should be doing anyway).

I don't really think there should be an authority to oversee this, because I don't see it as an inherently bad thing, but it does seem to be good food for thought for producers.

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VernonGersch
#13An Oversaturated Spring? Data and opinions...
Posted: 1/25/24 at 12:28pm

Broadway Flash said: "Under saturated audience? How does he know how many people want to go to the theatre. The people interested in seeing Hells Kitchen is generally going to be a different audience than those interested in seeing The Who’s Tommy. I suspect for some of those people, it will be their first Broadway show. This is about finding your audience and selling your show to those who are interested. Not a zero sum game like people are making it out to be."

 

Not sure I agree with your thesis about a different audience for Hells Kitchen vs The Who's Tommy.   I am a huuuuuge music buff - of almost all kinds - and sought out both shows specifically because BOTH steam from two artists that I really enjoy.  Suspect there is a subset of us folks that are music peeps and theater lovers who dove fully into both shows.   

But agree entirely that the amount of shows opening in April is not good for this business in general.  

GilmoreGirlO2 Profile Photo
GilmoreGirlO2
#14An Oversaturated Spring? Data and opinions...
Posted: 1/25/24 at 12:35pm

Interesting article - I would also add that so many shows opening at once do make audiences have to pick and choose more, depending on the amount of spending money they have. With a whole bunch of shows opening at one time, even if I'd like to go and see the majority of them, with ticket prices as they are, it's impossible for me to financially attend all that I wish to in such a close time frame to each other.

If openings were more staggered throughout the year, my budget would definitely allow me to attend more without having to pick my top priorities (and therefore often missing shows before they close).

James885 Profile Photo
James885
#15An Oversaturated Spring? Data and opinions...
Posted: 1/25/24 at 1:03pm

GilmoreGirlO2 said: "Interesting article - I would also add that so many shows opening at once do make audiences have to pick and choose more, depending on the amount of spending money they have. With a whole bunch of shows opening at one time, even if I'd like to go and see the majority of them, with ticket prices as they are, it's impossible for me to financially attend all that I wish to in such a close time frame to each other."
 

This is spot on. People's budgets are still tight and reality is that a lot of folks (myself included) don't have the funds to see up to half a dozen shows when they visit NYC - even with discounts. Unfortunately that means being very picky, which is trouble for the shows that don't have the brand recognition and / or the star power to move tickets.

For these shows, I can understand the reasoning behind wanting to open closer to the Tonys so as to use any nominations and wins as marketing ammunition to help cut through the clutter. But even then, it's still sometimes an uphill battle to convince prospective audience members to take a chance when there's so much competition for people's limited dollars.

 


"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: 1/25/24 at 01:03 PM

saxpower
#16An Oversaturated Spring? Data and opinions...
Posted: 1/25/24 at 1:38pm

There's an upper limit to how many shows people can or will see in a short period.   There's only so much "oxygen" to go around and with this many shows either all of them get a small amount or someone is left without.   It may not be possible for multiple shows to get good box offices all at the same time, which also affects word of mouth and Tony-related "momentum".  There just may not be enough "butts in seats" to sustain this many shows.   The other and related possibility is some shows get "lost in the shuffle".  From what I understand of "The Notebook" and "Like Water For Elephants", the plots are somewhat similar with similar themes.  Will both be able to compete with each other?  We will see.  I just don't want to see shows which would be hits any season end up closing.  There's no guarantee it will be the quality shows that survive. 

pmensky
#17An Oversaturated Spring? Data and opinions...
Posted: 1/25/24 at 2:25pm

Upcoming openings. What am I missing?:

Days of Wine and Roses - January 28

Doubt - February 29

My Son’s a Queer - March 12

The Notebook - March 14

An Enemy of the People - March 18

Water for Elephants - March 21

The Who’s Tommy - March 28

The Outsiders - April 11

Lempicka - April 14

The Wiz - April 17

Suffs - April 18

Stereophonic - April 19

Hell’s Kitchen - April 20

Cabaret -  April 21

The Heart of Rock n Roll - April 22

Patriots - April 22

Mary Jane - April 23

Uncle Vanya - April 24

The Great Gatsby - April 25

Mother Play - April 25

ErmengardeStopSniveling Profile Photo
ErmengardeStopSniveling
#18An Oversaturated Spring? Data and opinions...
Posted: 1/25/24 at 2:34pm

I don't know if you're missing any, but these are always my go-to resources:

Broadway League Opening Night Calendar

Off-Broadway League Opening Night Calendar

Broadway Now & Next

pmensky
#19An Oversaturated Spring? Data and opinions...
Posted: 1/25/24 at 2:36pm

ErmengardeStopSniveling said: "I don't know if you're missing any, but these are always my go-to resources:

Broadway League Opening Night Calendar

Off-Broadway League Opening Night Calendar

Broadway Now & Next
"

Oh, thanks. Those are great resources.

EDSOSLO858 Profile Photo
EDSOSLO858
#20An Oversaturated Spring? Data and opinions...
Posted: 1/25/24 at 2:39pm

pmensky said: "Upcoming openings. What am I missing?:

Days of Wine and Roses - January 28

Doubt - February 29

My Son’s a Queer - March 12

The Notebook - March 14

An Enemy of the People - March 18

Water for Elephants - March 21

The Who’s Tommy - March 28

The Outsiders - April 11

Lempicka - April 14

The Wiz - April 17

Suffs - April 18

Stereophonic - April 19

Hell’s Kitchen - April 20

Cabaret -April 21

The Heart of Rock n Roll - April 22

Patriots - April 22

Mary Jane - April 23

Uncle Vanya - April 24

The Great Gatsby - April 25

Mother Play - April 25
"

Alan Cumming Is Not Acting His Age is March 11, if you want to count that. 


Life is the most precious gift in the world... embrace every moment

Wick3 Profile Photo
Wick3
#21An Oversaturated Spring? Data and opinions...
Posted: 1/25/24 at 2:52pm

If you’re looking for a theater front of house job there might be openings.

Fan123 Profile Photo
Fan123
#22An Oversaturated Spring? Data and opinions...
Posted: 1/25/24 at 3:32pm

Do the people who decide if and when to take a show to Broadway (the main producers, I assume) always care that much if the show lasts for a long time there? I'm sure everyone involved in a show (not least the investors) would like that to be the case, and many involved may even believe that that's the main aim. But are the key decision-makers sometimes taking a show to Broadway with an eye to garnering attention and enabling future marketing of the show as a 'Broadway' show, with future plans for licensing and tours etc? Does a short Broadway run sometimes intentionally serve as a sort of loss leader for the long-term life and reputation of a show?

Islander_fan
#23An Oversaturated Spring? Data and opinions...
Posted: 1/25/24 at 4:28pm

Fan123 said: "Do the people who decide if and when to take a show to Broadway (the main producers, I assume) always care that much if the show lasts for a long time there? I'm sure everyone involved in a show (not least the investors) would like that to be the case, and many involved may even believe that that's the main aim. But are the key decision-makers sometimes taking a show to Broadway with an eye to garnering attention and enabling future marketing of the show as a 'Broadway' show, with future plans for licensing and tours etc? Does a short Broadway run sometimes intentionally serve as a sort of loss leader for the long-term life and reputation of a show?"

Yes, a show that was on Broadway, regardless of how long, can usually make more in the amateur licensing market than a show that wasn’t. A good recent example of this is Newsies. They initially planned to just do it at paper mill and then sell the rights to amateur groups. But, because of its good sales there and the knowledge that it would give them more money on the licensing circuit they bought it to Broadway under a limited run. But, seeing as Disney has a money fetish the show was an open run do to successful sales on Broadway. 

 

ErmengardeStopSniveling Profile Photo
ErmengardeStopSniveling
#24An Oversaturated Spring? Data and opinions...
Posted: 1/25/24 at 5:26pm

Fan123 said: "Do the people who decide if and when to take a show to Broadway (the main producers, I assume) always care that much if the show lasts for a long time there? I'm sure everyone involved in a show (not least the investors) would like that to be the case, and many involved may even believe that that's the main aim. But are the key decision-makers sometimes taking a show to Broadway with an eye to garnering attention and enabling future marketing of the show as a 'Broadway' show, with future plans for licensing and tours etc? Does a short Broadway run sometimes intentionally serve as a sort of loss leader for the long-term life and reputation of a show?"


Broadway is too expensive to be viewed as a loss-leader by sane lead producers. Not when most of these shows are costing $18-$25 million. Everyone's hope at the start is that a show can be a success on Broadway, and then ALSO be a success on the road, in London, with regional licensing, etc.

Keep in mind also that licensing is pennies on the dollar for investors. It starts as 60/40 split for the authors & producers, then with time becomes more in the author's favor, until after about 18 years the producer gets nothing and the author gets all. (In most cases.) That can work out well for the authors, but it's a sloooow process if something like Be More Chill or Dance in Ohio producers expect to see any profit. 

Broadway Flash Profile Photo
Broadway Flash
#25An Oversaturated Spring? Data and opinions...
Posted: 1/25/24 at 6:01pm

Here lies love probably wishes they opened in the spring. And these theatres are always full in the spring. The complaint of there being too many shows on Broadway, they could have said the same thing 10 years ago.  If there were only 15 shows on Broadway, that doesn’t mean they will sell because there’s less competition.