Saturday, October 25, 2014

Going...going...Why isn't it gone?

I love Wicked. In fact, Wicked was the very first Broadway soundtrack I ever owned, and it’s what got me hooked on musical theater.  Over a decade ago it flew in, stunned audiences, won all kinds of awards, and propelled many of its actors into stardom.  Since then, Wicked has been seen by over 8 Million people in New York and, thanks to the touring productions, I expect at least five times that have seen it world-wide.  And, in my opinion, that’s why it might be time for Wicked to close on Broadway.  For while Wicked has been selling out 9 simultaneous productions on 5 different continents, a musical adaptation of Tuck Everlasting announced that it would not be able to continue with its announced Broadway production because a theater was not available.

I fully understand that, seeing as it’s been almost 2 years since Wicked has allowed the Gershwin Theater to drop to under 85% capacitance, no producer in his right mind will close Wicked anytime soon.  However, there are plenty of long running shows out there that I think need to step down off the marquee to allow some of the new talent to shine.  Shows such as Rock of Ages, Jersey Boys, and Mamma Mia (each of which dipped below 85% just last week) have had some very good runs, but in my opinion have outstayed their welcome.  Each of these shows have international and touring productions in place and will by no means die if they’re taken off of Broadway, and when I think about the life a Broadway run could give a young production like Tuck Everlasting, I can’t think of a reason not to wish for their closing.

Now, this trend has started to take root a little bit.  Within the past several months, shows that have lived in that 2-4 year sweet spot such as Cinderella, Once, and Newsies have announced their closings.  Of course I'm a fan of all of theses shows and hope they find immeasurable success in their touring productions (which are either already in progress or in rehearsals for all three), but I think they're choosing the perfect time to take a step off of Broadway and I'm excited for the shows that will be taking their place (especially Jason Robert Brown's Honeymoon in Vegas).

Again, I understand that financially successful shows will continue to run and there is nothing I can do to stop that.  Additionally, length of run is really the only true way to measure a success of a Broadway show, without it, we’d have no quantifiable data to prove that The Phantom of the Opera was better than Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark.  And I’m not saying that ALL Broadway shows ought to have a 5-year cap on their runs or anything like that.  I just think that Broadway ought to be a place where people can go see new and groundbreaking works of theater instead of shows that were new and groundbreaking 5 years ago.  These shows have had their chance at Defying Gravity and now they’re plenty Popular, so would you listen to A Sentimental Man and allow a new show to have One Short Day on Broadway?

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