Mixed Bag for Broadway

Volume CX, No. 3March, 2010

Marisa Friedman

Five Broadway shows shuttered this past January, including “Burn the Floor,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Finian’s Rainbow,” “Ragtime” and

The closing of these five shows shed 97 jobs, leaving 272 jobs (including “South Pacific”). This is still more than the previous year, when numerous productions closed, leaving 257 jobs.

Contributing to this is the overall decline in attendance, with attendance this season at 7.9 million, compared to last season’s 8.2 million.

This is even bleaker when you consider that the Broadway League changed the way it reports attendance last year, reporting the total attendance (including comps), rather than the total paid attendance.

While overall grosses were up this season ($692.2 million versus $689.6 million), the League also changed the way it reports its grosses. Instead of reporting “net grosses,” the League now reports “gross grosses,” making the numbers appear higher than they truly are.

In addition, the number of playing weeks declined to 1,440, from 1,653. Overall, this presents a rather dreary picture of the economic health of Broadway.

There is, however, some good news. There are 17 productions running right now, compared to 15 this time last year. And there are seven shows slated to open this spring, which will bring with them around 80 jobs for musicians.

  • “The Addams Family” will be going into the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre with 18 musicians.
  • Nineteen musicians will be employed for “Promises Promises” at the Broadway Theatre and 19 musicians will also be hired in “Come Fly Away” at the Marquis Theatre.
  • “Million Dollar Quartet” will employ four actor-musicians and two regular musicians, and will open in the Nederlander Theatre.
  • Sadly, “La Cage aux Folles,” which had a 24-piece orchestra in its 2004 revival, will be going into the Longacre Theatre with eight musicians.
  • “American Idiot” is slated to go into the St. James Theatre, but producers are requesting permission to use 10 musicians instead of the required 19. The musical is based on the album of the same name by the punk rock band Green Day.
  • Lastly, Dame Edna Everage’s musical “All About Me” will run, but we currently do not know the number of musicians who will be hired.