Alexis Solis makes a point today in The Guardian that the driver behind Broadway’s record year at the box office is its variety of shows appealing to all sorts of audiences.
Certainly even a casual look at current offerings indicates the variety. Someone who would never set foot in Aladdin might be enticed by Dear Evan Hansen. A ticket buyer who wouldn’t go for A Bronx Tale could have a fine night at Jitney. And vice versa. Everyone loves Hamilton. Some people have even enjoyed Paramour. And while the spring lineup is light on original works, there’s still plenty to choose from among the likes of Come from Away and Groundhog Day, The Play That Goes Wrong and The Price, Oslo and Hello, Dolly!
But it’s not just Broadway that’s seeing a boom in ticket sales:
The answer probably relies on both the type of entertainment Broadway has been offering and the new strategies it has found to price and sell its wares.
Theatres have got a lot better at variable pricing to maximize revenue. But success breeds success writes Solis. When a show becomes popular enough that it enters the consciousness of the broader culture, it boosts the whole art:
Though these upward trends were set in motion years before the appearance of Hamilton, that show has helped to return theater to a more prominent place in the cultural conversation. Those who can’t score tickets to that show may still feel they ought to see something in New York (it’s during tourist-heavy holiday weeks that Broadway scores its best numbers) or catch a show when it comes around on tour. And the success of Hamilton may steer producers toward independent, idiosyncratic art with which theater frequently revives and reinvents itself.
It’s not just about ticket revenue. It’s about relevancy of the art form. Transcendent art causes people to look at theatre differently. But these moments are rare. There’s only one Harry Potter. And only one Hamilton? Does Solis’s observation about Broadway’s variety suggest that there may be enough diversity to produce the next transcendent work?