Many long-time leaders of New York theaters have been retiring or dying, as Jan Simpson catalogues in a post in her blog Broadway and Me. The questions she ponders: Who will replace them and how will they overcome all the problems the theater is facing these days?
Artistic leaders are not the only people in theater going through a trying transition.
“The more I write the less I know,” playwright Paola Alexandra Soto tells Adam Szymkowicz. If some have found the pandemic “inspirational,” enabling them to so projects they might not otherwise have launched, Soto says, “I found it to be incredibly harmful.”
Actor Jai Rodriguez, who made his Broadway debut in Rent 19 years ago, left New York theater shortly afterward, as he tells Adam Rothenberg in an interview on Call Me Adam: “To be honest, I didn’t see a future for myself in Musical Theatre (as much as I loved it). I didn’t see a whole lot of leading men who looked like me back then.”
Certainly, many once-prolific theater bloggers seem to have abandoned their sites. Maybe blogs are viewed as an outmoded platform, like DVDs. Some people seem to be viewing theater that way too.
But there are reasons for optimism. Soto is still plugging away, Rodriguez is returning to New York for a show at 54 Below later this month, and there are still enough theater bloggers to justify (an occasional) theater blog roundup. I had wondered whether Adam Szymkowicz was through with interviewing playwrights; he hadn’t done any since last November. But now, he’s back: Adam’s interview with this latest playwright is his 1,117th
The announced departure of André Bishop from Lincoln Center Theater, who has led it since 1992 and Carole Rothman, from Second Stage Theater, who co-founded it in 1979, follow the deaths within the past year of Todd Haimes, who ran the Roundabout Theatre Company for 40 years; Robert LuPone, the co-founder of MCC Theater who served as its co-artistic director for 36 years, and Andrew Leynse who lead Primary Stages for 21 years.
There are also the departures of James Nicola from New York Theatre Workshop after heading it for 34 years; Sarah Benson who lead Soho Repertory Theatre for 16 years and John Doyle, who served a comparatively short six-year term as the head of Classic Stage Company,
“The people who take on those jobs are going to have to navigate a rockier theatrical landscape than we’ve seen in a long time,” she points out, including still-skittish theatergoers, and increasing demands for inclusion and for better working conditions. Yet she’s not discouraged. A similarly rock landscape face the “now old-timers” and they made the most of it.
Ken Davenport used a focus group to discover 3 Things Standing in the Way of Audiences Seeing More Broadway Shows.
These were: they don’t have the time, they can’t find someone to go with (often the spouse isn’t interested), and they don’t know the story in advance. In a subsequent post , he elaborates on a fourth: Theatergoers would be more likely to buy tickets to a show if it were easier to exchange the tickets for another if something came up.
“Investing in Cabaret at the August Wilson Theatre this spring might seem like a safe bet, after the success of the Kander & Ebb classic in London and earlier productions in New York. That’s until you see the price tag: $24.25 million, a record for a Broadway revival….Cabaret‘s largest line item is its $9.4 million physical production. That includes millions from investors to transform the August Wilson into a Weimar-era nightclub, designed by Tom Scutt, where the show will be performed for an audience of about 1050. (There’s also a pre-show with actors and musicians interacting with the audience.)
On JK’s Theatre Scene, Jeff Kyler is celebrating 40 years of seeing shows on Broadway!