Digesting the latest Broadway attendance numbers has led me to think about the big trends at play. Having finished a record year, Broadway seems, at least the cold numbers indicate, to actually be poised for a continuation of its healthy and expanding revenue performance.
I've spent a great deal of time complaining about the ever rising prices for theater tickets, and have warned about the possible results of large numbers of middle class theater goers being priced out of seeing Broadway shows. Well, that may or may not be true, but the overriding trend for the industry is that the issue is next to meaningless.
The point is, everything changes. Broadway in 2015 is not Broadway from 1975. The world is different, and clearly Broadway is different too. Old timers like me may carp and complain, but ultimately, the shrill warnings are moot. All in the Family is long gone from the TV airwaves, and TV today is very different from what it was forty years ago. Unending lamentations aside, life goes on, other programs came along, and everyone found something else to watch, or to do. Are things better or worse? There is no general answer, only personal ones.
For those that might be priced out of seeing Broadway shows, well, stuff happens. Broadway isn't the only theater available, and it's crazy to think that it is. Off and off-off Broadway exists, somewhat, and other sources of theater are available too. The indisputable fact is that Broadway is attracting audiences willing and able to pay more than ever for tickets. Nothing can get in front of that powerful trend, and the eye-popping grosses posted by many shows are the rewards reaped by producers of those hyper-popular shows.
I don't have a reel to reel tape recorder anymore. I don't buy vinyl records anymore. I don't go to movies anymore. If Broadway shows become out of reach for me or anyone else, well, that's a few more hours of fiddling with a smartphone, or anything else one might come up with. There seems to be no end of people with the means to fill those theater seats at premium prices. Good for them, and good for Broadway.