Musical Theatre - History - Relevance


The Broadway League announced that in the 2007–08 season, 12.27 million tickets were purchased for Broadway shows for a gross sale amount of almost a billion dollars. The League further reported that during the 2006–07 season, approximately 65% of Broadway tickets were purchased by tourists, and that foreign tourists were 16% of attendees. (These figures do not include off-Broadway and smaller venues.) The Society of London Theatre reported that 2007 set a record for attendance in London. Total attendees in the major commercial and grant-aided theatres in Central London were 13.6 million, and total ticket revenues were £469.7 million. Also the international musicals scene has been particularly active in recent years. However, as Stephen Sondheim has noted:

You have two kinds of shows on Broadway – revivals and the same kind of musicals over and over again, all spectacles. You get your tickets for The Lion King a year in advance, and essentially a family... pass on to their children the idea that that's what the theater is – a spectacular musical you see once a year, a stage version of a movie. It has nothing to do with theater at all. It has to do with seeing what is familiar.... I don't think the theatre will die per se, but it's never going to be what it was.... It's a tourist attraction."

The success of original material like Urinetown, Avenue Q, Spelling Bee and In the Heights, as well as creative re-imaginings of film properties, including Thoroughly Modern Millie, Hairspray, Billy Elliot and The Color Purple, and plays-turned-musicals, such as Spring Awakening, prompts theatre historian John Kenrick to write: "Is the Musical dead? ...Absolutely not! Changing? Always! The musical has been changing ever since Offenbach did his first rewrite in the 1850s. And change is the clearest sign that the musical is still a living, growing genre. Will we ever return to the so-called 'golden age,' with musicals at the center of popular culture? Probably not. Public taste has undergone fundamental changes, and the commercial arts can only flow where the paying public allows."

Read more about this topic:  Musical Theatre, History

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