The Playgoer: "Q" Quits

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

"Q" Quits

After falling for the hype that Las Vegas was poised to become a bona fide rival to Broadway in commercial musical theatre... Playgoer must eat his hat, alas. Steve Wynn is pulling the plug on the transplanted "Avenue Q" after five unimpressive months. (Story here and here.)

Let me be clear, I was never gaga over "Q" itself, nor over Vegas as a city (never been). But I was fascinated at the prospect of Broadway having a rival and of professional commercial theatre being less associated with New York exclusively. (Thus shedding more light, perhaps, on the non-commercial, non-profit work here.) It was a worthy experiment--not just for Mr. Wynn's investment bucks--but for taking the temperature of the national "mainstream" theatregoing audience.... And, as is apparent from the reports, it's not even clear if the show's closing stems from the its own shortcomings. The theatre was too big to fill twelve times a week, it seems, and word-of-mouth less of a factor with such a transitory audience.

I suspect, though, it fell victim to that perennial question Joe and Jane Sixpack ask when lured to go to the theatre: "Who's in it?" Puppets won't cut it on the strip. And maybe "Spamalot" (Wynn's next) won't either without stars.... But enough with the business advice. Are there lessons here for those of us who care for the artform? Or is sneaking theatre (even as watered down as "Q" but still somewhat "serious') into the entertainment marketplace as a trojan horse just a bankrupt idea from the start.

Of course, the playwrights out there might object to anything like "Q," "Spamalot" (Wynn's next), or even the wildly Vegas-successful "Cirque de Soleil" being called theatre in the first place. I maintain, though, they certainly are.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Avenue Q lives a healthy life online: