The Playgoer: more "On the Road"

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Monday, August 28, 2006

more "On the Road"

An interesting array of letters in Sunday's Times responding to last week's analysis of troubles with Broadway road tours. Kudos to these non-New Yorkers for standing up for their resident companies, our true "national theatre":

To the Editor:
Re “Lost in America” [Aug. 20]:

David Leonhardt’s article misses the most important reasons Broadway shows aren’t doing well on the road.

Much of what travels the country are the “tired revivals” he mentions — sometimes with stripped-down productions and lesser-known performers — and at Broadway-level ticket prices. It should come as no surprise that serious theater lovers are staying away.

Furthermore, many cities are home to exciting resident theater companies of their own. Some of the best theater in the country is being done at such companies in Boston, Chicago, Seattle and Minneapolis, and sophisticated theatergoers there are probably supporting those organizations rather than paying double the price for the uninspired fare coming out of Broadway.

Janet M. Bailey

"No Contest"
To the Editor:

In Minneapolis we are lucky to have (among many other attributes) a glittering new Guthrie Theater that more than matches Broadway glitz with strengths like moving performances from the actors originally cast. Why would I want to spend $80 seeing a recycled Broadway show from two seasons ago when I can spend $50 to see a higher-quality production made just for me, right here and right now?

Rob Goudy
Edina, Minn.

As for the "pro-" side...

"Hardly Broken"

To the Editor:

David Leonhardt’s article ignores the continuing impact of international hits like “Mamma Mia!” For the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, the 2006-7 Broadway season is likely to be our strongest. Far from being “broken,” touring Broadway continues to provide a solid base for most arts centers, including ours. There are many reasons certain hits might not work on tour, but ignoring successful productions presents a distorted picture.

Judith Lisi

Tampa, Fla.
The writer is president of the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.

Personally, I don't think massive attendance at the regional LORT theatres accounts for the road troubles of "Hairspray," but any excuse to make this case.

Meanwhile, as the Times also reported Saturday, in Arts, Briefly, Vegas continues to be a big fizz and hardly adding new life to "life beyond Broadway". Even for "Phantom":
“Phantom” is going to bed earlier in Las Vegas now. Because of lagging ticket sales, the producers of “Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular,” a 95-minute version of Broadway’s “Phantom of the Opera,” are scaling back late-night shows and starting remaining weekend productions one hour early, The Associated Press reported. The 1,800-seat, $40 million theater at the Venetian hotel, which opened with the show in June, has been more than a quarter empty for its 10 p.m. shows for much of August. Producers are trimming the number of 10 p.m. weekday performances from four to two and bumping the Saturday shows to 6 and 9 p.m., instead of 7 and 10. Some Sunday shows will start at 5 and 8 p.m., instead of 7. There will be 10 shows a week.

Yeah, not my idea of a Vegas "late show," either.

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