Informative post-mortem by WaPo's Peter Marks on the underperformance of the hometown hit "Ragtime" on Broadway. Key points:
[T]here were sales advantages for "Ragtime" at the Kennedy Center that could not be replicated on Broadway: the institution's subscribers. They purchased 30 percent of the musical's tickets, providing a solid foundation of revenue, according to center President Michael M. Kaiser. "Plus, we have a marketing reach in a much less culturally dense city," he said. "We have an ongoing relationship to an audience. Whereas on Broadway, every time you start from zero. You have to build your single-ticket sales."It still amazes me when folks wonder how something that was so "successful" in a nonprofit venue doesn't succeed in the same way in the thoroughly commercial environment of Broadway. It's two different worlds!
In a city with far fewer options for big-scale musicals, "Ragtime" may have had an outsize impact. When it moved to New York, it not only faced more intense competition, it also had to find a niche in a theater world that has grown more and more dependent on tourists, a negligible theatergoing category in Washington.
So tourists don't go to the theatre in DC, huh? Well, I suppose there are other tourist attractions there. Still--does any other city aside from New York count on tourist ticket sales as much for its theatre business?