BootLeg Betty

Bette And Bruce Springsteen Are The King And Queen Of Broadway

New Yoek Times
Top-dollar theatre boom on Broadway is born in the USA
By James Dean, US Business Editor
November 25 2017, 12:01am,
The Times

Nobody does it better than Bruce Springsteen when it comes to poeticising the life of America’s working class. Fans have to dig deep to see his new Broadway show, though, given that the average ticket costs $500.

And that’s if they managed to buy one before Springsteen on Broadway sold out. The show’s short run and the limited seating at the Walter Kerr Theatre meant that tickets went quickly — and the few available through resale websites command as much as $10,000.

Tickets to see Springsteen on Broadway can fetch as much as $10,000
Tickets to see Springsteen on Broadway can fetch as much as $10,000
BRUCE GLIKAS/FILMMAAGIC/GETTY IMAGES
The commercial success of shows such as Springsteen on Broadway has put New York’s theatre land on course for a bumper season. At the halfway point, gross box office takings stand at $780 million, 18 per cent higher than in 2016-17, which itself was a record year.

According to Margot Astrachan, a Tony award-winning Broadway producer: “There’s money flowing around, which means you’re getting some very flashy shows coming in. And it means there’s money to lose, so you’re also getting some great plays.

“When the stock market is very high, people are confident about their money, so they go out. They go travelling. And the No 1 reason tourists come to New York is to go see a show on Broadway.”

The rise of the premium ticket is helping to boost box-office takings. They are for the seats judged by each theatre to be the best in the house and their prices have risen much faster than for seats in the gods. At Springsteen on Broadway, a premium box office ticket is $850 and the cheapest seat is $65.

The commercial success of Springsteen on Broadway has gone hand-in-hand with critical success. “Overwhelming and uncategorisable,” was The New York Times’s breathless verdict of the show, which opened in October.

Nonetheless, Hamilton, a hip-hop and soul-infused musical based on the life of the American founding father, remains the critics’ favourite. “The conflict between independence and interdependence is not just the show’s subject but also its method,” New York magazine’s theatre critic wrote. Hamilton remains the most lucrative show on Broadway, with the highest box-office gross of any production this season. The average cost of a seat at Hamilton was $263 last week, compared with $120 at The Band’s Visit, the tenth highest grossing show.

Springsteen is not the only American superstar to bring fans flocking to Broadway this season. Bette Midler, the actress and singer who began her career in theatre, has returned to take the lead role in Hello, Dolly!, while Amy Schumer, the actress and comedian, is making her Broadway debut in Steve Martin’s Meteor Shower.

With Thanksgiving and Christmas, Broadway has just arrived at its most lucrative period of the season. Next year, two likely blockbusters will open: Frozen, a musical based on the popular Disney film, in March; and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a play that has made its way across the Atlantic from London’s West End, in April.

“Those two will be smash-hit shows because the characters already have such a massive following,” Ms Astrachan said. “The feeling is very optimistic right now.”

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