BWW Blog: Why Some Broadway Shows Never Lose Their Spark
Whenever a show celebrates one more year on Broadway, I get really excited. It's an occasion worth celebrating as some shows don't even make it through the first year. Despite how much all of us love and appreciate theatre as art, it's still a business. Some shows make it and some shows don't. Recently, Wicked celebrated their 15th anniversary which currently makes them the sixth longest running Broadway show in history. Wicked is one of those shows that everyone loves. It truly is a worldwide phenomenon. It made me think about what makes a Broadway show triumph.
Wicked was my second Broadway show. The first was Phantom of the Opera. I remember distinctly how I didn't want to see Wicked! I thought the plot was silly and there was no point to it (ten year old me was quite the intellectual). To this day Wicked remains one of my favorite Broadway shows. I've seen it five times and I don't plan on stopping there! At the rate Wicked is going, it will surpass Les Misérables and take its place as the fifth longest running show. That's an amazing feat. Broadway shows come and go yet some remain concrete.
My major related courses have encouraged me to look at shows with a different eye. We all have a certain show that we enjoy, but what is it about that show that makes it power through the harsh critics, the high cost of production, and the theory of competitive theatre? Wicked didn't even win the Tony for best musical. I think that Wicked has established itself as a timeless work of contemporary theatre. It features common lessons of friendship, loyalty, love, and a compassion for one another.
The longest running shows that are still currently playing are The Phantom of the Opera, The Lion King, and Chicago. All three of these shows are vastly different in terms of the scale of the show and musical style. What I've noticed is these shows have established themselves as tourist attractions. They're the shows you go see first when you're on Broadway for the first time. Of course, a touristy show is broadly defined. I've also realized that shows with a large fan base are also successful. Shows like Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, and Be More Chill are newer and will definitely become one of the long running shows.
I get really sad when a show closes. Some of my favorites are The Great Comet, Spongebob, In Transit, Groundhog Day, and Bandstand. What I'm grateful for is even when shows close, they are never forgotten. I still see fan art constantly for these shows which reminds me that there is still love for these works.
I suppose I realize that a show's spark doesn't always go out when it closes. The memories will always be there and there will always be fans that will discover the show's cast recording long after it closes. Theatre is just that special thing that never goes away, no matter how many shows come and go.