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Only 8 Performances

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Phantom of London
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Only 8 Performances#1
Posted: 2/12/20 at 6:01pm

I mentioned this on the Six thread, I don’t understand why theatre is rigid 8 performances a week, no matter how long the show is, in the case of Six is only 80 minutes long. You have shows that last 3 times that long and still do 8 performances a week.

Also shows like The Lion King, Wicked and Hamilton that sell out all the time, I also never understood why these don’t do more than 8 shows and use the alternatives and standbys more and even employ more artists as alternatives and standbys. In the lean months drop back to 8 performances. A good time for artists, extra front of house and backstage staff to take their vacation.

thedrybandit
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Only 8 Performances#2
Posted: 2/12/20 at 6:52pm
There are usually two hours before each show that it can take to get ready for a performance, plus any post-show time. There's also rehearsal times during the week, and time is needed to change out any broken cables, speakers, lamps, automation pieces, etc that have failed. On top of that, it's mainly Equity that sets the limit, which can be broken and often is for holiday weeks, but then actors have to be paid more, and all of the locals that fall under IATSE backstage have significant pay bumps for overtime, and rules about who does what job. It gets VERY expensive to do more than 8 a week, to the point that unless it's one of the main tourist seasons, it wouldn't be worth it for the producers.
GlenCoco
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Only 8 Performances#3
Posted: 2/12/20 at 7:05pm

thedrybandit said: "There are usually two hours before each show that it can take to get ready for a performance, plus any post-show time. There's also rehearsal times during the week, and time is needed to change out any broken cables, speakers, lamps, automation pieces, etc that have failed. On top of that, it's mainly Equity that sets the limit, which can be broken and often is for holiday weeks, but then actors have to be paid more, and all of the locals that fall under IATSE backstage have significant pay bumps for overtime, and rules about who does what job. It gets VERY expensive to do more than 8 a week, to the point that unless it's one of the main tourist seasons, it wouldn't be worth it for the producers."

Didn't STOMP back in the day do more than 8 performances a week

Broadway Buddy
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Only 8 Performances#4
Posted: 2/12/20 at 9:18pm

Didn't STOMP back in the day do more than 8 performances a week"

Stomp and Blue Man Group still do more than 8 shows a week  although they probably get paid less, and they have multiple casts  

 

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WayTooBroadway
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Only 8 Performances#5
Posted: 2/12/20 at 10:00pm
It has to do with Broadway salaries and unions, which is heftier including crews and staff. It’s all about the money.
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Dollypop
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Only 8 Performances#6
Posted: 2/12/20 at 10:35pm
When A CHRISTMAS CAROL was being done at MSG, they played more that 8 shows a week and the Christmas show at RCMH also plays as much as five performances a day. They work on special contracts though.
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SouthernCakes
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Only 8 Performances#7
Posted: 2/12/20 at 10:58pm
Yeah. It makes sense, sure. But actors are people and it may seem like only “80 minutes,” but there’s a lot that goes into it before and after.
Islander_fan
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Only 8 Performances#8
Posted: 2/12/20 at 11:52pm

Blue Man Group has a rotating cast which is what allows them to do multiple performances. Furthermore, interestingly enough, the actors that are the blue men are not equity. If memory serves I believe they don't qualify because they don't speak. But, regardless, I am sure they are treated well. Blue Man Group is an international smash so the company at least has the ability to make sure they are all well taken care of. 

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VotePeron
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Only 8 Performances#9
Posted: 2/12/20 at 11:59pm

Even if you looked past all the Broadway unions that would stop this from ever happening, supply & demand is a huge factor.

One of my favorite stories is how Jujamcyn allegedly offered to transfer The Book of Mormon out of the O'Neil and into the St. James in the summer of 2011, when it was the hottest ticket in recent Broadway history. Even if that offer never happened, it's clear to see why they wouldn't move - you can charge people more money to see the show while ensuring there is a line months long for other people to do the same. Better yet, force those people to see it on tour, where shows make about 3x a week than they do on Broadway. If Cursed Child opened in a 750-1,000 seat house, you still wouldn't be able to get a ticket today, but now at the start of Year 3 you can regularly see it for $40/part.

Limiting audiences to only 8 shows a week keeps supply low and thus demand high.

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ErmengardeStopSniveling
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Only 8 Performances#10
Posted: 2/13/20 at 12:11am

The vast majority of shows struggle to fill 8 performances a week as it is. Now remember this is a bad time of year for this analysis, but only 4 shows hit 100% gross last week: two that could be playing larger houses but they choose to have a tight ticket (Ham & Hades), one that strategically lowers its prices to fill all the seats at 100% (Harry P), and a celebrity concert doing 7 perfs (American Utopia). It's nice that a dozen shows filled basically every seat in the house, but 8 of them were selling tickets at various levels of discount (group sales, TKTS, promo codes, etc).

If you're a producer, you want the highest possible price that the market can sustain at full-capacity. It helps maintain the value of a luxury-goods product. Make 'em beg for more; make 'em wait to see it. That's why hit shows in smaller houses don't want to move to a barn like the Broadway or Lyric. Ultimately, the shows will be around for more years, when fans can make return visits. And nobody can predict when the tide will turn and a show grossing 90% suddenly dips to 50%.

(Yeah, basically what VotePeron said!)

Updated On: 2/13/20 at 12:11 AM
thedrybandit
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Only 8 Performances#11
Posted: 2/13/20 at 9:26am

GlenCoco said: "Didn't STOMP back in the day do more than 8 performances a week"

They may have, but they're fully non union. My reply was mainly regarding Broadway, where workers (all of them, actors, stagehands, hair, makeup, stage management, etc) all follow union rules.

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Wick3
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Only 8 Performances#12
Posted: 2/13/20 at 9:38am

ErmengardeStopSniveling said: "The vast majority of shows struggle to fill 8 performances a week as it is. Now remember this is a bad time of year for this analysis, but only4 shows hit 100% gross last week: two that could be playing larger houses but they choose to have a tight ticket (Ham & Hades), one that strategically lowers its prices to fill all the seats at 100% (Harry P), and a celebrity concert doing 7 perfs (American Utopia). It's nice that a dozen shows filled basically every seat in the house, but 8 of them were selling tickets at various levels of discount (group sales,TKTS, promo codes, etc).

If you're a producer, you want the highest possible price that the market can sustain at full-capacity. It helps maintain the value of aluxury-goods product.Make 'em beg for more; make 'em wait to see it. That's why hit shows in smaller houses don't want to move to a barn like the Broadway or Lyric. Ultimately, the shows will bearound for more years, when fans can make return visits. Andnobodycan predict when the tide will turn and a show grossing 90% suddenly dips to 50%.

(Yeah, basically what VotePeron said!)
"

Yep I agree with both of you. Springsteen opted to perform only 5 shows a week on Broadway thus keeping supply low and demand very high (average ticket prices were above $500!) 

Back in 2016, I actually think HAMILTON could have had a second theater with a different cast and still sell out. That's how hot that show was back then. 

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Phantom of London
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Only 8 Performances#13
Posted: 2/13/20 at 3:38pm

Dollypop said: "When A CHRISTMAS CAROL was being done at MSG, they played more that 8 shows a week and the Christmas show at RCMH also plays as much as five performances a day. They work on special contracts though."

The Grinch played more than 8 performances a week, when it was at the Richard Rogers. This was in 2008 when the stage hand strike was on and that basically was the only show playing.

I did say in the lean months cut back to 8 performances a week, give staff their vacation then. Only summer and the  holidays do more shows.

JSquared2
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Only 8 Performances#14
Posted: 2/13/20 at 4:00pm

Phantom of London said: "Dollypop said: "When A CHRISTMAS CAROL was being done at MSG, they played more that 8 shows a week and the Christmas show at RCMH also plays as much as five performances a day. They work on special contracts though."

The Grinch played more than 8 performances a week, when it was at the Richard Rogers. This was in 2008 when the stage hand strike was on and that basically was the only show playing.

I did say in the lean months cut back to 8 performances a week, give staff their vacation then. Only summer and theholidays do more shows.
"

Unions do not work that way here in the USA.

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Kad
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Only 8 Performances#15
Posted: 2/13/20 at 4:55pm

Holiday shows are a totally different beast than typical Broadway shows- they have a much smaller window of opportunity to make money. 

Yes, Radio City has an absolutely insane show schedule- but performers in that show are not onstage the entire time, or even consistently. It's a variety show! There are singing bits, schticky bits, the Rockette dances, the living nativity- the collective stage time of each individual performer is much, much shorter than in a musical. 

The Grinch had a unique contract to accommodate its *limited* Broadway run. Since it was so limited, it could do that in a sustainable way. 

Why do you feel like 8 shows a week is too few? What demonstrable need is there for more for a show that does not have an extremely short run? 8 shows a week  has proven to be a sustainable and profitable model for everyone involved. 

"...everyone finally shut up, and the audience could enjoy the beginning of the Anatevka Pogram in peace."
Updated On: 2/13/20 at 04:55 PM
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Only 8 Performances#16
Posted: 2/13/20 at 6:26pm

Not mentioned above is that fatigue tends to beget injury and large shows don't have enough standbys to cover every member of the ensemble.

There are enough injuries with 8 performances. With 9 or 10, the number of injuries will only multiply.

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Only 8 Performances#17
Posted: 2/14/20 at 7:23pm

For one, it's not Chuck E. Cheese. There shouldn't be around the clock performances.  As people have stated, supply and demand may have something to do with it.  But more importantly, I think you are diminishing and underestimating the work that goes on before and after the actors take the stage. The laundry that needs to be done. Costumes that need sewn and repaired. Television appearances. Rehearsals for swings and understudies, etc. 

I just want to be super annoying and make it clear that I am super appreciative of all the hard work that goes into making 8 shows happen. These people bust their butts.

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Phantom of London
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Only 8 Performances#18
Posted: 2/14/20 at 7:58pm

Kad said: "Holiday shows are a totally different beast than typical Broadway shows- they have a much smaller window of opportunity to make money.

Yes, Radio City has an absolutely insane show schedule- but performers in that show are not onstage the entire time, or even consistently. It's a variety show!There are singing bits, schticky bits, the Rockette dances, the living nativity- the collective stage time of each individual performer is much, much shorter than in a musical.

The Grinch had a unique contract to accommodate its *limited* Broadway run. Since it was so limited, itcould do that in a sustainable way.

Why do you feel like 8 shows a week is too few? What demonstrable need is there for more for a show that does not have an extremely short run? 8 shows a week has proven to be a sustainable and profitable model for everyone involved.
"

Just saying in the harvest months there could be an opportunity for bigger shows that sell out to do more performances. The Lion King could easily do more performances. Anyway makes for interesting debate?

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Phantom of London
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Only 8 Performances#19
Posted: 2/14/20 at 8:02pm

GavestonPS said: "Not mentioned above is that fatigue tends to beget injury and large shows don't have enough standbys to cover every member of the ensemble.

There are enough injuries with 8 performances. With 9 or 10, the number of injuries will only multiply.
"

Injuries do happen, but it is rare. I am not advocating using actors to do more than 8 performances. Maybe there could be good case it artistes do more double show days, then on the roster you can give them 2 clear days off.

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Phantom of London
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Only 8 Performances#20
Posted: 2/14/20 at 8:05pm

B.JAMES said: "For one,it's notChuck E. Cheese. There shouldn't be around the clock performances. As people have stated, supply and demand may have something to do with it. But more importantly, I think you are diminishing and underestimating the work that goes on before and after the actors take the stage. The laundry that needs to be done. Costumes that need sewn and repaired. Television appearances. Rehearsals for swings and understudies, etc.

I just want to be super annoying and make it clear that I am super appreciative of all the hard work that goes into making 8 shows happen. These people bust their butts.
"

Actors don’t really ‘work their butts’, when a show lasts a mere 80 minutes. Even then it’s not like they’re doing 12 hour shifts to get minimum wage.

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Only 8 Performances#21
Posted: 2/14/20 at 9:16pm

Others have alluded to it, but the job of an actor isn't show up one minute before curtain, perform the show, and then bounce. Actors in long running shows spend huge chunks of time in rehearsals while the show is running to put in new cast members, understudies, swings, etc. They're also a huge source of advertising for the show. A website like Broadway World wouldn't exist if actors didn't regularly do interviews and participate in content. Are they working 12 hour days? Most of the time, no. But they do a lot more than perform and even if that is only thing they do that day, it's still an exhausting feat. 

thedrybandit
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Only 8 Performances#22
Posted: 2/14/20 at 11:29pm

Phantom of London said: "Actors don’t really ‘work their butts’, when a show lasts a mere 80 minutes. Even then it’s not like they’re doing 12 hour shifts to get minimum wage."

Most Broadway shows are 2.5 hours long, plus fight call and time to warm up bodies/voices, do hair/wig/makeup. A lot of actors show up well over an hour before each show to get ready. And then, again, it feels like you're forgetting that there's all the backstage and front of house work that needs to get done between shows. It can be a long process to get a stage set for a show.

And work isn't always physical or long - vocal cords can only sustain so much each day, especially if it's a musical.

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Only 8 Performances#23
Posted: 2/14/20 at 11:33pm

Dear Phantom of London: No.  NO NO NO.  

When YOU do 8 shows a week- in any capacity- for longer than a few months, then come back here and tell us how much you'd love to do 10 or 12.  Especially when you have double-show days back-to-back.  Many shows will do a 9-show week a few times a year, and they're a killer. 

Yeah, it looks easy when someone else is doing all the work. 

"What- and quit show business?" - the guy shoveling elephant shit at the circus.
Updated On: 2/15/20 at 11:33 PM
UncleCharlie
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Only 8 Performances#24
Posted: 2/14/20 at 11:57pm

Phantom of London said: "Actors don’t really ‘work their butts’, when a show lasts a mere 80 minutes. Even then it’s not like they’re doing 12 hour shifts to get minimum wage."

Says guy who's probably never performed 8 minutes on a professional stage once, much less 80 minutes 8 times a week.

"Mary Louise Parker, you've just finished a performance of The Sound Inside. You must be emotionally spent."

"Are you kidding? It's only 80 minutes. I barely got warmed up. Easiest gig I've ever had. Crazy I even get paid for this."

Laura Linney walking by after finishing a performance of My Name Is Lucy Barton; "Preach, sister!"

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Phantom of London
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Only 8 Performances#25
Posted: 2/16/20 at 9:10am

I haven’t said that artists do more than 8 performances a week, but to use your unused understudies and employ more artists, sure this could work for Wicked, The Lion King and Hamilton.

Conversely this would not work for a star driven show such as Bette Midler’s Hello Dolly, where the majority of people didn’t go to see Hello Dolly, but to see Hello Dolly with Bette Midler. The demand was there to do more than 8 performances a week with grosses touching $3m a week, but unfortunate Bette couldn’t sustain more than 7 performances a week, so clearly it wouldn’t work for star turn shows.

Saying that as others have alluded to on here that cast do rehearsals to introduce new cast members, a star such as Bette wouldn’t do this.