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Post COVID Broadway: More Limited-Run Shows?

RumTumJM
Understudy
joined:9/16/13
Understudy
joined:
9/16/13

This morning I had an interesting idea.

Could the key to success, when shows resume, be more limited-run shows? - Think of a model like Roundabout or, recently, Little Shop has followed: limited run with the possibility of an extension or 2. That way demand for all of the shows will be higher, since there is a limited window to see them. Then, if things are bigger than expected, extensions can be implemented. 

Thoughts?

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Sutton Ross
Broadway Legend
joined:7/20/13
Broadway Legend
joined:
7/20/13

I think that will be happening more and more. I prefer limited runs anyway, sometimes I have put off shows too long and can't end up seeing it. Seems like a good idea after we are in the clear next year. 

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Jordan Catalano
Broadway Legend
joined:10/9/05
Broadway Legend
joined:
10/9/05
I think this will be a given due to the amount of huge stars who will most probably do shows to get attendance back up.
Theatrefanboy1
Broadway Star
joined:8/2/15
Broadway Star
joined:
8/2/15
I completely agree. I wouldn’t be surprised that the next year of tony nominations consist of almost all “limited” runs
hearthemsing22
Stand-by
joined:2/14/20
Stand-by
joined:
2/14/20

That's really smart, and I think it could be the key to rebuilding the industry after all of this. 

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JBroadway
Broadway Legend
joined:4/6/12
Broadway Legend
joined:
4/6/12

Plenty of shows already use this business model, but the model relies on running costs being low, which is why it's usually only plays that do limited runs. Or, alternately, you have non-profits like LCT and Roundabout doing limited runs of both plays and musicals, but the usual recoupment model doesn't apply to them. Now, nothing would make me happier than to see non-profits take over Broadway. And considering the quality of musicals we've been getting the last few years, I also wouldn't mind if Broadway were dominated by plays. But given that the economics of Broadway are largely fueled by big-budget musicals, I don't see how the limited run model would help. Even with good demand, most shows couldn't be able to recoup in 12-16 weeks. it's already hard for plays to recoup in that time, let alone a big musical. If they were doing well, and were on track to recoup later, they could extend, sure. But at that point it might as well be an open run. Because what's the difference? The only difference would be in the marketing, which would essentially be deceiving people into thinking the show had a firm, pre-planned closing date. And sure, I guess they could do that if it helps build demand. It definitely wouldn't be the first time a show used that marketing strategy. But is it really going to impact demand enough to be the saving grace of Broadway? And if every show starts using that strategy, how long would it realistically take for the general public to realize that the phrase "limited engagement" doesn't actually mean anything anymore? 

Jarethan
Broadway Legend
joined:2/10/11
Broadway Legend
joined:
2/10/11

I imagine that those will be 2 - 3 character plays that can be blocked in a way that the actors can keep a distance.

-- Gin Game with Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline

-- Night, Mother with (surprise) Oprah and Audra

-- Clarence Darrow with Brad Pitt or Tom Hanks (I think Pitt would be great in that role)

-- I Do! I Do! with Sutton Foster and Hugh Jackman, when TMM gets cancelled (of course, singing still raises the issue of how far they need to be separated)

-- Three Tall Women with Helen Mirren, TBD, and Lily James (never too soon with a big name and a different production)

-- A Moon for the Misbegotten (of course, the best scene would need to be re-blocked so allow social distancing) with Daniel Day Lewis (lives in Connecticut), TBD, and TBD.

-- etc.

 

Of course, there is still the issue of managing these investments, so they can actually at least break even.  Guess that partially depends on length of run.  If shorter than than the typical 16 - 18 well runs, e.g., 8 weeks, will need concessions from unions, creatives, etc., to make it viable.

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kdogg36
Broadway Legend
joined:9/13/07
Broadway Legend
joined:
9/13/07

This might be hopelessly naive of me, but I suspect that established producers and investors looking at the long game might be willing to finance some loss leaders as a way to build Broadway back to where it was before. 

Theatrefanboy1
Broadway Star
joined:8/2/15
Broadway Star
joined:
8/2/15

Jarethan said: "I imagine that those will be 2 - 3 character plays that can be blocked in a way that the actors can keep a distance.

-- Gin Game with Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline

-- Night, Mother with (surprise) Oprah and Audra

-- Clarence Darrow withBrad Pitt or Tom Hanks (I think Pitt would be great in that role)

-- I Do! I Do! with Sutton Foster and Hugh Jackman,when TMM gets cancelled (of course, singing still raises the issue of how far they need to be separated)

-- Three Tall Women with Helen Mirren, TBD, and Lily James (never too soon with a big name and a different production)

-- A Moon for the Misbegotten (of course, the best scene would need to be re-blocked so allow social distancing) with Daniel Day Lewis (lives in Connecticut), TBD, and TBD.

-- etc.




Julie Andrews  and  Maggie Smith  in Duece 

Timothee Chalamet and Chita Rivera (or Helen Mirren) in 4000 miles

Helen Mirren and Glenda Jackson in a gender bent Waiting for Godot 

TImothee Chalamet and (I’d taken a reprisal of Alfred Molina ) in Red

Doubt with Julienne Moore or Susan Sarandon, Dustin Hoffman and Emily blunt 

Night mother with either Oprah/Audra or Meryl and Julia Roberts

 

i would also (And I know it’s not a small cast ) would have loved another revival of Gore Vidal’s the best man,