Industry Pro Newsletter: Record Number of New Musicals on Broadway, Some Regional Theatres Report a Rebound

The UK is working to save not only its current cultural industries, but to protect its cultural heritage as one of its largest cities deals with fiscal insolvency

By: Oct. 02, 2023
Industry Pro Newsletter: Record Number of New Musicals on Broadway, Some Regional Theatres Report a Rebound

In Minnesota, the Hennepin Theatre Trust recently reported a more than $115 million impact to the local economy, directly tied to their Broadway touring season. We’ve also got a story about the way in which some regional theatres have been able to rebound this past season, and are looking to capitalize on that momentum. Amidst what has felt like some doom and gloom prognostications lately, these are both highly encouraging signs of an industry that is working very hard to build back in a stronger, more sustainable way.

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Employment Opportunity

Associate General Manager - Second Stage Theater

The Second Stage Theater General Management department is seeking a full time Associate General Manager to support the oversight of all administrative functions of Second Stage’s productions and events. Reporting to the General Manager, the Associate General Manager will be the primary negotiator in artist contracts and will be integral in the successful day-to-day operations of the institution’s Broadway and off-Broadway programming. Click here to learn more…

Industry Trends

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Phylicia Rashad, More to Discuss Nonprofit Regional Theater Crisis With Congressional Leaders - BroadwayWorld

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Phylicia Rashad, and other prominent artists are scheduled to join a discussion with Congressional leaders about the crisis facing nonprofit regional theaters. The virtual event, titled "The 2023 National Arts Action Summit," will focus on the critical challenges that theaters are facing, including financial strains and workforce issues. The goal is to advocate for government support to help these theaters recover and continue their cultural contributions to communities nationwide. This gathering aims to highlight the importance of the arts and the role of regional theaters in fostering creativity and cultural enrichment. Click here to read more…

Broadway/New York

Industry Trends Weekly: Number of New Broadway Musicals Will Top Prior 21st Century High by Cara Joy David

Last season, grumbling in the industry was this season would have fewer musicals. Shows were taking longer to receive their full capitalization. Many musicals were losing hundreds of thousands of dollars per week. Attendance was down from pre-pandemic levels. Buying habits had changed such that reserves had to increase. In other words, it didn’t feel like a particularly hospitable time to launch a Broadway show without a bankable star or title, especially a musical, which typically has a higher running cost than a play. But instead of there being fewer musicals this season, we are about to have more new musicals than any season in this century.

If you include Melissa Etheridge: My Window, four musicals have already opened this season. (My Window might attract a musical-leaning audience, though come Tony time it should be a Special Tony recipient, rather than a musical eligible in a competitive category.) One of those closed quickly. Seven more have theaters and dates officially announced: Gutenberg! The Musical!, Harmony, How to Dance in Ohio, Days of Wine and Roses, The Notebook, Water for Elephants, and The Outsiders. (Water for Elephants had a table at the Broadway Flea Market and the people manning the booth were doing what they should—talking up the show, encouraging people to buy tickets.) That is eleven, which wouldn’t be a record breaker. But insiders know Lempicka, The Heart of Rock & Roll, and Suffs have theaters. We’re unlikely to see both BOOP! and Hell’s Kitchen this season, but we're likely to see one, with Hell’s Kitchen being the favorite with a theater on hold, pending reviews. (Michael Greif mania!) That makes fifteen.

For the sake of not muddying the waters, let’s remove My Window and say fourteen.  While shows can always drop out, fourteen is the minimum number of new musicals that I expect to be on Broadway this season. (Even if Gutenberg! The Musical! or Harmony end up in the Best Revival Tony category because the Tony Administration committee decides they are "classics"—either by itself or with nudging from producers—the Broadway League will still consider them "new" for its stats, because they have never been on Broadway.) And I say "minimum" because there are others that could come in, but we’re likely at fourteen. That is still more than any other season this century. The closest is the 2016-2017 season, which had thirteen. Usually, we’re in the eight to eleven range. In the last full season before the pandemic, the 2018-2019 season, which was the highest-grossing and best-attended season in recorded history, there were eleven new musicals and two musical revivals.

In addition to thirteen new musicals, the 2016-2017 season also had six revivals and the return engagement of Motown, so twenty musicals overall. We only have four announced revivals. Therefore, it’s possible we might not break the century record for musicals overall, but we still might. There are additional revivals likely. But revivals, while they attract a musical-leaning audience, are a different beast. It’s often more difficult to get investors for new musicals, so it’s particularly surprising that we have fourteen/fifteen of those on the schedule.

Is this good news? For musical fans, in the short term, it’s great news. And on its surface, the number appears to show the health of Broadway. But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. None of last season’s nine new musicals have been huge blockbusters. & Juliet has been the strongest, but it is softening a little in recent weeks. And this many new musicals means a lot of competition; competition that will likely crush the shows barely hanging on and will also make selling each of the new shows more difficult.

Now, you could say: it’s not a competition, we’re a community. Broadway producers are more likely to quote "a rising tide lifts all boats" than a coffeehouse owner would be. However, producers are not thrilled about this crowded a musical season. They fear with preview audiences spread so thin, shows will not be able to survive long enough to find their audience. They also fear that shows will open and close, which is bad for the long-term health of the theater. But then these are the same folks who expected fewer musicals this season, so only time will tell if their fears become reality.

Colm Summers Named Artistic Director of Working Theatre - American Theatre Magazine

Colm Summers has been named the new Artistic Director of Working Theatre, a New York-based theatre company known for its socially relevant productions. Summers, who has previously worked as the company's associate artistic director, brings a wealth of experience in creating community-centered theatrical works. Click here to read more…

AEA Files with National Labor Review Board on Behalf of Broadway Production Assistants

The Broadway League has opted to not voluntarily recognize the PA’s, who would like to become members of Actors Equity, resulting in AEA taking the step to now organize a vote. Click here to read more…


Regional Theater Rebound: Barter, Signature, and TheatreSquared - Associated Press

Several regional theaters, including Barter Theatre in Virginia, Signature Theatre in Washington, D.C., and TheatreSquared in Arkansas, have experienced a resurgence post-pandemic. They've adapted to challenges by expanding digital offerings, outdoor performances, and fostering community support. This resilience demonstrates the vital role regional theaters play in the cultural landscape and their ability to rebound through innovation and community engagement. Click here to read more…

Hennepin Theatre Trust Brings $115M to Local Economy During Last Broadway Season - CBS Minnesota

Hennepin Theatre Trust, which manages theaters in Minneapolis, has significantly contributed to the local economy. Their last Broadway season brought an impressive $115 million in economic impact, showcasing the positive influence of the arts on the community. This economic boost highlights the importance of vibrant cultural institutions in driving tourism and economic growth in cities. Click here to read more…


Arts Groups Urge Bankrupt Birmingham Not to Sell Its Heritage - The Guardian

Birmingham's struggling local government has proposed selling off some of its prized cultural assets, including the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, to ease financial troubles. However, arts groups and campaigners are urging against such a move, emphasizing the importance of preserving these heritage institutions. They argue that selling these assets would have a detrimental impact on the city's cultural scene, tourism, and the well-being of its residents. This situation highlights the ongoing challenges faced by the arts sector amid financial constraints. Click here to read more…

£35 Million Fund Launched to Grow Creative Industries - The Stage

The UK government has launched a £35 million fund aimed at bolstering the growth of creative industries. This initiative is part of a broader effort to support the sector's economic recovery following pandemic-related setbacks. The fund will target various creative fields, including film, television, video games, and more, providing financial backing to foster innovation, job creation, and cultural contributions. This investment underscores the government's recognition of the vital role that creative industries play in the UK's economy and cultural landscape. Click here to learn more…

Missed our last few newsletters?

September 25, 2023 - The Second City Announces New York Opening, Prominent NYC Theater Leaders are Departing Their Roles
The Writers Strike is (likely) coming to an end - with a tentative agreement, Hollywood has taken a major step toward getting back to work. In New York, major changes to the leadership landscape are pending as both Carole Rothman and André Bishop announced that they will be departing their posts at Second Stage and Lincoln Center Theater, respectively. Leadership changes also continue on the regional front, and Cara Joy David takes a look at the evolving ticketing landscape of Broadway. Click here to read more…

September 18, 2023 - Pulitzer Prize Eligibility Expands, San Francisco Theaters Explore New Leadership Models

Pulitzer Prize eligibility has expanded, now including permanent residents and long-term U.S. artists, a significant shift outlined in The Guardian. In the regional theater landscape, celebrated playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney takes the helm as Artistic Director of The Geffen Playhouse. Lastly, The Seattle Times emphasizes the crucial significance of Fall 2023 for Seattle's arts scene, and The Stage reports on the Torch Theatre in Wales facing damaging cuts due to a funding deficit, calling for community support. Click here to read more…

September 11, 2023 - Bay Area Children's Theatre Bankruptcy, Santa Cruz Shakespeare Thrives

This week, we invite you to nominate your favorite shows for the 2023 BroadwayWorld Regional Awards—as nominations open today and voting will begin later this fall. Cara Joy David takes us into the bankruptcy proceedings at Bay Area Children’s Theatre, and we look at leadership changes in Seattle, the reopening of Raue Center for the Arts, and what the secret sauce might be that is helping Santa Cruz Shakespeare thrive. In the UK, we celebrate the conclusion of our coverage of the 2023 Edinburgh Fringe, and look at infrastructure issues causing theatres to close. Click here to read more…

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Should SHUCKEDs Unusual Path to Broadway Be Replicated? Photo
Should SHUCKED's Unusual Path to Broadway Be Replicated?

When SHUCKED opened on Broadway last week, it marked the first time a musical that tried out in Utah made it to the big time. We hear a lot about the more mainstream regional tryout venues—La Jolla Playhouse, the Old Globe, 5th Avenue Theatre—but very few producers utilize lesser-known non-profits to try out their shows.

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