BROADWAY AND BEYOND
To most ears, Broadway is synonymous with New York City. Not surprising, since Broadway theatre is New York's number-one tourist attraction, drawing more spectators annually than all of the city's sports teams combined. Especially now, with 1996-97 shaping up to be even more exciting than
last year's record-breaking season. To date, 27 new productions are scheduled to open, including the 20th anniversary revival of Annie and a re-mounting of Once Upon a Mattress, starring Annie alumna Sarah Jessica Parker. There will even be a brand-new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, Whistle Down the Wind, whistling down the Great White Way this season. But the lights of Broadway glow far beyond Times Square. It surprises many people to learn that Broadway is truly a national industry, spanning more than 90 markets across the country. And at no time does this conglomerate appear more national and more dynamic than in the fall, when a host of new tours hit the road. Current offerings include the Broadway-bound Applause starring Stefanie Powers, Funny Girl with Debbie Gibson, and the first national tours of the Broadway hits Sunset Boulevard and How to Succeed.... Broadway on the road has grown and changed dramatically in the past two decades. The annual business generated by touring shows is now roughly twice that of New York, in both dollars and total attendance.
"New York is where Broadway shows get their trademark," declares Jed Bernstein, Executive
Director of The League of American Theatres and Producers. "But the rest of the country is where they get their legs and their profits." The interdependence of Broadway and the road makes the relationships between producers, presenters and theatre owners and operators in all markets more important than ever. And these relationships are changing rapidly. Tour presenters are now working closely with New York producers; often, they are also producers and investors themselves. Producers, in turn, are becoming actively involved with the touring productions of their shows. Combine these collaborative efforts with the state-of-the-art facilities across the country, and you begin to see just how far the lights of Broadway reach.
At the 1996 Spring Road Conference, Lou Diamond Phillips, star of The King and I said, "I'll never forget seeing the touring production of A Chorus Line that came to San Antonio when I was a teenager. It made such an impression on me. It's no exaggeration to say that the show changed my life and now here I am on Broadway. So I just want to say to all of you, thanks. And keep sending your shows out with love and care. They really do make a difference."
NY Broadway attendance 1995-96: 9.45 million
Road Broadway attendance 1995-96: 18.2 million
NY Broadway theatre capacity: 499-1933 seats
Road Broadway theatre capacity: 1700-5000+ seats
Productions currently on Broadway (as of Sept. 1): 23
Broadway productions touring (as of Sept. 1): 26