Wednesday, March 9, 2011

McDonaldization of Broadway

Maybe it's because I'm in New York, but Spider Man is all over the news every single day and I'm really getting tired of it. We get it. It's a disaster. We get it. But perhaps all of this fuss about Spider-Man is indicative of the larger problem here. As Broadway has become increasingly more corporate, the shows that are debuting just seem to be movies that are hoping to bring their audiences with them to the stage. For instance, this spring will see the opening of Spider-Man, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Sister Act and Catch Me If You Can, all of which were films first. What about the big blockbusters out there right now? Wicked's based on The Wizard of Oz, Jersey Boys and Mamma Mia use catalogs of music everyone knows and The Lion King was a film first too. Now I think Wicked and Jersey Boys and The Lion King are great (you know how I feel about Mamma Mia) I even think The Lion King and Billy Elliot are works of art put on stage. Superior art. But still. They're films being put on stage.
The brand new musicals that debuted in the fall have all disappeared. Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and The Scottsboro Boys both left prematurely, leaving a giant hole in the tapestry that's creating modern musical theatre today. Originality is not only frowned upon, but is almost scorned in favor of filling the seats with as many bodies who can sing along with Dancing Queen as possible.
I'm not trying to be a theatre snob, I just wish there was an importance placed on new and original works. Broadway has become a very difficult place for artists to get anything of substance done, but every now and then, something slips in. Here's hoping more will slip through.
But really, I blame the tourists for most things. I blame them for making me late to work, I blame them for standing in the middle of the sidewalk, I blame them for constantly asking me to take their picture and because I'm such a nice person I feel like I have to. I blame them for coming to New York and only seeing Spider-Man and The Lion King. My favorite is when people come here and they see Wicked...when they've seen it before. Why? There are so many new things out there to discover. Why pay 100 dollars to see something you've seen and will be exactly the same? I blame tourists for the overpricing of street hotdogs in midtown too. They're only supposed to be a dollar people.
I just needed to rant. I love theatre more than most things in this life but I get really irritated by the fact that nothing original seems to be able to make it anymore.

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