Photo courtesy of Richard Roebuck
Musical theater has been around for centuries in one form or another, however, many theater critics are predicting its demise in the coming years. Escalating production costs means that ticket prices are rocketing for some shows, making them exclusive to those who are willing and able to spend their money. Is this acceptable; should the theater be retained as a sophisticated art form meant only to be viewed by the wealthy upper classes (as it once used to be), or should the theater be accessible to everyone? Considering the content of many of the popular new musicals being produced such as Rent, Wicked, In the Heights and Hair, to name a few, that deal with issues such as sexuality, race, class and most of all freedom of individuality, why should these messages be financially unattainable to many of the large groups of people they are trying to enlighten?
Rent the musical promotional poster
The price of tickets to see a popular show on Broadway is high at the moment, especially considering the current economic climate. Tickets to see the most popular shows such as Wicked and The Lion King in New York on a Saturday evening can be up to $130 a pop, and it is impossible to get these tickets last minute at a discount because the shows always sell out ahead of time. Many shows waning in popularity fill up last minute seats by discounting their tickets up to 50% at the TKTS booth in Times Square. Even with this discount some of the shows can still be $50-100 per ticket; maybe not so bad for 1-2 people, but for a whole family that’s quite a stretch. So is it worth it?
TKTS booth, Times Square NY.
First we have to consider the production costs. Some of these shows will blow your mind visually with amazing special effects and this doesn’t come cheap. The actors, singers and dancers on stage have trained professionally for years; as have the musicians in the orchestra. Add to this the fact that everyone involved puts on the production seven days a week and sometimes two shows a day. It is also easy to overlook the sheer number of people involved in making a production come to life who all need a pay check; choreographers, coaches, costume designers, make-up artists, set designers, backstage technicians, even front of house employees, to name but a few.
Second, the theater is an age-old art form. Musical theater has been around for centuries entertaining the public. Up until the last few decades the theater really was reserved for the wealthy class often with standing room only for the lower class. Sure the theater has changed (some critics say for the worse) but it has also evolved in many positive ways with modern musicals drawing attention to the plight of minority groups and repressed individuals, giving them a voice, teaching morals and campaigning for rights and freedom of individuality.
Overall we think it is fair to say that yes, theater tickets probably are over-priced – but there are significant reasons behind this. New forms of entertainment are available now that the theater has to contend with, so drooping audiences mean they have to increase their prices to retain the same professional level and even just to keep the show on the stage. However, it would be nice to see tickets become more accessible and to have financial incentives for people who see shows regularly, or book in advance for example. A new marketing or advertising approach might be beneficial in getting more people excited about the theater.
Musical theater button courtesy of Zazzle
If your thinking about going to see a show in the holiday season here is our advice; do your research; book in advance if need be or try your chances getting last minute tickets. The latter is normally the best option if your not too fussed about which show you want to see. This is also beneficial to the smaller theaters and the lesser known productions; it doesn’t mean they will be bad, and it opens your mind to different things and you might be pleasantly surprised. If there is only one show that will do, then most likely you will end up paying a larger amount for your ticket than if you take the best deal that’s on for the day.
Do you have comments on this subject? We would love to hear you opinions too!
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