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Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 70 -- Broadway Theatre.



Recall that after 9/11, Broadway went into a deep slump. This was indicative of a greater slump in NYC tourism, which was indicative of America's amazingly brief post-9/11 economic downturn.

Well, now, Broadway is back. In the 2004-2005 season, Broadway had a banner year:

For the 52-week period between May 31, 2004 and May 29, 2005, paid attendance to Broadway was 11.53 million. Box office grosses totalled $768.6 million, the 4th highest year in paid attendance in addition to second in grosses....

The last 13 weeks comprising the spring portion of the season grossed $222.1 million, the highest in history, with 3.34 million in paid attendance. Last season brought in a $201.9 million gross, and 3.13 million paid attendance for the same period, marking a 10% increase in grosses and a 6.8% increase for attendance.

As for tourism last year, domestic visitors to Broadway theatres reached record highs of 5.8 million (49.7% of the total audience), for the 2003-054 season. International tourism is also up 1.2 million in attendance (11% of the Broadway audience). This is now back to the pre-9/11 levels.

Good for them. And good for the otherwise left-of-center-inclined theatre-goers for rejecting the most ardent anti-Bush, anti-war themed shows, which are so common today:

What makes political artists think they can get away with such shoddy work? In New York and other American cities of similar political disposition, the answer is plain to see. Look at the 2004 election returns: 82% of Manhattan residents voted for John Kerry. No doubt Mr. Bush did rather better in the suburbs, but there's every reason to think that most art-loving New Yorkers are as unswervingly liberal as that statistic suggests. Yet there is no less reason to think that a substantial number of them expect more out of art, and refuse to accept less.

The English novelist Christopher Isherwood, who started out as a left-wing pacifist with strong Communist sympathies, started to change his tune by the end of the 30s. Writing in his third-person memoir "Christopher and His Kind" about a shipboard conversation he had in 1939 with his friend W.H. Auden, Isherwood recalled:

One morning, when they were walking on the deck, Christopher heard himself say: "You know, it just doesn't mean anything to me any more--the Popular Front, the party line, the anti-fascist struggle. I suppose they're okay but something's wrong with me. I simply cannot swallow another mouthful." To which Wystan answered: "Neither can I."

It strikes me that we've been living in an age that bears a certain resemblance, aesthetically speaking, to the bad old days of the Popular Front. (Witness the near-hysterical obituary tributes recently paid to Arthur Miller, a second-rate playwright whose leaden style was founded on the simplifications and crudities of Popular Front-style dramaturgy.) And it further strikes me that a growing number of aesthetically sensitive liberals may be growing as tired as did Auden and Isherwood of the various ways in which politics has removed the creative impulse from contemporary art. My playgoing friend's shamefaced response to "The God of Hell" is a sign of that exhaustion, as was the tepid audience response to "Guantánamo," not to mention the fact that the highly publicized "Embedded," even though it was written and directed by a movie star, failed to transfer to a Broadway theater. Nor should it be overlooked that the two most stringently politicized musicals of last season, Tony Kushner's "Caroline, or Change" and Stephen Sondheim's "Assassins," failed to please a sufficiently large number of playgoers and had their runs cut short as a result.

Somehow, I don't think Robert Reich's new anti-conservative show would make it on Broadway.


Broadway World.

Previous trivia tidbits:

Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5; Part 6; Part 7; Part 8; Part 9; Part 10; Part 11; Part 12; Part 13; Part 14; Part 15; Part 16; Part 17; Part 18; Part 19; Part 20; Part 21, Part 22; Part 23, Part 24, Part 25; Part 26; Part 27, Part 28; Part 29; Part 30, Part 31; Part 32; Part 33; Part 34; Part 35; Part 36; Part 37; Part 38; Part 39; Part 40; Part 41; Part 42; Part 43; Part 44; Part 45; Part 46; Part 47; Part 48; Part 49; Part 50; Part 51; Part 52; Part 53; Part 54; Part 55; Part 56; Part 57; Part 58; Part 59; Part 60; Part 61; Part 62; Part 63; Part 64; Part 65; Part 66; Part 67; Part 68; Part 69.

Daily Trivia Tidbits cover a wide range of topics, and they're usually not trivial at all; you never know what you might find. Stay tuned to WILLisms.com for more.

Have a trivia tidbit tip? Send it over to WILLisms@gmail.com with citation.

Posted by Will Franklin · 7 June 2005 08:26 AM


Next stop Broadway for WILLisms.com and all my favorite blogland friends!... That would be awesome! As for Robert Reichs play. I think I'll pass.

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at June 7, 2005 10:04 AM