Broadway Shows Going Downhill

Broadway Shows Going Downhill

Luis Melendez, Herald Staff

Because of the lights that sparkle over their theaters, Broadway has long been referred to as “the great white way” and is one of New York’s most popular tourist destinations. A sizable number of Broadway productions have canceled or announced their closures at a time when New York should be recovering from the pandemic, which President Biden pronounced “over” in September. 


The three reasons that led to the closure are money, COVID, and criminality. Free-spending tourists and Broadway lovers, who are essentially the same individuals, have been driven away by all of the factors. Despite an average ticket price of $113.29 on Broadway, many productions had trouble breaking even due to high production costs and weak attendance. Forbes states that “From 33 million per week in May to 20 million in September” the gross revenue from ticket sales decreased. 


After an 18-month COVID closure, Broadway reopened last September, and all productions both new and old started over from scratch. This action implied that newer shows were in competition with previously established ones. Forbes also stated that “As a result, there are now more Broadway performances competing for fewer visitors, who make up nearly two-thirds (63%) of the audience. There were 1.7 million fewer visitors to New York in 2021 than anticipated. According to predictions, there will be 1.3 million of these “missing visitors” in 2022 productions, and tourism will likely be 85% lower than it was in 2019.”


The outcome? Since June, six well-known musicals have announced their closure, with The Phantom of the Opera being the most stunning. After 35 years, Phantom, the longest-running production in Broadway history, will close its doors in February. The show struggled to recoup its viewership when it eventually returned last October and as Forbes also stated that The Phantom was reportedly losing $1 million every month.”


Dear Evan Hansen and Come From Away, the story of the airplane passengers trapped in Newfoundland on September 11, both had closing announcements issued in June. The films, which debuted in 2017 and received critical acclaim, “were largely sold out before the outbreak,” per the Hollywood Reporter. 


A third production, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical, which successfully debuted in 2019, also declared its end in June. The Music Man announced its closure in September. If not for an unexpected increase in ticket sales, Beetlejuice the Musical will likewise end in January, followed by Phantom in February. 


Broadway has a very unsettled and questionable future, concerning fans and cast members alike. As someone who is part of a theater company, seeing the issues Broadway is having is extremely concerning. Will they have another reopening? Will they be able to recover? All of these questions raise key points as Broadway’s future hangs in the balance.