Money makes the world go round: A blog about the business and culture of all things entertaining in the world of theater, television, film, music, art, gadgets, gizmos and other life necessities (and probably other things, knowing myself)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Broadway or Please Try Again

With so many talents, so many choices and so many hardworking people, to make it anywhere nowadays, you have to make it BIG. To be honest, who can afford greatness if it doesn’t pay?

And sadly, this is most true of the arts.

In today’s society, the theater pros know that if a play is ever going to have half a chance of making it, it’s got to make it on Broadway.  Yes, most of us are romantics and we want to believe that the passion, the fuel, the drive is going to make up for the lack of money, but to be frank, the passion, the fuel, the drive is going to realistically pay your bills for about as long as you can work that extra part-time, nighttime job.

When I first moved to the city, my roommate took me to a tiny, Off Broadway show hosted by The Acting Company. The storyline was amazing, the actors were talented and the audience was fascinated. After the lights came on, I sat there playing the minute details over and over again in my head, wondering what they could all mean and how they transcended into my life. It was a deep sense of enlightenment that you hope to gain after a movie, a poem, a story, a song. A wonderful sensation that could make you feel empty or satisfied, depending on the intentions of the producer/screenwriter/author.

But despite how wonderful that play was, I doubt it would ever see Broadway in the near future. Not enough bright lights for the big city, I guess. In our time, Broadway needs big stars, over the top sets and perilous stunts in order to rake in the big Benjamins.

Take the anticipated “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” the most expensive Broadway show ever made with an estimated budget of $60 million. Opening day for the show has recently been delayed again due to incomplete safety inspections from the New York State Department of Labor.

The theatrical musical directed by Tony Award winner Julie Taymor, most known for “The Lion King,” shut down productions for months in 2009 after not having enough funds to continue the show, which was estimated to cost $40 million at the time.

I understand that people expect a big show after spending a handsome sum on tickets, but what bothers me is that you might not have a chance if you’re not inclined to go the mainstream route. Some of the most talented people in the world are involved in Off Broadway plays and low-budget films. Most of them seek nothing more than to generate some kind of idea, thought, meaning to the public.

And does Broadway really mean that you’ve made it? I guess the answer depends on what your meaning of “making it” truly is. If it means falling asleep during a Broadway production – as my roommate and her friend did while watching “A Life in the Theater” – then no, I do not take that as “making it.”

But the question remains: why does it always have to be all or nothing? Or in this case, why is it always Broadway or “Sorry, you didn’t have enough aerial maneuvers in this one. Please try again.”

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