Legally Blonde, the musical?
What ever happened to Fiddler on the Roof? The musicals coming out on Broadway these days
are becoming less and less traditional.
The upcoming stories are hip, and the music
is rocky. The change has not resulted from
the new interests of writers and producers,
but rather from the target audience itself.
“Broadway, as a whole, is skewing toward
a younger audience,” said Jessica Karlsen,
Marketing Coordinator of the Rochester Broadway
Theater League (RBTL). “We’ve noticed
that the most popular Tony winning shows
are more for a college crowd.” Younger audiences
are making up a larger percentage of
Broadway performance attendees than ever
before. They pack into theaters to see shows
like In the Heights, a musical about a closely-knit
Latino community in Manhattan, and Spring
Awakening, a tale of an adolescent experience
of sexual awakening set in 1981 Germany.
Broadway marketers are acutely aware of this
new tendency, and eager to cash in. Traditionally,
Broadway shows targeted women of ages 45
and above, but those days are all gone now.
Times are changing, and so are the audiences.
And like any other business, Broadway’s future
is in its potential buyers.
Every year, studies are conducted to discern what interests the
Do they use text messaging? How often?
What percentage of
their day is spent
These are the
types of questions
heads are trying
to answer in order to better sell their products.
Broadway is looking to reach the youth
through any means possible, be it via YouTube,
MySpace or television advertisements.
Therefore, people our age are becoming more
exposed to what is happening on the stage.
You may have noticed the musical Wicked being
advertised on Facebook. That little flickering
rectangle located to the left of your wall posts
costs about a thousand bucks a week. It would
not be there unless it was paying off. On the
television end of the spectrum, MTV recently
aired a performance of Legally Blonde, gaining
huge exposure for the show. Teens want to see
these musicals, and teasing them with television
publicity only piques their interest.
Apple is another company trying to get in on
the action. Albert Nocciolino, President of the
NAC Enterprises, Ltd. advertising agency and
Producer of Broadway’s Legally Blonde, claims,
“iTunes is not only where we want to be,
[iTunes] would like us to be there as well...
They’re looking to work very closely with the
theater industry.” Discussions of increasing the
number of Broadway tracks available for download
are currently being negotiated.
Hollywood also plays a huge role in the effort.
With more than half of the musicals on Broadway
based on or adapted into Hollywood productions,
it is hard to miss. Movies are often
successful on stage while musicals have been
popular on the big screen. The classic 1978 film,
Grease was once the 1972 Broadway musical.
The musical, Wicked, gives a new, unique look
on the classic tale of The Wizard of Oz. We have
heard the names and we know the stories.
Now we want to see them come alive! It is no
wonder that The Lion King has been on Broadway
for over a decade.
The line between Hollywood and Broadway is
blurring. With big name stars and musicians
such as Julia Roberts and Ashley Parker Angel
popping up on stage, the incentive for younger
audiences is only getting stronger. Movie stars
and trailers are already plastered all over entertainment
news and magazines. It seems Broadway
may not be too far behind.
The only problem with this new audience is
this: more often than not, their wallets are
hardly big enough to accommodate a Broadway
junkie’s lifestyle. Tickets for the hottest
show in town can cost $120, but some musicals
have addressed this by offering cheaper tickets.
The musical Rent started a new trend by selling
“lottery tickets” two hours before show time,
priced at $25. Today, many other shows have
For Rochester Broadway Theater productions,
this trend has caught on. Students are offered
special priced, rush deal tickets. “Come the
day of the show, all the remaining tickets are
available to college students with a valid ID,”
said Aimee Frank, Marketing Manager of RBTL.
“So instead of paying $55, students can see a
Broadway show for $20.”
With all these young people pouring in, it is no
surprise that atmosphere of these shows has
changed as well. “It’s a buzz,” described Frank.
“It’s just a really great night out.” The theater
that was once packed with dresses, ties and golf
claps will now have you thinking that you have
stepped into a My Chemical Romance concert.
“If you go to Wicked and Legally Blonde you will
see more mothers and daughters than you have
ever seen in your life,” said Nocciolino.
The audiences attending shows are getting
younger and more shows are being produced in
order to appeal to them. It is both Broadway’s
interest in a youthful audience and the younger
audience’s discovery of Broadway that escalates
this new trend. “The content of the shows is
much easier for the younger audience to have
an affinity for,” stated Nocciolino. “If we don’t
develop these new audiences, we’ll be running
out of people.”
The Rochester Broadway Theatre League will be performing Wicked starting May
28th at the Aud Rochester. Next season, there will be a
production of Legally Blonde.