Tuesday, September 22, 2009

West End Girl

Let us all take a minute to applaud those involved with 39 Steps. Who ever thought it would have lasted this long? Seriously--it was an impressive feet to keep it chugging along. The producers clearly kept the break-even low and the press reps. did a great job getting Times stories. It's one of those rare transplant success stories. Everyone involved deserves our congratulations.

This leads me to my next topic, inspired by a recent Ken Davenport post on his blog. (Who, unrelated to what I am writing about now, has as his top post something that begins with: "Have you ever wondered where it all began? What started the discounting phenomenon? And more importantly . . . who started it?" all questions I can answer unequivocally with a "NO.") Ken posted an article that came to his attention from the London Evening Standard about how many people are investing in theater in London. Because, in times of recession, investing in theater is apparently not as risky as some other things. By some other things--does he mean the lottery? dog-fighting? buying art by someone selling in union square not because you like it but for investment purposes? Anyway, moving on, this raised a good point--that investing in theater in London is i think a better bet than investing in it here. Lower start-up costs and lower break-evens are among the factors that are involved. I remember watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in London with its 20 kids and thinking "we'll be lucky to get 10 in the States" and, indeed, the show cost more to mount here, but had less people involved. (Though please no one correct me on the 2 to 1 ratio because I'm just making that up and it may be exaggerated, as is my license.) But I wonder has anyone really done a side by side comparison? Profits for plays with under 5 actors on Broadway vs. profits for plays with under 5 actors in the West End? Because they do always seem to have more crap moving in and out there. I suppose if someone had attempted a study, we wouldn't necessarily trust their results. This is because they don't officially report grosses there, so an examiner would have to rely on producers' words, not always the most trustworthy things. But it's an interesting question... The article says only 1/3 of shows there lose money, which seems to me to be very low. I don't know. Ken?

Speaking of things I don't know about, I'm back on sexism. Now Philip Boroff has implied that Charlotte St. Martin maybe gets paid less than Jed Bernstein did because she is a woman. Umm, again, Wellesley girl speaking here, someone who completely believes that women are paid less than men simply because they are women, but, GIVE ME A BREAK! What about the fact that they are both overpaid? What about the fact that she knew nothing about theater when she started? You can say a lot of bad things about Jed, but I feel fairly safe in saying he could name all the Sondheim shows (or would at least recognize their names).

OK, I need to rest from ranting. I will end on a happy note--I am super-psyched to see A Little Night Music. Seriously. Can't wait. I love revivals if for no other reason than i get to hear my friends Billy and Don complaining about what is wrong with the production that wasn't wrong with the original.

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