ShentonSTAGE Daily for WEDNESDAY MAY 18

Welcome to today’s edition of ShentonSTAGE, coming to you back from London again.

Greed is Good….

After the outrage of the Elliott Harper price gouging on the final run of tickets for their production of COCK  at the Ambassadors Theatre that saw premium tickets being sold at £400 (subsequently reduced to £150 after the negative publicity), Broadway’s THE MUSIC MAN has, starting yesterday, offered the “bargain” of $76 *standing* tickets. Really? Is this how to make theatre more accessible?

As Gordon Gekko (played by Michael Douglas) famously put it in the 1987 film WALL STREET, “Greed is good” and theatre producers are clearly cut from the same cloth.

The $76 standing ticket price for THE MUSIC MAN is a nod to the song in the show 76 Trombones. But as a friend remarked, thank God it’s not 101 Dalmatians in that case (being presented at the Open Air Theatre this summer). Or, as someone tweeted in response to that idea,

In all seriousness, of course commercial theatre producers owe their primary fiduciary duty to their investors, not to their audiences, and are duty-bound to get the best returns they can on their investments. But it’s not an edifying sight, not least after the struggles of the last two years, to see producers seeking to cash in so opportunistically like this.

As the Rent tweeter put it, too,

The Tony nominees for Best Musical

My round-up of Tony-nominated musicals, including the six shows up for Best Musical (A STRANGE LOOP, MR SATURDAY NIGHT, PARADISE SQUARE and SIX, all with original scores, and THE GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY and MJ THE MUSICAL, featuring songs by Bob Dylan and made famous by Michael Jackson respectively), is here, written for and published by MUSICAL THEATRE REVIEW. 

​My personal vote would go to the formally adventurous original musical A STRANGE LOOP or the amazingly staged MJ THE MUSICAL. The most solid audience hit, however, is the Edinburgh fringe originated SIX,  so it may well prove to be the victor.

Covid Health Advisory issued for New York

Just as I was leaving New York on Monday, the city’s Health Commissioner issued an advisory of a high COVID19 Alert level, stating: “All New Yorkers should wear masks in all indoor public settings. Those at high risk of severe illness should avoid crowded settings and limit get-togethers.”

Mask wearing, of course, is still mandated for all theatre visits in New York (though only some venues continue to check vaccination certificates now). However, flying home on JetBlue, I noticed that mask wearing is no longer enforced, for either passengers or crew. I wonder how long before restrictions are re-imposed there.


If you can’t wait that long, I may also be found on Twitter here: (though not as regularly on weekends


2 responses to “ShentonSTAGE Daily for WEDNESDAY MAY 18”

  1. Simon Trewin avatar
    Simon Trewin

    I would love to read an in depth piece taking us behind the scenes on the economics of putting a show on and how the pricing is calculated. I work in the book world and prices have hardly gone up at all in our industry whereas West End theatre is now off-limits to all but the elite or those prepared to queue overnight or enter a lottery. I have got to the age where I really want to be in good seats rather than miles away from the action so much as I would love to see Cabaret I just can’t bring myself to pay those prices. I know the last survey showed the average ticket price was £54 but that feels way out of date now. Mark – I would love to read a big piece that laid it all out from a producer’s perspective….

  2. Lewis Martin avatar
    Lewis Martin

    On Broadway, the overarching problems is that in the 1960’s the top price ticket was around $75 in todays money. But there were also a large number of less expensive tickets. Putting aside the gougers, todays tickets are 300% more expensive in real terms than in 1960. But production costs have escalated almost 1000% (10 times). The other part of gouging is the secondary ticket market – this proved how much money some would be willing to pay for tickets. So producers of in demand shows raise their prices to $400-500-800 a ticket, knowing they will still end up on the secondary market at $1000-2000 each. This happens because governments here in the US and there in the UK refuse to make this pofiteering illegal. Once upon a time there was severe restriction on how much more than face value a ticket could be sold for, Now its the wild west. So part of the escalation comes from producers wanting some of the largesse that Stub Hub buyers provide. There are whispers that some producers have sold tickets at face value directly to Stub Hub etc in exchange for a % of the overage that Stub Hub charges. Lets say you sell stub hub a $300 orchestra seat, and they sell it for $1,500. A $1200 profit requiring no work or talent. Then Stub Hub might kick back $400-500 of that to the producer – which is money not shared with investors or royalty participants. The biggest argument against teh seconddary market is that it is stealing money from investros and creative artists. ANd they are robber barons.

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