A guest blog by Ken Davenport
It’s the time of year for the ol’ look back. What memorable moments have the last 12 months brought us that could help define the next 12 months?
Here are my top 10 Broadway moments for 2010 . . . in no particular order.
1. It’s a bird, it’s a plane! No, it’s actually a performance of Spiderman!
Will it? Won’t it? Everyone in the biz has been asking this question about Spiderman for years. And, well, a new era of musical theatre began when the curtain (finally) went up after the first (long) preview. Obviously, the drama isn’t over yet . . . but come on, 2 years ago when work halted at the Hilton, did you think we’d ever see Spidey on stage?
2. 39 Steps transfers again, but this time, from Broadway to Off.
When one show does it (Avenue Q), some might call it a fluke. When two shows do it, it’s officially a trend. And rumor has it that a third recently shuttered Broadway show is headed for the 499 that 39 Steps is vacating. My prediction? When Chicago finally loses its steam at the Ambassador, it’ll transfer to the Little Shubert and run for another 10 years.
3. Billie Joe Armstrong puts his guitar where his mouth is.
Getting your creative team behind your production is important. But when your creative team is a humongo rock star, it’s essential. Billie Joe stepped into the spotlight when asked and played 8 performances [of American Idiot] and literally stopped traffic on 44th Street in the process. He’s on his way back to the St. James this winter to boost the box office again.
4. Did you see who took that photo?
In a related story, check out this article in the New York Times about the Billie Joe appearance. What’s so memorable about it? Well, the photo was taken by someone in the audience, and the Times used it, which shows you where journalism is headed over the next 10 years. And the audience member who took it? It was Jordan Roth, owner of Jujamcyn Theaters. And that shows you where theater is headed over the next 10 years.
5. Sean Hayes is gay?
Newsweek caused quite a fuss over its article that questioned whether Sean Hayes could convincingly play a heterosexual man [in Promises, Promises]. It got everyone fired up, from his costar Kristin Chenoweth, to Aaron Sorkin, to just about every single poster on All That Chat. Sean got the last word when he hosted the Tonys and did a fantastic job.
6. La Cage Aux Folles is back. Too soon?
Last year’s production of Ragtime had everyone saying that there is a minimum number a years a show needs to be off the boards in order for a revival to work. Then in struts La Cage, less than five years after its last revival, proving to everyone that it’s not always about the . . . timing. It’s about excellence.
7. Scarlett Johansson debuts A View From The Bridge . . . and she’s good!
Alright, alright, I’ve got a soft spot for Scar (as I call her), but after her performance in Bridge and her acceptance speech on Tony night, who didn’t fall in love? Crushes aside, her performance was exactly what we hope for when an A-lister hangs out with us for a while. I guarantee that other Hollywood hotties were saying, “I wanna try that.” And that is good for all of us. Because like it or not, stars have the ability to bring new audiences to the theater.
8. Glee makes singing cool again.
Matt Morrison was on the cover of Details last month. Lea Michele is in US Weekly almost every week. Who knew we’d have some Broadway hotties making a splash out West and serving as singing and dancing role models.
9. One agency goes, and another one comes.
2010 saw the end of the Eliran Murphy Group, an ad agency which serviced the majority of the Off-Broadway shows in town. But it also saw the arrival of a bigger dog on the block. AKA, an advertising force from the UK, arrived on our shores over the summer, and snatched up bunch of high profile players at competing firms. We all knew there was room for another agency in town. But no one knew it would be something with the experience of AKA. Things just got real, yo. With three major players on the street (Serino, Spot and AKA), there’s actually some real competition and a choice for Producers.
10. The NFL puts a play in its playbook.
Who says big business won’t back Broadway? Here comes the NFL, one of the biggest businesses of all, with more eyeballs every Sunday than we could dream about in a year, sponsoring Lombardi. The odds were on Lombardi not making it to the playoffs, but thanks to the NFL, the show looks destined to run past Super Bowl Sunday and beyond.
So I’ve shown you mine, now you show me yours. What were your most memorably moments on or off Broadway in 2010?
Ken Davenport is a Broadway and Off-Broadway producer who helped bring 13 and Altar Boyz to New York and is now working towards mounting a revival of Godspell. For more like this, you can follow his blog at theproducersperspective.com or find him on Twitter or Facebook.