‘Tis The Season for Musicals…
Tis the season for Holiday musicals. Actually, in Chicago, tis the season for lots of musicals – Holiday themed or not. In the month of December I have seen about 8 musicals. Since we are creating our own Christmas musical (GRACE & THE ISLAND OF MISFITS), I planned on seeing all of the traditional holiday shows (outside of the Goodman’s A CHRISTMAS CAROL). And, I learned a lot.
First, I learned that this is the time of year that people come to the theatre. Actually, it is the busiest time of the year theatrically. In addition, those theatres that do Christmas/Holiday shows usually make a great deal of money. One theatre’s artistic director told me that his Christmas musical makes so much money that it supports the rest of the shows in his season!
I also learned that for many people who go to holiday shows, it is the only time they go to the theatre all year! So, do the theatres try and sell those audience members on other shows? You bet…does it work…..not sure.
And, of course families go to the theatre during this time of year. I saw two 10am performances of Christmas musicals that were sold out. Every seat. And I checked, they were sold out for many of the performances. The audience ranged from infants to grandparents in their 80’s. Family entertainment or children’s theatre – both work. (I define children’s theatre as a show where all elements are geared toward children – mostly under 14 years old. It is usually fast paced, lots of action, little dialogue and a very simple story line. Family entertainment, on the other hand, has adult humor, a more complex story line, but visuals for the children. Usually children under 10 feel lost in family entertainment.)
Another thing I found interesting was that the shows that were non-Christmas themed had very small audiences. Even though the shows were excellent – very well acted, very well performed – the house was less than 30% full.
TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS, ELANOR’S CHRISTMAS, IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, DIE HARD CHRISTMAS were among the shows I saw. Hopefully…in the next few years, we can add GRACE & THE ISLAND OF MISFITS to that list.