B Y HEATHER JOHNSON
As the curtain falls on a year of grim economic news, there’s one place we can look for inspiration: the Great White Way. If the year on Broadway is any indication, when the going gets tough, the tough
go to the theater. According to the Broadway League, the 2008–’09
theater season was the best in history, with shows grossing approximately $943.3 million. Besides raking in the dollars, Broadway also
played host to 43 new productions, the highest number since the
1982–’ 83 season.
So how does theater thrive when every other economic sector
seems to be failing? The need for diversion is certainly part of it.
Historically, the entertainment industry does well in hard times.
Though play tickets certainly cost a lot more than an evening at
the cineplex, they still fall into that enviable category of “affordable
luxury,” which ensures they’ll make the spending cut even after the
expensive family vacation has been scrapped.
“Broadway’s not cookie-cutter,” says the Broadway League’s
director, Charlotte St. Martin. “You put the right playwright together
with the right talent and the chances are very good that they’re going
to do well. You put on a great show and people come.”
since the Great
Great White Way
just had the best
year in its history
At least one of the key elements of Broadway’s great success this
year was attracting well-known film and television actors into the
deeper waters of theater, especially dramas. Stars remain the ultimate
attraction to audiences, and theatergoers last season had their pick
of everyone from Jane Fonda in 33 Variations to Geoffrey Rush, Susan