With Christmas and New Year's Eve both embraced in the final week of 2006 -- an embrace warmed by El Niño -- Broadway producers jubilantly rang in 2007 with the highest grossing week in history, raking in $29.1 million at the box office. Attendance for the week ending Dec. 31 also set a new mark at 314,310.
Yes, that's an average ticket price of more than $92.50.

 

Not a bad argument for mixing some Off-Broadway fiber into your theater diet. Here's another: Three of the ballyhooed shows I saw on Broadway this season -- two of them musicals -- had their beginnings Off-Broadway last season.

 

Broadway hasn't been turned upside down yet, but there are signs of a paradigm shift. True, the Disney machinery keeps cranking out its family-friendly comfort food, almost impervious to Gotham's feral critics. British imports still have a place at the banquet. And if you've never seen Les Miz or A Chorus Line, the current revivals are virtual clones of the originals, according to all reports. Adventurous theatergoers, however, can find exotic tastes to savor. At Spring Awakening, you can sit onstage with the actors and musicians if you're willing to surrender your coat in the lobby and wait 'til after the show for your playbill.

Grey Gardens follows the familiar formula of musicalizing a motion picture -- this time with a slight twist: Here the inspiration is a 1975 documentary.

Stranger still might be the Broadway revival of Stephen Sondheim's Company, which obliterates the dividing line between the actors and musicians.

Nor is there a shortage of curiosities Off-Broadway. In The Big Voice, we watch the ultimate in cost-cutting maneuvers. Composer and lyricist perform their own script and songs, telling us the story of their own relationship.

 

For sheer zaniness, Evil Dead The Musical has moved to the vanguard with the invention of the Splatter Zone. If you sit in the first three rows at this cheesy adaptation of the 1981 gorefest, you'll be showered with the nectar of the grisly technical effects -- stage blood gushing into the audience from walls, scalps and the occasional severed limb. With the genially sacrilegious Altar Boyz and the no-explanation-needed Naked Boys Singing under the same roof, New World Stages has certainly done its share to push the boundary lines in reinventing the musical for a new generation.

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Key Subjects: 
New York, Company, Les Miz, Chorus Line, Big Voice, Evil Dead, Altar Boyz
Writer: 
Perry Tannenbaum
Date: 
January 2007