Hurlyburly, the Off-Broadway hit now playing at Theatre Row, is moving to a larger Off-Broadway house, even featuring a cast of stars and a well-worn and exciting script? Why the seemingly lateral move? Because it isn't artistic suicide.
The New York Times article above lays out the difference in cost to the producers...between 600,000 and 1.8 million dollars for a Broadway move approximately. And with a 499 seat house to move to, what could possibly be the downside except for the loss of already uninterested walkby traffic and tourists?
Hopefully, this will be a part of a realitic trend outside the realm of the traditional vanity move to "Broadway" which increasingly demands more capital and produces diminishing audiences for top-level talent and challenging works. It also produces a homogenous audience of the wealthy, who would much rather spend money on Billy Crystal than challenging works, even ones that have already have feature films made of them.
The distinctions between Off-Broadway and Broadway are NOT qualitative, they are purely quantitative. More money, more noteriety, more risk. And as movie stars move away from the Broadway system, perhaps what we'll see is just as much press and respect for the New York Theatre Workshop or for the new Theatre Row's offerings than for those at the American Airlines Theatre. The only thing we should see is a loss of risk that you won't catch the eye of someone's dying aunt or some family from upstate who really likes the idea of people singing on roller skates.
As Ray Bradbury said once, of the poor stomachs of those with a red pen, "let them choke on the weak tea of their own ungodly invention." So should it be with those who are willing to pay top dollar to see trite garbage. Let the rest of us seek out quality, and enjoy comparatively inexpensive comfort food, that feeds and enlightens.
- Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.