by Mo Brady
It’s weird to think about, but a musical that hasn’t even opened on Broadway yet will already be closed by the fall. Probably even two musicals. That’s not to say anything of the quality of storytelling or the talent of those cast. That’s just talking about statistics.
Let’s look back at last season: out of the seven new musicals to open in the spring, only four were still open by the time Columbus Day rolled around (Come From Away, Anastasia, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and War Paint). Amelie, Groundhog Day and Bandstand each drew praise and audiences, but not enough of either to keep them running.
Hindsight is always 20/20, but let’s think back to last winter. In February 2017, could we have guessed all the incoming musicals that would find a long life on Broadway? Who would’ve thought that an Olivier award-winning Best Musical would be among first to shutter? That a story about America’s troops wouldn’t find an audience of veterans and baby boomers?
But even while the likelihood of a short run was possible for all seven of those new musicals, the actors in though shows weren’t thinking about closing notices. They were too busy making art. Many of them were fulfilling a lifelong dream of making a Broadway debut. Vocal parts are being rehearsed, characters were being invented, choreography was being fine-tuned. The creative process was alive and thriving.
The same goes for the current year‘s crop of Broadway-bound musicals. We only have four new musicals hitting Broadway this spring (Escape to Margaritaville, Frozen, Mean Girls and Summer.) However, their casts are no more less eager to share their stories with audiences than the actors who opened last year's new musicals. At this very moment, they are making bold choices in rehearsal rooms or fine-tuning quick changes. In short, they are being artists.
So to the lucky and talented actors in this year's four new musicals, I say this: don’t think about Columbus Day. At least not yet. At this moment, you’re living a dream that few actors will ever realize. Revel in that moment. Indulge in the between show meals with new found friends. Love gripe about the annoying tourists that block the sidewalk on their way to pay your bills by attending your show. Shed a tear during the Sitzprobe. Fuck it, shed two tears.
Look your unknown future straight in the eyes and tell it, “Today, I am making art.”