By Gordon Hughes

Don’t we all really hope so? You bet. That said, as someone who loves the Great White Way as a member of the audience, I am still personally nervous attending a Broadway show.

Whether it’s in the largest of the 41 Broadway theaters, the Gershwin with 1,933 seats, or the smallest theaters, the Helen Hays or the Lyceum, which is the oldest of the venerable theaters in the theater district, Covid still worries me. The Theaters keep changing the rules which only makes it more confusing for audiences.

By the way, The New York Tourist Bureau is estimating 56.4 million tourists will have visited NYC in 2022 vs 66.7 million in pre-pandemic 2019. They estimate that of those tourists two out of every three will attend a Broadway show. That translates into something like a 15 percent drop in audiences and a reduction in revenues of about 10.4 million dollars.

Currently, many theatres are still closed and tracking the exact pricing of tickets is tricky. These numbers are probably flawed but they are directional. Billings show the average ticket sold for $125 vs $98 in 2022. To put things in perspective, take into account the fact that a show like Hamilton had its tickets scalped for $1,800 or more. Shows that were troubled had two for one sales. According to The Broadway League 2019 was a record for ticket sales at approximately $1,8 billion plus compared to 2022 which will come in at approximately $845 million (a 54 percent drop).

All that said, you get the picture; revenues for Broadway shows are far from their former selves. As a matter of fact, it was announced in September that Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Phantom of The Opera will close in February of 2023. Phantom was Broadway’s longest running show and seemed to be bullet proof. As the New York Times said Phantom has become “the latest show to fall victim to the drop off in audience since the pandemic hit.” Just another major blow to Times Square. Michael Riedel has said in his current book Singular Sensation “Broadway always finds a way to stage a comeback after an economic hit.”

Early in September there were major announcements about new shows opening; shows that would be uplifting, humorous and that could make audiences feel good again. Ninety percent of these shows appear to be comedies. Now, whether it was during the Depression or during war times or any tough times for Americans, comedies help pull folks out of these dark periods. Covid and political divisions have created another period of troubled times. It appears Broadway has responded with new upbeat shows: Kimberly Akimbo, Top Dog -Under Dog, Almost Famous, Juliet, Cost Of Living to name a few.

So it remains to be seen if this strategy will turn things around. One can only hope…. As a producer and investor, I take great promise from that track record. I have been personally involved in Broadway for the past 12 years and have been part of some hit shows that I am so proud of: An American in Paris, The Cher Show, the revival of Company and, of course Come From Away. There is an amazing amount of creativity taking place right now and there will be another jukebox musical coming down the pike, an outstanding revival or a fabulous play because that is Broadway. Broadway will continue to be the Crown Jewel of New York City.