Regenerating your musical so it doesn’t get exterminated

There is a secret to the long-lived television serial Doctor Who. The series remains fresh and continues to capture audiences’ interest due to the ability to constantly change the cast every couple of seasons. Big Broadway or West End shows aren’t that different, and a recent cast change has brought them closer together.

Arthur Darvill

Arthur Darvill, or Rory Pond to those Doctor Who fans, has recently been announced as the replacement male lead in the Broadway success story Once. Like every couple of Doctor Who series, the ability to ‘regenerate’ a leading actor provides the producers with the opportunity to encourage repeat purchase and possibly garner some new fans by playing off the popularity of the new lead.

Once was described as the fairytale show of last season. Maintaining its rather meek front and uncomplicated story, set and music, the show managed to beat out much more expensive and elaborate musicals to clean up at the Tony Awards. However, recently the grosses from this popular music have begun to drop off. Maintaining average weekly capacities of over 100%, the musical has recently seen a slight decrease down to the 86% or 87% mark.

At this point the musical is faced with an interesting dilemma. How do they encourage existing New York-based audiences to give the show a go? How do the capture the ever replenishing tourist market? How do they encourage repeat ticket purchase? And most importantly, how do they continue to compete with the big budget musicals continually produced by Disney?

The major shock factor with Once was that a musical could be so simple, compared to every other offering on Broadway. While this new route of product development was effective, it quickly looses out to the extravagant circus performances in Pippin, the cross-dressing fabulousness of Kinky Boots and the high-flying mermaids in the, soon to arrive on Broadway, revamp of The Little Mermaid. And unfortunately for Once, this point has arrived.

As a result, they went for the best fix-all solution to any slump in attendance at a Broadway show. Hire a star!

This has several benefits. Not only does it encourage Doctor Who fans to part with the expensive ticket price in order to see one of their television heroes live. Not only does it encourage Broadway super-fans to return in order to see a different interpretation of the role. Not only does it provide a new energy and entice reviewers and journalists back which create renewed buzz about the show.

But it also decreases the uncertainty in the consumers’ decisions to attend the Broadway show.

By having a big star who has just come off an incredibly popular television series take the time out of their schedule to appear in your show, audiences can have confidence that your show is right up there with the other forms of entertainment that Arthur Darvill would have been offered.

The same can be said for the recent replacement casting decision to put Glee’s Jane Lynch in the role of Miss Hannigan in Annie (which is currently performing well below expectations at a measly 63% capacity).

Keep an eye on the weekly Broadway grosses here and Ill let you know what happens once these two leads take up their new roles on the live stage!

Agree, disagree or have no opinion either way? Let me know why in the comments below.