Money, Money, Money

American television pilot season has finished for another year and yet again we have seen many Broadway stars picked up in new shows that will soon hit the major television networks across the world. Many of these actors could have auditioned for some of the new productions or already had roles in big musicals and plays. So why would you venture off into the land of television?


The easy answer to give to this question would be . . . money. As they say, money makes the world go round. And it would definitely be much easier to record a show once and then let it play reruns rather than re-perform that same show every night for a live audience. But, after a bit of digging, I think there is a bigger force at work – plus, I am never one to take the easy road so let’s see what else we can dig up!

We see a lot of migration from the American hub of television, Los Angeles, across to the live performance hub of the east, New York, each year. In fact, only yesterday I discussed the famous television star’s ability to revive a show that is slowly losing its revenue. And I think the key answer to today’s question lies in the idea of fame.

The reason that celebrities are become a bigger commodity on Broadway is because they bring a new audience with them that wouldn’t usually go to the theatre. If a Broadway star can land a pilot that gets a couple of seasons on mainstream television, then they are able to boost their profile and begin to develop their commercial appeal to producers. The longer this person can stay on television, the bigger their fan base gets and the more attractive they become to casting directors for the next big show because they have the talent to perform on Broadway and the fan base to make it profitable.

Each year, more and more of these Broadway stars are moving across to short stints in television. Recently we have seen Sutton Foster starring in her new show Bunheads, Andrew Rannells breaking stereotypes in The New Normal and Megan Hilty fighting for the lead role in NBC’s recently cancelled drama SMASH. But if we only look at the pilots that have been successfully picked up after this year’s pilot season, we can see SEVENTEEN different Broadway personalities heading to your television!

Out of the seventeen stars, those who are successful will make themselves more employable by increasing their likelihood of landing a lead role in an upcoming production so the producers can take advantage of their followers. And they will also benefit Broadway as a whole by increasing the general awareness of theatre within smaller communities who have little access to big budget shows. When these people get to know the stars who grace Broadway stages, then the idea of visiting the theatre becomes more accessible.

Just to prove my assumption, I want to draw your attention to Megan Hilty who has just finished up her time on SMASH. Theatre news outlets have been going nuts across the internet predicting her next role. And you know what all this buzz means? It means that Megan Hilty is a more attractive investment because people will talk about her next musical job and by extension people will talk about that show. If you need a picture of what this looks like, it is a producer with their feet up on their desk and their eyes rolling into dollar signs!

What do you think on the issue? Are these stars purely going to television for the money? I mean it must be nice to have champagne baths and roll around in money!

Let me know in the comments below.