Are one night stands better than long-term commitments?

Last I checked this blog hadn’t become an issue of Marie Claire or InStyle and I do not have enough knowledge of relationships to offer meaningful advice for this question. But upon seeing this question plastered over an old Cosmopolitan magazine in a Fish and Chip shop I realised that it relates to the theatre as well!


Over the last couple of years, the number of one-night only or incredibly limited engagement performances have grown in the theatre. Whether they are charity events or fillers in yearly programs by the New York Philharmonic, they are arguably the most successful form of theatre when it comes to brand building.

For instance, look at the 2011 production of the Stephen Sondheim musical Company (Three shows only!). The show starred the ever-likable Neil Patrick Harris along with an extensive cast of talented celebrities including Patti LuPone, Jon Cryer, Martha Plimpton, Christina Hendricks, Craig Bierko, Katie Finneran and Stephen Colbert.

You would be hard-pressed to find somebody who had never heard of any of the cast before.

But this incredibly talented cast comes with two downsides . . . scheduling and money. Firstly, these people are very busy and just getting them all in a room at the same time would be a challenge in itself. So putting on a production that featured all of them would be limited to the few days that all were available at the same time.

Secondly, while a cast full of headliners is brilliant, it is really only possible in the long run if your last name is Trump, Zuckerberg or Winfrey. And seriously, how often do we actually see those people at the theatre! So to compensate we have incredibly short term runs.

On the plus side, these shows feature:

  • An incredibly talented cast
  • An increase to Broadway’s street cred with those consumers who have only seen these stars in movies or television shows
  • High publicity from media moguls due to the celebrity factor
    . . . and also the idea of ‘scarcity’ of shows which makes people want the tickets even more!

The only disadvantage of this style of show is that not all brand loyal customers can actually get their hands on tickets. But New York Philharmonic found a way around this that benefited both their directors’ wallets and the insatiable desire of their brand loyal customers.

By filming one of these performances and broadcasting it in cinemas throughout the world, they managed to remove the one downside and add new advantages to the limited run style of show.

The issue with brand loyal customers not seeing the show is solved by their ability to go to the cinema without removing the advantage of ‘scarcity’ as theatre nuts will still want to see it live. Also working in their favour is the advantages of extra money for the New York Philharmonic from sales to cinemas, greater influence on a global scale as consumers no longer need to be in New York to see it and better communications of the New York Phil’s reputation for high quality shows.

It especially helps that people can now see the high quality of the orchestra without the risk of forking out an exorbitant ticket price and not enjoying the concert. And it may encourage them to pay that high ticket price next time as well!

These limited runs sound like a good idea to me, because remember nothing sells faster than celebrities and limited edition products!