Give ’em the old Razzle Dazzle

Famous online humour site, Funny or Die, released a video two days ago that highlights why Chicago is the longest running Broadway revival and why it is still doing so well 17 years after it opened. Funny or Die just didn’t realise that was what they were doing . . .

funny or die

You can check out the video here:

The video features Marilu Henner, famous actress from the stage and screen, giving advice to all those Hollywood stars on how to become a Broadway legend. And it is simple . . . star in Chicago!

Now, Broadway’s Chicago is well known for casting well-known actresses and actors from outside the musical industry in any one of the four lead roles; Roxie, Velma, Billy Flynn or Matron Mama Morton. Some of the famous faces from over the years include Ashlee Simpson, Billy Ray Cyrus, Melanie Griffiths, Wayne Brady, Brooke Shields, Bebe Neuwirth, John O’ Hurley, Usher, Jerry Springer and even Michael C. Hall (for all you Dexter fans out there).

Plus, more recently, Sofia Vergara in the role of Matron Mama Morton.

These casting choices aren’t because celebrities are looking for a way to become the next Broadway legend. The reason behind these casting choices is the key to Chicago’s success.

Granted, the musical itself is an incredibly well-written work with a number of great songs but the celebrity casts certainly make the marketers’ jobs easier.

Each new celebrity brings with them a whole new audience. For example, Billy Ray Cyrus fans probably didn’t have much cross-over with Broadway fans before his appearance in Chicago. However as soon as he stepped foot on that stage a whole new audience is attracted to seeing a Broadway show.

But there’s more than that. Not only does it encourage new people to try out the musical scene, it is also a great device for repurchase. Despite having seen Chicago a couple of times over the years, if you were a big Modern Family fan and heard that Sofia Vergara was starring as Matron Mama Morton would you consider buying tickets again?

Of course you would. And so would most people. It allows the show to bring people back to their theatre rather than solely relying on the tourist market to keep supplying their theatre with a bunch of fresh, wide-eyed, never-been-to-Broadway-before audiences.

With strategies like this, who knows how many more years Chicago will run on Broadway?