A True Magician Always Reveals Their Tricks
What would happen if a magician revealed their tricks? I think that magicians have been tricking us with this phrase for a long time. A good magician reveals part of their tricks but just leaves a little component hidden away which keeps audiences enthralled trying to work it out! And this is a concept which the Broadway production of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical has drawn on in its latest promotional activity.
The cast of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical is going to perform the show’s score . . . for free . . . in Central Park . . . for however many audience members turn up.
This statement would have most producers and marketers running for the hills. If you give away a show for free, who is going to pay for it? Well, the good news for these conservative people is that the entire show is not being given away. Most, if not all of the songs, will be performed in a different order more conducive to an outdoor concert without any of the dialogue. So some of the cats are still in the bag!
Songs from musicals are not particularly exclusive anymore. Cast albums come out rather quickly after a show opens. The actors and actresses are performing the songs on day time television and at multiple press junkets during the promotion periods. And, especially when your show is based on a jukebox catalogue of songs from someone as famous as Carole King, audiences have already heard them!
Audiences at a musical are not going just to hear the songs. If they wanted to hear the songs they could save $130 by purchasing the cast album and listening to it in the comfort of their own home. If that was the case, then the cast album would have killed musical theatre. Audiences at a musical are there to see the whole experience. Dramatic sets. Exciting lighting. Moving storylines and dialogue. Lavish costumes. Full cast dance routines. A musical is made up of a lot more than just twenty songs.
What this performance opportunity provides is a chance for members of the public to see enough of the performance that any fears they had about paying to see it disappear. They could be worried that the famous characters wouldn’t live up to their real-life parallels (although anyone who has seen Beautiful can attest to the talent of the cast). They could be worried that they wouldn’t know enough of the songs. They could just simply be worried, as most people are, that the experience won’t be worth the ticket price. All of which are busted by this free performance giving people a significant sneak preview into the show.
Sure, there will be a few audience members who walk away completely satisfied with their Carole King experience and never need to see the show. But they will be made up for by the videos that get shared on YouTube, the posts that flood Twitter, the pictures that dominate Instagram and most importantly the audience members who walk away thinking ‘I have to go back and see the real thing!’
Congratulations to Beautiful for breaking boundaries and being the first show to perform at this SummerStage festival while still running nearby on Broadway. You will definitely reap the rewards of this risk!
(Plus, talk about life imitating art. In 1973, Carole King performed a free concert in Central Park. That free performance didn’t hurt her success either!)