Why Every Show Wants A Piece Of The Turkey!
There is one live broadcast that every American musical wants to score. And it’s not the Tony Awards. This one has fewer shows performing which means less competition. It reaches a traditionally non-theatrical audience. And it has an audience that completely dwarfs that of the biggest theatre awards in the world . . .
Thanksgiving might be a time for families to get together. A time to realise what you are thankful for. But in America, it has a much more important marketing element. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.
Reaching almost 24 million people across the United States, this annual broadcast has become a yearly tradition for American families reaching well beyond the theatre audience market and into the family-friendly market. Much like Australia’s Carols in the Domain and Carols by Candlelight. So while it is important to grab a performance slot on the Tony Awards to attract the easy market of theatre-goers, this isn’t the market which will keep a show running for a long time.
If the aim is a long-running show, then you need to think outside the box and bring people who wouldn’t usually be queuing for a ticket – because, chances are, the usual crowds already know about the show and bought their ticket in a pre-sale many months ago.
Look at all the long-running shows in the history of musical theatre. Phantom of the Opera, The Lion King, CATS, Book of Mormon, Wicked, Mamma Mia!, Chicago. The one thing all these shows have in common is their ability to move past the theatre audience. There is no question that they still market to these people because they will get the word out about a fantastic show. But the people that they need to reach to keep filling their theatres are the everyday families and tourist. The people who visit New York with the Bucket List goal of seeing a Broadway show.
They are unfamiliar with the industry. Often with very little knowledge about the range of shows currently playing. And want a sure bet to ensure they enjoy every second of their holiday. What better way to grab them than with a preview performance on their favourite annual telethon? (Plus, let’s not discount the pester power from kids wanting to see more than just the one number).
People often say there is no key to success in the theatre. And to an extent there isn’t because it is near impossible to predict the exact success of a show. But the one component that every successful show should have is accessibility. It will ensure that the show gets highly-prized performance opportunities in channels outside the theatre. It will ensure that tourists don’t feel unsure about purchasing a ticket. And, most of all, it will be able to grab hold of the long-term non-theatre audience which will keep the show successful once the theatre crowd has moved onto the biggest and best new show.