The best musicals are priceless. No musical, however, is worth $299 -- the going rate for a premium seat at too many Broadway musical box offices today. Years ago, when I was writing Ever After: The Last Years of Musical Theater and Beyond, the subject of money already had taken on a ghastly precedence in the Broadway musical conversation. But that was ten years ago. Things have since gotten much worse.
Face it, even the worst musical is worth a few dollars. Somewhere between the poles of priceless and just a few dollars, I suspect, lies true value for the contemporary Broadway musical. Measuring up to a $299 ticket (or more) is the crusher -- for musical creators and audiences alike. Desperation ensues -- or rather, has ensued.
You can see the results: shows in a desperate rush to please -- noisy, frantic and in your face; audiences similarly desperate to be pleased, jumping to their feet madly as the curtain falls on tiresome evenings, seeking hyperactively to justify their over the top expenditures.
Amazingly, producers finally seem to agree that things have gone too far. Ticket prices for the new 2014-2015 Broadway musical season have dropped to levels not seen since...
I kid you. Ticket prices for the new Broadway season will be as insanely high as ever. It just felt really good writing that -- if only for a moment.
So far as I can see, the top ticket price for Honeymoon in Vegas -- due to land at the Nederlander Theater in November -- is $211. (What kind of price is that: $211?) I say, so far as I can see, because Broadway ticket prices now come veiled in the logarithmic mist of "dynamic pricing;" ever shifting according to demand. One longs for the ability to return the favor with dynamic repricing, according to the shifts of real-time applause and general audience satisfaction. But I digress.
I still look forward to any new musical. I just find my way blocked by dollar signs these days. And so, I have devised my own Hedge Fund managerial formula for dollar-to-delight value. In upcoming posts, I'll evaluate Broadway's new musical season -- or rather, attempt to handicap each show -- strictly in terms of estimated entertainment payback per ticket dollar spent. Feel free to pay no attention whatsoever.