Derivative or Different?

There is a trend in the New York theater world today toward more participatory productions. That means that the audience may be having drinks and dinner at proper tables, and the actors wander into the room, often incorporating the guests into the action.

The ramifications? Well, you can’t do this in a traditional, terribly uncomfortable, Broadway house. So these occur in the outlying areas, such as the very trendy Meatpacking District.

They are more expensive to attend, with seats costing hundreds of dollars, though that’s not terribly far from decent seats on Broadway. The revenues are enhanced by food and alcohol, equalling perhaps 50 percent of the gross. The demographic is younger.

Some of these offerings have six-figure advance sales. Producers are learning that, as in most businesses, there is a cap on “better” and an easier entry point in “different” and “novel.” People are tired of revivals of revivals, of the same casts (Are Audra McDonald and Nathan Lane cast in everything as a union rule of some kind?), of the seats built for people with eating disorders, of the horrid parking, and of the dearth of decent playwrights.

What are you doing that’s different, and not just derivative?

© Alan Weiss 2013

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