by Chase Gosselin
Note from the writer: Hello readers! My name is Chase Gosselin, and I am a director/choreographer who just moved to NYC this August. I am thrilled to be blogging for Camp Broadway as I begin my own journey towards a career in professional theatre. Every week, I will be posting my opinions on some current tendency, trend or issue in the theatre business today. Hopefully you will find it to be a fun yet informative look at how business and art converge to create Broadway as we know it. Enjoy!
This week, I want to speak about diversity on Broadway. I’m not talking ethnic or racial diversity. Rather, I want to discuss diversity of the offerings on Broadway today. Let’s face it: There are hoards of people who love to reminisce about the “Golden Age” of Broadway, a time when people like Rodgers and Hammerstein, Kander and Ebb, Frank Loesser, Cole Porter or George Abbot spit out musical comedy hits faster than the feet tapping away over at Newsies. Even the almighty Ben Brantley (theatre critic for the New York Times) dreams of this forgone time of musical theatre paradise in his reviews every now and then. Some of this same group loves to look at the fare of Broadway today with disgust, turning their noses up high against the rock musicals, the Disney shows, the raunchy comedic plays, and the contemporary pieces alike.
Is this right? Has the pinnacle of the American theatre art form passed long before most people reading this blog were even born? We should just give up, shouldn’t we?
I would argue that what I said above is the very reason to be proud of Broadway today. Hey, I love the classics just as much as the next person. Who doesn’t enjoy an evening of being swept away by these simple plots outfitted with lavish production. And if you so desire to see them, revivals of these eternal hits are staged year after year. But if classical theatre isn’t for you, we are in a time where there are countless options.
On one hand you have the high-budgeted Spider-man Turn off the Dark written by Bono and the Edge, and on the other you have Peter and the Starcatcher, a play that uses found objects and clever blocking to tell their story. There are crowd-pleasers like Mamma Mia! alongside a slew of Mamet plays, such as the upcoming revival of Glengarry Glen Ross (starring Al Pacino!) or The Anarchist with Patti Lupone and Debra Winger. Disney hits continue to draw in the family crowds, while Matt Stone and Trey Parker are having a delightful time bringing their record-breaking raunchy musical The Book of Mormon to the Eugene O’Neill. Still, long-running favorites like Phantom, Chicago, Wicked or Jersey Boys remain in the mix.
Regardless of if you’re a theatre purist or a newcomer , there is a show for you on Broadway that will fit your music taste, your dancing preferences and your tendency to lean towards either comedy or drama. Either big-budget or stripped down, Broadway is alive and kicking, and it is more diverse than ever before. Let’s celebrate this. Maybe you are one of those people put off by modern pieces like Bring It On: the Musical or Ghost, and I’m not asking you to change your taste. Just remember, Broadway is ultimately a business, and to keep the wheels turning, there must be diversity. I say let’s embrace it. Too much of the same gets boring anyhow.
What do you think about the shows that are currently being offered on Broadway? Do you stick to one genre? Do you think theatre has changed too much from “the good ol’ days?”