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Heading Off Broadway

June 9th, 2011

"Million Dollar Quartet". Photo by Joan Marcus.

Producers of the Tony-winning musical Million Dollar Quartet announced they will be closing the show on Broadway this Sunday, only to re-open at Off-Broadway’s New World Stages in July.

After years of lamentation about the economics of Off-Broadway, a new paradigm seems to be in play with multiple shows using their Broadway run to build brand equity and then carry on in easier to fill houses at, one would assume, stripped down costs. At the same theater complex, The 39 Steps extended its life by 341 performances, Avenue Q is running strong, and a new Rent is waiting in the wings. All of these shows have adaptable sets, relatively small casts and the kind of name recognition or thematic hook that makes them tourist draws long after their initial openings. Million Dollar Quartet fits right in with its Elvis and friends jam session.

While this new pattern may not help those developing new material, perhaps there’s a business plan here to resurrect shows that died too soon but have strong fan bases like Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and Tony-resurgent The Scottsboro Boys.

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