A winter storm right before one of Broadway’s most profitable holidays? It sounds ominous, but the theater industry’s not too worried.
True, holiday travel on Wednesday evening could turn into a snarl thanks to the snow and rain expected all over the northeast. With some flights cancelled in advance of the storm, Broadway box offices will likely have to deal with some weather-induced refunds and exchanges for the travelers who can’t make it into town for their weekend plans. Wednesday evening performances could suffer somewhat, too.
But in the New York area, at least, temperatures are poised to remain high enough to keep much snow from accumulating. The rest of the weekend’s weather looks pretty clear, meaning theatergoers from the tri-state area, not to mention the out-of-towners who do get to Gotham (or who are here already), should have no trouble making it to shows.
That’s good news for Broadway, which traditionally gets one of its biggest box office boosts over the long holiday weekend. (Usually the spike is second only to the B.O. explosion that hits the Street during the Christmas-New Year’s week.) Every show is poised to get a lift, with long-running hits (such as “The Lion King,” “Wicked” and “The Book of Mormon”) and last season’s established crowdpleasers (“Aladdin,” “Beautiful”) primed to benefit the most.
Newer titles, such as “Honeymoon in Vegas” and the well-received “Side Show,” could have a bit more trouble turning heads. Ditto some plays, although there’s enough star power in several current nonmusicals — Hugh Jackman in “The River,” Bradley Cooper in “The Elephant Man,” Nathan Lane et al. in “It’s Only a Play,” Glenn Close in “A Delicate Balance” — to keep them competitive.
Most shows don’t perform on Thanksgiving, and instead add a matinee (often on Friday). That should give any lingering weather snafus time to dissipate before weekend audiences descend.
On the holiday itself, most of the Broadway action will happen at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which will see “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” “Honeymoon in Vegas,” “The Last Ship” (with Sting performing alongside the cast), “On the Town” and “Side Show” perform in segs in the nationally televised march. Meanwhile, incoming musical “Finding Neverland” will get a spotlight on “Good Morning America.”
The Macy’s Day appearances probably won’t give much of a boost to the coming weekend’s sales; usually such performances are targeted at endowing titles with enough of a national profile to encourage tourists to check out the productions the next time they come to town.
Still, there should be plenty of business to go around, with the Turkey Day weekend ushering in what is usually a robust holiday season on Broadway. Then when the tourists depart for January’s annual box office slowdown, all that holiday revenue can help keep productions warm.