In a Sunday piece tucked away in the Times metro section, Charles Isherwood paints the full picture of a pathetic Broadway experience, not even a shadow of the glory days.
He also reminds us of those demographics:
And yet this is still the theatre venue covered almost exclusively by the media as representative of The American Theatre.
The latest demographic report from the League of American Theaters and Producers, the marketing umbrella agency for Broadway, shows that during the 2005-6 season, 19 percent of Broadway theatergoers were from New York City, down from 31 percent in 1980-81. The immediate suburbs contributed 24 percent, slightly fewer than the 28 percent of a quarter-century earlier. While visitors from other countries held even at 11 percent, the largest growth came in the category of tourists from elsewhere in the United States, at 45 percent for the most recent season, up from 30 percent of the audience in 1980-81.
As a result, in the ratio of us and them, us being New Yorkers and city-adjacent folks, the balance has shifted considerably. “We” made up 58 percent of the audience 20-some years ago and now account for only 43 percent.
Ok, I let me New York snobbery show through there, I guess. I suppose it might be more accurate to say that this is The American Theatre, since so many, many Americans from all over are coming.
But we can now see clearly that Broadway is not the New York Theatre. There is a New York Theatre, but it's not there. And people who hate Broadway might be surprised to learn how good it can be.