"Brighton Beach," that is. (Not Bert Brecht...)
Well it's nice it made the front page of the Times. But too bad Patrick Healy turns in only a facile "culture section" rundown, just attributing the failure to "Neil Simon Ain't Funny Anymore" syndrome. Personally I think it's a lot more complex than that. More on that tomorrow.
I liked Howard Kissel's take better--on the changing Broadway audience. Out with the old Jews, in with the headbanging tourists?
The Broadway audience, which highbrows condescended to, especially when it was at its height, in the decades after World War II, was certainly centered in New York. It was middle class (with significant exceptions both higher and lower on the social ladder.) It had a higher percentage of Jews than the population at large.
It also went way beyond the Hudson. In the decades after the war Broadway was a significant factor in middle class life all across the country. It was not only New Yorkers who knew Arthur Miller or Tennessee Williams (not to mention all the major figures of our musical theater.) Those names counted for something in every major city across the country, in part because their plays toured immediately after they finished their Broadway run. That was how a little boy in Milwaukee (moi) became entranced with the theater.
The tourists who come to New York have, I'm afraid, are not really an audience. Their idea of entertainment is more likely a rock concert than an evening of theater. Seeing a Broadway show is one of the things they're supposed to do while they're here, like visiting the Statue of Liberty or riding the subway.
When I think of the friends with whom I used to go often to the theater, they now tend to go more frequently to the opera and the ballet, where they find the emotional rewards the theater, Broadway or otherwise, seldom gives them.
The New Theater Audience consists of Trendies, people who have to be up on The Latest Thing, people who derive status from being able to say they saw a play The Paper of Record praised highly. It's not really an audience. But I'm afraid that's what we have.