McNulty in LAT nails it:
The obscene cost of Broadway tickets sets up expectations that artists who are following their own instincts (rather than the marketplace's) are going to have a hard time satisfying. (Thus the remedy of celebrity casting.) I'd like to think that producers who participated in the financial folly of moving "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson" uptown from the Public Theater are helping to usher in a new Broadway sensibility. But I'm not sure how thrilled I would have been to cough up hundreds of dollars for orchestra seats for a show [Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo] that cost far less when it premiered at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in 2008. Those most inclined to support innovation are the least likely to be able to afford it when it transfers to Broadway, and those who can shell out the requisite C-notes without batting an eye are apt to wonder why the scenery is so lacking and the emotional journey doesn't allow for a good cry.The problem indeed is that plays that aren't suited to the mass-audience, big-theatre demands of Broadway still have to go there if they're going to garner proper recognition and financial reward to their playwrights.
Which leads to this challenge he offers:
what would really be encouraging is if our economically challenged alternative theaters — off-Broadway, the nonprofit regionals, local pocket stages everywhere — could somehow raise their game. This would offer the commercial theater more bounty to choose from and artists the opportunity to say, "Thanks, but no thanks" when big-shot producers come courting.Yes, how can the regionals and the Off-Broadway nonprofits now "raise the game"?