Ruth Leon recommends…   This is Broadway – Promotional Video

Ruth Leon recommends… This is Broadway – Promotional Video

Ruth Leon recommends

norman lebrecht

September 11, 2021

This is Broadway – Promotional Video
Click here to watch

The Broadway theatre has been even slower to reopen than London’s West End and is only now, in September, beginning to show signs of life. This is another of those beautifully made booster videos, this one intended to welcome audiences back to the live stages of Broadway. It’s narrated by Oprah Winfrey and worth seeing for the quick clips of the Broadway theatre’s greatest hits and for glimpses of a wide array of Broadway icons.

“Live,” says the recognisable voice of our Oprah, “is more alive than ever.” Well, not entirely. It’s exciting to see our world coming back to life, sort of, although it worries me slightly that in a video designed to look forward to more Broadway triumphs, a number of the actors it features, albeit very very fast, are very very dead. Greg Hines, Yul Brynner, Elaine Stritch, many more, are, sadly, no longer with us but here they are, dancing and singing on this video. Surely they could have constructed as good a Broadway come-on with living artists and contemporary shows? Looking forward, not looking back. Just saying. See what you think.

Read more here


  • David Rohde says:

    I think it’s important to understand the real purpose of this video, which is a lot more specific than simply celebrating the return of Broadway or welcoming audiences back in general.

    There was a great deal of excitement around the announcement of each show’s reopening date, but that occurred in early summer during an optimistic period, and before the U.S. Centers for Disease Control hit the panic button on the Delta variant and reversed back its guidance on mask-wearing by vaccinated individuals. It was not long after this that the Broadway League announced that it would not share overall grosses for the 2021-2022 season for comparison with the most recent full seasons, which had shown booming growth.

    Then the Broadway League partnered with Oprah Winfrey to produce this video. It’s not really attempting to sell theater and especially musical theater to the population at large. It’s aimed squarely at Broadway’s most passionately loyal and knowledgeable customers in the New York area and the Northeast U.S. You can be sure that for all the controversy in America about the pandemic rules, a great deal of this target audience leans strongly to the more rigorous, compliant side of Covid-19 mitigation efforts even beyond vaccination. Some of them are clearly worry-warts who have grown more rather than less concerned, justifiably or not.

    In this environment, analysts have been trying to take measurements as to whether audiences in their actual buying habits will be comfortable attending theater now. One of the most interesting such measurements was taken by The Wall Street Journal’s theater critic and general culture maven, Terry Teachout, among his wide Twitter followership. He asked whether people would go to see a show in a theater that requires vaccination proof and audience masking. He gave one category of answer of “Won’t wear masks to shows.” That garnered about 15%, in addition to the 9% who won’t go at all. “Nervous but will go” got over 30%. By contrast, I believe it’s fair to say that having to show vaccination proof alone isn’t really an issue for most Broadway (or opera or symphony) audiences.

    I know, I know – Twitter. But it’s clear that the Broadway producers have picked up something in the overall advance sale to people on their list that has them concerned. That’s why you see not only references to famous song-and-dance musicals and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s stuff and lots of Hamilton, but also 0.1 second flashes of plenty of Sondheim like “Company” and “Sunday in the Park with George” and quirky musicals like “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” plus Jeanine Tesori’s “Fun Home” and Sara Bareilles’ “Waitress” and lines from August Wilson’s “Fences.” All of this is trying to get the theater-obsessed to actively imagine themselves back in their seats – to feed their addiction, almost. The national and international theater crowd and general New York City resident and visitor are all concerns, of course, but that’s not really what this is about. I hope this helps.