Broadway is a street for which theatrical dreams are made, but recently the financial crisis has compromised many of those dreams as well as the integrity of theater. With a theatrical hand stretched out in need as far as the eye can see, it should come as no surprise that help comes to Broadway in the form of A-list celebrities.
In a recent effort to revitalize the struggling theatrical scene, Hollywood actors and international celebrities have donated their money and their names in order to help new shows stand out during a time of declining theater attendance.
Stars like Elton John, Jay-Z, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, and Lily Tomlin have donated their money and their names to Broadway shows whose quality is so often unmatched and profit margins so frequently unrealized.
According to an article in the New York Times, “about 30 percent of all Broadway plays and musicals” are turning a profit each year. That means 70 percent of those shows are loosing money.
Several theater producers have turned to A-list celebrities for help. The hope is that their high polished profiles will boost the profile of the show they support. But not everyone involved in the NY theater scene supports this desperate move. Many feel that the use of celebrity profiles to fuel ticket sales is a cheap marketing trick that compromises the integrity of the theater while shifting the public focus away from the show itself and onto the A-list star associated with it.
“We’ve come a long way from the days when the names above the title were only one or two, such as with David Merrick, Harold Prince, Billy Rose, or Feuer and Martin,” said Howard Sherman, executive director of the American Theater Wing, which helps oversee the Tony Awards. “Producing participation by stars may be the next iteration of what it takes to get a show on and also help it get a foothold in a media world which is so celebrity driven.”