Broadway closures confuse fans


Michael R. Jackson

Jaquel Spivey front and center as Usher in the “Strange Loop” promotional poster.

“A Strange Loop” officially opened on Broadway at the Lyceum Theatre on Apr. 26 , after a successful off-Broadway and Washington, D.C. run two years prior; during which it won a Pulitzer Prize. The show was met with instant critical praise and was nominated for 11 Tony awards becoming the most nominated show and winning Best Book and Musical for the 2022 Tony season. Yet, before even a full year on Broadway, the show announced its plans to close on Jan.15 of 2023.

“A Strange Loop” wasn’t the only hit Broadway show to announce its soon-to-be closure. A few weeks prior to “A Strange Loop’s” announcement, the acclaimed biographic jukebox musical “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical” slated its close for Aug. 14. and weeks before that, the third revival of Broadway classic “Company” announced it would also soon be closing. These back-to-back announcements left some fans confused.

“I can’t wrap my head around why so many of these [shows] are closing,” senior Broadway fan Tori Picarelli confessed. ”Not only have they only been open for a few months, but all of them are insanely popular.”

Some fans noticed a commonality between a handful of these shows is the type of people they portray. One of the main selling points of the third “Company” revival is the gender bent roles of Robert and Amy to Bobbie and Jamie; making the show’s focus on a female character and a gay couple. “A Strange Loop” was praised for telling the semi-autobiographical story of its creator Michael R. Jackson, a plus-size, black, gay man, and having a cast only consisting of black queer performers.

“Stories likes these matter and should be in the spotlight…people need to see themselves represented,” senior Olivia Robertson explained. “Fans and performers support Broadway, so why can’t Broadway support them?”

“Stories likes these matter and should be in the spotlight…people need to see themselves represented.”

— Olivia Robertson

Critics of this claim have highlighted that while fans state their support for these shows, less than half actually see them in person. Over the past few years a rising issue in the Broadway community is bootleg films, also known as “slime tutorials” on YouTube. As a consequence to this, many fans have not been financially supporting shows and therefore, not growing the box office.

“I don’t think bootlegs have that much of an effect on box offices…,” Picarelli said. “There are hundreds of ‘Wicked’ bootlegs and that show is doing fine.”

Broadway shows are known to be expensive, ranging anywhere from $100 to over $300 for a single ticket depending on proximity to the stage. To make shows more accessible to fans, many musicals are known for going on National tours, especially closing shows. After announcing their closures, shows like “Tina,” “Beetlejuice,” and “1776” are all heading on tour.

“I would love to go see any touring shows coming to the Straz,” Robertson said. “A few of my friends were planning to see ‘Tina’ in February.”

At some point, every show must come to an end, whether that’s in a few weeks, a few months, or even 35 years;  the impact the show created will still be there and open doors for more productions to tell more inclusive, diverse, and important stories.