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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Fall Openings: Are They Really That Bad?

The Lightning Thief opens this fall
Just over a year ago, when we had a spate of summer openings, I ran the numbers for long-running Broadway shows (HERE), and despite all three musicals that opened last summer closing at a loss, history has shown that shows that open can be successful - just ask the folks over at Hamilton.

Well, as you likely know, a number of shows recently announced fall openings. And with those announcements, Broadway fans once again began the ritual of armchair quarterbacking. "Fall shows don't stand a chance." "That show will never survive winter." "Everyone knows you have to open in the spring to get any awards - Tony voters forget fall shows." Blah, blah, blah. Okay, so maybe newer shows seem to have a better shot at award nominations. But is it really true? Let's take a look at the history of long-running shows.

In all of Broadway history, 121 productions have run 1,000 performances or more. Of those:

  • 32 opened in September, October or November
  • 4 of those are in the top 10 of longest-running shows
  • Combined, they have accumulated 106 Tony Awards including 12 Best Musicals, 3 Best Plays, 1 Best Musical Revival, and four of them opened before the Tony Awards existed!
  • 2 of those shows were awarded Pulitzer Prizes
  • 9 of these shows also won Grammy Awards for Best Musical Show Album



November 27, 1962
118. Never Too Late - 1,007 performances


November 12, 1989
115. Grand Hotel: The Musical - 1,017 performances - 5 Tony Awards


October 15, 1953
112. The Teahouse of the August Moon - 1,027 performances - 3 Tony Awards including Best Play - Pulitzer Prize


November 27, 1937
102. Pins and Needles - 1,108 performances


October 21, 1969
100. Butterflies Are Free - 1,128 performances - 1 Tony Award


November 20, 1952
97. The Seven Year Itch - 1,141 performances - 1 Tony Award


October 19, 2009
92. (tie) Memphis - 1,165 performances - 4 Tony Awards including Best Musical


November 20, 1966
92. (tie) Cabaret (original production) - 1,165 performances - 6 Tony Awards including Best Musical - Grammy Award


November 24, 1950
88. Guys and Dolls (original production) - 1,200 performances - 5 Tony Awards including Best Musical


October 8, 1979
87. Sugar Babies - 1,208 performances


October 24, 1974
86. Equus - 1,209 performances - 2 Tony Awards including Best Play


November 12, 1970
83. Sleuth - 1,222 performances - Tony Award for Best Play


October 24, 2002
76. Movin' Out - 1,303 performances - 2 Tony Awards


November 13, 2008
74. Billy Elliot: The Musical - 1,312 performances - 10 Tony Awards including Best Musical


September 22, 1938
68. Hellzapoppin - 1,404 performances


October 14, 1961
67. How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (original production) - 1,417 performances - 7 Tony Awards including Best Musical - Pulitzer Prize - Grammy Award


November 16, 1959
65. The Sound of Music - 1,443 performances - 5 Tony Awards including Best Musical - Grammy Award


October 23, 1963
58. Barefoot in the Park - 1,530 performances - 1 Tony Award


September 25, 1979
54. Evita - 1,567 performances - 7 Tony Awards including Best Musical - Grammy Award


November 1, 1944
42. Harvey - 1,775 performances


October 23, 1972
36. Pippin (original production) - 1,944 performances - 5 Tony Awards


November 22, 1965
30. Man of La Mancha (original production) - 2,328 performances - 5 Tony Awards including Best Musical


November 16, 2006
23. Mary Poppins - 2,619 performances - 1 Tony Award


November 8, 1939
18. Life With Father - 3,224 performances - Broadway's longest running play


September 22, 1964
17. Fiddler on the Roof (original production) - 3,242 performances - 9 Tony Awards including Best Musical


November 6, 2005
12. Jersey Boys - 4,642 performances - 4 Tony Awards including Best Musical- Grammy Award


October 18, 2001
9. Mamma Mia! - 5,758 performances


September 24, 1976
8. Oh! Calcutta! (revival) - 5,959 performances


October 30, 2003
6. Wicked - 6,600 performances* - 3 Tony Awards - Grammy Award


October 7, 1982
4. Cats - 7,485 performances - 7 Tony Awards including Best Musical - Grammy Award


November 13, 1997
3. The Lion King - 9,066 performances* - 6 Tony Awards including Best Musical - Grammy Award


November 14, 1996
2. Chicago (revival) - 9,458 performances* - 6 Tony Awards including Best Musical Revival - Grammy Award

I think it is clear that a fall opening isn't necessarily a death sentence, and more than a summer opening is. The bottom line is: if the show is good, and people want to see it, it will run no matter when it opens.

#2148

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