So says Backstage:
There was much gnashing of teeth in January when a record number of productions closed and left the Rialto looking barren indeed. But since then, some strange things have happened even as the economy continues to struggle to find a foothold.
Broadway grosses are holding their own, with fairly minimal boxoffice dropoffs, and some shows — notably the revival of “West Side Story” — are doing $1 million a week even in previews.
This all fits in line with what I’ve been saying (click on the Broadway tag over on the side of the page and you can track all my posts on the topic): it’s been hard to imagine that this season would be a box office disaster, recession or not. And not surprisingly, plays are what’s filling the theaters right now, since they’re so much cheaper to produce than musicals:
Probably for financial reasons, new musicals are, however, in relatively short supply. “9 to 5,” the adaptation of the 1980 film featuring new songs written by Dolly Parton, is the most lavish, while two others relatively more modest — “Next to Normal,” about a family dealing with a mother’s emotional breakdown, and “Rock of Ages,” featuring a score of songs by 1980s rock bands — are transfers from off-Broadway.
Another transfer, this time from Central Park, is last year’s revival of “Hair,” which may or may not manage to hold on to its outdoor charms sufficiently to guarantee a healthy run at a conventional Broadway theater.
The question, of course, is 2010. What happens when all the limited runs close? More plays? Smaller musicals? Dark theaters? That’s all hard to predict, but I feel decently confident saying this (until New York City really suffers a monstrous financial collapse…which I’m certainly not ruling out): there will always be audiences for the big stuff on Broadway. The stuff that’s going to have a hard time of it is the stuff that maybe shouldn’t be there in the first place.