I had the opportunity to see Magic/Bird on Broadway last week and I'm still shaking my head a little.
I'm not even shaking my head at the show so much - which I like just a tiny bit more than I thought I would or knew I should (though I will be the first to admit that I am a sucker for much of what was enjoyable about the show, even as I recognize that "liking" something means very little to any project's artistic aspirations, had artistic aspirations rated highly enough to have even been given a schwag bag at this particular party).
I'm not against popular entertainments. I'm a sports fan, for god's sake. And I'm not entirely against empty popular entertainments. I'm a Cleveland sports fan, for god's sake. But there does seem to be some back-patting on the part of the show's producers about how they are attracting "non-traditional" fans to the theater.
Now, I will admit that the crowd at the show I saw was hands-down the most diverse crowd I've ever seen at a play. But, those people who will go see Magic/Bird will very likely not rush out to see Venus In Fur the following weekend because - you know, that theater thing's got something interesting going on.
These "new theater goers" then are little more than dollar signs invented by the producers. They have figured out a way to get people to the theater who wouldn't normally go - but they are not people who will likely go back - and the people who would normally go don't really see the point in this project so they won't go ... and it's a whole cycle that they hope can be sustained just long enough to justify itself.
So, bravo to the producers of Magic/Bird for figuring out a way to (possibly) make money. Good work. But let's call it that. Let's not call it theater.
Theater as we know, is about figuring out a way to (probably) lose money.
- Robert Attenweiler