3:00 P.M. EDT
NEW YORK FOREIGN PRESS CENTER, 799 UNITED NATIONS PLAZA, 10TH FLOOR
MODERATOR: So good afternoon and welcome to the New York Foreign Press Center today. I am very pleased to welcome Cristyne Nicholas, CEO and Co-Founder of Nicholas and Lence Communications, a strategic communications, public relations, government affairs firm specializing in tourism, hospitality and transportation sectors. She serves as the chair – excuse me, the chairman of the Broadway Association, and in March of this year she was appointed as chair to the New York State Tourism Advisory Council by Governor Cuomo.
We’re also very, very privileged to be joined by Pat Flicker Addiss, who founded and managed Pat Flicker Addiss Enterprises, a promotion company, for 30 years before producing numerous highly-acclaimed and award-winning Broadway shows, including but not limited to Little Women, Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life, Spring Awakening, Promises, Promises, A Christmas Story: The Musical, and this year’s Tony winner, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. Her off-Broadway shows include current award-winning hit Buyer and Cellar as well as The Fantasticks, House Wives of Mannheim, and SHOUT!
Unfortunately, I learned earlier today that Margo Lion cannot join us today due to unforeseen circumstances. She is willing to brief in the future, and so I’m going to try to set that up.
A quick reminder: After our presenters present, we will open up to Q&A, and if you could present your name and your organization, we’ll go from there. And our panelists are speaking on their own behalf and not representing the views of the U.S. Government. And with that, I’m going to turn it over to Ms. Nicholas. Thank you.
MS. NICHOLAS: Thank you. Thanks, Daphne. Thanks so much for inviting us to join you today. I oversee – when I say the Broadway Association, it’s – although it encompasses the Broadway theaters, the Broadway Association is 102 years old, which is old by American standards, maybe not so much in your countries, but that’s a very longstanding association. We started out helping businesses along the Broadway corridor, so all the way from lower Manhattan to the tip of Manhattan. As things evolved, now our district goes from 34th Street up to Columbus Circle. Most of our businesses really are in the Times Square area, so Broadway plays the largest role as far as our membership is concerned.
So we take on advocacy issues. We are not a government organization. We are all private sector, a business association, and we take on advocacy issues that support the Broadway theaters, support the quality of life in the Broadway area – streetscapes, vending issues, police issues – and we’ve become the spokesperson for the businesses. I’ve had the great pleasure of working with Pat Addiss through the Broadway Association. She is really one of our stars in that she just keeps things so wonderfully fresh on Broadway and also off Broadway. That encourages more and more visitation to New York City. So I’m happy to introduce Pat.
MS. ADDISS: Okay. Well, I made a career switch and – nine years ago. And I started on the top, which is not the way to do it, but I’ve never looked back. It’s been quite a wonderful journey for me because Broadway is – well, everything I produce personally has to have my sense of integrity, whatever that means, but it – there’s a word called passion, and you really have to have passion for what you’re doing. And Broadway is absolutely the most wonderful place for tourism. I don’t know if you’ve all visited recently, but there are thousands and thousands of people that are milling. They’ve built places for people to walk from 42nd Street to 47th street, and people sit out there and there’s – the glitz and particularly at night, it’s like magic. And then, of course, there are all the Broadway shows. This year we’ve had an extremely wonderful, wonderful year. And there are still a lot of amazing plays that are playing on Broadway right now. So if you haven’t been to Broadway recently, I strongly suggest you go.
We have TKTS booths where you can get half-price, and it’s important that you let your people know that. They don’t always have all of the shows up. You cannot get Wicked up there, nor Book of Mormon, but there are a lot of good shows that are up at TKTS. You can’t usually get Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike – and I dare you all to say it quickly – (laughter) – because we won the Tony Award this year, Chris Durang won it. And it’s very gratifying when I read the daily wraps that were “sold out,” “sold out,” “sold out.” But you can tell your young people that they can often get rush tickets very reasonably. And that’s a very --
MS. NICHOLAS: Explain what rush is.
MS. ADDISS: Rush is when you go same-day. There are – different shows have different models. Some are just what they call lottery. For our show, Sonia – Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, you have to go to the box office and ask for a rush. Their rush is 35 years or under, which is more than a student rush. That’s highly unusual, but you can get – and the tickets are then only $37. And somebody – 20 can get the $37 seat, get two of them and take their grandmother. Nobody stops you when you go in the theater, so you get two at $37 each, but each theater has a different thing. A couple of weeks ago, the Saturday before Tony – my daughter was in town for the Tony Awards. And she had never seen Pippin, so I said, “Well, why don’t you go see Pippin?” So she bought the last ticket in the mezzanine, block view, for $89. And we came out of the theater, and there was a whole line of people that applauded us because they were waiting online for cheap standing room tickets, and they couldn’t get the standing room until all the tickets were sold at Pippin. So different – there are different models for each theater, but most every theater has some kind of student rush.
Besides Broadway, I don’t know whether it’s crooked or not, but off-Broadway has some amazing shows also. The most amazing, of course, is my new show – (laughter) – called Buyer and Cellar, starring Michael Urie, who was on Ugly Betty if you’re familiar with that. And he’s a gift to the theater. The show is about Barbra Streisand’s basement. Barbra Streisand wrote a coffee table book a number of years ago, and in it she talks about all of her things in her basement. And she’s made it like a shopping mall. Of course, the only person who shops there is Barbra Streisand. So the book is viable and true; what takes place in the basement is fictitious.
If all of you who are here give me your card, I’ve made arrangements with Buyer and Cellar to allow you to have one ticket to come see the show as our guest.
MS. NICHOLAS: Wow. Impressive.
MS. ADDISS: So if – I can give you my card, or you can give me your card, however we can work that.
Broadway, as I say, is the most viable part of New York City as far as I’m concerned, because that’s my beat. And there are so many things that are interesting for tourists to do in the Broadway area that they should seek everything out. But of course, the favorite thing that people like is to climb up on the TKTS steps and have their picture taken. And people are always taking all their pictures. But there’s the Discovery Center, which has a LEGO show right now. And they have very interesting shows, and it’s changing. There are so many wonderful restaurants in the area. Of course, mine is Sardi’s, where I spend the most time at. But if you have anything that you would like to ask me about Broadway or producing Broadway, I’d be happy to answer it.
MS. NICHOLAS: One thing that Pat mentioned is about the TKTS booth, and I just thought it was very timely, because they are celebrating their 40th anniversary, in fact, yesterday. So it’s in most of the American newspapers today. In fact, The Wall Street Journal wrote a very big article about it. And last night, when I was coming out of Motown --
MS. ADDISS: Oh, was that fun?
MS. NICHOLAS: I saw Motown last night. I saw all these people on the steps, but it – there were more people than I have ever seen on the steps. And what I didn’t realize is they were going for a live shot on the 11 o’clock news about the 40th anniversary. So you saw just mobs and mobs of people.
I – just to back up to wear my tourism hat, I used to represent NYC & Company, and I actually see a couple of familiar faces here, when I was the president of NYC & Company under both Mayor Giuliani and Mayor Bloomberg, which, of course – so I was there during 9/11. And the reason why I bring that up is because two days – the day after 9/11, the mayor brought all of the – Mayor Giuliani brought the industry leaders together and said, “How can we rebuild New York?” So we had the head of the stock exchange, the head of the hotel industry, head of the banking, head of the real estate, and he had head of tourism, which was me. And he turned to me and he said, “How quickly can you get Broadway open?” And I said, “Probably in a week.” And he said, “Uh-uh. Tomorrow.” I said, “Well, then you got to work with me, because the bridges are closed and the airports are closed and the train stations are closed.” And he said, “Okay. If anybody has a Broadway ticket, they’re going to show it to the toll takers or they’re going to show it to the police,” that were barricading the bridges and the entries, “and we’re going to let the Broadway ticketholders in.” (Laughter.)
So from that meeting, I then had to go to meet with the unions. There are about 16 unions that oversee – that work in and out of Broadway theater houses. So we put together a – we were at a theater, we put together the meeting, and I had to tell them that we’re going to be opening up tomorrow, and I got a lot of applause, and I got a lot of groans at the same time. I got, “This is great,” and I got, “How can you expect us to do this?” And what I explained is that – what the mayor explained to us is that although we were suffering and we were physically damaged, we – the spirit of New York and the culture center of New York is Broadway, live, theatrical performances. And we needed to send a message to the world that although we were attacked, we – and the response is not for the mayor, the response was for the federal government. What the mayor wanted to do is make sure that the city was opened and that our culture and our arts would continue.
So I remember meeting with the actors and having to give them a pep talk. And one of the actors came to me, and I won’t mention who he is because he’s rather famous, but he ripped into me and said, “You have a hell of a nerve. I’ve lost people and this – how do you expect me to perform?” And I held his hand and I said, “Please just do your best.” And I ended up seeing his show. And then afterwards – after each performance that night on Thursday, the 15th of – the 13th of September, spontaneously the cast and the audience erupted into “God Bless America.” And it was probably the most compelling and moving tribute that I think we, as Americans, felt, but also the visitors. And that same actor came to me a couple of weeks later, and he said, “Thank you. I wouldn’t have been able to do it, but you forced me to do it, and it was able – and I knew that I had a job.”
I’m not in the – he wasn’t in the uniform services, he couldn’t save people, he couldn’t find people, he couldn’t – but this was his job, and he did it. So I tell you that anecdote because I think it gives you a perspective of how important Broadway is to New York City. Broadway sold about 11 and a half million tickets last year. It wasn’t the highest. They had a lot of closings. They – it was a different type of season in that they had a lot of plays.
MS. ADDISS: We also had Sandy, which affected --
MS. NICHOLAS: And we also had Hurricane Sandy.
MS. ADDISS: -- a lot of shows.
MS. NICHOLAS: Absolutely right. Right. But it is extremely powerful. The tourism industry, as you probably know, New York is breaking records. They welcome over 51 million visitors last year. And when you ask, “What’s the number one visited attraction?” And this is when – when I was the head of tourism, I could never pick favorites, of course, but I could only deal with statistics. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, when you look at one building, is the most visited. But when you look at Broadway as a whole, with the 39 theaters, and they sell, let’s say, 12 million tickets, that is the number-one visited area. And then the number-one visited neighborhood is Times Square.
So it gives you a perspective of how Broadway works within the $34 billion industry that is tourism.
MS. ADDISS: Ticket sales are burgeoning right now. I mean, it’s amazing to me because when (inaudible) people say there’s a bad economy, and yet the hotels are filled, we’re building a lot of new hotels in New York all over, and people are just streaming into New York City – which is good. I love it. (Laughter.)
MS. NICHOLAS: We’re happy to open it up to your questions.
MODERATOR: There’s microphones going around. Please state your name and organization.
QUESTION: Ms. Nicholas, Ms. Addis, I am Liling from China Central Television and CCTV America here. I have a two-part question. The first is, I think, Chinese visitors to New York City in 2012 jumped by 22 percent. I think it may have broken a record. And expectations are that it will keep growing exponentially. Given that, what type of trends have you noticed among Chinese tourists in terms of their interest in Broadway performances? And how do you plan to leverage on those trends?
MS. NICHOLAS: Well, I’ll just – for the first time in 2012, China broke into the top 10 for visitation. They had 427,000 visitors that came to New York. We expect that China will continue to go up and probably be within the top 4 or 5 of countries that will visit New York as the travel restrictions ease and more Chinese can come into the country.
MS. ADDISS: And the more that you get, the more of a middle-class – they have more money to spend. I think that people from China and a lot of countries like musicals. That’s easier for them to understand, and of course they’ve seen a lot of clips and publicity on shows like Wicked; Lion King is still the most wonderful fantasy for children. So you have shows like that. I feel like I’m self-promoting here, but I have a seasonal show that played on Broadway last season where Motown is now playing, and Motown is a wonderful musical also for people to see. But my show was A Christmas Story: The Musical, and it’s coming to Madison Square Garden this year with 5,000 seats. And I don’t know how many of you have seen that movie. It’s an iconic movie here in America where more people watch that movie – Christmas it runs for 24 hours solid here, all over Christmas, and it is the most watched movie in the United States. So I don’t know in foreign countries, how many countries see that movie, but that would also be the kind of show that people from China or anywhere would like to see.
There will be some more new musicals, The Little Mermaid, and a few other musicals; even the musical Newsies is quite cute for young people to see. Kinky Boots, no. But you’ll all love Kinky Boots, it’s wonderful. Pippin is wonderful for --
MS. NICHOLAS: But Motown, for example, though, that sort of transcends language because it’s a lot of the songs that even though they’re written and sung in English, they’ve been around since the ‘50s and ‘60s, so I would venture to say even Chinese would probably have heard of the songs, so they’ll go to the show and they’ll enjoy it.
MS. ADDISS: Right.
MS. NICHOLAS: Even if they don’t really understand the language, you can tell what’s going on in the show just – and you’ll be entertained.
MS. ADDISS: And the music: They’ll be familiar with the music --
MS. NICHOLAS: Right.
MS. ADDISS: -- because it’s been translated all over the world. So I agree Motown to be a very good show.
In terms of drama, some shows are --
MS. NICHOLAS: It’s hard.
MS. ADDISS: -- closing, but – oh, for children, Matilda. I’m not quite sure that’s a children’s show, but the – nobody is quite sure it’s a children’s show, but a lot of children go see Matilda. And it’s a very interesting show. But it could be also considered a family show. And if you want something cutting-edge, The Nance with Nathan Lane is wonderful. And of course, Lucky Guy, if you’re lucky enough to get a ticket, with Tom Hanks, is top draw and everybody loves it and him. And he’s been a wonderful asset to the Broadway community. He’s really embraced the community, and we’ve embraced him. So it’s a very worthwhile show because it’s all about people who write for newspapers. So you can really feel quite at home in that show.
The Bette Midler show is closing this weekend, so that one you’d have to hurry and see. And of course, Vanya and Sonia – don’t worry about the title; just say “Vanya” and you’ll get it. But there are a lot of really interesting, good shows for you to see. And musicals, of course, are the easiest.
QUESTION: Hi. My name is Chang Yoo, I’m from Korea Economic Daily. Could you break up the numbers of visitors from outside of U.S. and inside U.S.? And how – I mean, how much this economic condition of the U.S., especially consumer spending, affect the Broadway? Could you explain how much are you worried about that, or how much it affects on Broadway?
MS. NICHOLAS: Well, I can talk to tourism to New York more than I can about the U.S. But what I can say is, as far as international visitors, the UK is still the number-one – the United Kingdom is still the number-one visitor, with over a million visits. Then it’s Canada, also over a million – just over a million, followed by Brazil, 718,000; France, 662,000; Germany is number five at 587,000; Australia is sixth, and that’s new for New York – Australia has never been that high as visitors, so that was newsworthy – with 532,000 visitors; Italy dropped down to number seven with 495,000. That’s a high number for Italy, but because so many more are coming, they basically just jumped over Italy, but that’s still a very strong number for Italy. But the rank went from usually four or five down to number seven. Number eight is now Scandinavia, also a new player in the New York City tourism market. Scandinavia, we’re including Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland, so we’re including them all together, and they had 445,000 visitors. We’ve also for the first time pulled together the Middle East, so that is 436,000. They did not separate them by country. And then China came in 10 with 427,000.
So of that, if you add them all together, it’s about 20 percent of the international visitors of the total number of 52 million. When you look at the large number of 52 million, about half of those visitors, 25 million, are folks that come within the tri-state drive market. So those are domestic visitors, Americans that are coming from a distance greater than 50 miles, and they’re coming in for reasons other than commuting, other than work. So they are coming in really just for leisure travel.
So I hope that answers your question. It’s a $34 billion industry. I don’t have the exact figures, but I think about 350,000 New Yorkers work in the tourism industry. So it ranks – for New York City, it ranks within the top four industries. For New York State, which is completely different, they’re number two. Tourism is the number-two industry for New York State. So --
QUESTION: And my question – my second question was – so domestic economic condition, like consumer spending, of the U.S. citizens has kind of slowed down, right? So I – my question is whether that trend is affecting Broadway. I mean, out of – besides tourists.
MS. NICHOLAS: Well, from what we’ve seen, Broadway sales have remained strong and steady. And because we’ve had increased visitation from tourism, from overseas and international, which includes Canada and Mexico, they’ve made up for what we had, which was a soft economy, which we saw dip in 2008, 2009, of disposable income for Americans, but it was made up for in New York by the tourists.
New York has also weathered the recession greater than any other city in the U.S., largely because of its tourism industry. And our jobs market has remained pretty strong in New York. When you read The Wall Street Journal today about the TKTS, it says that the TKTS numbers went down this year. But it says it went down, but only about by 250,000. But they can’t really link that so much to the economy, but more so that the TKTS booth in South Street Seaport is still closed because of Sandy, and they used to sell 250,000 tickets a year out of that TKTS booth. So I think Broadway has weathered the storm very well.
MS. ADDISS: Absolutely.
MS. NICHOLAS: Not only the Sandy storm, but also the economic storm. So --
MS. ADDISS: And also, numbers are very hard to justify because more and more people in our country want to sit in premium seats. So you’re not going to get that at TKTS booths. They feel that if they’re going to the theater, they want to sit in the best seats. I mean, bravo to them. I’m happy to sell it to them. So I think also that makes up for a lot of tickets, that not everybody wants to go and get a bargain seat and sit in a poor seat. Now, sometimes you can get a good seat at TKTS. But basically, they’re usually all the way in the back or in the mezzanine or balcony. But sometimes you can strike it lucky when they have a few extra seats left and they haven’t sold a premium seat. A friend of mine just wound up sitting in a premium seat buying a ticket not at the TKTS booth, buying it at the actual theater. So sometimes you do get lucky.
But Broadway – of course, as I say, I’m prejudiced – but there’s – it just has a wonderful feeling that there is no other place in the world like it. I mean, London has good theater, too, but it’s not Broadway, and the way we have all the signs everywhere, it makes it very exciting for people to come and see it. It’s definitely a tourist destination spot. But we mustn’t also forget – I mean, I know I’m not supposed to talk anything but Broadway, but we have wonderful, wonderful museums in New York. And they also are packed to capacity a lot of times. But there is a lot of niche museums too that people can go to all over New York. And MOMA is within walking distance of Broadway, and there’s just so much going on. The Time Warner building, Lincoln Center, which is part of Broadway, for some of their shows – they do wonderful shows up there, and that’s a great place for people to go and see, and it’s really beautiful. And they’ve got the Performing Arts Library there. So anybody coming from a foreign country, if they want to look up anything about theater, they can go to the Performing Arts Library, which is very, very wonderful if you’ve never been there.
MODERATOR: There’s a question --
QUESTION: Alf Ask from Aftenposten, Oslo, Norway. You told us that tourist is more important for the economy of Broadway. Does that also change the way you are producing the shows in any way?
MS. NICHOLAS: Interesting.
MS. ADDISS: I’m sorry?
MS. NICHOLAS: He asked if since tourism has become so much more important to Broadway’s success, have producers changed the way they are making shows, or are theater owners booking --
QUESTION: I mean --
MS. NICHOLAS: -- theater owners booking shows and (inaudible).
MS. ADDISS: I was with Charlotte St. Martin last night at a Grammy event.
MS. NICHOLAS: They may not know who she is.
MS. ADDISS: Oh. Charlotte St. Martin runs the Broadway League, which all Broadway producers – legitimate Broadway producers are part of. And I was asking a question because off-Broadway, they are changing a lot of the way theater is being done. Off-Broadway is much more innovative. For instance, there was a show, Murder Ballad, which they reconfigured the theater and basically half the audience is where the stage used to be and the other half – and then they have most of the action in the center, like, in a bar and at different parts of the theater. And Here Lies Love, which is down at the public theater, directed by a young guy coming up, Alex Timbers, and --
MS. NICHOLAS: It’s about Imelda Marcos.
MS. ADDISS: Right. It’s very wonderful and very today. And I think this is the wave of the future, but the problem is this kind of show will not fit into a traditional Broadway theater. So I was asking her about this, and I know Broadway has a certain aura that they do not want to disturb. I think eventually they’re going to have to, because a show like Here Lies Love, which – let me explain why it’s so unique. Is – there is, like, action on one side here on a stage, and here, and in the center there is a moving stage, and that can go into many configurations, so they can open it up and it could go both sides so they can walk from one stage to another. They move it around and it can be just contained here, and you, as the audience, are standing for this, except for some – a few seats that they have up above. And you move around with that center set.
But it also involves the audience. So the audience, at some points, dance with the show and do different movements with the show. And I, frankly, as I say, think this is the wave of the future because we need to get young audiences in. And young audiences like concerts, they like to get up and dance and be part of something. And it’s extremely difficult to do this kind of show in a Broadway theater. There is only one theater that you could possibly do it in, which is Circle in the Square, which a round thing, and taking out some of the seats and reconfiguring it. But on a normal, conventional theater, you cannot do this kind of show.
So I do think, to answer your question, that things are going to change. They’re going to have to if you want to keep young audiences coming because they want different things, and we can’t stay static. If you stay static, you lose.
So go off-Broadway. Tell your people to go off-Broadway. It’s still Broadway; it’s off-Broadway. (Laughter.) And there’s some interesting things that are different there: New York Theatre Workshop, the Public Theater. There is lots of wonderful theater. Even in the Broadway section at a theater called West Side Arts, New World Stages has Peter and the Starcatcher, which was on Broadway but was moved to off-Broadway. Avenue Q, which was in the Golden Theater where I am with Vanya, that also is off-Broadway at New World Stages. At Westside, they have Old Jews Telling Jokes and a thing called Asher Lev, which I haven’t seen, but is wonderful and it’s been extended time and time again. So there are a lot of shows that are off-Broadway that are in the Broadway – within walking distance from the Broadway area. There’s a – called 42nd Street row, which there’s also a lot of shows there and playwrights arise in. And we – on 42nd Street you have Roundabout Theatre. So there is a lot, too, that are sort of Broadway. And also for children, there is New Victory Theater, which has wonderful things for children. And they’re on 42nd Street also.
So there’s a lot of wonderful theater going on that isn’t necessary right in the Broadway hub as we know it.
MODERATOR: He has a question.
MS. ADDISS: I’m sorry.
QUESTION: Okay. I have a similar question. My name is Andrzej Dobrowolski. I’m with the Polish Press Agency. It seems to me that your Broadway audience is mostly interested in writers who are Americans or Britons. I’m referring to drama. Do you consider the other larger – I mean, others from all over the world, which could be translated into English?
MS. NICOLAS: We’ve had a number of South American and South African playwrights who have been extremely successful.
MS. ADDISS: Right. We have Fela!, which was wonderful. And actually, you’re the man I want to speak to, because I visited your musical theater in Warsaw a few years ago, and they did an incredible production of Phantom of the Opera. And it was the 200th anniversary that I was invited to. And they did a spectacle. I mean, we’ve never done this on Broadway, where they had fireworks and balloons and everything coming down for the – do you know the theater I’m talking about?
QUESTION: Yeah. But (inaudible) came to New York.
MS. ADDISS: So anyway, I don't know. Things are changing, and we do have a lot of imports. We’ve had things from South Africa. Tango – there’s a Tango show on right now. And there is – this is not on Broadway, but it’s near Broadway, off Broadway – there’s a new bar that opened up called Tango, and in the back they have this amazing little theater where they put on a tango production, absolutely first-rate tango dancing.
So there’s a lot going on that’s just all over the city that people can go to and the Tango on Broadway – nobody has to speak a language to watch that wonderful dancing, either – if it’s the little one downtown, or whether it’s on Broadway.
MODERATOR: You had a question.
QUESTION: Yeah. Thank you very much. I’m Alexis Buff (ph) from Russian News Agency. But first of all, thank you very much for – it’s kind of my compliment for Russian promotion or Russian aroma with Vanya and Sonia and Masha. For us it’s very important. And Cristyne, my complaint, it’s already May 30 in New York, and except maybe Christmas Spectacular show, I mean, media previews or media invitation – if you want to reach foreign tourists, we are the channels for you. And three years I got maybe one invitation for Christmas Spectacular show. That’s it. Don’t forget about us. We are your channel of communication of promotion, because Russian tourists or Russian-speaking community or other colleagues, Chinese, Korean. Yeah, you can’t reach everyone worldwide with advertising. And we are – yes, of course, we can survive 50, 70 bucks, but we can’t do it every month.
MS. NICHOLAS: Well, that’s why I’m here. (Laughter.)
MS. ADDISS: I might add, I mentioned Lincoln Center. There are a lot of productions, Korean, Chinese, from all over, coming to Lincoln Center. And of course, there’s always ballet that we can’t forget. We don’t need to speak the language for that. And opera, which you don’t understand anyway. (Laughter.) So there is a lot for foreigners to see, if they want to see culture here.
QUESTION: Hi. My name is Kawachi from Nikkei, Japan. I live in New York over 20 years, and, well, Broadway is one of my favorite pastime. But these days, it’s getting very expensive. I remember the Angels in America was just past $100, and it was a sensation. But now $100, you cannot see anything. So my question is: If you like to re-attract younger generation, how would you – I mean, I know that tickets is cheaper, but you cannot, like you said, Book of Mormon, you can’t. So how do you attract the younger generation? And for instance, Lincoln Center Opera House is trying to get through the – how do you call – distributions through the theater. Do you have any idea that kind of digital movement, something like that?
MS. ADDISS: Something like Lincoln Center has a student rate, and there are some places that do give discounts for students. There’s also a thing called SchoolTix. But a lot of times, what I was saying about the Student Rush, Spring Awakening gave 50 – not gave – sold 50 tickets every morning. You’re allowed to buy two at $25 each, and the kids would queue up online. So with Student Rush and all, that’s the way.
But I feel very strongly it’s part of education and because I see kids all the time queuing up where I live for concerts. They’ll pay $100, $200, $500 to go to a concert. And they don’t necessarily want to go to a show. So why it’s so important to get young people in – and I was talking about the new wave of directing, where the kids love this interactive part of the theater, which I think is going to be more and more. You’re going to – maybe I’m wrong, but I personally feel that it’s a wave that is coming, different kinds of theater to get the young people in and involved.
It’s too expensive to produce on Broadway to give cheap tickets. I feel very strongly, and not all my fellow producers agree with me, and I’m known to have a big mouth, but I feel it is important to give great consideration. So I try to get theater groups in from different colleges in the area for less expensive seats. And we did that on A Christmas Story, when we were at the La Fontaine. Seats are cheaper at Madison Square Garden; I don’t know – I’ve never worked with Madison Square Garden so I have no idea what all their policies are, but I know that –
MS. NICHOLAS: They’re already – I got an email – they’re already promoting it and reselling it at a discount. I think part of the trick is that there are so many discounts available that the Broadway producers and theater owners have now pushed the prices up to compensate for it. So I think people in the know, and New Yorkers, and your readers, if you advertise the discounts, they’ll take advantage of them.
I mean, I always buy on broadwaybox.com.
MS. ADDISS: I was going to say that, right.
MS. NICHOLAS: I just – I don’t like to spend retail – pay retail. So –
MS. ADDISS: (Laughter.)
MS. NICHOLAS: I always like to have a discount.
MS. ADDISS: There’s lots of sites. Even theatermania.com, playbill, and there’s a thing called Gold Club where you pay a fee to join for the year and then you get really inexpensive tickets. Most of my shows will not go on there. (Laughter.) Because we want to stay a little bit (inaudible), and if you have a really, really good show and you’re selling really strongly, there’s no need to do that. But Cristyne mentioned broadwaybox.com, and that’s a pretty good generic one that has a lot of discounts for all the shows – and off Broadway, as well as on Broadway.
QUESTION: Quick question: My question goes to Pat. I’m from China Business Network. I would like to continue this questions about off-Broadway shows, like you have mentioned that off-Broadway’s future is more attractive to the younger generation. Does it mean that traditional Broadway show will attract less and less audience in future or to some extent the business model from the – off-Broadway is that – is because it’s a big investment, so you have to play again and again for many years to get break even and to make profits. So that means that the off-Broadway show like Sleep No More will take many years to get break even or make profits.
MS. ADDISS: No, it’s just off-Broadway can afford quite often to do more cutting edge things for less money. And once you get to Broadway, it’s very expensive. There are basically three theater owners who own all of the theaters --
MS. NICHOLAS: And there are only 39 theaters.
MS. ADDISS: And right, it’s very limited to the amount of theaters, and so you have a narrow window. You can produce a play in a tent. They have done that where you put up tent – there’s a lot of alternative theater. I do think that there is a different model that is coming along with innovative theater. That doesn’t mean that – I mean, you’re not going to change the basic model that’s on Broadway, but there are different models that are coming up with the young people to get the young audiences. But you’re never going to change Chekhov and Shakespeare and certain classics that, even though there is a trend where they do all crazy kind of things – there’s Macbeth with Alan Cumming playing on Broadway right now where he plays all the roles. So there are definitely different versions of all the theater.
Oh, I might mention there’s also theater in Central Park, in the Delacorte Theater, if you’re willing to stand on line at eight o’clock in the morning, or you can pay a good price to the Public Theater and get a seat. So you have a choice, but it’s a nice thing. They do give away a lot of tickets, which is very, very nice. But it’s just different.
Off-Broadway, for instance, New York Theater Workshop, Peter and the Starcatcher started there, moved to Broadway, and is now off-Broadway. ONCE started at New York Theater Workshop and moved to Broadway, so a lot of different shows start – Spring Awakening started at the Atlantic Theater before it moved. Passing Strange started at the Public Theater. So there are a lot of shows that move from all of these off-Broadway things. So it’s a very great try-out area as well, and tickets are definitely less expensive. Although, I must tell you, I paid $85 for Here Loves Lie – Highs Love. I paid, myself, $85 to see that show. So that’s not so inexpensive anymore, even downtown.
MODERATOR: We have two questions in the front, front row.
QUESTION: (Off-mike.) (Laughter.) Andres Correa, El Universal, Venezuela. I’m trying to combine two figures that I received this year. In January, the city hall said that despite Sandy, the number of tourism last year was not affect – quite the contrary – was a peak. It was a record of tourism visiting New York last year. However, last month, the Broadway League released that the audience has dropped in Broadway, despite even a record in the number of plays in Broadway. So I don’t know if you are ready to talk about this, but I would like to hear about your opinions about why the audience in Broadway dropped in the last season. Thank you.
MS. NICHOLAS: Well, we mentioned the Broadway audience was affected by Sandy.
QUESTION: But the city said that Sandy didn’t affect tourism. That’s --
MS. NICHOLAS: Tourism and Broadway, they’re together, but you can’t take one and use the same numbers to apply. I mean, there were people who had tickets that couldn’t get into the city – the city basically for five days – five to seven days, the tri-state area did not have power, did not have gasoline, did not – so those people had to cancel their – remember, earlier I said 50 percent of all tourism is drive-in market. So that affected Broadway but maybe didn’t affect the overall tourism visitation numbers because they were so strong already. So tourism still went up, but Broadway in particular, if you look at September numbers year to year, it went down.
QUESTION: That would be the only reason, Sandy?
MS. NICHOLAS: Well, September is usually a soft period for Broadway. It’s when schools go back, it’s when there’s a lot of change. It’s very difficult to compete in Broadway in September, if you --
MS. ADDISS: September is a very bad month because we also have a --
MS. NICHOLAS: September, October, November.
MS. ADDISS: -- lot of Jewish holidays in there that affects people going to the theater.
MS. NICHOLAS: The first quarter – I mean, last – yeah, last quarter.
MS. ADDISS: But as I say, there’s never a good time; there’s always a worse time. So you’re always going to find some reason why – snowstorms also affect tourism. I know when I was doing Promises, Promises our last week, we had a blizzard, and that was our boffo week to make a huge profit, and we had to give back most of the money because people couldn’t get in to see the show. I mean, that’s the breaks of the game. You – so those things can also affect – I don’t have exact data on it, but also maybe the people that were coming in then were not people who were culturally interested in Broadway. I mean, I don’t know.
But, I mean, the numbers dropped not very substantially as far as I can see. I mean, I don’t think it was a big, big drop. And we’re doing really, really well. I mean, Broadway is burgeoning forth as far as I can see. Come see us and you’ll see. (Laughter.)
MODERATOR: We just got a question in the front.
QUESTION: Hi, hello, good afternoon, Marta Torres from La Razon newspaper from Spain. Two questions: Which is the age average of theater goers or Broadway goers? And how good or bad is the impact of putting a celebrity on stage? And I would like you to address that question in terms of what producers think, what critics think, and what actors think.
MS. ADDISS: Well, there is no doubt that Tom Hanks sells tickets. There is not a sure thing on that, because there was a show called Orphans just recently with Alec Baldwin and it closed early. And I actually liked the show. Was it the greatest show I’ve ever seen? No, but it was wonderful, and I was amazed that it closed early. So sometimes not everybody sells tickets that you think are going to sell tickets. That’s always – Bette Midler is selling out. I’m going to see it Friday night. I bought a ticket and I only was able to get the ticket because I was a Tony voter and they rescinded all Tony votes when they weren’t nominated for an award. But they’re selling out and she’s closing this weekend. So there are some people that still have star power. Other people, only their agents and their ego think they have star power. (Laughter.)
It’s a hard call. It does help if you have people in the cast. I know myself, for Vanya, Sonia, Masha and Spike – and now I’ve added Tony – that show, when David Hyde Pierce comes on, huge applause. When Kristine Nielsen comes on, who is brilliant and really does an amazing job, she does not get applause. Sigourney Weaver, huge applause. So there is something to say about stars, but it’s such a crapshoot.
Motown is branded. It doesn’t need a star. The music sells Motown. I mean, if you don’t know Motown, then --
MS. NICHOLAS: Right. The Frankie Valli one, what is that?
MS. ADDISS: Right, Jersey Boys.
MS. NICHOLAS: Jersey Boys.
MS. ADDISS: Right, but Jersey Boys, before it opened to great reviews, couldn’t sell tickets. The previews, they did not sell tickets at all. It opened up, was a huge success, and history was made. So it’s really hard to decide who’s going to sell tickets and who’s not. Michael Urie, who is in my Buyer & Cellar downtown, people know who he is. He sells tickets now, but I assure you in a year from now, he is a star and he will sell a lot more tickets.
Daniel Radcliffe didn’t sell tickets in Equus even though there were thousands of people outside the theater every night – (laughter) – but they weren’t inside the theater. However, when he did How to Succeed, they came in droves because it was a show that young people could relate to and wanted to see. So it’s a crapshoot.
MS. NICHOLAS: And the problem with --
MODERATOR: (Inaudible) the first question? She asked the question regarding age and (inaudible).
MS. NICHOLAS: Oh, the league has some of those figures online, but the --
QUESTION: So – but it’s not like with the (inaudible), that before (inaudible), they were dying, they (inaudible) what he said to the (inaudible).
MS. NICHOLAS: Right.
QUESTION: I mean, yours are --
MS. NICHOLAS: It’s younger.
MS. NICHOLAS: But when you look at – and it’s also different now with plays. It skews older. Musicals skews younger. So you look at it differently.
MODERATOR: I think we have time for maybe one more question.
QUESTION: Hi, I’m Sandi Durell with Times Square Chronicles, The Examiner, Theater Life. I know that the preference here is to be able to have all of the foreign correspondents really get the information that they need and rightly so because we rely upon you doing what you do to be able to bring foreign visitors to our country and to Broadway, so thank you.
But Pat, you very much have your pulse on what’s going on in theater. So what’s going on in theater in terms of – what’s happening abroad that might we be looking for here on Broadway in the next year or two?
MS. ADDISS: Well, Ben Brantley of the New York Times has just been over in London, and I think he’ll be telling us what. There’s a show called Top Hats which is really wonderful. There’s a show that – I don’t want to mention the name that – (laughter) – I want to bring in.
There will be some London imports coming in. You still have to raise money, and so a lot of shows say they’re coming in, but unless they raise the money for it, it can’t happen. And it’s just the way it is. I mean, I guess you all know about the demise of Rebecca, which was not a very happy story. So you must have money to be able to – so there will be some English imports coming in. King’s Speech, which got brilliant reviews in London, was supposed to come in to New York, but they’re not going to bring it in for a couple of years, so even though – they’re going to bring it in, but it’s going to be delayed.
So I don’t know. I know Top Hats is and there are a few others, but I’m sorry I can’t tell you that right now.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much. I think that’s all the time we have this afternoon. Thank you for coming.
MS. ADDISS: Thank you. (Applause.)
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