2018 New York City Dance Look-Back; Part One— Broadway

by Michael Mahany | 12/10/2018 5:28 PM

King Kong on Broadway. Photo credit: Getty Images.

As 2018 begins to draw to a close and we start to compose our conclusions on one more epic trip around the sun, we at Dance Network wanted to examine a few things about the past year here in New York City’s Dance world. 

Specifically, in the world of theatre dance, what’s changed, what’s grown, and what, if anything, does it all mean?

Check out part one of our 2018 New York City Dance Look-Back— Broadway.

In 2018, what worked for the theatre industry? Well…

What’s Old(ish) Is New Again:

Pretty Woman on Broadway. Photo credit: Matthew Murphy

But not quite in the way you might think. Old things once again becoming new doesn’t necessarily mean a revitalization of golden age musicals— although the Christopher Gattelli choreographed My Fair Lady for sure popped its head successfully into this year’s season— it’s more in reference to the existing pop-culture trend that audiences seem to crave of revitalizing franchises from the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, and early 2000s and bringing them to the Broadway’s boards.

Musicals like Pretty Women and Mean Girls, both of which came to Broadway this year derive from such successful films. Even King Kong, which is loosely based on the 1933 film but was made popular again in the ’80s and ’90s by sequel films and theme park rides, got in on the Broadway game.

On top of that, musicals based on the lives and/or tunes of successful musicians like Cher, Donna Summer, The Go-Go’s, and Jimmy Buffett, made their way, too.

Even the 2019 season is ostensibly set up to be chock-full of retro-ish audience favorites. Musicals like the upcoming Beetlejuice, Moulin Rouge, Tootsie, and Ain’t Too Proud; The Life And Times Of The Temptations all follow the pattern. And, we couldn’t forget to mention the already running shows like Aladdin, Anastasia, Frozen, Beautiful; The Carole King Musical, and The Lion King who are reaping the benefits. 

READ: How Is The 2018/2019 Broadway Season Shaping Up?

The Off-Broadway scene is getting in on the action as well, as noted by The New Group’s production of Clueless The Musical, which runs through early January

Then, considering what kind of content is being offered up, how did this year compare to years past?

Theatre And Dance Fans Showed Up This Year!

Fans waiting for the Hamilton lottery. Photo credit: Wall Street Journal

Clearly, what the industry is serving up is working.

Looking at the numbers put out by The Broadway League, the national trade association for the theatre industry and overall representative of Broadway producers, are pretty staggering— in an excellent way.

Comparing the two weeks leading up to and surrounding Thanksgiving in 2017 and 2018, Broadway saw a pretty resilient growth in both theatrical grosses and attendance. 

In 2017, Broadway shows hosted 512,595 people between November 12 and November 26, contrasted by the 591,716 people who saw shows in the same period in 2018. That’s over 79,000 more people seeing shows in a two week period in the span of a year. 

In 2017 in that same time frame, patrons spent $71 million versus the $79 million in 2018.

Quite an astonishing growth. Here’s to the rest of 2018 and to an even bigger 2019.

READ: "A 5, 6, 7, 8!" A Chorus Line Returns To The Big Apple To Celebrate City Center's 75th Anniversary

What’s one of the best things about this season on The Great White Way?

A Lot Of Wonderful Dancers Got To Perform On Broadway

A great number of the new musicals that made their way to Broadway’s boards this season as well as many of the existing shows, hosted large ensembles of performers.

For many performers, dancing on Broadway can be a momentous event that is not just a realization of a lifetime of work, but a chance to both reflect back on that achievement and the opportunity to share art on the world’s biggest stage.

Dance Network asked a few dancers and performers to reflect back on the year and tell us what it meant for them to dance on Broadway this past season. Here’s what they sent us:

Michael Mahany serves as the New York City Correspondent for Dance Network. He is also a professional actor, musician, dancer, and writer. Follow him on TwitterInstagram, or click here to find out more.