Baby boomers are killing musical theater industry

If you go up to a random person on the street below the age of 50 and asked them if they knew about musicals, you would probably get the same response from most: “no.” While there are plenty of younger people out there who do love musicals the art form is beginning to die, and for once, it’s not the millennials’ fault.
Since the dawn of theatre, it has been viewed as a sort of elitist form of entertainment. Excluding, of course, Shakespeare, a person could only go to the theatre if they could afford it, which most could not. But that mentality of “I’m better than you because I went to see ‘Cats’ last weekend” was one that could not be shaken.
But the issue was, elitists stopped going to plays and started going to movie premieres. Musicals began to be viewed as something your grandpa would drag your mom to when she was a kid and the music itself gained a stigma of being older than your grandpa. While there were still musical fans in the younger generation, they were few in number compared to the rest of the country. People simply stopped talking about Broadway, stopped caring about musicals, and stopped buying the ridiculously expensive tickets so that the shows could stay on for another month.
Then everything changed when “Hamilton” came out. The rap musical about the founding fathers took the entire world by storm. Newscasters were talking about the diversity in the show. Everyone wanted a ticket, but no one could get one. And even now that the musical has been out for multiple years, tickets still cost over three times the normal price for a musical on Broadway.
“Hamilton” completely changed the game of musicals. It showed a younger generation the appeal of onstage performances and that showtunes can be something you want to blast in your car with the windows rolled down. Suddenly, the future was looking bright for the world of theatre. But as time went on, frustrations grew at being unable to see the show. People in New York wanted tickets that were more affordable and people outside of New York just kind of sat in their rooms and cried a lot. Before anyone knew what was happening, the intense hoard of musical fanatics was dying down again. This happened for one reason and one reason only – musicals are still viewed as something only the rich and powerful are interested in. And now, in this new generation we had a large range of people invested and interested in not only musicals, but history, and the people of Broadway still refused to help them out. Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of “Hamilton,” professionally recorded the show but refused to release them to the public or even to sell them, which would have made a lot of money for anyone involved. The few times that Broadway has released professional recordings of their musicals – “Legally Blonde,” “Newsies” and “Firebringer” come to mind – they have made a lot of money because the people interested are all over the world, they just don’t have the money to give Broadway the love it deserves. So, in a sense, Broadway is killing itself by being set in their ways and refusing to adapt with the times.
However, it’s not over yet. After things began to die down with “Hamilton,” a smaller but still significant uproar came into place with a new musical raising awareness for mental health: “Dear Evan Hansen.” Although a lot of people who listened to “Hamilton” let their passion fade and then went back to listening to Bruno Mars, many wanted to hear and watch more musicals. And that’s when “Dear Evan Hansen” came into play. The show is a perfect combination of beautiful voices, good music and heartwarming messages and, once again, the country ate it up. This time, the crowd was smaller and less crazed than “Hamilton” fans, but still significantly larger than anything Broadway had seen since “The Book of Mormon” made its way up the ladder. Suddenly, the group of musicals has become less elitist and more available to poor people who can only appreciate the showtunes and watch crappy bootlegs. But with this renewed interest in our society for musicals, there has been a bigger push for Broadway to get off their high horse and let us commonfolk into their magical world and, very slowly, they’re beginning to listen.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply