Live theater offers a remarkable form of media unlike any other; however, very few people are now able to attend plays and musicals.
Theater has become an industry inaccessible to the general public, specifically Broadway Theatre, which has transformed into an experience solely for the elite and privileged.
The most alienating aspect of Broadway is the cost. Granted, it’s expensive to put on a show, especially one in New York City, “but it doesn’t explain why average paid admission has increased by a fifth since before the recession to $93, according to new statistics from the Broadway League—nor why non-musical ticket prices grew by about 30%,” as reported by The Atlantic.
Furthermore, with the emergence of monopolizing blockbuster shows, like “Hamilton,” tickets have been known to reach ridiculously high prices, into the range of thousands of dollars. “Currently, tickets are available for under $500—the lowest they have been in months,” according to Seat Geek.
By pricing tickets so high, thousands of potential buyers have been eliminated from the market. Most Americans do not have those kinds of funds in surplus to spend on a one-time experience. Essentially, these people are being deprived access to the arts, something that anyone and everyone should be able to enjoy.
Putting on a show is costly, though. “You […] can’t make it without a director, or a costume team, or a set designer, and so on. Prices are people, and theater is labor-intensive work, and that makes a night at the theater necessarily an expensive thing to consume,” as reported by The Atlantic.
This is true, and it is understandable for ticket prices to be higher at the beginning of a run when there is no guarantee a profit will be made. What is problematic, however, is that once a show’s success is secure, the prices merely continue to rise.
“Unlike the rest of Broadway, “Hamilton” filled all of its potential seats, and then some, hitting 135 percent last week. There has not been a week that Richard Rodgers Theater has been filled less than 120 percent,” as stated by The Daily Beast.
This being said, there is no reason tickets should still be priced so high. The show is still profiting, which is rare on Broadway, so it should be made accessible to those who could not see it in its first stages with the original cast.
In addition, location is an extremely limiting aspect to live theater. “Even with nation-wide touring companies, the center for production, and consequently in this case, distribution of live theater remains a single avenue in New York City,” as reported by Waldville.
While touring companies and local theaters are constantly putting up extraordinary shows, nothing can compare to seeing a performance by the original cast on Broadway. Traveling to New York City, however, can be exceedingly pricey. Once again, expenses are a critical issue and even if potential audience members can afford to travel, chances are the cost of tickets will put them way over budget, further proving that theater has become inaccessible to a vast majority of people.
Perhaps the best way to make Broadway available to the public again is to expand its distribution. With the internet being today’s greatest mass media tool, streaming live performances and recordings should not be considered outside the realm of possibility. While it is not nearly the same as seeing a show live, it is better than nothing for someone with almost no access to the theatrical arts.
There is no valid reason anyone should be denied access to the arts, especially live theater, due to their financial situation. It is necessary to push for reasonable pricing or other viable options so all can experience the magic of live theater.