Rebooting Broadway: the past is the new present and future of the stage


Brianna Adkins

With nostalgia at an all-time high of popularity, audiences of media can see that throw-backs are rapidly setting the scene across television, theatres, and most recently, Broadway. With integrations of cult classic films and television series like “Spongebob Squarepants,” the “Harry Potter” series, “Mean Girls,” and more stealing the spotlight of the Broadway scene, it’s becoming apparent that revisiting the past is bringing in more people and revenue than ever before.

While originality shines on its own, there’s something about watching fan favorites like Harry Potter, Regina George, and even King Kong shine on the New York City stage. These popular characters have already connected to audiences through other media outlets so reviving them through the illustrious Broadway platform isn’t just good for show—it’s good for business.

The popularity of Broadway has heightened through the integration of nostalgia. According to The Broadway League, for the 2017-2018 season 13.79 million people watched a Broadway play or musical. The season also brought in a revenue of close to 1.7 billion dollars—the highest revenue for a season yet.

 With the additional press coverage from fan social media accounts, these shows are getting free promotional services from fans who follow them the most. By tagging a Broadway show in a post, a fan can give their own positively or negatively biased review for other users to view.

This integration of social media and popular nostalgic characters into Broadway has given a voice to the theatre community that was never before seen. Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook posts sharing about how someone saw the most recent play or musical are strokes of popularity—and everyone strives to be popular in these outlets.

Analise Scarpaci, Musical Theatre major and sophomore at the University said, “I think that this integration of nostalgic media into Broadway is kind of a tacky approach in certain circumstances. For example, in ‘King Kong,’ I think that it’s definitely extremely commercial,” Scarpaci said. “For other circumstances like, ‘Mean Girls,’ I think that it could work out really really great. I think that some of the music is really good and they have Tony nominated actresses… I believe that the show really works.”

While some of the most raved about shows have already completed their season run—“Spongebob Squarepants the Broadway Musical” shut down in September due to theatre construction—fans can still view other favorites for the current season.

 Karissa Lee Carlton, university sophomore and Musical Theatre major, holds a slight distaste for the current Broadway trend. “I really do like that they’re bringing movies back from our childhood, because it’s kind of fun to see it on stage. But at the same time I think that it’s just for tourism,” Carlton said. “I think it’s a tourist attraction and I don’t know. I don’t like any of the ones that I have seen.”

No matter what your opinion is on the current trend, this season you can snag tickets to all of these musicals and plays inspired by the characters that stole the hearts and minds of audiences universally: Mean Girls, School of Rock – The Musical, The Lion King, Pretty Woman: The Musical, Anastasia, Aladdin, King Kong, Frozen, and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Parts I and II).

The newest announcement of an Off-Broadway musical based on a cult-classic favorite is “Clueless, The Musical.” The limited engagement series will feature Disney-Channel favorite, Dove Cameron, starring as Cher.

This particular series will only last from Nov. 20 of this year until Jan. 12 of 2019. Tickets for the upcoming show can be purchased at this time.

University students can get special access to some of these musicals and plays with cheaper prices upon logging into their student accounts.

As for a Broadway experience closer to home, the University Performing Arts students have put on a production of “Les Misérables” from Oct. 24 to Oct. 28. The fall musical event was performed by students who are directly studying in the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre program.

University students have free access to this event and future University Performing Arts events, if they show up an hour before the performance begins. For all other students the production of the show is five dollars and general admission can pay 15 dollars.

Whether the opportunity to view Broadway or off-Broadway comes across a University student’s lap, one thing is for certain: having the chance to view the theatre industry’s best and brightest is a privilege others do not get to experience. Grab your tickets and head to the nearest show as soon as you can.