ment — if it played to capacity (itnhasn’t).nThe change in musical theater fromnan emphasis on music, lyrics, and storynto an emphasis on spectacle has addednan additional $l-$2 million to alreadynoverexpensive production budgets.nThe falling chandelier and floatingncandelabra in Phantom of the Opera,nor the special ramps and tracks fornroller skaters dressed as trains in StarlightnExpress require hundreds of thousandsnof dollars to build and maintain.nMore troublesome, perhaps, than thenexpense is audiences’ addiction tonthese spectacles. They want to seenevery dollar of an eight-million-dollarnbudget on stage for their $55 or $60nticket, and so producers are beginningnto demand special effects where there,nis no need for them.nThe theater has long been a chancyninvestment. Today with costs so highnand returns more elusive than ever, it isnbecoming increasingly difficult to recoup.nThe increased recoupment period,nand the combination of theaternowners and conglomerates that havennow become Broadway’s producers,nhave driven the independent producernand the small investor out. One unit inna $6- or $7-million production can costn$120,000 —too much for the smallninvestor, and too little for a producer,nfor whom too many small units wouldnbe needed to make- up such a budget.nMOVING?nrnLET US KNOW BEFORE YOU GO!nTo assure uninterrupted delivery ofnChronicles, please notify us in advance.nSend change of address onnthis form with the mailing label fromnyour latest issue of Chronicles to:nSubscription Department, Chronicles,nP.O. Box 800, Mount Morris, Illinoisn61054.nNamenAddressnCitynState ^ip.n50/CHRONICLESnThe high cost of producing onnBroadway is stultifying it in other ways.nThe musical theater needs new bloodn— Sondheim, Jerry Herman, Cy Coleman,nand Sheldon Harnick are all inntheir 50’s or 60’s. But at several millionndollars a production Broadway producersnwon’t take a chance on untriedntalent. Workshops and readings havenreplaced productions as virtually thenonly way for younger people to seentheir work on stage. Often today’snmusical theater writers are well intontheir 30’s or even 40’s before their firstnshow is produced. By contrast, HaroldnPrince has pointed out that he andnSondheim did all of their experimentingnon Broadway. Today, he says, itnwould be impossible, even for men ofntheir stature, to raise the money for anynproject whose popularity could not benguaranteed.nNor is this paralysis affecting onlynmusicals. The multi-million dollarnprice tag has also driven serious theaternfrom Broadway. Fewer and fewer playsnare produced on Broadway, and withnfew exceptions (notably, M. Butterflynand most of Neil Simon’s shows),nthose that are come from London,nOff-Broadway, or regional theater.nYet New York does not lack dramas.nPlays that would once have been producednon Broadway are now beingnproduced by Off- and Off-Off-Broadwayntheater companies and commercialnproducers: productions such asnThe Cocktail Hour, A.R. Gurney’snplay about the dynamics of an uppermiddle-classnWSP family in Buffalo;nThe Night Hank Williams Died, LarrynL. King’s drama about the hopes andndreams of a young man in a dustynTexas town in 1952; Only Kidding,nJim Geoghan’s study of comedians;nand Jerry Steiner’s Other People’snMoney, which concerns the struggle tontake over a New England manufacturingnfirm. Last season there were sonmany more good plays produced Off-nBroadway than on that the DramatistsnGuild, the organization of playwrights,ncomposers, and lyricists, lobbied seriouslynfor the inclusion of Off-Broadwaynin the annual Tony Awards. (Asnhas happened in the past, the majoritynof Broadway theater owners, producers,nand union executives vetoed thenidea. The Tony Awards mean bignbusiness: an award-winning play andnmusical immediately registers increasesnnnat the box office, sometimes enough tonkeep a production running anothernyear, as was the case with the 1985nmusical Big River, and those theaternowners and union executives want thenoption of being able to move popularnattractions to Broadway to reap thenlarger financial rewards.)nNew York has now reached thenpoint that some producers are avoidingnBroadway. The producers of OthernPeople’s Money, Susan Quint Gallinnand Jeffrey Ash, turned down an offernfrom Donald Trump to finance a movento Broadway. If, Ash says, they sell 400ntickets at their present theater (MinettanLane) they are sold out; if they were tonsell 600 tickets on Broadway they’d benonly half-full. Though the show hasnbeen popular, especially with the WallnStreet crowd, a move to Broadway doesnnot seem to the producers to makengood financial sense.nHaving taken over Broadway’s rolenas the source of new plays andnmusicals, Off-Broadway and thenregional theaters now find themselvesnaligning more closely with Broadway.nThey have increasingly becomenBroadway’s tryout spots, some evennreceiving “enhancement” money fromnBroadway producers for certain productions.nNeil Simon’s new play, Jake’snWomen, will have its world premiere atnSan Diego’s Old Globe Theatre thisnmonth. David Hare’s The Secret Rapture,nthough it originally was set tonpremiere on Broadway, was tried outnfirst at Joseph Papp’s New York ShakespearenFestival. The Piano Lesson, AugustnWilson’s latest and due on Broadwaynin the spring, began at the YalenRepertory Theatre, was presented bynthe Seatrie Rep, and will play severalnmore cities before arriving in NewnYork. Glearly, the commercial and notfor-profitntheater is starting to merge.nThis means, for better and worse, thatnthe center of American theater hasnmoved off of Broadway and to a substantialnextent even out of New York —nbetter, in that places like the MilwaukeenRep and Actor’s Theatre of Louisvillenare originating interesting plays;nworse, in that Broadway’s problems arenoften finding their way back to placesnlike Louisville: the influence worksnboth ways.nMari Cronin is a literary agent innNew York City.n