Nobody really believes those hyperbolic blurbs on the fronts of books, do they? And yet, perhaps there’s a way to decipher the blurb code that can give some indication of what’s in the pages?
Here’s a novel way of picking the star for your new production opening in London’s West End. “More than 3,000 women have aspired to the same dream: to star, at the London Palladium, in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s £3m production of The Sound of Music. The nation is swarming with wannabe Marias. But BBC1’s eight-part reality talent show How do You Solve a Problem like Maria (which starts 29 July), must eventually settle on one woman – a new, unknown Maria. After auditions in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Manchester and London, 56 contestants have been selected to train at ‘Maria School’ (imagine the yodelling classes).”
“There are no steady outlets for an array of modern and historical black scripts. And while black theater certainly can cross over and resonate with nonblack patrons, local stage folk also yearn to attract a larger, more committed black audience for their artistry — even in a city where African Americans make up only 8.4 percent of the total population.”
Many fans have put up $750 for tickets to Barbra Streisand’s upcoming concerts. But such super-stardom doesn’t seem to be passing down to younger stars. “In a world that’s about rebelling against your parents, no star draws like those rock-and-roll granddaddies. New ones seem not to be on the horizon. Young talent is out there, but the old vehicles to fame have left the station. Beyond absorbing the latest news from Iraq, the collective consciousness spawned by a once-mass media has dwindled.”
“Twenty years ago, it was practically heresy for a ballet dancer to even talk about life beyond the footlights. But times have changed. Now it’s common for dancers to receive career counseling, education advice, and even financial aid for college while they’re still performing.”
Broadway has been using a unified marketing approach over the past decade. “Over a turbulent decade when the road business changed, uncertainty after 9/11 shrunk ticket sales, and musicians went on strike, attendance on Broadway increased by almost 27 percent and grosses nearly doubled, to $862 million from $436 million.” But is it really this “destination” ad approach that has made a difference?
What accounts for the huge popularity of programs such as the summer dancing on the plaza at Lincoln Center? “Dance is something you already know even if you think you don’t. Look in the street or in a schoolyard, and you will know right away if a person is sad or happy by the way they hold themselves, by the way they walk.”
Hollywood has always been obsessed with youth. “But where does that leave truly older audiences, fossils over 50 or 60 or even 70? To Hollywood these have been the perennially invisible men and women. Yet change is afoot. Some filmmakers and smaller distributors have discovered a secret society of mature moviegoers, and they have decided that this audience may actually be worth courting.”
“Toronto audiences have simply gotten out of the habit of going to the theatre, a trend far different from periods in the 1990s when audiences were enticed by a number of big, concurrent productions, which then lent extra vitality to mid-sized theatres and the grassroots fringe scene. Theatrical productions, particularly independent shows not included in package theatre subscriptions or unusual cases such as Rings, which needed to attract sell-out crowds to survive, are struggling to get arty, urban audiences to fill the seats.”
“Want to pretend you don’t have a TV? Get the Groove Tube, a low-tech way to turn a high-tech TV into a light sculpture. Designed by Seattle artist Matt Griesey, it’s a translucent box made of paper and plastic with a grid of opaque dividers that attaches to the screen with suction cups. When the TV (or computer) is on, the Groove Tube averages the picture pixels and creates an ever-changing display of colors in each square. Just turn down the sound and turn up the stereo.”