My Facebook newsfeed fills up with posts whenever Broadway news hits a nerve. However, I noticed the responses, comments, and articles overwhelming come from women and my homosexual friends. However, there are crickets from straight guys. I did a little bit of research to figure out why that is. What do straight guys think of Broadway?
From my incredibly informal survey with my hetero acquaintances outside of Broadway, I found the majority just did not think the entertainment would appeal to them. They saw attending a Broadway musical as more of a chore to appease their girlfriends or wives. I dug a little deeper, and for the most part, the straight dudes enjoyed their experiences at Broadway shows. However, they often felt uncomfortable talking about it. It was as if admitting enjoying the theater would lead to a corner being torn off of their man card.
Less Men Are Attending Broadway Events
Despite Broadway’s broadening appeal to people of every demographic, the New York Times reports fewer men than ever are among the Broadway audiences. 42 percent of the audience was made up of people sporting both X and Y chromosomes in 1980. However, that number has dropped to a dismal 32 percent since then.
This leaves many of the Broadway brass wondering what happened. Where have all the cowboys gone? Is the ten percent decrease due to the male musical fans dying off? Or, could it be that men are more comfortable staying at home and letting their significant others go out with the girls for a night of Broadway shows?
No matter what the answer is, there is a lot that Broadway has to offer straight guys. And, Broadway’s powers that be would be smart to market to this disappearing demographic before it is too late. We will explore some angles that they could exploit to get more male butts in seats.
Are you listening Broadway?
Putting hot girls in shows may sound sexist to some, but it is a simple fact that sex sells. And, more skin will get more men to pay attention. Men originally filled the musical theater audiences. In fact, business men would attend shows to relax or to wine and dine clients. In the early 1900s, men were buying all of the Broadway tickets. Now, it is mainly the ladies.
The reason men used to go to shows in droves was for those chorus girls with the long legs. The groundbreaking The Black Crook is widely believed to have spurred this. When the revealing tutus of the ballet corps made their way across the stage of a play, the modern musical was born. You could find lovely ladies everywhere in the early days of Broadway. Men cannot help but enjoy beautiful women, since they are visual by nature. Thus, if the actresses are “easy on the eyes,” dudes will enjoy the theater more.
Men Want to Identify with a Hero
Guys are looking for characters in shows that they can relate to. They want to live vicariously through some average Joe who accomplishes some otherworldly goal. Whether it is Batman, Spiderman, or anyone in between, they like to fantasize that they can save the city from the many evil masterminds out to destroy it. That is why you see one comic book based movie after another topping the box office charts. Men want to be heroes. They want to be inspired to be better. Wannabe heroes will show up in the seats with a hero on stage.
Musicals Are Better with a Good Buzz
Sure, you walk a thin line when you advocate for drinking in the theater. There is the potential for belligerent theatergoers (though professionals will be able to handle this in stride). However, drinking and eating is how many guys unwind these days. With limited free time for these pleasure, men may be more amenable to attending a show if they can drink.
Fortunately, most shows are now allowing people to bring sippy cups of alcohol to their seats. Patrons will enjoy the experience even more when you make them comfortable.
Musicals Are Better than Flowers
Ladies, do you want to get your man to go to a musical? Tell him how happy it would make you if he took you to a show. Better yet: tell him how happy it could end up making him. In addition to my little survey of straight guys that I mentioned above, I also talked to straight women and asked them if they would prefer a large bouquet of flowers or Broadway tickets. Nine times out of ten, they would prefer the tickets.
Guys want to see their wives and girlfriends happy, believe it or not. They would be more likely to go to a show if they understood how happy it would make you ladies. So, let them know: a rose by any other name is still not as sweet as Broadway.
Dudes Like to Chuckle
Pretty much exclusively comedies have been hits among the bros lately. You were more likely to see guys in the audience for The Book of Mormon, The Producers, and Spamalot than anything else. Plus, the comedy in these shows was on the crass and fairly wise ass side of the comedy spectrum. You have a good chance of attracting the guys if you produce one of these types of shows. And, the boys will likely bring their significant others with them.
All of the ideas above are being incorporated into newer shows in varying ways. It is likely we will see more hetero guys in the audience as word gets out that Broadway shows are not just for women and their hairdressers.
Do you have ideas for what can get more men into the theater seats? Perhaps there needs to be more football musicals? Or, perhaps there could be a Broadway version of the Hooters restaurants (complete with tasty wings)? In the comments section below, take a minute to share your thoughts with us.