As Super Bowl-fever invaded Times Square this week, Broadway theatres adjusted show times to compensate for the football-dominated week. On Sunday—all 28 Broadway shows shuttered evening performances.
Among the major changes, eight of Broadway’s most popular offerings – including “Chicago” and “Wicked” – added a rare Friday matinee to their line up. And on the day of the Super Bowl, 13 shows offered a Sunday matinee.
In addition to tweaking the performance schedule, Broadway is running two major promotions in hopes of enticing potential ticket-buyers. The annual “Broadway Week” of 2-for-1 sales runs throughout Super Bowl weekend (ending on February 6) and the casts of “Rock of Ages” and “Jersey Boys” performed earlier in the week as part of the Super Bowl Boulevard celebrations.
“Since the Super Bowl’s never been here before, there isn’t any historical precedent to follow,” Elisa Shevitz, director of communications for the Broadway League said. “But we’re hoping visitors to New York will swing through Times Square, see what we have to offer, and decide, even last-minute, to come see a Broadway show.”
For some attendees, Broadway’s cheap prices appear to be working. Melissa Broadmoor, from Colorado, says she and her children decided hours before to catch the Saturday production of Jersey Boys. “We came here without a plan, really until game day.” Broadmoor said. “My kids always wanted to see a show, and the prices were pretty cheap, so why not?”
And with all eyes focused on the Super Bowl celebrations, other theatregoers thought the diversion made this the perfect weekend to see a Broadway show. “I thought getting tickets would be a nightmare, but it’s probably the easiest experience I’ve had.” Evan Schutz of Newark, New Jersey said. “During Christmas, it’s sold out like crazy, but it’s like most people have forgotten Broadway is here. I’ll take it!”
Meanwhile, Off-Broadway theatres are not as Super Bowl-conscious. Five shows, including one of its most popular productions, Avenue Q, will perform as usual in the evening. And off-Broadway theater owners hope that some of the city’s visitors will turn their attention to their shows.
“Broadway’s going dark for some shows might spell good news for us,” Jeffrey Shubert, the administrator of the Off-Broadway League. “Hopefully, the Off-Broadway scene can capture some of the crowds if people really want to see a show.”
But Shubert says, he doubts the overwhelming amount of visitors here for the big game will be thinking about the theater during their stay. Compared to other peak seasons for New York visitors, such as Christmas and summer, Shubert says this weekend’s surge of visitors has only one item on their agenda: the Super Bowl.
“This isn’t really Christmas or New Year’s when people are consciously coming to New York and experiencing New York – a Broadway show, Statue of Liberty, or whatever,” Shubert said. “They’re coming for one thing: the Super Bowl, and it just happens to be here.”