There are a thousand ways a show makes it to Broadway. Sometimes, a show even gets picked up out of f**king nowhere (A Doll’s House: Part 2). But in most cases, it’s a combination of talent, potential, money, and sheer dumb luck.
For every Off-Broadway hit that transfers to Broadway, even and especially when that move initially seemed unlikely (read: Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, Oh, Hello, or The Encounter), there are even more worthy Off and Off-Off Broadway shows that will simply never draw the kind of ticket sales necessary for a Broadway run.
We’d all like to live in a world where some niche one man show is getting nominated for Tony awards, but in the meantime here are ten New York productions from the past year we would love to see get Broadway-level attention.
Thank God For Jokes and Career Suicide
The comedy world is colliding with the New York theatre scene in a way we haven’t seen since the early days of the Second City on Broadway. Mike Birbiglia and Chris Gethard’s respective one-man shows at the Lynn Redgrave Theater would be a perfect antidote for a Broadway that is still on the wavelength of the rehashed SNL characters of Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me. Birbiglia’s ruminations on the nature of jokes, centered around an ill-fated hosting gig at the Independent Spirit Awards, and Gethard’s story of his history with mental illness, had much in common with the earnest cliche of the one-person performance. They were also really, really, really funny. Birbiglia has toured enough around the country to maybe, maybe pull the tourists needed to succeed on Broadway, but Gethard remains true to his roots as a punk rock UCB brat. I wouldn’t have it any other way, but it would be nice for these guys to have a little mainstream success without the requisite “special surprise guests.”
The Dead, 1904
This, on the other hand, simply wouldn’t make any sense. Unless a Broadway theater is willing to go full Great Comet and more, turning the space into a tiny but lavish dining room and only selling forty tickets a night, the Irish Repertory Theater’s immersive adaptation of Joyce’s novella (penned by Pulitzer-winning Irish poet Paul Muldoon) is likely to stay right where it is. That’s a shame, because more people deserve to experience this fantastic production, which surpasses its theatrical gimmick and places the audience fully in the teeming joy and infinite sadness of life, as it is lived, and recorded by James Joyce.