Hollywood Star Power Lights Broadway
By Nana-Adwoa Ofori Posted Dec 30th 2009 03:00PM
Ashlee Simpson to Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig came to the Great White Way this season. It is no surprise that Broadway has turned to Hollywood for their headliners because celebrity endorsements bring even more money to this 939 million dollar a year industry (via Playbill.) Even 'Equus' made the executive decision to place a nude Daniel Radcliffe on the stage, making him the talk of the town and ensured worthwhile bank. For certain Hollywood stars, a transition to the stage can be a great career move, but experts weigh in on the pros and cons of bringing Hollywood stars to Broadway. >>Coming to Broadway can be a great career move for some actors. Here they can flourish on the Broadway stage and grab the attention of both Hollywood and the acute thespian audiences around the the world.
Although Broadway shows are a major money maker, it has seen its share of dark and dreary times. In November 2007, the lights that dazzle Times Square came to a screeching halt when the Stagehands took their picket signs to Local One, their union. According to the NY Times, Broadway lost an estimated $2 million per day during the nearly 3 week strike. But it wasn't long before shows were bringing in A-list stars to make up for lost profits.
For better or worse, an A-list star can rake in the profits... even if the actor isn't professionally trained in theater. And as the past reveals, even bad reviews won't hinder audiences from seeing their favorite stars. (On Broadway, Bumpy Ride for Some Stars.)
Peter Davis, Editor-at-Large for Paper Magazine, tells PopEater that Hollywood actors that are still "wet behind the ears" should land more intense roles before headlining a major Broadway play and that only the creme de la creme of Hollywood actors deserve to headline on a Broadway stage. "If Meryl Streep was to star on Broadway, that would totally make sense because she is trained in theater at Yale. I mean what's next -- reality stars starring in Broadway shows?"
It even came as a shock to some Broadway fans when Ashlee Simpson confirmed that she landed the coveted role of Roxie Heart in 'Chicago' just after she was booted from the cast of the resurrected 'Melrose Place.' Perhaps she wanted to save face? 'Chicago' producer Barry Weissler booked Simpson for ten straight weeks that commenced on November 30th.
When asked about Simpson playing the part of Roxie Hart, Davis says, "Unfortunately Ashlee is a manufactured pop-star and the sister of Jessica. More power to her to make money, but I don't think she belongs singing on a Broadway stage."
And despite rumors that her co-stars we not digging her A-list attitude, Simpson seems to be feeling right at home. "First week of CHICAGO..It's so warm and fuzzy there! The cast has made me feel at home," she wrote on Twitter. "Got to say being apart of this show and with such an amazing cast is just AWESOME! It's such a fun show to be apart of and such a family!"
Broadway follows the formula of using popular, headlining actors because they bring the most revenue. Charles Graeber, Editor for WIRED and writer for GQ and Vogue, tells PopEater that "Broadway is a celebrity petting zoo. It's somewhere in between the movies and a freak show. Hugh Jackman is a major talent in the traditional sense. His talent is almost wasted in the movies because he is meant to be seen live. Ashlee Simpson on the other hand is on the stage because she bears a name that is recognizable."
It is an undeniable fact that Simpson taking the stage has increased sales for 'Chicago.' If Broadway never wants to relive the staggering low numbers of 2007 that shook the city's economy, shows will continue to headline the most popular celebrities (regardless of their theatrical training or standing) to keep the those theater seats warm.
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