Bruce Springsteen has paved the way for a host of legendary music acts to play the Great White Way in 2019.
A group of powerful entertainment companies — Live Nation, Creative Artists Associates and Entertainment Benefits Group — is about to snap up a Broadway theater where A-list rock, pop and country performers will be “in residency” for three-week stints.
Deals have not been finalized, but CAA — home to Springsteen’s agent — represents a boatload of superstars, including Ariana Grande, Kelly Clarkson, Bette Milder, Aerosmith, Carrie Underwood, Lionel Richie, James Taylor, Demi Lovato, Diana Ross, Faith Hill, the Eagles, Michael Bublé and Adam Lambert.
All are in the mix to play Broadway.
At the top of the list is Beyoncé, although a source says her price may be too high to make a three-week gig at a Broadway theater profitable.
Barbra Streisand, another CAA client, is also a possibility. She hasn’t appeared on Broadway since she starred in “Funny Girl” in 1964, and sources say she’d love to cap her career with a triumphant return to the Broadway stage.
Springsteen has proved that a pop star can make a big splash on Broadway. His show — “Springsteen on Broadway” at the Walter Kerr Theatre — has been grossing $2.5 million a week since it opened in October 2017. The top ticket price is $850, although good luck getting one for that amount. Scalpers are getting $3,000 to $6,000 per ticket.
The Boss’ success has “opened our eyes to what you can do on Broadway,” says a music-business source. “There is plenty of money to be made.”
Springsteen enjoys performing in an intimate setting — the Kerr seats just 975 — and has told friends that his Broadway run has been a highlight of his career.
“Springsteen on Broadway” was scheduled to run four months. But demand was so great, it has been extended three times. It will play its final performance Dec. 15, the same day Netflix will stream a performance of the show filmed in July.
Netflix is likely to broadcast other performers live from Broadway as well, sources say.
“Springsteen has completely changed the way music people look at Broadway,” says a source. “He can play huge venues all over the world, but look at the attention he got for doing this show.
He made it an event. It’s an artistic success, and it’s making a lot of money.”
Springsteen tailored his show to Broadway, basing it on his best-selling memoir, “Born to Run.”
The other performers and groups looking at a Broadway run will do scaled-down versions of their acts, sources say.
The draw for ticket-buyers is the intimacy of a Broadway theater. The chance to see Ariana Grande or Barbra Streisand up close is irresistible. The promoters don’t want to charge more than
$500 a ticket, although if the demand is there, prices could go higher.
Live Nation and CAA haven’t closed a deal yet on a theater, but the choices are obvious.
“King Kong,” a $35 million musical roasted by critics, is in serious trouble at the Broadway Theatre. It could close by February. The West 53rd Street venue seats 1,761 — plenty of room to make a three-week run with a music legend profitable.
Another possibility is the Lunt-Fontanne, where the winter months may not be kind to “The Donna Summer Musical.”
But I’d vote for the Palace Theatre, which is due to be hoisted up a couple of floors to create retail space on the street level.
So many showbiz giants played the Palace — Al Jolson, Fred Astaire, Enrico Caruso, Bing Crosby, Judy Garland.
Why not postpone the renovations for a year and bring in today’s legendary talents?
I see a Netflix series in the making: “Live From the Palace Theatre in New York City …”
You can hear Michael Riedel weekdays on “Len Berman and Michael Riedel in the Morning” on WOR radio 710.
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