Now this is rich! The Nederlander Organization both produced Priscilla Queen of The Desert and owns the theater where it plays. Now the Nederlander Organization’s Broadway Direct newsletter and website features a glowing piece on their latest production, a revival of Sondheim’s Follies. How are they marketing it? Why, by heavily promoting the fact that it has a rich, full orchestra! See this quote, for example:
“One major aspect of this production that helps give it a ‘classic’ sound is the lavish 28-piece orchestra. More recently, many Broadway shows have been orchestrated to be played by a smaller number of musicians. ‘It’s thrilling to have a full-sized orchestra,’ [musical director James] Moore boasted. ‘When audiences saw the show at the Kennedy Center, they loved the rich sounds emanating from the orchestra. We are very fortunate that the Marquis [a Broadway theatre in New York City] can accommodate the number of musicians required to accomplish this traditional sound….. My goal is for everyone in the audience to feel the same thrill that I have when I’m standing on the podium in the pit, and the sound washes over me,’ Moore said. ‘I am lucky.’”
So here we have one of the producers who oversaw Priscilla, with its canned strings, now hyping the fact that Follies has a full, traditional orchestra! Is this just cynical flip-flopping? Are they hoping that no one calls out the blatant hypocrisy of using recorded strings in one show while promoting another show’s “classic” and “thrilling” live orchestra? Or maybe they’ve seen the market research which shows 92% of theatergoers would be disappointed if they learned that a show for which they had bought tickets would contain little or no live music? Regardless of motivations, we salute the Nederlander Organization’s newfound support for the artistry of live musical theater.