On Broadway Revivals

I was a bit surprised when a revival of the Oprah Winfrey produced The Color Purple was announced. Although considered a success, and one that I would see when I get a chance, it wasn’t a show that I expected would be revived so soon 7 years after its closing.


With this comes into mind, some of these Broadway productions which I think were revived too soon, time-frame wise.

  • Les Miserables staged its first revival in 2006, 3 years after the original production closed, then after years 4, a new production opened and is still playing at the Imperial Theatre, where the original closed.
  • Gypsy only had a 4 year gap between the Bernadette Peters and Patti LuPone productions
  • The first Broadway revival of La Cage Au Folles closed in 2005 and was brought back 5 years later.
  • The original Broadway production of Rent closed on 2008 and, although revived off Broadway in 2011, I will still include that on this list. I would have included Avenue Q, which closed and re-opened off-Broadway in 2009, but from what I understand; Avenue Q was a transfer to off Broadway and was not considered a revival.

Now there are productions that have a very good gap between the closing and the new production’s opening but, perhaps because the previous one is still fresh in my mind, the revival came as a surprise to me, like it just came out of nowhere, and suddenly made me think, is it that time already?

  • Jesus Christ Superstar was revived in 2012, 12 years after the 2000 production which I am most familiar with.
  • Cabaret had 10 years in between the closing of the 1998 production and the current revival featuring the same staging and concept by Sam Mendes.
  • Ragtime also had a 10 year gap in between the original’s closing and the 2009 revival’s opening.
  • Although it originally opened off-Broadway, it took 14 years for Hedwig and the Angry Inch to see itself back in New York, with a very successful 2014 production that originally starred Neil Patrick Harris.
  • Since the original production of Side Show closed in 1998, the recently concluded revival opened after 14 years.
  • Guys and Dolls also had 14 years in between the 1995 closing and the 2009 revival opening
  • Non-Broadway Bonus: The London productions of Cats and Miss Saigon have a 15 year gap between the original production’s closing and revival opening.

Not saying they are not good productions – I’m sure they are – nor am I even sure if there is an ideal time frame, but I just personally think that they should have let the audience wait for a little bit to at least build up a good crave.

So what would be an ideal factor to decide what shows are to be revived?  There’s the sale and attendance potential, of course, but other than that, what would make a producer decide what would be successful the second or third time around and when is a good time to do that?

Perhaps a tried and tested one geared specifically for star billing, such as Christina Applegate’s Sweet Charity, the forth coming Gigi featuring Vanessa Hudgens, and the aforementioned The Color Purple featuring Jennifer Hudson, among others, or maybe something that is timely, like Cabaret coming into a time when there is tension with the LGBTQ community and various governments and organizations.

Whatever the reason, though, revivals are meant to entertain and whatever the reason or thought process behind it is, we can only hope for the success of the shows, whether equaling or surpassing their predecessors, as a fully lit Broadway district means that the industry is still very much alive.

2 responses to “On Broadway Revivals

  1. This is a stripped down version of The Color Purple, very successful in England PLUS if I lived anywhere near NYC I would go just to see Jennifer Hudson.
    There is one major thing wrong with your argument: Both “Gypsy”s, La Cage, Cabaret, Les Miz,Hedwig all made their money back and a profit–Side Show and Ragtime lost money in their Broadway first runs and should have been done off Broadway for the few ‘fans’ of the show they had.
    It isn’t time it is the show–“Anything Goes” was first revived with Patti LuPone and then Susan Foster and is now on tour–all 3 made money.
    What do you think is a ‘respectful’ time between revivals?

    • I would love to see Jennifer Hudson in this role as well.
      I had to re-read what I wrote to see if I questioned the profits of any of these shows and I don’t think I did. I was merely trying to see what might be a deciding factor for producers to stage a revival. What would be a respectable time? I am not sure myself, depending on how people crave for it and I don’t think even that would have timelines. Cheers.

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