When the cast of Company emerged for their curtain call last Thursday night at the conclusion of their premiere performance, they were met with a standing ovation.
The audience was applauding and cheering wildly for the cast who had delivered a tremendously talented and impressive first show of the 2005-06 Temple theater season. Opening night was a success and it was clear the cast members were just as satisfied as the audience.
But beside the sweet smell of success, there was an aura hanging in the air of the theater – something to the effect of ‘Well this was fun; too bad it won’t happen again for another four years.’
The truth is this: Temple’s theater department – one of the most recognized in the nation – has no musical-theater program. A Temple theatrical season only includes a musical every few years. Departmental professors and directors said the reason for that is musicals – from leasing the rights, building a lavish set, and hiring musicians and choreographers – are too costly to produce. Nevertheless, this is either a case of ‘money should not be an issue’ or ‘you need to spend money to make money.’
A Temple theater season always includes works of differing genres, such as drama, comedy, classic and Shakespeare. It is what makes Temple’s theatrical productions notable. Yet most people realize that the obvious component of musical theater is absent.
Money should not be a hindrance for a major university when it comes to making their theater department all that it can be. This is not an issue of needing to improve the theater program because it isn’t good enough. An annual musical theater budget should be added as a compliment to the theater department, as they have earned it with years of accomplishments and acclaimed productions. For Temple, money should not be holding back the progress of any department.
Yet in agreement; yes, musical theater is highly costly to produce. Here lies the catch-22; while being expensive, musicals traditionally draw the most ticket sales. Company has proven this. When was the last time we heard students all over campus asking each other, “When are you buying tickets to Company?” “Have you seen Company?”
If opening night’s sell-out performance is any indication of the sales that will be made by the end of Company’s run on Oct. 15, it should be evident that the addition of musicals to the annual season’s roster would be greatly lucrative. Due to the immense attraction and popularity of musicals, Temple should be wise enough to spend money in order to make money.
There’s no business like show business, and there’s no better ticket-seller than musical theater.