Friday, April 24, 2009

How the new Yankee Stadium is like 'Young Frankenstein' on Broadway

For the last year, we've been hearing justification for the higher Yankee Stadium ticket prices by people comparing the experience to going to a Broadway show.

One problem with that analogy, as the New York Post's Phil Mushnick notes, is that "you can't script games or pre-determine their value, not when there are blowouts, two-hour rain delays and when the raise-the-ticket-prices anabolic sluggers are intentionally walked."

Unfortunately for the Yanks, as Wallace Matthews and Richard Bradley have written, the new Stadium does resemble a Broadway show - "Young Frankenstein." And no, that's not exactly a compliment.

"The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein" - the musical's official title - opened in November 2007. Following in the footsteps of Brooks' smash "The Producers," the show was expected to be a monster hit (no pun intended.) But it didn't quite work out that way.

A year later, when the show's producers announced it was closing, the news "an unusual guilty glee among theater people," according to the New York Times. Why such schadenfreude? From the article:
“Young Frankenstein” committed a sin that many in the theater apparently found particularly hard to forgive: arrogance.
Here's what the producers of the show did to tick off the theater community:
  • Ditched the St. James Theater, where "The Producers," the show's predecessor, had run, in favor of the Hilton Theater,
  • Instituted premium pricing before the show even opened, with good seats costing as much as $450,
  • Limited group sales to 50 per show (most group ticket sales are above 250),
  • Refused to reveal weekly box office numbers, something that is standard in the theater industry,
  • And had an attitude of entitlement, and as the Times put it, "excessive hubris."
The show's producers did eventually lower ticket prices, and worked more with group sales, but by then, the damage was done, the buzz was bad among the theater community, and "Young Frankenstein" had to close.

As Don Vaccaro, chief executive of, a ticket resale company, told the Times this:
“If they would have started off with a lower price in the beginning, the show would have had legs.

“The word of mouth wasn’t that bad, but when they hyped it up so much, everybody was disappointed. Word of mouth isn’t created by wealthy people buying $250 and $450 tickets, it is created by the theater community and other people.”

Sound familiar?

What do you think? Leave us a comment.


Uncle Mike said...

Spencer Tillman, a Super Bowl running back for the 49ers who did local sports on Channels 7 and then 2 before going to CBS' college football studio show, says sports is "drama without a script."

You can't presume what's going to happen. To paraphrase Roger Kahn, sometimes Barack Obama makes a bad speech, and sometimes Tampa Bay wins a championship.

I once saw a clip of the 1937 film "San Francisco." It had Clark Gable -- yes, Clark Gable -- dressed in white tie and tails, dancing and singing "Puttin' On the Ritz." Compared to that, Peter Boyle (and whoever played the Frankenstein monster on Broadway) weren't so bad.

Mel Brooks has earned some hubris, but not THAT much. In that way he is like George Steinbrenner.

"That's... STEEN-brenner!"

Jonmouk71 said...

Nice analysis but wrong movie - Clark Gable sang "Puttin' On The Ritz" in "Idiot's Delight", not "San Francisco".

Anonymous said...

I saw YF on broadway, it was awful. here's hoping to an early closing on the yankee season as well!

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