There's No Business … For Show Business

People line up for the Broadway musical "Grease," Thursday, Nov. 29, 2007, in New York, for the first performance after a tentative agreement between theater producers and the stagehands union ended a strike that had kept most of Broadway in the dark since Nov. 10. (AP Photo/Diane Bondareff)
AP Photo/Diane Bondareff
Jamison Scott's life could be a Broadway show itself. He was a 25-year-old son of a preacherman fresh from Kansas who came to New York and made it on Broadway, reports CBS News correspondent Richard Schlesinger.

"Originally the producers said they wanted it to run at least five years," Scott said. But the production of "Grease" that Scott performed in only ran a year and a half.

Grease is one of nine shows that shut down last Sunday. Four more will go dark soon. Some producers planned to close - others did not.

"And they just said 'due to the economic crisis, we're not seeing a lot of future ticket sales and we're going to be ending the show,'" Scott explained.

Things always slow down after New Year's. But with good seats at top shows priced at $100-plus in times like these - many shows just can't go on.

"What would you spend $130 on? A tank of gas? Food? Or a Broadway show that you don't know whether you're going to enjoy or not," said Patti Lupone, the star of the Broadway show "Gypsy."

Lupone won the Tony Award for her role in "Gypsy."

"I mean I'm out of work next week," she said in an interview.

The show is closing on Sunday two months early - rather than face what could be a tough winter.

Every show has different costs, but everything is going up. It cost the producers of "A Chorus Line" $1 million to open the show on Broadway in 1975.

But two years ago, when that same show was revived, it cost $8 million - double the rate of inflation.

Which may be why the Broadway bound revival of "Dream Girls" is being staged first in Korea. They just started rehearsing. The sets and costumes will be made there, and when the show comes here the producer will have saved as much as $8 million.

But they're still hoping for a happy ending on Broadway.

Lupone said: "I'm not secure in my job whether it's a good economy or a bad economy. It's Broadway!"

But new shows are in the wings, scheduled to open - unless the recession turns into the kind of show stopper nobody wants to see.

  • Richard Schlesinger

    Correspondent, "48 Hours," "CBS Evening News"