Space matters. Moving a show from Off-Braodway to Broadway brings a certain institutional weight. It also triples (at least) the audience capacity and stage capacity of a Off-Broadway theater. It makes a meager, low-budget work of theater seem even more, well, meager and low-budget.
Perhaps this is because the space is so large, any production inhabiting it must also fill it. Spread itself around it. This is done either with ‘go big or go home’ sets and costumes, celebrity talent, a ensemble of fifty, exactly executed song and dance numbers… y’all get the point.
A move from an Off-Broadway to a Broadway stage is a bit like watching something first through the close-up lens of a telescope, and then turning it around to see the same object through other far far away lens. Suddenly, it’s not so fascinating. Well… unless that object is best seen from afar, like a successful Broadway musical, to appreciate its glittery, all-encompassing, panoramic, fantasticloveitude
Which is why the announcement that Peter and the Starcatcher was closing and moving Off-Broadway to New World Stages was really the best news ever for a Starcatcher fan.
Starcatcher started out at the New York Theater Workshop on a small, bare stage with an intimate audience of, ooooh let’s say, 200 people. To keep it simple– tremendous reviews, sold out shows, extensions, Sara fangirling, etc. Despite minimal props, lack of flashy song-and-dance numbers or large personalities, it filled its space with energy, wit, laughter, and creativity. As a small audience, it was almost like we were in on the shtick during the show’s many tongue-in-cheek moments.
Like many Off-Broadway hits before it (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson comes to mind) Starcatcher made the leap to the Broadway stage. Suddenly the same amazing show I had seen a few months before felt a bit too cutesy, too vaudevillesque, too, dare I say it… meh? (The same thing happened to Bloody Bloody) It felt swallowed up by its environment. And I just couldn’t help thinking about the wonderful show I seen at NYTW, and then the awkward one I was seeing now.
If you haven’t see Peter and the Starcatcher, go get tickets for the New World Stages run starting March 18. Since I’m already in love with New World Stage’s other work (plus actual space is lots of fun) I’m sure Starcatcher will find its home there.