The Value of a Holiday Show

Photo Courtesy of Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, “A Christmas Carol”

Christmas is approaching … which means holiday productions have been popping up on stages in theaters all over the map: A Christmas Carol, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Santaland Diaries and many more.

Stuart Miller reports on “The Business of ‘Carol'” for American Theatre. He writes, “More than a mere box-office cash cow, Dickens’s classic is a community builder, a gateway drug, and a holiday tradition.”

Miller interviews people across the U.S. who share the benefits of having a local tradition of an annual holiday show:

“• The show virtually guarantees strong ticket sales, with individual tickets typically sold separately from subscriptions (though often with first access and discounts offered to subscribers). At Actors Theatre, it’s responsible for between a quarter and a third of the theatre’s total annual revenue and audience, says director of marketing and communications Steve Knight.

• Trisha Kirk, director of marketing at the Guthrie, says that the show is also ‘critical as an entry point for creating new audiences. Every year there are new 8-year-olds coming to their first show.’ As Parrish points out, research shows that people develop theatregoing habits if they come as a child, especially with their parents. ‘It’s a learned activity.’ 

• The show is ‘more about connecting with the community in a meaningful way,’ [Don-Scott Cooper, executive director of Le Petit Théâtre du Vieux Carré in New Orleans] says, bringing in students for matinees and others who would not otherwise be able to afford it through local organizations.”

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