A Tale Of Two Parts: Broadway’s Newest Model
I had a sneaking suspicion when Harry Potter and the Cursed Child made its long-awaited entrance to Broadway it would do so with flair. The same goes for a staple in theatre’s history, Angels in America, led by the legendary Nathan Lane and definition-of-versatile actor, Andrew Garfield. These plays, though they are different in content and presentation, and will be considered for the “best” award in different categories, are slated to win big at the June 10th Tony Award celebration, Harry Potter with 10 nominations and Angels in America with 11. Though different in many regards, these two hits have the same structure. They are divided into two parts.
Angels in America, which runs about 7 and a half hours altogether, is traditionally shown in two parts, the first entitled Millennium Approaches, and the second, Perestroika. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child as an original, chose to separate into two parts as a result of its total length of five hours. It is risky, in my opinion, to present this model to the public. However, in the case of these two productions, it has paid off. These two plays this season are successful in every way imaginable: financially, in the reviews, and by word of mouth.
It is important to consider the pros and cons of this model, so to speak, as it may very well become the future structure of many Broadway shows. In one of my previous articles, The Cost of Broadway, I explored the financial aspect of Broadway and the challenges it poses to the average theater goer. These plays are no exception.
Since these plays are shown in two parts, the cost of the ticket to see the shows in their entirety is high, and that is putting it in kindest terms possible.
Many ticketing sites give the option of buying the tickets for two specific dates/times at once. However, there is always the option of buying a single ticket for one part and seeing the other at a later date when time and money allow. For me and many others I am sure, I would like to see the show consecutively, so this becomes a challenge.
Then we must consider the heavy responsibility placed on the actors in these shows, who deserve our fullest respect, praise, and admiration. The success of these shows, stripped of musical numbers and dance breaks to move the show along, are carried on based on the stamina, dedication, and talent of its actors.
(Let us also not forget the brilliant writers behind these projects, Tony Kushner and Jack Thorne, who somehow found enough eloquent words in the English language to create such rich storylines).
Not only do the actors in these shows have to stay mentally focused on which part of the show they are performing on any given night, but they have to stay in character and perform for nearly double the amount of time of any standard Broadway actor. As an actress myself, I cannot imagine the preparation, focus, energy, and emotion demanded each day.
In an interview with Playbill, Garfield remarked that performing in Angels in America was simultaneously a dream situation, and the hardest thing he would ever have to do.
It will be interesting to see if and how these actors are rewarded for such valiant efforts on Broadway’s biggest night in a few weeks.
Based on the impressive success of these two plays, it will be unsurprising if a new trend has begun and if more shows will be taking on this model. The uniqueness, curiosity factor, and overall spectacle of a play in two parts could certainly become less of a rarity in the industry, inciting a drastic change in the dynamic of theatre.