Broadway 1950-1970

After 1950, Broadway and the theater business continued their decline that began in the thirties. In 1969-1970 there were only 62 productions, 15 of which were revivals, and by 1969 there were only 36 playhouses left, compared to the 70 or 80 in the twenties. However Broadway was still attracting audiences from other parts of the country - approximately one-third of the people going to the theaters in New York were out of town visitors who often saw as many as five shows during their stay. At this time when New Yorkers were beginning to drift away from theater, the Louisville Courier-Journal and the Columbus (Ohio) CItizen organized "show trains." The newspapers would advise readers about the available productions, and then arrange transportation and hotel accommodations, and purchase the theater tickets. In the 1950's, Broadway became a popular holiday location.

Broadway theater was also being affected by the politics of the time. American people were becoming less and less optimistic about life in general, and spirits across the country were low. People were negatively influenced by such things as the hydrogen bomb and its inhuman implications, McCarthyism, the Vietnam and Korean wars, the Bay of Pigs incident, the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, and the cold war in general. This atmosphere that was dominating the country was not at all conducive to the kind of vibrant and irresponsible theater on Broadway.

Despite the fact that Broadway at this time was depressed, there were many memorable musicals that emerged in 1950-1970. Some of these shows included West Side Story, The Music Man, My Fair Lady, Wonderful Town, The Most Happy Fella, The Sound of Music, Fidler on the Roof, Man of La Mancha, and Hair. Because it had become such a hysterical task to undertake a theater production at this time, only the most enthusiastic people would become involved, which would account for some of these extravagant musical plays that were produced during this time period.

Times Square 1950's (left) and The Musical Hair

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