New York • Catching a Wednesday matinee on Broadway is so last year. The hot thing now is Thursday afternoon shows.
Three shows making the move are “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” “Mamma Mia!” and “The Phantom of the Opera.” “Matilda the Musical” may experiment with the idea this summer.
The change means families will be able to get to see another matinee, a lifeline for family-friendly shows. And with the city bracing for summer tourists, offering a Thursday matinee lets theater lovers cram in more shows if they come for a long weekend.
For performers, it means more flexibility and an end to five-show weekends. Elena Ricardo, who plays Sophie in “Mamma Mia!,” now has Sundays completely off and can go to church and brunch. “I can’t wait,” she said. “I hope other shows catch on to this as well.”
Pop star Carly Rae Jepsen, who plays Cinderella, now has her Wednesday nights free and she said she will use the time to work on her next studio album.
“A lot of the producers I’m booking time with are happier when I’m saying, ‘Let’s start at 6’ versus ‘Let’s start at 10 in the morning,’” she said. “I personally always preferred going to a matinee. I don’t know what it is — maybe having a lazy dinner afterwards — but for me the perfect New York day is catching up with friends, a matinee and then a dinner somewhere.”
The step is the latest to scramble the traditional eight-show Broadway week that has seen the addition of shows on normally dark Monday, earlier curtains on Tuesday night, the scrapping of two shows on Sunday and even nine-performance weeks during holidays.
Jon Jorgenson, who plays Sky in “Mamma Mia!” said the move makes sense for long-running international hits, which draws tourists unfamiliar with the old Broadway show schedule and want to see shows on Thursday afternoon or Monday night.
Broadway producers are competing with more on-demand forms of entertainment and this is seen as an attempt to show audiences more flexibility. The West End in London has long had Thursday matinees.
Joe Carroll, who plays Cinderella’s prince, loves the change and is looking forward to finally be able to see other Broadway shows now that he’s free or “have the night off to feel like a real human being.”