By 1993 the mega-musical had run its course; it had become top-heavy and ﬁnancially unviable. Sunset Boulevard closed after a two and a half year run, having lost $20 million. As the ﬁnancially unrestrained 1980s gave way to the ﬁscally responsible 1990s in the American economy, the American musical seemed unsure of itself. As more money was required to mount fewer shows, larger corporate entities necessarily evolved to produce shows. As the tide turned, regional theaters with government subsidies and preferential union contracts were where new musicals were mounted, replacing the traditional out-of-town pre-Broadway tryouts. In New York, several theatre companies had been operating under LORT
contracts (League of Resident Theatres) with the theatrical unions, allowing them to pay below Broadway wages. However, by the 1990s two of these theaters were regularly producing musicals, selling tickets at Broadway prices and being eligible for Tony Awards. This allowed Lincoln Center and The Roundabout Theatre Company to produce more artistically challenging musicals. Lincoln Center’s larger theater, the Vivian Beaumont, was their “Broadway” space, and their smaller Mitzi Newhouse was their “oﬀ-Broadway” space. In the 1990s some new and interesting voices in the American musical began
to appear oﬀ-Broadway and beyond, in venues where expenses didn’t demand massive audiences. By the 1990s, Broadway was home to massive entertainments that needed to replicate virally across continents, and sell tickets and merchandise internationally to earn a proﬁt. But oﬀ-Broadway, smaller, more intimate musicals were targeted to smaller, more discerning audiences. Oﬀ-Broadway became the spawning ground for some of the most interesting new pieces of the decade.