I would rate this show a 6 out of 10. It’s a new kind of musical but ultimately more of an Instagram experience than a Broadway show.
The NYTimes loathed it – not sure if that’s because they love to hate anything associated with Hudson Yards or if the reviewer (Jesse Green) just believed it was that awful.
I’m going to break it down into three main points:
- What works and makes it worth seeing.
- What needs fixing.
- What I would do to drive up attendance for the balance of its run (thru July 27)
Read on below.
#1: What Works
It provides a contemporary theatrical experience
The director describes it as “a saga that combines spirituality, animism, and human emotion to explore generational shifts of culture and ideas. Like a ritual, this communal experience is a new kind of musical theater.”
I 100% agree.
I’m not a cognoscente of the martial arts so I may not understand the nuances of some of the narrative, but I got enough of the story that it made sense to me.
And it’s not a complicated story. It’s not comparable to a show like Hamilton, but it is entertaining, the visuals are breathtaking, and for me, it carried as much heft as any of the Disney blockbusters I’ve seen on Broadway, e.g., Lion King.
The Staging and Art direction are visually stunning!
It’s by Tim Yip of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon fame.
I am a big fan of under 2-hour performances, and this one comes in at around 100 minutes (with one short intermission), which is perfect.
What Needs Fixing (and can be fixed!)
We paid full price for our tickets which at $104 per person, is way too expensive. However, there are cheaper tickets available. My trainer got tickets for $25 for this upcoming weekend. It’s a small theater with good sightlines from all seats. We were in the third row, but I would have been just as happy to be back 20 rows for half the price.
The biggest problem I had with this show is their ban on photography. Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise is a new kind of theatrical experience that begs to be Instagrammed. Photography (without flash) has to be allowed.
Which brings me to #3.
#3: How to drive up ticket sales
Encourage everyone to ‘gram the show
Provide hashtags, make it interactive – it’s the only way to get the word out on the show for its intended audience.
On Saturday afternoon, the theater was two-thirds empty, which is shocking. However, I believe if social media posts were not only allowed but encouraged, the theater would be packed.
The jury is out. I had a great time – it would have been better if I could have Instagrammed it. I think this is a new style of theatrical performance. It’s somewhere between a Cirque show, a kung fu movie, and a made-for-Instagram spectacle. But it will only thrive if social media is made part of the equation – and the ticket pricing is way out of line.
I recommend seeing it – even if only to get to see the inside of The Shed. But get the cheap tickets!