re: First vs Second National Tours
Posted by: AlanScott 04:35 pm EDT 05/20/23
In reply to: First vs Second National Tours - ablankpage 12:00 pm EDT 05/20/23

If we go back to the 1940s through the 1970s, I think first tours often played longer. Every show was different. Some very big shows sent out only one tour, at least as far as I know. These would include Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, My Fair Lady, The Music Man. For the last year or so of its long tour, My Fair Lady simplified the physical production to enable split-weeks to be played. Some would send out a tour and if it closed before or around the time that the Broadway production closed, a second tour went out right after the Broadway production closed, sometimes with members of the closing cast. Guys and Dolls, Plain and Fancy, Bye Bye Birdie, Cabaret all did that.

A good many shows even as late as the 1960s did not tour till after the Broadway production closed. Usually these were the medium hits but The King and I is an example of a very big show that didn't tour till the Broadway production closed, perhaps because the big cities wanted to see Brynner.

Some shows that were not massive hits, like Carnival!, Bye Bye Birdie and Half a Sixpence, sent out two simultaneous tours, while some massive hits (some mentioned above) either sent out only one or at least only one at a time.

Back in those days, the second tours often lasted shorter periods of time because almost all of the major markets had seen the show. So a bus-and-truck might then go out for six months or so, playing one-night stands and occasional full weeks and very occasionally more than one week, but mostly one- and two-night stands and split weeks.

I can't really speak to the pay during this period, except that I do think bus-and-truck tours paid less.

So it's hard to generalize, at least if we go back to that period.

Before Oklahoma! it was rare for a musical to tour before the Broadway production closed. Not quite unheard of but rare. This is in the days when 9-18 months was a long run. Even as big a hit as Show Boat did not tour till the Broadway production closed.

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