I came across a fascinating aspect of theatre in the earlier days in New York (when the Theatre Guild first began).
I was reading about the different great theatrical people who worked with the Theatre Guild from 1920-1960. An amazing finding was that Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne—undoubtedly the two greatest stage stars we’ve had in America—actually played every single season for the Theatre Guild for a quarter of a century. So the situation perhaps became “what play should we get for the Lunts to do this year?” and, as such, from 1924 to 1949 they would perform a new play each and every season: 25 in all!
Of course, their acting in these plays guaranteed that these plays would succeed artistically and financially—the plays always ran long enough to pay back their production costs—usually within one season! As Ring Lardner once said: “if you want to pack ‘em out front, hire Fontanne and Lunt!”
Theatre today is such a different matter. Because of the continually rising costs of production, plays now try to run as long as they can and certainly some of the most successful have seen decades on Broadway. Our own play, FDR, is currently in its 5th season of touring the U.S. with hopefully years to continue. This difference makes it harder and harder to hold on to actors, who want to move to the next step in their career.
A very interesting change in theatre today!