the Price of Success

328 - Broadway: the Price of Success


Speaker: Mark Worden (Standard British accent)

If you’ve ever wondered why tickets to Broadway musicals are so expensive, then New York tour guide Laurent Nahon has the answer:

Laurent Nahon (Standard American accent)

Why are musicals so expensive to produce? And it’s one of the biggest issues for the producer, those who make the musical happen on Broadway, to produce a show at a cost-effective rate, that can also bring in an audience, that the audience can actually afford to come and see the show. When we go to see a musical on Broadway, we see maybe 25 or 30 people on the stage. What we don’t realise is that it takes over 100 people in the building in order to make that musical happen, every single performance. There’s more than 70 people behind the scenes, from the ushers to the costume people, the people that work with the wardrobe, the people that deal with the lights, the sound engineers, the stage managers, there’s so many people that it takes to run a Broadway musical and all those people have to be paid, and the writer has to be paid to write the piece, the composer, in this case, of the musical, the choreographer, all of their assistants have to be paid, we have a director. And then, because it’s a musical and it tells a very big story, normally, and it tells it on a very grand scale, like an opera, right? There’s very big sets and they all have to be moved and they all have to be fixed and repainted all the time. So there’s a lot of upkeep to keep a Broadway musical going. (Laurent Nahon was talking to Lorenza Cerbini. For more information about his tours, go to:

Scarlett Johansson

328 - Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman on Lucy


Scarlett Johansson (Standard American accent)
Lucy is just a… in my mind she’s just a girl who is living in Taipei, maybe doing a little bit of modelling or kind of odd jobs here and there, she’s a student. And she’s been away from home for six months, and she’s just kind of in a transient phase in her life when we find her, and she’s kind of figuring out who she is, and she’s feeling a little bit like she should probably get her life on track, and it’s kind of all we know about her when we find her.
Morgan Freeman (Mild African American accent)
I’m a professor of neurology, lecturing at the Sorbonne. I have been, for a number of years, doing hypotheses about what would happen if you could get access to a larger portion of your brain, say 20 per cent even. Right now it’s fairly well accepted that we only use about 10 per cent of the brain’s capacity.
The Glasgow Subway Challenge

328 - The Glasgow Subway Challenge


Back in 2005 a student from Glasgow University came up with a new challenge: to race the Glasgow Subway by bike through the city centre. The subway journey between Buchanan Street and St Enoch stations takes around 55 seconds. The student took the subway, got off at Buchanan Street, cycled like the wind to St Enoch station and jumped back on the same train!
Willa Cather

328 - Recommended Reading: Willa Cather


John Young (Standard British accent)
A recommendation, not for one book only, but for three books, a trilogy by Willa Cather. She’s an author who was born in 1873, and belongs to a generation before that of the more famous modernist names like Scott Fitzgerald and William Carlos Williams, John Dos Passos, and she has fallen, as a result, partly of their fame, slightly into a… into a sort of forgotten corner of American literature, but she is much loved for these three books, which are O Pioneers, The Song of the Lark and My Antonia (he pronounces it one way – ed), which is what most people call it, although in fact it should be pronounced “My Antonia” (he pronounces it another way – ed), which is very difficult to do, but it’s the Czech pronunciation of the immigrant family who call the titular heroine “An… Antonia” – I find it very hard to bring it out as well! The three books are about pioneer families in Nebraska. Willa Cather was originally from Virginia but her family moved when she was very young to Nebraska, and she writes of ordinary people, ordinary families growing up as first generation immigrants in the new American West, in Nebraska. And she has a truth, a human truth, and an honesty about the stories, a wisdom, I think, in her view of why people love, hate, get together, drift apart, which is extremely moving. She’s a writer that has very few frills, which means that she’s easier for the foreign student to read because she doesn’t present you with great obstacles of style or narrative devices that are hard to fathom, and at the same time she’s immensely rewarding, I think, simply on the… on the level of her gentle observant honesty. I find her a very moving writer and I can’t really recommend her too highly.
(John Young was talking to Mark Worden)