In May 2010, when the extremely popular first season of Glee was nearing its finale, the producers launched a concert tour that resulted in universal praise from critics and fans alike. Earning over $40 million throughout 40 shows, the tour was indisputably a massive success. It helped create even more awareness for the TV show whose viewership would continue to grow after the tour was officially announced on March 1, 2010. At that time, Glee was on hiatus from the first half of its debut season, the first part ending with “Sectionals” on December 9, 2009. By the time the rest of the season started airing on April 13, Glee Live! In Concert! was already announced. 13.7 million viewers watched Glee on April 13, a marked increase over the 8.1 million that watched December’s part one finale. The tour was a genius marketing maneuver that allowed Glee to maintain its steam even when it was not airing. Now, the question is this: With the most recent season of Glee only averaging around six million viewers per episode, is the prospect of another tour likely?
As one would expect from a musical comedy-drama with the propensity to cover today’s hottest songs, the success of Glee hinges on the times. How well do the current hits jibe with Glee’s drama class-like performance methods? Also, how receptive are viewers toward scripted musical shows today? The latter question is especially relevant when one considers the growing audience of shows like The Voice, and other competition-style musical programs. Seeing a show like Glee attempt the same maneuvers week in and week out is like seeing the same ensemble sing karaoke for years; viewers want something to spice things up. This is the primary issue with kicking off another tour, at least to the producers and show creator Ryan Murphy. As Murphy finds success with other shows like American Horror Story, it’s worth wondering just how long Murphy plans to work on Glee. It will be for at least two more seasons, as Fox picked up Glee for a season 5 (2013-14) and a season 6 (2014-15) this past April. Since two seasons are confirmed at the very least, would it be worth re-igniting interest in the show by launching another tour? “Gleeks” would sure be happy.
While having another Glee tour may seem practical, it may just be that the actors want to pursue other projects. When the first Glee tour ran, the cast was largely a bunch of unknowns apart from Jane Lynch, who only showed up as a cameo guest. The actual performers were just getting their feet wet. Now that the likes of Lea Michele and Darren Criss have become stars with their different projects, it’s not so easy to round everyone up for an arduous nationwide tour. Criss just kicked off his solo tour in late May, while Michele voices Dorothy in the upcoming animated feature Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return. Everyone seems fairly busy for a tour, but there’s no doubting that Glee has generated enough revenue to pay its stars handsomely if they should join up for another tour. The material is there; it’s just a question of whether or not the producers see it as a wise financial decision, considering the show’s falling ratings, and if Glee’s stars want to be continually viewed as just that – and not independent artists in their own right.
An idea to make another Glee tour more realistic is to scale back the number of performances slightly, so the performers are not overworked. Although they performed admirably for long stretches in 2010 and 2011, the schedule was daunting. The first leg featured 10 shows in 15 days, while the second had 22 in 30 days. A final lap in Europe wasn’t easy either, with 9 shows in 11 days! Perhaps scaling the number of performances to a more relaxed number would decrease costs and increase the performers’ morale. However the producers of Glee decide to kick-start another tour, there’s little doubt that the show’s continued fan base will help support it – even if it means less dates, or some lineup shuffles. If it’s anything like Glee<’s last tour, it should be a tremendous hit.