This fall and winter, fans of ABC's Dancing With the Stars
and the Disney Channel's High School Musical
are catching their favorite TV talent showcases live, at theaters near them.
The High School
tours, which kick off Nov. 29 and Dec. 19, respectively, are the latest example of a growing trend in recent years, fueled by shows that sprang from television to stages across the country.
"You can look back to when we started the American Idol
tour in 2002," says Debra Rathwell, senior vice president of AEG Live.
Rathwell's firm is presenting the Dancing
trek with BBC Live and the Front Line Management Group, and promoting the High School
dates, produced by Buena Vista Concerts. Idol
was a summer series at the time, Rathwell says, and many people had passed on the idea of making it a touring franchise.
Fast-forward four years, and the Idol
shows have proven a smash, grossing $35.2 million on 59 dates this year, according to Billboard Boxscore
. About 96% of the seats overall sold out, and 645,782 fans attended.
Rathwell also nods to the Fox series So You Think You Can Dance
, which hit the road a few months ago.
"We were going to do 25 shows, but it turned into 37," Rathwell says. "We did them in theaters and sold them out, and I was blown away by how good those kids were."
A tour featuring the Cheetah Girls, another Disney Channel-based phenom, sold out nine of 10 shows from September to November, Boxscore
reports, averaging $248,500 per date, mostly on the West Coast.
Group member Adrienne "Chanel" Bailon notes that the Girls' ongoing tour "was supposed to be 40 cities, but it got extended to 77" through Jan. 14. "We saw the response from the audience, and it was insane," Bailon says.
Bailon adds that for many fans, the Cheetah concert "was like a family event.
"For a lot of the kids, I think, it was their first concert ever," says Bailon, 23. "There were moms wearing their Cheetah trenchcoats, waving posters that said, 'Cheetah Mamas.'
"We had meet and greets where mothers would bring their daughters, and they would say, 'You've really given us something to do together.' That was so awesome."
Bob Cavallo, chairman of the Walt Disney Company's Buena Vista Music Group, expects that the High SchoolMusical
performances will have a similarly wide-ranging appeal.
"We thought that kids who liked (High School Musical
) would like a big-time music concert," he says, adding: "A lot of teenagers love the movie, too. There are even college kids who get together and watch it."