They say the lights are always bright on Broadway . . .

One of the staple film tropes of the 1930s was the difficulty of being a kid in the theater with all the shows closing.

Stage Door is possibly the most famous, but the same idea entertained audiences from the start of the Great Depression to the finish.

Even in good times, shows close, of course.  But in hard times, they close a lot faster:

Yet the prospect of darkness and days off came with a different meaning this past Sunday night, as nine Broadway productions -- including "Hairspray," "Young Frankenstein," "Boeing-Boeing," "13" and "Grease" -- closed for good, some as scheduled, and some as a result of declining audiences in grim economic times.

And so after the shows there were parties, of course, with a good deal of laughter and tears here and there, and a lot of white wine and hard-to-identify canapés. But there was also a sense of heavy reckoning -- over the high price of Broadway tickets, over the future directions of theater actors' careers, and over the real sadness that can accompany a production marquee dimming for a final time.

"For me, it feels like putting a pet to sleep, but not because it's sick -- because you can't afford dog food," Marc Shaiman, who was the composer of the music and the co-author of the lyrics for "Hairspray," said during its closing-night party at the club Arena. "So I can't make peace with it -- if I had seen it sick and dying, I could make more peace with it."

Anyone selling an expensive luxury is going to find themselves putting a lot more of their pets to sleep in the next few months.