“Fish in the Dark” Opens on Broadway

Mixed to Negative Reviews Despite Record Box Office

poster fishEven before it began previews on February 2, 2015, Fish in the Dark has been performing extraordinarily at the box office. This new play written by and starring Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm, co-creator of Seinfeld) broke the advance box office record for a straight play by bringing in $13 million prior to the first performance. Ticket buyers were therefore buying blind, as the show was not reviewed until this morning, following last night’s opening on March 5, 2015. Unfortunately for those who have already invested an average of $300 per ticket, the show was received somewhat poorly by professional critics. The most notorious and respected theatre critic, Ben Brantley of The New York Times, gave it a complete flop, and even those that responded positively to the play did so with the caveat that it was Curb Your Enthusiasm extended and for the stage, primarily interesting for pre-existing fans of David’s television accomplishments. Directed by Anna D. Shapiro (This is Our Youth, Motherf**ker with the Hat), the play stars David along with Jayne Houdyshell, Rosie Perez, Rita Wilson, Ben Shenkman, Jerry Adler, and many others in the large ensemble cast.

Rounding Up the Criticsfish in the dark

Ben Brantley of The New York Times claims to have laughed fully only one time in the entire play, faulting the show for being a glorified live witnessing of a celebrity in the flesh. Robert Kahn of NBC New York was slightly more forgiving, but still admitted the stage play felt like an overextended sitcom, mostly appropriate for diehard Larry David aficionados. Nevertheless, the charm that has earned David so many adoring fans seems to affect even high profile critics, as others gave the show positive remarks even while discussing similar opinions to Brantley. David Cote of Time Out New York grandiosely compared Fish in the Dark to an ancient Greek tragedy, praising the offensive honesty of the Seinfeld creator. David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter observed a slightly more recent ancestor to David’s stage creation, comparing him to Neil Simon and the fluffy comedy surrounding the Jewish American family. Rooney also discerned the “pure sitcom” nature of the play, but did not criticize it for this cross-genre flavor, instead proclaiming that this show is a bona fide hit no matter how the reviewers respond. As a reviewer, therefore, Rooney is basically foregoing his responsibility to remark on the quality of the show, instead kowtowing to the established record-breaking box office as indicator of “hit” status.

Well Above 100% of Gross Potential

In the four weeks that box office has been reported thus far, Fish in the Dark has performed remarkably. Furthermore, the rest of the run is reportedly almost sold out, so the reviews were truly moot, whether future committed audience members like it or not. In the most recent reported week, the week ending March 1, 2015, the show brought in $1,159,537 over the course of eight performances, which represents 115.27% of its gross potential. Over the course of previews, the show never made less than 113.39% of its gross potential. With a top ticket price of $423.00, the average paid admission thus far has been around $133.00. This shows that no discounting has taken place, and instead diehard fans are paying premium and inflated prices for the chance to witness David’s Broadway debut.

John Cameron Mitchell Returned After Injury, Next Hedwig Announced

The Original Hedwig Playing His Creation on Broadway

john cameron mitchellHedwig and the Angry Inch, created by John Cameron Mitchell, premiered on Broadway on March 29, 2014. The show originally opened Off-Broadway in 1998, starring Mitchell in the title role of the gender-bending East German rock performer. He also wrote and starred in the 2001 film version. When Hedwig came to Broadway for the first time, however, the producers and Mitchell felt that he was no longer in his prime, and thus the lead role was given to Neil Patrick Harris, who won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical. After Harris departed, the role was played by Andrew Rannells (The Book of Mormon, Girls), followed by Michael C. Hall (Dexter). However, to the delight of diehard Hedwig fans, it was announced that John Cameron Mitchell himself would be stepping in to play the role after all, with his first performance on January 21, 2015. Originally, he was slated to perform for just six weeks until March 14, 2015, as a trial run to see if he had enough stamina to play the intensive part at this point in his career. Fortunately, he was brilliant as always, and fans flocked to see him, and thus he announced that he would extend his run until April 26, 2015.

Mitchell Sustained Knee Injury, Michael C. Hall Stepped Inhedwig lena hall

Unfortunately, on February 7, 2015, Mitchell injured his knee during the performance. He continued on until the end of the 7pm show, but the later 10pm show that night was cancelled. At the time, the show’s representatives tweeted that he planned to return for the next scheduled performance on the following Tuesday, and that doctors were examining him. However, they then announced that one week later, Michael C. Hall would return to the role to allow Mitchell time for his injury to heal. From February 17 to 21, therefore, Hall donned the wig once again. In the week where Mitchell performed with a knee brace, he made the best of the humorous situation. One joke, for instance, was “You’re seeing the original cast!” Furthermore, he played on the dominating relationship Hedwig has with his co-star Yitzhak by making her attend to his injury, demanding that she place a crate underneath his propped foot, while he sat on an elevated chair so that he could still be visible while seated. As planned, after a week of performances by Michael C. Hall, Mitchell returned to the stage on February 24, 2015, and he plans to continue as announced until April 26, 2015.

The Next Hedwig: Darren Criss

GQ Celebrates The Grammys With Giorgio Armani - ArrivalsFollowing Mitchell’s departure, Darren Criss (Glee) will step into the spotlight on April 29, 2015 for a run of 12 weeks through summer. Criss’ huge fanbase was evidenced by his brief turn on Broadway in 2012, when he replaced Daniel Radcliffe in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. At the time, he significantly boosted ticket sales for the three weeks he played the part. Therefore, this appears to be a good move for the show’s producers, who hope to keep it running as long as possible by bringing in a string of stars who appeal to a variety of audience members. Furthermore, the second and only other main character in the musical, Yitzhak, has been played by Lena Hall since the start of the revival. Hall wonrebecca naomi jones the Tony Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical, and has been the Yitzhak to all four Hedwigs so far: Harris, Rannells, Hall, and Mitchell. However, she has recently announced that her last performance in the role will be April 4, 2015. The new Yitzhak will be played by Rebecca Naomi Jones (American Idiot, Passing Strange), who will step in on April 14, 2015. In the interim week, the role will be played by understudy Shannon Conley. Therefore, Jones will play opposite John Cameron Mitchell for less than two weeks, before partnering with Darren Criss to continue the tradition of Hedwig on Broadway.

Neil Patrick Harris to Host New NBC Variety Show

Eyeing a Fall 2015 Premiere on NBC

Hedwig Neil Patrick Harris Black TieOn October 27, 2014, it was announced that Neil Patrick Harris would be hosting a new variety TV show to premiere on NBC, in the style of the British show Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, which is produced by ITV. ITV has agreed to make a ten episode season to air on NBC, with Harris as host. Harris was reportedly drawn to this format in particular, believing that it best suits his strengths. The previous May, Harris had turned down an offer from CBS to replace David Letterman as host of The Late Show upon his departure, a position that has been given to Stephen Colbert. At the time, he told Rolling Stone Magazine that he would get bored in the traditional late night format, and that he would rather take on a variety show project. The fact that he was offered the position must have given him confidence that he had the star power to find a way to live that dream. This opportunity came in the form of a partnership with ITV, after finding their Saturday Night Takeaway show to be hilarious and perfect for him as a performer. The show will be filmed in front of a live studio audience by ITV Studios America.

Upsetting the Writers Guild

Though Harris and ITV vehemently deny the accusations, the Writers Guild of America East has called out ITV for not employing union writers for their shows, a trend they may expect to continue with this extremely high profile variety show project with Neil Patrick Harris. The WGA has been in a long standing battle with ITV over efforts to unionize the company, and now over 175 unionized writers in the comedy and variety genre have signed a petition urging the organization to enter into a collective bargaining agreement. Nevertheless, Neil Patrick Harris told the press that a WGA contract was planned for his show, and an ITV spokesperson also explained that the accusations were in error, as a separate and binding agreement was underway regarding that series in particular. Regarding the claims that the company is generally at fault for their hiring activities, the spokesperson also said that they are working on resolving the majority of issues. Still, this is a big money game – Ant and Dec, the creators of ITV’s Saturday Night Takeaway, reportedly pocketed 15 million pounds for the rights to their concept, given that it has become an international hot commodity with Harris in the host position.

Neil Patrick Harris: A Versatile Performerneil patrick harris

The variety show format appeals to Harris as it will allow him to flex his muscles. It will include a combination of comedy sketches, musical performances, celebrity pranks, game activities, and A-list guests. Guests are said to include Lady Gaga, One Direction, and Katie Perry, and many more yet to be announced. Harris was most recently in the public spotlight as host of the 87th Annual Academy Awards on February 22, 2015. He has twice hosted the Primetime Emmy Awards (2009 and 2013), in addition to being nominated for 9 Primetime Emmys, winning 5. Of these 5 Emmy wins, 4 were for hosting the Tony Awards. Therefore, he has proven his chops as an awards show host, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. He recently debuted the role of Hedwig in the Broadway premiere of Hedwig and the Angry Inch by John Cameron Mitchell, winning the Tony Award for Best Lead Actor in a Musical. He is also very well known for his role as Barney Stinson in How I Met Your Mother, as well as his teenage role as Doogie Howser, M.D.

America Got Talent AGT Begins Audition Shows in NJPAC

America’s Got Talent Audition Show At NJPAC Review

It is the tenth season of America’s Got Talent (AGT) TV show and to celebrate they taped two audition shows a day for the entire week beginning March 2nd, 2015 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) located in Newark, New Jersey.The ten taped shows are then edited/spliced together and are broadcast as four single shows in June 2015, to kick off AGT’s season. This is the only time that AGT will be at this location this season and they intend to resume their confusing changes of location in the regular season to Pier 92,  MSG Theater and Radio City Music Hall for the in-season shows. Many of the audition acts that are taped get deleted in the editing stage, so anyone at the taping may have seen something that will never air.

The Perfect Demographic To See The Show

Each show at the NJPAC is a four-hour taping marathon and seeing it being taped live, in person, can be an poor experience for many people. But, If you are an older person, or have a young family, this show is perfect for you as you are already a good match for the sweet spot of the actual TV viewing demographic. The only problem is that the advertisers do not want you. They want the single 18-35 demographic and there are very few of those people actually at the taping or even watching it on TV.

Seeing the show taping live, in-person,  feels like it was lifted from a non-descript, washed-up theme park somewhere in the mid-west. Other parts of show feel like you are on a Carnival Cruise, watching a second rate production that is rocking back and forth. The corny warm-up guy, the cheesy set and the over-top-reactions of everyone in the production could be just the ticket at ClevelandWorld or Universal Ohio, but this taping actually feels depressing. With the older audience members going to the bathroom every five minutes and young children standing on their chairs screaming, many middle-aged theatregoers would be horrified with the audience antics. When the warm-up guy, Tom Kelly (who loves to keep promoting the Tom Kelly Show, whatever that is), works the crowd for the biggest fan scream, you know you are in trouble. It never ceases to amaze what people will do for a free tee-shirt at this show. Its a tee-shirt and it costs nothing, but its about the only thing that NBC is giving away for free.

The Show Gets Off To A Rocky Start

Standing outside the theater, the first experience of the show is the confusion caused by the audience management team about which line of people was first. It ends up with all the people who arrived first, going in last, at the back of the orchestra seats, behind everyone else, which causes a great deal of ill-will from the get-go. When everyone is finally loaded into the theater, the NJPAC is only about one-third full and the audience management team moved everyone to one side of the theater, to make it appear that the theater is actually much fuller than it is. They also put a few people on the mezzanine to make things look fuller to the camera, but it is clear there are still hundreds of seats free in the back of the orchestra, which are actually closer to the stage and have a better view, but producers care more about how it looks on TV than the actual experience for an audience member.

There are no large TV screens in the theater to help people who are far away to see better, so anyone not in the front rows will not have the ability to see an act clearly, especially their facial expressions, which is something you would normally see at home. For some of the acts, many of the audience members start booing well before the act has even got underway because they are unable to see the subtle nuance of what is actually going on stage.

Tom Kelly, The Warm Up Comedian Fails To Ignite The Crowd

This TV show, much like other TV shows in New York City has a warm-up guy to get the crowd going. In this case it is Tom Kelly, who has worked on many other New York TV shows. It might be the fact that he is doing two shows a day that is killing him, but Kelly was not funny and often just annoying – especially after dedicating a full thirty minutes (yes, thirty minutes) on a how-to-clap part that killed any natural audience reaction during the show. In the first half of the show there were over forty six forced standing ovations. By the end of the show it was over eighty. The acts were good, but not that good. Kelly tried to fill in the gaps between taping with some clever banter, but was only able to make jokes at the expense of some orthodox Jews, some old people and some young black men. His multiple fifty shades of grey references were way too inappropriate for the children at the show and he should know better. His failing grade at this show underlines NBC’s selfish interest to deliver good TV and treat the studio audience like idiots.

Nick Cannon Does Not Host The Live Show

Contrary to popular belief, although Nick Cannon does appear briefly on stage at the theater, Cannon is not the show host at the theater and gets very little stage time. He does, however, become the show host on TV, as he is always on the side of the stage talking to to the camera, which the theater audience is not privy to. Audience members at the theater do not get to see him until the TV editing is complete and he is added back into the process and then broadcast.

The Acts On The Show

The show consists of twenty audition acts, wrapped into the four hours of taping. The long hours of taping wear thin on the judges who have been banging out two shows all week long. On a couple of occasions, Howard Stern indicates that an act is “actually making me depressed”, but it was not the act that was causing his unhappiness, it may have been the show itself.

Each half of this show was two hours long with ten acts per half. Many of the acts in the show were quite interesting, especially during the audition phase, where anything could pop up, especially the “possibly oedipal” mother and son ballet dancers, but the taping process is so long and drawn out that any natural enjoyment of the show is fully diluted. The audience gets restless, if not bored, by Tom Kelly’s repetitious lines of “who wants to be on TV” and “let’s give another round of applause to..” uttered over a mind numbing fifty times. Watching this TV show in person is perfect for those that want an afternoon out with the kids at no cost, but for anyone with a brain, it may be better to watch paint dry and wait for the edited versions of the show to be broadcast on TV where you do not have to undergo mindless hours of delay, repetition and boredom during the taping.

NBC and the AGT producers are not really interested in improving the audience experience at this live show event and are mainly focused on just making a good TV show for the camera. This being said, the live audience at this show is an often an after-thought  and they are mainly used as a prop, rather than the human beings that they actually are. Tickets to the audition shows are available on the day of the show and on their website and they are often desperate for audience members, because seeing this show live is just not that popular, despite its ratings according to Nielsen.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 3/1/2015

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

“The Heidi Chronicles” Not An Immediate Hit

In its first week of previews, the new revival of The Heidi Chronicles brought in a weekly gross of $305,345, which represents only 34.26% of its gross potential. The show began previews on February 23, 2015, and therefore this first week was a full week of eight performances. With a top ticket price of $223.00, the average paid admission was only $51.05, and despite this heavy amount of discounting, the audience capacity was only on average 74.7% full. This comes as a slight surprise due to the high profile stars on the marquee such as Elisabeth Moss, Jason Biggs, and Bryce Pinkham, in addition to the acclaim of the playwright Wendy Wasserstein, as well as the fact that the play is a Pulitzer Prize winning drama. Directed by Pam MacKinnon (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?), the play is set to open on March 19, 2015. Perhaps when the reviews hit the presses, more audience members will become aware of this new production. The fact that New York still feels like it is in the midst of winter may have been a dissuading factor for ticket buyers, and hopefully sales will pick up as the run proceeds.

An Overall Slow Week on Broadway

In the week ending March 1, 2015, Broadway was in a bit of a slump. Despite the month of March having arrived, the city is still steeped in winter and more snow is expected this week. This may be one of the main reasons that the overall demand on Broadway is not particularly high. This past week, of all the shows running on Broadway, only six experienced an increase in ticket sales. One of these was The Heidi Chronicles, which, as just discussed, was a new show that performed fairly poorly in its first week. Another one was Constellations, which did experience an increase in weekly gross of $61,504, but that is due to that fact that the show played nine performances that week, up from the usual eight. With that in mind, the show is still not doing excellently, as it only reached 80.59% of its gross potential across the nine performances. In its last week of performances, Disgraced saw an increase of $82,172, bringing its final weekly gross to $415,237, which is only 53.39% of its gross potential. Besides the usual suspects, the only plays that are performing extraordinarily are Larry David’s Fish in the Dark, which had a weekly gross of $1,159,537, and The Audience starring Helen Mirren, which brought in a weekly gross of $1,090,479.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending March 1, 2015:Broadway-Show-Ticket-Analysis-3-1-15

Show Name GrossGross Total Attn %Capacity AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $544,615 5,571 76.78% $97.76
ALADDIN $1,198,904 13,452 97.59% $89.12
BEAUTIFUL $1,019,934 7,577 92.31% $134.61
CABARET $674,524 6,043 84.59% $111.62
CHICAGO $474,672 6,031 69.80% $78.71
CONSTELLATIONS $661,547 5,753 98.34% $114.99
DISGRACED $415,237 5,316 72.39% $78.11
FISH IN THE DARK $1,159,537 8,720 101.58% $132.97
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $585,799 5,374 76.24% $109.01
HONEYMOON IN VEGAS $284,648 4,450 48.37% $63.97
IF/THEN $503,433 7,111 67.80% $70.80
IT’S ONLY A PLAY $493,244 5,432 63.05% $90.80
JERSEY BOYS $579,183 6,230 63.42% $92.97
KINKY BOOTS $804,924 8,442 74.10% $95.35
LES MISÉRABLES $571,871 7,705 68.36% $74.22
MAMMA MIA! $413,270 5,633 60.39% $73.37
MATILDA $701,215 8,783 76.67% $79.84
ON THE TOWN $407,366 6,089 40.61% $66.90
ON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY $377,072 5,098 88.26% $73.96
THE AUDIENCE $1,090,479 7,512 100.39% $145.16
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,433,408 8,741 102.50% $163.99
THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME $660,205 6,398 78.56% $103.19
THE HEIDI CHRONICLES $305,345 5,981 74.69% $51.05
THE LION KING $1,490,989 13,036 95.85% $114.37
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $561,366 7,269 56.61% $77.23
WICKED $1,204,467 11,905 82.26% $101.17
Totals $18,617,251 189,652 77.37% $95.59

Broadway ticket sales raw data are provided courtesy of The Broadway League All other data, text, opinion, charts and commentary are copyright © 2015 nytix.com

Broadway Stars Debuting New TV Pilots

Pilot Season for the Major Broadcast Networks

Every year, the major television networks such as CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, and the CW go through a specific course of development to determine which new shows to add to their dockets. Referred to as Pilot Season, this is an intensive process that involves the submissions of thousands of elevator pitches, followed by calls for scripts, after which some are selected, and then actors flock from all over the country and world to audition for the parts. Due to the simultaneity of the process across networks, actors generally need to choose one show to ride out, which can be a gamble as the majority of shows do not get picked up, and therefore they would be sacrificing other opportunities for this one shot. However, the payoff can be great as television can be a great career boost for actors, including those who are already big stars in the theatre. Presently, though some shows are just beginning to premiere this season, networks are already entering the early stages of next year’s process, and some exciting Broadway names are headlining.

Already Picked Up: Sutton Foster Stars in “Younger” on TV Land

younger sutton fosterA new television show by the maker of Sex and the City, Darren Star, will premiere on TV Land on March 31, 2015. The show, Younger, stars Sutton Foster who came to fame through her Broadway performances in such musicals as Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Drowsy Chaperone, Anything Goes, and most recently, Violet. Her first leading role on television took place in 2012, when she starred in the ABC Family series Bunheads about a former Las Vegas showgirl turned small town ballet dance teacher. That show only lasted for one season of 18 episodes. Fortunately, Foster is getting another go at a TV leading gig this spring on TV Land. Younger, which also stars Hilary Duff (Lizzie McGuire), Debi Mazar (Entourage, Living with Fran), and Miriam Shor (Hedwig and the Angry Inch). The show is a single-camera, 30 minutes series about a 40 year-old mother having difficulty finding a job, so she gets a makeover and pretends she is in her 20s.

Idina Menzel in “Happy Time” and Megan Hilty in Untitled Judah Miller Projectidina menzel

Looking forward toward the upcoming pilot season, Ellen DeGeneres is producing a new series called Happy Time which stars Idina Menzel (Rent, Wicked, If/Then, Frozen). This half hour comedy series is written by Randi Barnes (Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return), and produced by DeGeneres’ company A Very Good Production. The show will most likely be shopped around this upcoming summer. Details about the show are not widely disclosed, but Happy Time revolves around a woman who is ready megan hiltyto stop pretending she is happy all of the time. Furthermore, Megan Hilty, who is best known for her starring role on the TV show Smash, and also for her Broadway performances in 9 to 5 and Wicked, is cast in an upcoming pilot to be written and produced by Judah Miller (American Dad, King of the Hill, The Tracy Morgan Show). In this presently untitled single-camera comedy, Hilty plays a Tony Award winning Broadway star who is still adjusting to her new role as a suburban mom. Along with her husband, an intellectual, she is thrust into a new world of competitive sports, as their son is a natural born athlete.

“Disgraced” Concludes Its Run

Last Performance March 1st at the Lyceum

disgraced posterWhen Disgraced began performances on Broadway on September 27, 2014, the production did not announce its closing date. After it opened on October 23, 2014, critics received it with warm praise. It was a New York Times Critics Pick, and Christopher Isherwood began his review with “Bon appetit!” However, despite these laudatory remarks, it never was a sell out at the box office. In January, it was announced that the last performance would be March 1, 2015. The play, written by Ayad Akhtar, won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, as well as the Obie Award and the Joseph Jefferson Award. The play had its New York premiere at Lincoln Center’s Claire Tow Theatre, through their LCT3 program to support new writing. Prior to that, it premiered in Chicago at American Theatre Company directed by Kimberley Senior, who has steered the production all the way to Broadway, thereby making her Broadway directorial debut.

A Mixed Cast of Originals and TV Starsdisgraced

The cast stars Gretchen Mol (the smoldering Madame of a brothel on Boardwalk Empire) in the role of Emily, an artist specializing in Middle Eastern imagery. She is married to a successful Pakistani-American lawyer, played by Hari Dhillon, a British actor, who made his Broadway debut in this role. Josh Radnor (from the TV show How I Met Your Mother) plays Isaac, the Whitney curator who is supporting Emily’s work. Karen Pittman plays his wife Jory; she made her Broadway non-understudy debut in this role, after having premiered the part at LCT3. Jory and Isaac are a mixed race couple who come over to dine with the protagonists, and the dinner conversation gets personal, dealing with concepts of race and identity. The fifth and final cast member is also making his Broadway debut: Danny Ashok plays Abe, Amir’s nephew. Unlike the very Western justice-based viewpoint of Amir, Abe is a bit more radical. He urges his uncle to help defend an imam who is under accusation of supporting Hamas.

Mediocre Box Office Performance

Despite accolades, praise, and acknowledgment that this was a truly great play and production, it still struggled to become a financial success. At the height of its weekly grosses, Disgraced brought in $512,646, which represents 65.92% of its gross potential. With a top ticket price of $198.00, the average paid admission was never over $85.87. And yet, in its highest earning week, the average paid admission was $78.87, so clearly discounting paid off to some degree for this production. At the Lyceum Theatre, Disgraced had a weekly gross potential of about $778,000. A straight play without Hollywood A-list stars or a recognizable film or brand name, Disgraced just couldn’t compete with all the other attractive fare on Broadway. The big blockbuster musicals or hot star on the marquee would surely beat out in mass the diehard locals and intellectuals who visit Broadway in order to see a Pulitzer Prize winning play on topics of interest regarding racial, religious, and national dynamics. And for those who haven’t read the literary press, that title isn’t very encouraging. Still, though this play may not have made profits, it did make history.

“The Heidi Chronicles” Begins Previews on Broadway

Starring Elisabeth Moss of “Mad Men” Fame

elisabeth mossOn February 23, 2015, The Heidi Chronicles by Wendy Wasserstein began previews in its first Broadway revival. The show originally played on Broadway from 1988 to 1989, when it won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama as well as the Tony Award for Best Play. This production is directed by Pam MacKinnon (A Delicate Balance, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?), and will officially open on March 19, 2015 at the Music Box Theatre. Elisabeth Moss, who is best known for playing Peggy Olson on AMC’s Mad Men, will star as the titular character Heidi Holland. This will be Moss’ second Broadway appearance, following her 2008 debut as Karen in David Mamet’s Speed-the-Plow. She also starred in the 2011 West End production of Lillian Hellman’s The Children’s Hour opposite Keira Knightley. Starring alongside Moss in The Heidi Chronicles is Jason Biggs (The Play What I Wrote, The Graduate, the American Pie movie franchise) as Scoop Rosenbaum, as well as Bryce Pinkham (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson) as Peter Patrone. The play is lead produced by Jeffrey Richards and Jerry Frankel, and it is currently scheduled for a limited engagement to conclude on August 9, 2015.

A Feminist Manifesto, with Comedy and Heartheidi chronicles

The play is unique in the way it travels through time from Heidi’s high school years, up until her later adult years. Interestingly, the same male characters recur at different stages of her life, although she does not end up marrying any of them. Perhaps the most important to her is Scoop Rosenbaum (Jason Biggs), whom she first meets as a teenager, but any sense of budding romance is squashed as Scoop goes on to marry another woman, and then proceeds to cheat on her with many women. The other male closest to Heidi throughout her life is Peter Patrone (Bryce Pinkham), a gay pediatrician who acts as a best friend to Heidi throughout her trials and tribulations. While building a career as an art historian, Heidi tackles the issues of what it means to be a woman in the modern age, including the idea of having children. Ultimately, she realizes that she does not need to rely on a man in order to be a mother, and ends up taking the matter into her own hands through adoption. Though this play was originally written in the late 1980s, it is certainly still relevant today, and in fact it will be interesting to see how subtle aspects of the work play differently to a 21st century audience.

Paying Respect to Wasserstein Through Reviving Her Works

Throughout her lifetime, Wendy Wasserstein was considered one of the best playwrights of her generation, as well as a groundbreaking writer in terms of women being viewed on equal ground to men in the creative fields. Unfortunately, she died in 2006 at the age of 55 due to lymphoma. The night following her passing, Broadway dimmed the lights in her honor as is tradition for beloved Broadway figures. In addition to her seminal body of work, Wasserstein lived what she preached. In 1999, when Wasserstein was 48 years old, she gave birth to her first and only child, Lucy Jane Wasserstein. She raised her daughter on her own until the day she died, and she never revealed who the child’s father was. As illustrated in The Heidi Chronicles, Wasserstein’s life was testament to the fact that a woman can make her own life, even in the case of having children.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 2/22/2015

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

New Top Earning Shows: “The Audience” and “Fish in the Dark”

In the week ending February 22, 2015, two shows that have recently begun previews performed excellently at the box office. The Audience, which stars Helen Mirren in the role of Queen Elizabeth II, for which she won an Academy Award for also portraying in the film The Queen, brought in an impressive $1,048,473 this past week. Furthermore, it accomplished this feat in a week of only 7 performances. The previous week, it began previews but played only two performances; even then the figures seemed extremely promising. Still, this past week has proven that this show is a surefire hit with audiences, who are lining up to see this brilliant performance in the flesh. In addition, Larry David’s play Fish in the Dark, which David wrote and also performs in, brought in a weekly gross of $1,177,593. This is the first week in which the play had eight performances, and therefore it increased its weekly gross by $161,950. In the first two weeks of seven performances each, the play also performed very well at the box office, but now it has reached new heights. In any event, this proves that Larry David is a very exciting name on Broadway, and that audience members are thrilled to see him and his work.

An Overall Mixed Week on Broadway

This past week, about half of the running shows demonstrated an increase in sales, whereas the other half showed a decrease in sales. Across the board, there was therefore mixed movement on Broadway this week. Whereas The Lion King saw an increase of $214,415, bringing in a weekly gross of $1,940,457, the other usual mega hit Wicked barely increased at all, going up only $59,939 for a weekly gross of $1,646,631. On the other hand, another big earner, The Book of Mormon, saw a decrease of $99,705, bringing its weekly gross to $1,548,797. Other musicals that saw a decline in ticket sales were Honeymoon in Vegas, which is struggling to compete with a weekly gross of $799,136, representing 78.45% of its gross capacity. In addition, Cabaret declined by $154,143, bringing in a gross of only $337,003. It is doubtful how long that musical revival will last in such a competitive environment, especially as the new spring season is just gearing up. Surprisingly, the three shows that concluded performances in this past week all saw a decrease in sales. The Elephant Man, which ended performances on Saturday, February 21, 2015, went down by $90,713 for a final weekly gross of $1,022,479. That decline, however, is due to the fact that the week only included seven performances, so that Bradley Cooper could attend the Oscars. Furthermore, A Delicate Balance and You Can’t Take It With You, which both concluded their runs on Sunday, February 22, 2015, saw a decrease in sales in their final week.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending February 22, 2015:Broadway-Show-Ticket-Analysis-2-22-15-1

Show Name GrossGross TotalAttn %Capacity AvgPdAdm
A DELICATE BALANCE $432,887 4,327 67.44% $100.04
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $635,905 6,442 88.78% $98.71
ALADDIN $1,546,267 13,785 100.01% $112.17
BEAUTIFUL $1,076,794 7,860 95.76% $137.00
CABARET $799,136 6,616 92.61% $120.79
CHICAGO $547,833 6,401 74.09% $85.59
CONSTELLATIONS $600,043 5,159 99.21% $116.31
DISGRACED $333,065 4,586 62.45% $72.63
FISH IN THE DARK $1,177,593 8,720 101.58% $135.05
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $541,166 5,403 76.65% $100.16
HONEYMOON IN VEGAS $337,003 4,476 47.66% $75.29
IF/THEN $603,920 7,788 74.26% $77.54
IT’S ONLY A PLAY $499,442 5,216 60.54% $95.75
JERSEY BOYS $734,939 7,709 78.47% $95.34
KINKY BOOTS $939,884 9,392 82.44% $100.07
LES MISÉRABLES $710,992 8,819 78.24% $80.62
MAMMA MIA! $578,257 7,157 76.73% $80.80
MATILDA $1,037,118 11,482 100.23% $90.33
ON THE TOWN $536,545 7,760 51.76% $69.14
ON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY $293,584 4,233 97.71% $69.36
THE AUDIENCE $1,048,473 7,411 99.04% $141.48
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,548,797 8,745 102.54% $177.11
THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME $791,055 7,648 93.91% $103.43
THE ELEPHANT MAN $1,022,479 5,548 102.40% $184.30
THE LION KING $1,940,457 13,569 99.77% $143.01
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $829,721 10,114 78.77% $82.04
WICKED $1,646,631 14,771 96.52% $111.48
YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU $403,767 5,574 64.93% $72.44
Total $23,193,752 216,711 83.73% $104.57

Broadway ticket sales raw data are provided courtesy of The Broadway League. All other data, text, opinion, charts and commentary are copyright © 2015 nytix.com

“A Delicate Balance” Plays Its Final Performance

A Wildly Successful Beginning, Tapering Out

a delicate balanceWhen Glenn Close and John Lithgow began performances in this season’s revival of Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance on October 20, 2014, ticketbuyers sprinted to the box office. When the show opened on November 20, 2014, critics were generally laudatory of the marvelous rendition directed by Pam MacKinnon, arguably the greatest contemporary interpreter of the works of Edward Albee. As such, in the first week of previews, the show brought in $884,596, which represented 102.25% of its gross potential. However, it never made it past the 100% mark in any other week. The next three weeks were also excellent, with the box office reaching in the high 90s of percentage of gross potential, and 100% of audience capacity. Soon, however, sales began to taper off slightly. Between November 18, 2014 and December 14, 2014, the show was still between 88% and 99% of audience capacity; however, percentage of gross potential was slightly lower, between 83% and 94% of the full potential. This shows that the production began to offer a limited number of discounted tickets. Most recently, as the run nears its end, the production has brought in sales in the low 50s of percentage of gross potential. The show plays its last performance on Sunday, February 22, 2015.

An Excellent Production, but a Competitive Seasona delicate balance

It is not clear exactly why the show began with such a strong start, but then lost steam as it continued to play throughout the run. Most likely, the show reached its saturation point with individuals who were particularly excited about Albee, or Glenn Close, or John Lithgow, or the play in particular. After many other shows began performances, some exciting musicals or other plays with big stars in the lead, there just weren’t enough audience members to sustain the packed houses as the winter season kicked in. The two plays that did manage to survive the cold season were It’s Only a Play starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, and The Elephant Man starring Bradley Cooper. However, most other shows remained in the midrange of ticket sales, competing with the regular favorites and mega musicals. In any case, this production can consider itself a success, whether or not it enters profits for its producers (the recoupment information has not been made public). It is an achievement merely to mount such a great dramatic work on Broadway and attract enough audience interest to maintain a fairly healthy commercial run.