Shubert Ticketing Passes ‘Plum Benefits’ Over To EBG’s ‘TicketsAtWork.com’

Plum Benefits is a leading corporate entertainment benefits provider that specializes in discounted attractions, events, and hotels for company employees, with a particular focus on Broadway.  For the past three years, this company has been owned and managed by Shubert Ticketing, a division of The Shubert Organization, which is also the majority landlord on Broadway, owning 17 of the 40 Broadway theatres.  After acquiring it from its founder Shara Mendelson in 2011 for a reported $2 Million, the Shuberts have continued to run the company, apparently profitably.  As of April 2, 2014, they have announced a merger with TicketsAtWork.com, which is a similar business owned by Entertainment Benefits Group (EBG).  Though it is technically a legal “merger,” the resultant business will be largely managed by EBG, with internal management for Plum Benefits passed over to the Shubert sub-division “Broadway Inbound”.

Plum Benefits Merges with EBG Entertainment Benefits Group

The difference between the two companies is that while Plum Benefits is based in New York City and specializes in promoting Broadway shows to Fortune 500 employers in New York City, TicketsAtWork has a wider reach both geographically and its roster of major entertainment companies, hotels, flights and travel. In addition, Plum Benefits has until now been using a link-off site transaction process, requiring users to purchase tickets outside of their platform, whereas, TicketsAtWork is using an internal transaction process, offering a proprietary ticketing technology developed by EBG that allows customers to buy tickets within their website. The Shubert’s have ultimately provided a competitive advantage to EBG in terms of allowing them to circumvent broadwayoffers.com, the traditional website that all other players have been forced to use for online discount Broadway tickets for all shows that use Telecharge (Another Shubert division) as its vendor. Its unclear if the Shuberts are just testing the waters with TicketsAtWork and plan to roll out the ticket API to other discount companies or whether they intend to keep this advantage for their own use only.

The new website for Plum Benefits looks largely identical to the existing TicketsAtWork website, not only in terms of structure but also design, but now Plum clients are pitched a dizzying array of other products and services.

Plum Benefits is now called “Plum Benefits, powered by TicketsAtWork,”. Even the IP address for the PlumBenefits.com website is now owned by EBG, further underlying who has the power in this relationship.  Despite the duplicate layout, the differences in the companies’ specialties are clear by the activities that are advertised on each of their homepages: presently, Plum Benefits’ site advertises Aladdin the musical, as well as Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, The Cripple of Inishmaan starring Daniel Radcliffe, and the jukebox 80′s musical Rock of Ages.  On the other hand, the TicketsAtWork site promotes Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Cirque du Soleil, and the recently much maligned, Sea World.

Plumbenefits, now part of the EBG Group including TicketsAtWork

Plum Benefits, now part of the EBG Entertainment Benefits Group that includes TicketsAtWork

The business model for Plum Benefits’ had thrived under Shara Mendelson’s rule principally because it was a free service exclusively for employer corporations and organizations, which is especially attractive as employers have been cutting back on “fringe” benefits in recent years.  Their revenue, then, comes from fees paid by the producers of the entertainment events, so members incur zero cost while producers pay for the promotional benefits of the service.  Therefore, it is surprising that the Shuberts would decide to share ownership of this cash-cow so soon after acquiring it themselves.  Fortunately for them, the agreement provides that they retain rights to the name and trademark of Plum Benefits, and presumably take a fee from all transactions, though EBG conducts the business on their behalf.  In effect, they are erasing jobs within their organization, removing what they may have considered to be redundancies.  It is unclear whether the company was failing to make sufficient profits, or whether there was some other reason for this merger decision.

In any case, existing Plum Benefits customers can now enjoy an expanded roster of entertainment options, as well as a streamlined booking process.  With a 19 hours a day, 365 days a year, dedicated customer service team and the seamless back-end ticketing technology that the Shubert’s have allowed EBG to implement on their behalf, the merger appears to be a step forward from the consumer perspective.

Plum Benefits’ existing client roster may, however, balk at the multitude of new choices that their employees now have access to, through the new relationship. HR departments are very wary of being aligned with this new service. Their approval may be taken as HR encouraging and approving of “shopping at work.” HR employees are very concerned about being seen as providing benefits, but not distractions, for their employees at work. The new Plum Benefits’ site does not provide a method to switch off offers and all employees are force-fed these offers, often against their will. What is missing from this model is the HR manager’s desire to pick and choose what offers they want to provide to their employees. Also, with EBG being based in Aventura, Florida, it is clear that offers will no longer be focused on New York and certainly not Broadway shows. Plum will inevitably see a dilution of interest in Broadway show attractions as they have now allowed their client base to peruse hundreds of other competing offers, something that does not seem appropriate given that Shubert’s mission statement is to help develop Broadway Theatre, but instead have sold them out for cash, or at least 50% commission on the sale.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 4/13/2014

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN

This past week, The Cripple of Inishmaan began previews at the Cort Theatre starring Daniel Radcliffe.  With only two performances underway, it is difficult to estimate the success of advance ticket sales for this show, but its early figures look promising.  The show grossed $155,234 over two performances, averaging 99.4% capacity with an average paid admission of $72.78.  Though this ticket price is fairly low, presumably due to discounting as well as complimentary tickets for the creative team, the play still made 94.75% of its gross potential.  Clearly the star power of Daniel Radcliffe has a lot to do with these high numbers, especially in light of the fact that a revival of an Irish dark comedy may not otherwise do so well.  This is a transfer from a West End revival of the show, also starring Daniel Radcliffe.

REVIEWS DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Two straight plays that opened last week to positive reviews saw a significant increase in ticket sales.  A Raisin in the Sun starring Denzel Washington was already faring quite well, selling out during previews.  The play even grossed over one million dollars for two weeks in a row during previews, a significant coup for a straight play.  However, in the week leading up to the show’s opening, the weekly gross fell to $929,151.  Fortunately, after the play opened on April 3rd to laudatory notices, audiences responded with ticket purchases, as this past week the play had its highest weekly gross yet: $1,182,511.

More notably, The Realistic Joneses also saw a stark increase in sales following its opening.  The reason this increase is more notable than that of A Raisin in the Sun is because the play is written by Will Eno, a playwright only theatre die-hards would know, and it stars famous actors who are not nearly as famous as Denzel Washington.  Though this play grossed less than half as much as Raisin, it still saw a steep increase of $107,825 from the previous week.  After the play opened on April 6th, The New York Times declared it a Critics’ Pick, and many other reviewers responded strongly as well.  Therefore, these figures show how theatregoers indeed respond to published praise, which is good news for producers who rely on critical support to demonstrate the merits of their shows without recognizable names to boost the box office.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis 4-13-14

Show GrossGross Total Attn %Cap AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $407,665 5,122 70.59% $79.59
A RAISIN IN THE SUN $1,182,511 8,368 100.00% $141.31
ACT ONE $309,452 6,316 72.83% $48.99
AFTER MIDNIGHT $417,318 5,568 67.18% $74.95
ALADDIN $1,178,422 13,786 100.01% $85.48
ALL THE WAY $893,167 8,206 72.13% $108.84
BEAUTIFUL $917,392 7,669 93.43% $119.62
BULLETS OVER BROADWAY $813,145 11,221 86.05% $72.47
CABARET $667,721 6,823 96.59% $97.86
CASA VALENTINA $192,074 4,047 78.55% $47.46
CHICAGO $607,106 7,070 81.83% $85.87
CINDERELLA $946,408 11,425 81.56% $82.84
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $884,092 7,048 100.59% $125.44
IF/THEN $964,759 9,295 88.63% $103.79
JERSEY BOYS $665,420 6,741 68.62% $98.71
KINKY BOOTS $1,422,291 10,769 94.53% $132.07
LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR & GRILL $366,156 4,639 97.17% $78.93
LES MISÉRABLES $1,147,961 10,126 89.83% $113.37
MAMMA MIA! $627,337 7,442 79.78% $84.30
MATILDA $1,174,694 11,368 99.23% $103.33
MOTHERS AND SONS $238,128 3,412 53.18% $69.79
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL $1,067,046 10,425 86.47% $102.35
NEWSIES $744,353 8,701 91.78% $85.55
OF MICE AND MEN $796,078 8,321 96.94% $95.67
ONCE $473,697 5,333 62.95% $88.82
PIPPIN $630,280 6,307 79.63% $99.93
ROCK OF AGES $347,060 4,227 90.63% $82.11
ROCKY $754,394 8,773 72.34% $85.99
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,586,091 8,752 102.63% $181.23
THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY $322,366 4,424 54.27% $72.87
THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN $155,234 2,133 99.39% $72.78
THE LION KING $1,914,937 13,602 100.01% $140.78
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $958,388 11,535 89.84% $83.09
THE REALISTIC JONESES $518,159 5,935 85.08% $87.31
THE VELOCITY OF AUTUMN $100,056 3,074 50.63% $32.55
VIOLET $258,167 5,080 86.51% $50.82
WICKED $1,930,362 15,275 99.03% $126.37
Totals: $28,579,879 288,358 84.34% $93.06

Broadway ticket sales raw data are provided courtesy of The Broadway League All other data, text, opinion, charts and commentary are copyright © 2014 nytix.com

‘The Realistic Joneses’ Opens on Broadway

It’s not an easy time for a new play to thrive on Broadway.  The Realistic Joneses, which opened on April 6, 2014 to largely positive reviews, is still struggling to stay afloat at the box office.  This is the Broadway debut for playwright Will Eno, who is known for his less accessible but equally quirky Off-Broadway works such as Thom Pain (based on nothing) and Middletown.  The play premiered in May 2012 at the Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut.  Both the regional and Broadway productions are directed by Sam Gold, whose remarkable career rise has confirmed him as the go-to director for adventurous new plays, especially those that feature a casual, realistic writing style.  Of the four actors in the cast, only one has remained for the transfer – Tracy Letts, who is the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright of August: Osage County as well as the Tony Award winning actor from last year’s revival of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

The Realistic Joneses on Broadway

The Realistic Joneses on Broadway

The other three roles are played by Toni Collette, who has been on Broadway once before in The Wild Party, Michael C. Hall, who has played Broadway musical leads in both Cabaret and Chicago, and Marisa Tomei, who has previously appeared in three Broadway plays: Top Girls, Salome, and Wait Until Dark.  Though all three actors are much better known for their film work, these names are by no means box office gold of the likes of Denzel Washington, Daniel Radcliffe, or James Franco, who are presently competing for audience attention on Broadway, also in straight plays.  Whereas musicals can often survive on Broadway without Hollywood stars, especially if they feature a familiar title, plays rarely enter the greater national consciousness without a special boost.

Although The New York Times critic Charles Isherwood gave the play an unqualified rave, marking it as a Critics’ Pick, the box office was actually worse for this past week than the one preceding it.  For the week ending in April 6, 2014, gross ticket sales were $410,334, down $51,902 from the previous week.  However, it must be noted that the week leading up to a show’s opening includes numerous performances designated as “press performances,” for which complimentary tickets are offered to critics from a wide array of publications.  This would partly explain the lower gross, especially in light of the fact that the average ticket price also went down that week to $67.88 from $82.62 the week before.

The play is scheduled to run until July 6, 2014.  Its producers, Jeffrey Richards and Jerry Frankel, often take gambles with shows that are not guaranteed slam dunks.  In this same season, they also are producing All the Way, a new play but with the box office support of its star Bryan Cranston, The Bridges of Madison County, a musical with a familiar title that is struggling to stay alive, and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, which features Broadway favorite Audra McDonald as the timeless favorite Billie Holiday.  Though The Realistic Joneses may be this producing team’s most risky show on Broadway right now, they have made a habit of mounting shows by recognized playwrights, which may or may not have stars.  In any case, it is to their credit that they manage to support new writing in a climate where few dare to take such ventures, seeking to overcome the bias against plays without megastars.

A Rise in Thursday Matinees On Broadway

The traditional Broadway show week includes eight performances, typically with evening shows on Tuesday through Saturday, and matinees on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday.  For actors and crew, this means Monday off and a double show day on Wednesdays, or in cases with a Sunday evening show, this requires them to play for a five performance weekend.  However, Wednesday matinees have traditionally slow sales, and five performances over one weekend can be a lot for actors.  Therefore, producers have begun experimenting with changes to this performance calendar.  The most extreme change that several shows have begun instigating is a matinee on Thursday afternoon.Broadway thursday matinee show

In recent weeks, three musicals have begun to offer shows on Thursday afternoons: Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Mamma Mia!, and The Phantom of the OperaMatilda the Musical is reportedly also considering such a change.  In order to stick to Actor’s Equity rules of no more than an eight performance week (although sometimes they make exception for holiday periods, allowing nine performances in a week), the producers of each show have needed to alter the overall weekly schedule, and each show has done so differently.

Cinderella has opted to keep their Wednesday matinee in adding on a Thursday matinee, instead removing Tuesday evening performances.  As this musical caters to children, especially young girls, it makes sense that weekdays would be preferable to weekday evenings, as tourists on week-long vacations will be able to take advantage during the daytimes.  Mamma Mia!, on the other hand, has opted to remove their Wednesday matinee in adding on a Thursday matinee, and furthermore they offer a Monday 8:00pm performance in place of a Sunday matinee.  More of a date night fare, this show therefore offers 8:00pm showings every night except Sunday, with matinees on Thursdays and Saturdays.  Phantom of the Opera has chosen to do something very similar, with matinees on Thursdays and Saturdays, except that on Tuesdays their curtain is at 7:00pm.

A 7:00pm curtain has also begun to appear more and more frequently in recent years, which allows theatregoers to attend a late dinner after shorter shows, or instead to eat a very early dinner and get home earlier.  This decision to vary evening curtain times allows for the fact that theatregoers have differing schedules, avoiding the chance that someone will decide not to attend a show just because the hour at which it begins or ends does not work with their work or home schedules.

This addition of a Thursday matinee will be an interesting trend to watch.  It will allow theatre-loving tourists to cram more shows into a week if they happen to be in town for just a few weekdays.  Furthermore, if it is more successful than the Wednesday matinee has been, then it will show that people tend to have more flexible schedules later in the week.  In any case, this demonstrates that producers are trying to keep on top of changing trends and stay relevant to their audience community.

MTV and MLB hope for a home run with Off the Bat from the MLB Fan Cave

As part of their 2014 spring lineup, MTV2 introduced a brand new baseball meets pop culture TV series, Off the Bat from the MLB Fan Cave, which enjoyed its season one opener on Tuesday, April 1 at 11:00 PM EST.  The premiere perfectly coincided with the start of Major League Baseball season, which got into full swing the day before.  This pitch-perfect timing is no mere coincidence.  The show is the first-born creative brainchild of the MLB and MTV, who announced their multi-year multi-platform partnership last November.

mlb-fan-cave - Off the bat TV Show

The weekly, 30-minute show is filmed in-studio from the popular MLB Fan Cave nestled on East 4th Street near NYU in New York City and on location throughout the country.  Four dynamic MTV personalities signed up to play host, and ball, including rapper and news reporter, Sway, hip-hop artist, Fat Joe, and two stars of MTV’s Guy Code, model and actress, Melanie Iglesias, and her high-energy comedic cohort, Chris Distefano.

This latest addition to the burgeoning genre of “sports culture” programming moves away from talking head over-analysis and stat streams per usual, and affords viewers a more off the cuff, off the field, sneak peek into the hearts, minds and personal lives of up-and-coming baseball greats and veteran heroes.  Players will engage in banterous in-studio interviews with the emcees, pal around with visiting celebrities, host in-house contests and musical guests, interact on social media with fans, film on location at their favorite hometown haunts and act as the instigators, participants and butts of practical jokes and locker room pranks.

mlb-fan-cave - Off the bat TV Show

Bryce Harper, the young, handsome and sometimes divisively aggressive Washington Nationals outfielder, christened the show’s debut with an in-studio appearance and trivia contest in which he had fans sit in barbers chairs and either correctly answer questions about his career or get their heads shaven.  In another segment, petite beauty, Melanie Iglesias, invited hunky Miami Marlins power hitter, Giancarlo Stanton, to an old car junkyard for an unconventional windshield-shattering batting practice.  A third bit had comedian Distefano visiting retirees in order to glean pearls of wisdom about retirement for Derek Jeter, who just began his last ever season as revered Yankees shortstop.

The MLB is optimistic that this good-natured and slightly goofy show will serve to recruit a new generation of baseball fans from MTV2’s mostly male viewing demographic, aged 12 to 34, who are devotedly loyal to the network’s smash hit, Guy Code, the very show from which two of Off the Bats hosts were procured.

Guy Code broke network records in 2013 with its season three premiere garnering an impressive .6 Nielsen rating and earning the title of “most-watched original series” in MTV2’s 18 years on air.  MLB and MTV are hoping that Off the Bat, which copies some of the Codes successful formula of uniting ordinary guys with pop culture icons and pro athletes, will enjoy the same measure of success.

MTV2, part of the MTV Networks under the care of parent company, Viacom, is currently available in more than 80 million U.S. homes.

The show, executive produced by three-time World Series champion and Red Sox designated slugger extraordinaire, David Ortiz, is on pre-order for 30 episodes, which are all scheduled to air in the same Tuesday night 11 PM Eastern standard time slot on MTV2.

“The Velocity of Autumn” Begins Previews

On April 1, 2014, previews began for The Velocity of Autumn, a new play by Eric Coble that also played in the fall of 2013 at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.  The Broadway transfer was originally announced for last spring, but a lack of theatre availability necessitated the delay.  The play has now found a home at the intimate 780 seat Booth Theatre, one of the smallest houses on Broadway, which will allow the subtle performances to resonate with the audience.  The two-hander stars Estelle Parsons and Stephen Spinella, who both received strong notices from the Washington D.C. production.  Molly Smith, the artistic director of Arena Stage, serves as the director for the play.

Estelle Parsons, lively and witty at age 86, plays 79 year-old Alexandra, who barricades herself in her Brooklyn brownstone with explosives in response to her children’s plea that she leave her home.  When her estranged yet beloved son Christopher (Stephen Spinella) climbs a tree and hops in her window, they are forced to confront the issues at the heart of their family dilemma, as well as what it means to get older.  According to reviews from the Arena Stage production, the play is not as strong as the performances, but the slightly contrived set-up evolves into a touching story as the two actors brilliantly portray their characters.

Stephen Spinella won an Obie Award last year for his moving performance in the New York Theatre Workshop production of An Iliad, and he also appeared in the Public Theater’s 2011 production of Tony Kushner’s The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures.  In addition, Spinella has won two Tony Awards for his role in Kushner’s Angels in America.  Estelle Parsons has been nominated for four Tony Awards, stemming back to her first nomination in 1968 for The Seven Descents of Myrtle, and she has recently appeared on Broadway in Nice Work if You Can Get It, August: Osage County, and Good People.  Furthermore, she won an Academy Award in 1967 for her role as Blanche in Bonnie and Clyde.

The Velocity of Autumn is produced by Larry Kaye of Hop Theatricals, in addition to Van Dean of the Broadway Consortium.  As for the creative team, scenic design is by Eugene Lee, costume design is by Linda Cho, lighting design is by Howell Binkley, and sound design is by Darron L. West.  The play has had several pre-Broadway runs, with its premiere at the Boise Contemporary Theater in Idaho in April 2011, and then a follow-up April 2012 production at Cleveland’s Beck Center for the Arts in Ohio, prior to the Washington D.C. run.  The capitalization amount of the Broadway production is reported to be $2.5 million, which is fairly low for a play due to its small cast.  Though this play may still have a tough time earning profits without top Hollywood names or a recognizable title, the producers may be gearing for Tony Award nominations for its actors, both of whom are awards favorites and were praised by critics for the Arena Stage production.

David Letterman Announces Retirement in 2015

During the April 3, 2014 taping of CBS’ Late Show with David Letterman, the beloved television host announced that he will officially retire in 2015.  Letterman has held this position on CBS since 1993, preceded by his role hosting NBC’s Late Night with David Letterman from 1982 to 1993.

His rise to fame began in his hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana as an anchor and weatherman for the AM radio station WNTS.  After moving to Los Angeles in 1975, Letterman began his career as a comedy writer.  He became a regular contributor to the summer series The Starland Vocal Band Show, co-starred in a comedy special Peeping Times produced by Barry Levinson, and appeared on shows including Mary Tyler Moore’s variety show Mary, Mork & Mindy, and various game shows.  Through all this, he became a regular on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and soon was hosting his own morning show on NBC: The David Letterman Show.  Though the show was a critical success and earned two Emmys, it was cancelled in 1980 due to poor ratings.

NBC then decided to try Letterman in a different time slot, and thus began Late Night with David Letterman, filming in NBC Studios in New York at 12:30am Monday through Friday.  Its first guest was Bill Murray, and soon developed a cult following for being edgy and unpredictable.  In 1992, Johnny Carson retired, NBC gave the job of hosting The Tonight Show to Jay Leno instead of Letterman as many expected, and as Carson intended.  In response, Letterman left NBC for CBS, and the Late Show with David Letterman was born, taping at 11:30pm at the historic Ed Sullivan Theater.  That marked the beginning of a kind of “Talk Show War” between Leno and Letterman fighting for ratings.  Letterman rebranded himself as a bit more formal, both in terms of his wardrobe and the mood of the program.  He has held this job ever since, also appearing as the host of the Academy Awards in 1995, and re-signing his contract with CBS several times until 2014.  Yet his tenure was not without conflicts.

In October 2009, Letterman revealed on his show that he had been the victim of an attempted extortion of $2 million, threatening to reveal that he had had sexual affairs with several of his female employees.  After Letterman cooperated with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office to conduct a sting operation involving a phony check, Robert J. “Joe” Halderman was arrested with the charge of attempted grand larceny, and served a 6-month jail sentence.  Following the event, several prominent women including the co-host of NBC’s The Today Show Kathie Lee Gifford questioned whether Letterman had created an unfair working environment.  Letterman issued a public apology to his wife and staff on October 5, 2009. Through all of this, it is amazing that he kept his position, but CBS time and again renewed his contract.

With Letterman’s retirement, almost all of the remaining late-night hosts will have come from the post-Johnny Carson era.  It is possible that the old style of comedy is no longer relevant, or perhaps Letterman, at age 67, was just ready to step down and enjoy his remaining years.  Just seven years after Johnny Carson retired from The Tonight Show, he suffered from a severe heart attack and underwent quadruple-bypass surgery.  He became somewhat of a recluse, and died six years later.  Carson was a heavy smoker, and of course we hope that Letterman will not endure a similar fate.  Still, it must not be easy to give up the mantle.

The future of Late Show is presently uncertain.  One potential successor is Craig Ferguson, who has hosted The Late Late Show following Letterman since 2005.  His contract, which expires at the end of the year, calls for either him to replace Letterman or to receive a payout.  Other options include Jon Stewart, who has a huge following, and whose present network Comedy Central is owned by the same company as CBS.  Furthermore, many people are interested in the idea of Chelsea Handler, who has just announced she will be leaving E! where she has hosted Chelsea Lately since 2007.  Other names in the mix are Amy Schumer of Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer, Chris Rock, Conan O’Brien, Ellen Degeneres, and Neil Patrick Harris.  There is also talk that the show may move to Los Angeles.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 4/06/2014

This weeks notable movements on Broadway are:

NEW SHOWS THIS WEEK

There were two plays that started previews this past week, both of which did relatively poorly at the box office.  Casa Valentina, Harvey Fierstein’s world premiere play directed by Joe Mantello, only grossed $155,775 over the course of 7 performances.  Though the show filled up to the moderate average capacity of 75.74%, these performances were highly discounted, as the average paid admission was only $45.20.  Even with many Broadway stalwarts leading the cast such as Patrick Page, Reed Birney, John Cullum, and Patrick Page, there were no A-list Hollywood names to attract pre-sales, and only miraculous post-opening reviews will make this a hit.

Furthermore, The Velocity of Autumn did even less well, grossing $135,307 also over 7 performances.  With an average paid of admission of only $39.96 and an average capacity of 62.2%, this play earned only 20.2% of its gross potential, as the Booth Theatre is larger than the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, where Casa Valentina plays.  Fortunately for the latter, Casa Valentina is a Manhattan Theater Club production, which takes off some financial pressure for its producers due to being underwritten by a non-profit organization.

LONG-RUNNING MUSICALS ON THEIR LAST LEGS

Several musicals that have done very well over the course of their run are looking to be in their final months.  Jersey Boys, which has been running since 2005 with frequent ventures into the millionaires club, only grossed $647,306 this past week, down $90,078 from the previous week.  Furthermore, Rock of Ages, which has succeeded in wooing the traditionally elusive heterosexual male market since its Broadway premiere in 2009, only grossed $340,194 this past week, down $36,100 from the previous week.  In addition, Mamma Mia!, which recently transferred to the Imperial Theatre from its home since 2001, the prominently placed Winter Garden Theatre, only took in $551,065 this week, down $122,902 from the week before.  Of course, many factors go into a show’s decision to close after a lengthy run, and it is possible that the producers of these shows will decide to float through weeks of losses in hopes that their shows will resuscitate in the warmer summer season.  Interestingly, all of these musicals have been adapted to film versions, including Jersey Boys which will be released in June 2014.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending April 6, 2014:

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 4-06-14

Show GrossGross Total Attn %Cap  AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $415,509 5,332 73.48% $77.93
A RAISIN IN THE SUN $929,151 8,368 100.00% $111.04
ACT ONE $316,124 5,513 63.57% $57.34
AFTER MIDNIGHT $377,050 5,511 66.49% $68.42
ALADDIN $1,170,038 13,779 99.96% $84.91
ALL THE WAY $917,842 8,761 77.01% $104.76
BEAUTIFUL $868,034 7,298 88.91% $118.94
BULLETS OVER BROADWAY $765,755 11,210 85.97% $68.31
CABARET $594,765 6,257 101.23% $95.06
CASA VALENTINA $155,775 3,446 75.74% $45.20
CHICAGO $486,529 6,213 71.91% $78.31
CINDERELLA $857,341 10,502 74.97% $81.64
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $772,606 5,968 99.27% $129.46
IF/THEN $931,268 9,419 89.81% $98.87
JERSEY BOYS $647,306 6,458 65.74% $100.23
KINKY BOOTS $1,351,725 10,380 91.12% $130.22
LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR & GRILL $363,460 3,958 82.91% $91.83
LES MISÉRABLES $1,153,829 10,377 92.06% $111.19
MAMMA MIA! $551,065 6,856 73.50% $80.38
MATILDA $1,096,734 11,243 98.14% $97.55
MOTHERS AND SONS $221,430 3,214 50.09% $68.90
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL $1,016,236 10,318 85.58% $98.49
NEWSIES $743,632 8,795 92.77% $84.55
OF MICE AND MEN $823,309 8,366 97.46% $98.41
ONCE $500,434 5,607 66.18% $89.25
PIPPIN $615,583 6,429 81.17% $95.75
ROCK OF AGES $340,194 4,223 90.54% $80.56
ROCKY $753,365 8,485 69.96% $88.79
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,598,000 8,750 102.60% $182.63
THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY $341,175 4,707 57.74% $72.48
THE LION KING $1,683,062 13,362 98.25% $125.96
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $884,496 10,966 85.40% $80.66
THE REALISTIC JONESES $410,334 6,045 86.65% $67.88
THE VELOCITY OF AUTUMN $135,307 3,386 62.17% $39.96
VIOLET $278,904 4,963 84.52% $56.20
WICKED $1,806,067 14,901 98.14% $121.20
Totals: $26,873,431 279,366 82.81% $91.20

Broadway ticket sales raw data are provided courtesy of The Broadway League All other data, text, opinion, charts and commentary are copyright © 2013 nytix.com

“A Raisin in the Sun” Opens on Broadway

On April 3, 2014, a new revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s groundbreaking 1959 play A Raisin in the Sun opened at Broadway’s Ethel Barrymore Theatre, the same house where the play ran in its first production.  Directed by Kenny Leon, who has become the go-to theatre director for African American content, the play received largely unqualified rave reviews from critics far and wide.  With a superb cast led by mega movie star Denzel Washington as Walter Lee Younger, the production succeeded in proving the timelessness of Hansberry’s masterwork.

A Raisin in the Sun with Denzel Washington on BroadwayThis is the play’s second revival on Broadway, following the original 1959 production.  In 2004, Kenny Leon also served as director for the show.  According to The New York Times theatre critic Ben Brantley, Leon made new choices in the 2014 revival, justifying his return to directing the same play only a decade later.  He stated that this production “feels far more of a whole” than the 2004 revival, as the relaxed approach he takes in the new revival is emotionally very compelling.  Furthermore, in 2012, Bruce Norris’ clever riff off of this play, Clybourne Park, played on Broadway to great acclaim, winning the Pulitzer Prize for Drama as well as the Tony Award for Best Play.

The 2004 production of A Raisin in the Sun was the Broadway directing debut for Kenny Leon, who served as the artistic director of Atlanta’s True Colors Theatre Company from 1988 to 2000.  Since his first Broadway credit, Leon has directed numerous Broadway shows featuring a primarily African American cast, including three plays by August Wilson: Gem of the Ocean in 2004-5, Radio Golf in 2007, and Fences in 2010, the last of which also starred Denzel Washington in a sold-out hit run.  Furthermore, he helmed The Mountaintop starring Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett as well as Stick Fly, both in the 2011-2 fall season.  Following A Raisin in the Sun, Leon will direct a second show also in this spring season, the musical inspired by the songs of Tupac Shakur, Holler If Ya Hear Me.

When Lorraine Hansberry wrote A Raisin in the Sun, she was the first African American woman to have a play produced on Broadway.  The play was nominated for four 1960 Tony Awards, including Best Play, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Direction.  It was also named the Best Play of 1959 by the New York Drama Critics’ Circle.  This new revival holds promise to match up to the success of the play’s premiere.  In addition to receiving laudatory notices from a slew of major publications, the play is well on its way to entering financial profits.  The play has reached 100% capacity for every week thus far, crossing the million dollar mark for its past two weeks of grosses, which is a serious feat for a straight play.  After all, Mr. Washington is not your average Hollywood star.  He has consistently garnered well-deserved respect due to his extreme talent along with his humility, a rare combination at his level of fame.

Broadway’s Anna Kendrick to Host SNL on April 5

Anna Kendrick, the multi-talented actress and singer, has been tapped to host Saturday Night Live on April 5, 2014.  This will be her SNL hosting debut.  The telecast will also feature Pharrell, the seven-time Grammy Award winner known for his recent hit “Happy” from the animated film Despicable Me 2.  Created and executive produced by Lorne Michaels, SNL is filmed in front of a live studio audience at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City.

anna kendrick on SNL Saturday Night LiveAnna Kendrick made her Broadway debut at the age of 12, when she played Dinah Lord in the 1998 production of High Society.  She was nominated for a Tony Award for this performance, but she has not appeared on Broadway since.  Subsequently, her career has mostly been focused on film, yet she has not forgotten her musical roots.  Her screen debut was 2003’s Camp, where she played nerd turned surprise diva Fritzi Wagner.  More recently, her fame skyrocketed due to her role in the a cappella themed film Pitch Perfect, as her performance of the song “Cups (When I’m Gone)” became the number 2 hit on Billboard’s Adult Pop Song Chart.  Furthermore, she has just finishing filming two musical screen roles: Cathy Hyatt in The Last Five Years and Cinderella in Into the Woods, both of which will be released later this year.

anna kendrick on SNL on 04/05/14 on NBC Saturday Night LiveSince its original airing in 1975, NBC’s weekly late night variety and sketch comedy show has often been a place for celebrities to let loose and stretch their versatility.  As such, there has often been an overlap between Broadway actors and SNL hosts.  The record for having hosted SNL the most number of times is held by Alec Baldwin (he hosted 16 times since 1990), who has been on Broadway 5 times.  His Broadway debut was Loot in 1986, and he was recently seen on stage in the 2013 production of Orphans.  Furthermore, many individuals who have hosted the Tony Awards over the years have also served as SNL hosts.  These include Hugh Jackman, Neil Patrick Harris, Sean Hayes, Bernadette Peters, and Rosie O’Donnell, to name a few.  Even Seth MacFarlane, who hosted last year’s musical themed Academy Awards show, has also hosted SNL.

Anna Kendrick at the Toy Awards Red Carpet 2013

The list of Broadway performers who have hosted SNL does not end there.  Many A-list actors have been featured both in Broadway shows and also as the host of SNL.  For example, the stars of The Producers, Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, have both served as SNL hosts.  So have Martin Short and Jason Alexander, who played those same roles in the Los Angeles production and US National Tour.  The stars of the film version of Chicago, Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones, have both hosted SNL.  Furthermore, there are several famous Hollywood actors who are presently appearing on Broadway, who have also served as SNL hosts.  These include James Franco, Alan Cumming, Daniel Radcliffe, and Bryan Cranston, among many more in recent years.

Anna Kendrick may not have been on Broadway since she was 12 years old, but she is nonetheless a beloved star of stage and screen, whose singing chops make her memorable as a musical theatre star.  After she makes her SNL hosting debut, and then appears back-to-back in two major musical film releases, we may see her on the Great White Way once again before too long.