Award-Winning London Play Completes Broadway Run
Following a very successful run in the United Kingdom, King Charles III tried its hand with Broadway audiences. In London, the play premiered at the Almeida Theatre, written by Mike Bartlett, directed by Rupert Goold, and starring Tim Pigott-Smith in the title role of the imagined King Charles III. Following its transfer run in London’s West End, the play took home the honor of Best New Play at the Olivier Awards, London’s equivalent of the Tony Awards. Shortly thereafter, the decision was made to bring the show to Broadway, shepherded by producers Stuart Thompson, Sonia Friedman, and the originating theatre, the Almeida Theatre. Even more risky was the choice not to replace the lead cast member; Tim Pigott-Smith, though a highly accomplished actor who has made quite a name for himself in the United Kingdom, remains in relative obscurity in the United States. Nevertheless, the choice was made for the integrity of the production, and the highly positive reviews demonstrated the decision was best for the play in terms of quality. However, the box office was nothing to write home about throughout the run, and the play concluded its run without entering profits.
Throughout the run of King Charles III, the highest week of box office figures took place in the final week of performances, when the show brought in $732,328 over the course of eight performances. This represented 73.47% of the show’s gross potential. That week, with a top ticket price of $225.00, the average paid admission was $101.67. Furthermore, that was the only week in which the grosses broke the $700,000 mark. For a further six weeks of the run, the grosses were in the $600,000 range, and for an additional six the grosses were in the $500,000 range. The additional four weeks of reported box office figures were partial weeks, with fewer than eight performances. Overall, the average percentage reached of gross potential throughout the run was 60.80%, which is not terrible, but also does not bespeak a ravenous audience to see this show. The difficulty lay not only in the lack of an A-list box office name on the marquee, but also the subject matter, which was distinctively British. While British themed plays have fared well in the recent past, such as last season’s The Audience, that show was blessed with the star of Helen Mirren, as well as an Oscar-winning movie with the same story and writer. Therefore, American audiences may have been a bit perplexed by the counterfactual scenario situated in the British parliament at the heart of King Charles III.
Nevertheless, Reviews Were Overwhelmingly Positive
Although the box office did not match their enthusiasm, theatre critics far and wide praised the Broadway production of King Charles III, justifying the success the show had in Britain. Ben Brantley of the New York Times declared the show a Critics’ Pick, calling it dazzlingly presumptuous. Meanwhile, David Cote of Time Out New York compared Bartlett to Shakespeare, as he wrote the play in blank verse, with the five acts mostly in iambic pentameter. David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter called it an ideal companion piece to last season’s The Audience, and Steven Suskin of the Huffington Post called it first-rate theatre done exceptionally well. In any case, this is not the end for King Charles III. The play is still on tour in the United Kingdom, and it will make its Australian premiere at the end of this tour in March 2016.
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