Completely Australian Cast Concludes Engagement
While The Present began previews on December 17, 2016 with a fair amount of hype, the demand never reached its initial heights after the opening night on January 8, 2017, when the reviews for the production were mixed. The play was written by Andrew Upton, in an adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s lesser-known work Platonov. The production, which transferred from the Sydney Theatre Company, starred Cate Blanchett, who happens to be married to Upton. Blanchett is a beloved Australian actress who has earned renown across the world, and surprisingly made her Broadway debut with this production. Fittingly for an actress who shines greatly in any company, every single other performer made their Broadway debuts as well, with Blanchett’s debut only being the most press-worthy. She is best known for her film credits in such great works as The Aviator and Blue Jasmine, both of which earned her Academy Awards, as well as Elizabeth, Notes on a Scandal, I’m Not There, and Carol, which earned her Academy Award nominations. While she is an experienced stage actress in Australia, the opportunity presented itself for her to debut on Broadway with The Present.
Across the course of the run, The Present brought in on average 80.26% of its gross potential. However, there was a wide margin of fluctuation, as the show began on a high, reaching an impressive 111.11% of its gross potential in the first performance, and almost matching that for the following two weeks, but less than a month after the show’s critically mixed opening, the weekly grosses started to dip down into the $700,000, or even $600,000, range, representing just 60-70% of the show’s gross maximum potential of $1.09 million per week. The most prominent theatre critic, Ben Brantley of The New York Times, had positive and negative things to say about the play. Still, David Cote from Time Out New York called the source material a dramaturgical trainwreck, and did not have much better things to say about the adaptation or production. AM New York was no more of a fan, but Variety appreciated the work of the skilled ensemble, as well as the spirit of Chekhovian farce honored in the material. Entertainment Weekly was also less than enthusiastic about the conception behind this adaptation and production.
Next Up is John Guare’s “Six Degrees of Separation”
Upon departing the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, The Present has made way for the next play to embody its stage: Six Degrees of Separation by John Guare, which will begin previews next week on April 5, 2017. That revival of Guare’s 1990 play stars Allison Janney, Corey Hawkins, John Benjamin Hickey, and Jim Bracchitta. At the same time, a revival of Noël Coward’s Present Laughter has been running since March 10, 2017, just in time for it to take over as the new “Present” play on Broadway. Present Laughter will open on April 5, 2017, the same day that Six Degrees of Separation begins previews at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, recently vacated by Cate Blanchett and the cast of The Present. As for John Crowley, the director of The Present, his last outing prior to this was in 2010 with A Behanding in Spokane. It will hopefully not be another seven years before Crowley is given the opportunity to helm his fifth production on Broadway.
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