Excellent Reviews to Match Excellent Box Office
On March 8, 2015, The Audience opened at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre on Broadway. Written by Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon) and directed by Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot: the Musical, Skylight), The Audience stars Helen Mirren in the role of Queen Elizabeth II. One of the main reasons this show has been garnering so much excitement is that Mirren played this same role on screen in the 2006 British historical drama, which was also written by Peter Morgan, and for which she won the Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role. The film was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score, and Best Costume Design. It also won the BAFTA Award for Best Film, while Mirren also took home the BAFTA Award for Actress in a Leading Role. For all of these reasons, the show has been accumulating much buzz since even before it began previews on February 14, 2015. Particularly noteworthy were the first few weeks of box office reports, which showed that the production brought in over 100% of the show’s gross potential in each of the three first weeks.
Overall, theatre critics found the show to be quite excellent. Nevertheless, Ben Brantley of The New York Times was more on the fence, praising Mirren’s performance but determining that the play was more a parade of statesman than a dramatic masterpiece. He also remarked that Mirren is performing her lines a bit differently than she did in London, emphasizing different aspects of the phrases in order to spice up the comedy for American audiences. David Cote from Time Out New York, on the other hand, was fully positive in his response to the play. Instead of calling the series of prime ministers a “parade” as Brantley does, Cote calls it a “pageant,” evoking more majesty and grandeur. Like Brantley, however, Cote agrees that Mirren’s transformations across the different eras were magnificent. David Rooney in The Hollywood Reporter acknowledges that the writing’s episodic nature is not its strongest point, and yet he deems the vignettes to be linked in an elegant fashion. Robert Kahn from NBC New York calls the show “exquisite,” pondering over the Queen’s “grace” and Mirren’s excellent performance. Matt Windman of AM New York gave it three stars out of four, finding the play a bit choppy but fascinating.
Excellent Box Office that May Show Signs of Tapering Off
In the first three weeks of performances, The Audience brought in over 100% of its gross potential. In the first incomplete week of two performances, that percentage was 111.21%, and the following two weeks of seven performances each brought in 102.63% and 106.74% of the gross potential, the last of these showing a weekly gross of $1,090,479. However, in the last reported week of performances, the week ending March 8, 2015, The Audience saw a decline in weekly grosses of $228,595, bringing in $861,884 which represents 84.37% of its gross potential. The most likely explanation for this is that the last of these performances was the show’s opening night, for which most tickets are complimentary for guests of the production. Therefore, it is too early to say whether the show’s box office is tapering off, or whether it has just taken a slight dip to regain its footing the following week. Presumably, the generally positive reviews can only help stimulate the box office in a positive direction. The show is presently scheduled to run until June 28, 2015.