Jennifer Chen

About Jennifer Chen

Originally from Santa Fe, New Mexico, Jennifer studied Law and moved to New York City at age 24, where she still practices law and writes for abovethelaw.com. Jennifer's profession may be in the land-of-legal, but her passion is for Broadway where she can write about subjects as diverse as Broadway union contracts to show reviews.

“Fun Home” Begins Broadway Previews

A Tour de Force Transfer from the Public Theater

fun homeOn March 27, 2015, Fun Home began previews at the Circle in the Square Theatre. This new musical transferred to Broadway following a wildly successful run at the downtown Public Theater, the not-for-profit venue that is responsible for Shakespeare in the Park, among other successful Broadway transfers such as the recently announced Hamilton. The musical has a book by Lisa Kron, whose play Well played on Broadway in 2006, in which she also starred as a character based off of herself. Therefore, Fun Home is a departure for Kron, at least in terms of the fare we have seen on the Broadway stage, as it is a full scale musical and not intended to be autobiographical. Lisa Kron also wrote the lyrics for a score by Jeanine Tesori, who composed the music for Violet, A Free Man of Color, Shrek the Musical, Caroline, or Change, and Thoroughly Modern Millie. The show is directed by Sam Gold, the up and coming young director who made a huge splash Off-Broadway before directing a string of Broadway shows in recent years including Seminar, Picnic, The Realistic Joneses, and The Real Thing. This, however, is his first Broadway musical directing position.

Based Off The Graphic Novel by Alison Bechdelfun home

Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori collaborated on this musical adaptation, which is based off of a graphic novel by Alison Bechdel. The musical takes place in three time periods, which overlap non-linearly in the show. Over the course of the musical, the protagonist, Alison, is 43 years old (as the narrator), 19 years old (as an Oberlin student), and 8 years old (as a child in her father’s restored Victorian home). In her first year of college, Alison came out of the closet, identifying as a lesbian. Over the course of this fascinating interwoven tale, Alison explores connections between her family’s history and her coming out. For instance, her father was overbearing when she was a child, she witnessed her father having a sexual affair with a man, and when he ordered her to put on a dress, she disobeyed and wore jeans instead. Her father’s death also becomes a seminal moment in her life, as she reexamines the impact this has had on her own life. The way that the three stories are told out of order is artfully done, reinventing her own story through personal connections.

Excellent Buzz but So Far Mediocre Box Office

Following its slam dunk run at the Public Theater, Fun Home came to Broadway in a storm of buzz. However, this buzz may not have extended to the entire theatergoing public, and instead may be reserved for New York locals and diehard theatre aficionados. Therefore, the show has been holding on just barely at the box office. In the last reported week of box office figures, the week ending April 26, 2015, the show brought in $436,173, which represents just 59.33% of its gross potential. This is also the highest gross the show has seen thus far. The Circle in the Square Theatre is a very small Broadway venue, so it is difficult to make a large weekly gross, but still the show is having a difficult time even reaching the potential of that small venue. However, the Tony nominations may change that, as Fun Home has just been announced to have received an incredible 10, including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Orchestration, three acting nominations, and two design nominations.

Harvey Weinstein’s “Finding Neverland” Begins Previews

Inspired by the 2004 Film of the Same Name

finding neverlandOn March 15, 2015, Finding Neverland began previews at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. The musical is the first venture for Weinstein Live Entertainment, which is the stage producing entity of Harvey Weinstein, the film producing powerhouse whose many credits include Shakespeare in Love, August: Osage County, The Artist, Inglourious Basterds, and The King’s Speech. Whereas Weinstein has served as a limited partner in assisting the production of stage plays in the past, such as The Producers, Billy Elliot the Musical, and August: Osage County, this is the first his company has developed a show from scratch and served as lead producer. Always taking precautions for perfection, Weinstein hired a seasoned executive producer to make sure the show was running smoothly: Barry and Fran Weissler, whose many credits include Chicago, Pippin, La Cage aux Folles, and The Scottsboro Boys. The musical Finding Neverland is based on the 2004 film, which starred Johnny Depp as J.M. Barrie, the writer of Peter Pan; the film also won the 2004 Academy Award for Best Musical Score. That film was also a major commercial hit, bringing in over $118 million at the box office, with a budget of $25 million. The film was distributed by Miramax, a Weinstein Company, which evolved into Weinstein’s interest in the stage adaptation.

A Superb Creative Team

The show is directed by Diane Paulus, who is renowned for her original interpretation of musicals including Hair, Pippin, and The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess. She is also the artistic director of American Repertory Theatre in Boston. Finding Neverland is choreographed by Mia Michaels who is best known for being a judge and choreographer on the TV Show So You Think You Can Dance; this is her first venture into Broadway choreography. Weinstein, ever the perfectionist, did not find this creative team on his first attempt. Finding Neverland premiered in Leicester, England in an out of the way run to work out its kinks. Whereas it is not unusual for producers to try their shows out of town before bringing them to Broadway, they usually don’t go as far as rural England, and furthermore they usually stick with their team in working on the issues. However, in this case, Weinstein got such mixed feedback from the Leicester run that he decided to scrap his creative team and start from the beginning, and this is when he brought in Diane Paulus, and decided to have a pre-Broadway run in Cambridge at American Repertory Theatre. In this revised version, the book is by James Graham, and the music and lyrics are by Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy.

Original Broadway Castkelsey grammer matthew morrison

For the Broadway production, many new cast members were brought in from previous incarnations. At the Lunt-Fontanne, the role of J. M. Barrie is played by Matthew Morrison (Hairspray, The Light in the Piazza, “Glee”). The role of Sylvia Llewelyn Davies remains the same as from ART; she is played by Laura Michelle Kelly (Mary Poppins). The part of Charles Frohman and Captain Hook is played by Kelsey Grammer (“Frasier”, “Cheers”, La Cage aux Folles), and Mary Barrie is played by Teal Wicks (Wicked, Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical). Additional roles are played by Carolee Carmello, Courtney Balan, Dana Costello, Melanie Moore, and Rory Donovan. This is in addition to the roles played by children, which have rotating casts. The show will have its official opening on April 15, 2015, and it presently scheduled for an open-ended run.

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.

Jon Stewart to Leave “The Daily Show”

Growing Restless, and Ready to Move On

Jon-StewartOn the Tuesday, February 10, 2015 episode of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, Jon Stewart announced that he would be retiring from the position of host that he has held for the past 17 years. His contract with the network is up in September, but he explained that he may leave before that, as early as July, or after that, as late as December. In any case, he will not stick around for the notorious Daily Show election coverage in the 2016 election, entitled Indecision 2016. Not long after he took the mantle on January 11, 1999, Stewart made a huge name for himself through covering the 2000 election, when the concept of Indecision election coverage began. Since that time, he has defined himself as the go-to liberal correspondent, even if he is often considered a mock host, rather than a real host. In any event, he undeniably blurred the line between “real” news and “comedy” news in this era of increasing political cynicism and declining idealism. His decision to depart stemmed from a sense of growing “restless”; he said that America deserves better than even a somewhat restless host of The Daily Show. The only plans he specified was to spend more time with his family – specifically, to eat dinner with them on a school night, which is something he has not been able to do throughout his career.

What the Future Holds – for Stewart, and for the Daily Showjon stewart

Stewart did not make clear what his specific future plans are, although they could range from Hollywood directing to entering the realm of actual politics in Washington. He made his foray into film writing and directing last year with the only semi-successful Rosewater, for which he took a hiatus from hosting The Daily Show for three months. The film is not his usual comedic style; it is based on a memoir written by Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari involving his imprisonment in 2009. Whether or not this indicates that Stewart intends to pursue more directing opportunities, it does hark to a new effort to express his interest in current affairs through a lens other than his particular brand of comedy. All along, he has clearly cared about the issues he covered. His popularity stemmed from the fact that he was not mocking for the sake of mocking, but rather because he was not afraid to take a stance on issues of clearly marked importance for him and his staff. Certain online outlets have even been tossing around the idea of Stewart running alongside Hillary Clinton as Vice Presidential candidate in 2016, although he has not mentioned anything himself to this end. As for The Daily Show, it will continue on with a new host. Stewart has managed not only to position himself as a force to be reckoned with among the late-night competition, on a basic cable station no less, but he has also been able to build a legacy that will continue on without him, however difficult that is to imagine at the present moment.

Who Might Succeed the Legendary Jon Stewart?

It is too early to know for sure what direction Comedy Central intends to take The Daily Show in the absence of Jon Stewart, but a few likely contenders stand out from the rest. The main question is whether the producers will hope to keep The Daily Show in a similar tone and style to the past 17 years, or whether they will try to reinvent it with a completely different personality. In any event, one obvious choice would be John Oliver, who presently hosts his own HBO show Last Week Tonight that is very similar in tone to The Daily Show. However, he may be lured back to Comedy Central, as indicated by the fact that Oliver took over from Stewart for two months while he filmed Rosewater. Another idea is Aasif Mandvi, a Daily Show insider who would continue the show in a similar vein. Another in-house idea is Jessica Williams, who the film Hot Tub Time Machine 2 predicts will host in the year 2025, and who would set a precedent for a female, African American host. Another female candidate is Amy Poehler, who recently completed her run on Parks and Recreation, or perhaps Amy Schumer or Sarah Silverman. An outside-the-box individual would be Joel McHale, who might not be as inherently political. Two other comedians who might be considered are Patton Oswalt and Ricky Gervais.

 

Sting Joins the Cast of “The Last Ship”

Hoping to Prevent “The Last Ship” from Sinking

the last shipThe sexiest thing about the production of the floundering new musical The Last Ship has always been its composer and lyricist, Sting – who has been nominated for the Grammy Awards 38 times, and has won for 11 of them. He has been inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame, has also won 25 American Music Awards, and has also acted in films ranging from Quadrophenia in 1979 to The Adventures of Baron Munchausen in 1988, and 20 Feet from Stardom in 2013. However, since it began previews on September 29, 2014, The Last Ship has not been performing well at the box office. It has never earned more than $575,155 in one week, and it has never made more than 51.62% of its weekly gross potential.

A Last-Ditch Effort to Save the Last Shipsting last ship

Starting December 9, 2014, however, Sting decided to make a last-ditch effort to save his beloved musical tale of the last ship built by an English seafaring town. He entered the cast in the role of Jackie White, a foreman of the shipyard. Though he is not the main role, he is on stage about 40% of the time, and he sings tunes such as one that has been particularly beloved with fans “Island of Souls.” The show takes place in his hometown and is semi-autobiographical. It is unclear whether the role of Jackie White is the autobiographical part, but it is most likely that Sting’s personal experience overlaps more with the protagonist Gideon Fletcher played by Michael Esper, but that at this age it was more appropriate for Sting to take on the role of White.

An Extension to Six Weeks

Though it was first announced that Sting would be in the show for four weeks only, from December 9, 2014 to January 10, 2015, it has recently been announced that Sting will stay on an additional two weeks until January 24, 2015. Perhaps he was just getting into his groove, and wanted to stick around for a bit longer, or perhaps the replacement they found had a scheduling conflict. Sting stepped in to replace Jimmy Nail as Jackie White; Nail is a British actor for whom this is his Broadway debut. It is most likely that Nail will come back in following Sting’s departure, allowing Nail to still be paid as an understudy, but Sting performing the role with an endnote that is somewhat flexible.

Broadway Holiday Schedule Xmas 2014

Broadway is operating on adjusted Holiday Schedules. No show is playing an evening performance on Christmas Eve, and many will be dark for the matinee on December 24th as well.  On Christmas Day, which is a Thursday, some shows are playing evening performances, but no show is playing a matinee on the 25th. To make up for the dark performances over the Christmas holiday, many shows are playing two performances on Friday, December 26th.  Then, many shows play two shows on Saturday, December 27th and/or Sunday, December 28th.

The evening shows on December 25th include Beautiful: The Carole King Musical at 8pm, Chicago at 8pm, Cinderella at 7pm, Disgraced at 7pm, The Elephant Man at 8pm, Honeymoon in Vegas at 7pm, Jersey Boys at 7pm, Kinky Boots at 7pm, Les Miserables at 7pm, Mamma Mia! at 8pm, Matilda at 8pm, Motown: the Musical at 7:30pm, On the Town at 8pm, Phantom of the Opera at 8pm, Pippin at 8pm, Rock of Ages at 8pm, Side Show at 7pm, and Wicked at 8pm.

Below are the times for the Christmas period, and the Thanksgiving calendar follows below that.

Christmas Week Schedule 2014

Show Title Mon.
Dec. 22
Tues.
Dec. 23
Wed.
Dec. 24
Thur.
Dec. 25
Fri.
Dec. 26
Sat.
Dec. 27
Sun.
Dec. 28
A Delicate Balance 7pm 7pm 2pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm
Aladdin 7pm 2pm, 7pm 2pm DARK 8pm 2pm, 8pm 1pm, 6:30pm
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical 7pm 7pm DARK 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 7pm
Book of Mormon, The 7pm 2pm, 7pm DARK DARK 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 7pm
Cabaret 7pm 7pm 2pm DARK 8pm 2:00pm, 8pm 2pm, 7:30pm
Chicago 8pm 8pm DARK 8pm 8pm 2:30pm, 8pm 3pm, 7:30pm
Cinderella DARK 7pm DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Constellations 7pm 7pm DARK DARK 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 7pm
Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, The 8pm 7pm 2PM DARK 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 7pm
Disgraced 8pm 7pm DARK 7pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm
Elephant Man, The 8pm 7pm DARK 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, A 7pm 7pm 2pm DARK 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 7:30pm
Hedwig and the Angry Inch 8pm 8pm DARK DARK 8pm 7pm, 10pm 3pm, 7pm
Honeymoon in Vegas 8pm 7pm DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
If/Then 8pm 8pm 2pm DARK 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 7:30pm
It’s Only A Play 7pm 7pm 2pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Jersey Boys DARK 7pm DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 7pm
Kinky Boots 8pm 7pm DARK 7pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 7:30pm
Last Ship, The 8pm 7pm 2pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Les Miserables 8pm 7pm DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Lion King, The 7pm 2pm, 7pm 2pm DARK 8pm 2pm, 8pm 1pm, 6:30pm
Love Letters 7pm 7pm 2pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Mamma Mia! 8pm 8pm DARK 8pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 7pm
Matilda DARK 7pm DARK 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm
Motown: The Musical 7:30pm 7:30pm DARK 7:30pm 2pm, 7:30pm 2pm, 7:30pm 3pm
On the Town 8pm 7pm DARK 7pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 7:30pm
Once 7pm 7pm 2pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Phantom of the Opera, The 8pm 7pm DARK 8pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm
Pippin 8pm 8pm DARK 8pm 2:30pm, 8pm 2:30pm, 8pm 3pm
Real Thing, The 7pm 7pm 2pm DARK 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 7:30pm
River, The 7pm 7pm 2pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Rock of Ages 8pm 7pm DARK 8pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm, 7:30pm
Side Show 8pm 7pm DARK 7pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 7:30pm
This Is Our Youth DARK 7pm 2pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm
Wicked 7pm 2pm, 7pm DARK 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
You Can’t Take It With You 7pm 7pm 2pm DARK 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 7:30pm

 

Thanksgiving Week Schedule 2014

Show Title Mon.
Nov. 24
Tues.
Nov. 25
Wed.
Nov. 26
Thur.
Nov. 27
Fri.
Nov. 28
Sat.
Nov. 29
Sun.
Nov. 30
A Delicate Balance 8pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm DARK
Aladdin DARK 7:00 2pm, 8pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical DARK 7pm 2pm, 7pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Book of Mormon, The 7pm 7pm 7pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm
Cabaret 7pm 7pm 2pm, 8pm DARK 8pm 2:00pm, 8pm 2pm
Chicago 8pm 8pm DARK 8pm 2:30pm, 8pm 2:30pm, 8pm 7pm
Cinderella DARK 7pm 2pm, 7:30pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, The 8pm 7pm 2pm, 8pm DARK 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Disgraced DARK 7pm 2pm, 7pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Elephant Man, The 8pm 8pm 8pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, A 7pm 7pm 2pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Hedwig and the Angry Inch DARK 8pm 8pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Honeymoon in Vegas DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
If/Then 7pm 7pm 7pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
It’s Only A Play DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Jersey Boys DARK 7pm 2pm, 7pm DARK 2pm8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Kinky Boots DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Last Ship, The 8pm 7pm 8pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Les Miserables DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Lion King, The DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Love Letters DARK 7pm 2pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Mamma Mia! 8pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm DARK 8pm 2pm, 8pm 7pm
Matilda 7pm 7pm 2pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Motown: The Musical 7:30pm 7:30pm 2pm DARK 2pm, 7:30pm 2pm, 7:30pm 3pm
On the Town DARK 7pm 2pm,8pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Once 7pm 7pm 8pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Phantom of the Opera, The 8pm 7pm 2pm, 8pm 8pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm DARK
Pippin DARK 8pm 2:30pm, 8pm 8pm 8pm 2:30pm, 8pm 3pm
Real Thing, The 7pm 7pm 2pm, 7pm DARK 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm
River, The DARK 7pm 2pm, 7pm DARK 2pm, 7pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Rock of Ages 8pm 7pm 8pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Side Show 8pm 7pm 2pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
This Is Our Youth 7pm 7pm 8pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm
Wicked 7pm 7pm 2pm, 7pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
You Can’t Take It With You 7pm 7pm 2pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm

Shubert Launches New Website TelechargeOffers

Telecharge Replaces The Website BroadwayOffers.com With TelechargeOffers.com

telecharge offers grayThe Shubert Organization, which owns the online ticketing site Telecharge.com monopoly, as well as a number of theatres on Broadway, has officially launched a new website: TelechargeOffers.com.  This new web site allows customers to process discount ticket offers through Telecharge Offers for Broadway shows when they are in possession of a discount code.  In the past, discount codes were processed on the old Telecharge offers website Broadwayoffers.com, which has been around for over ten years.  Presently, the homepage of the new site states that they are still working on adding offers to the site, and that some of the Broadway shows have partial information.  In the case that the site is not functioning for a particular offer, they suggest that the customer instead visit the original site, BroadwayOffers.com, while the transition in underway.

In Theory, A Higher Functionality For Buying Discount Broadway Tickets

This development is the brainchild of Charles Flateman, the VP of Marketing for Shubert Ticketing, who formerly worked for Gray Line New York Sightseeing Tours and is also a co-founder of Broadway Inbound.  One new benefit that Telechargeoffers.com brings is that it allows customers in possession of discount codes to see a seating availability map and choose their seats, rather than be forced to take the seats that the Telecharge system would provide to them automatically using the old system.  This graphical seat map functionality has already been used for regular priced tickets on Telecharge.com, but it is now available to customers buying discounted tickets as well. Also, the new website allows the client to set multiple dates in their ticket search. For example the ticket buyer can say “find me tickets on October 1 or October 15) which is a very powerful feature, especially given the tight schedules of locals and visitors alike.

Despite Positive Inroads, The New Site TelechargeOffers.com Fraught With Problems

It appears that although some of the new features and benefits of the new site are very promising, the system has been poorly designed and lacks the robust architecture that a successful IT project requires. Some of the issues seen are:

  • TelechargeOffers.com uses a complicated CAPTCHA system

    In an attempt to thwart ticket brokers and robots that try to game the system and buy large amounts of Broadway tickets. the new site uses a complicated CAPTCHA system.  This process can be very annoying to legitimate customers.  The Shubert’s have not yet graduated to the newer technologies that are less bothersome to legitimate customers and more reliably keep out scammers, ticket brokers and robots.

  • the Shubert’s insist on using microsoft Silverlight.

    The Shuberts, are well known for being an anti-Google and anti-Adobe house, still insist on using Microsoft’s Silverlight to render the graphical seat map instead or tried-and-trusted web methods using Adobe Flash, or better still, HTML 5. Microsoft Silverlight is not a mainstream product and is not installed on 99% of the world’s computers. The ticket buyer has to install a special add-in program just to be able to see the graphical ticket and seat map. Comparatively, Adobe’s Flash is installed on 70% of computers, both domestically and internationally.

  • Apple’s iPad and iPhone and Mac’s cannot use the graphical map at all

    Negating all value of the new website for those kind of mobile users, Microsoft’s Silverlight product is a dismal failure on all Apple products. In many cases it is explicitly banned from such platforms due to its poor security and cannot even be installed. This means that the most common tablet on the market, the Apple iPad, cannot use this new website for the very functionality that it was created for. Although basic functionality is achieved, this is not an improvement over what they had before with broadwayoffers.com.

  • The only computers that can use the full functionality of the new website are old-style PC’s.

    All Google devices and Apple devices are left in the cold..  Though newer devices can still use the new website, it provides poor functionality without a working graphical seat map.

  • Non-PC users cannot select multiple show dates

    For non-PC users, it is actually better to use the old website, BroadwayOffers.com as non-pc users of the new site cannot select multiple dates when selecting their choices for tickets, Unfortunately, The Shubert’s are expected to take the old site down shortly, leaving ticket buyers high and dry.This will clearly have a negative affect on ticket buyers, something that many industry professionals have indicated that may be Shuberts hidden agenda.

  • MORE PAGES – Multiple tabs replace a single page

    Rather than reduce the number pages a client has to work through to buy a ticket, the Shubert’s have increased the ticket buying process by adding three additional web pages to the process, further complicating the ticket purchase process for a customer, bringing the total number of pages that the client must navigate to ten. This is at odds with web best-practices of a maximum of three pages.

  • The new system faces other problems with Speed and Reliability

    Even when used on approved PC’s with the Silverlight application installed, the system is slow, prone to error on the CAPTCHA prompt, and has crashed many times during our transaction tests.

Shubert Detractors Pile On

Detractors insist that Shubert’s failure to provide a good quality website to process ticket sales is another prime example of the poor quality of service and lack of transparency that a monopoly provides when they are the only game in town. There are many calls for the control that Telecharge (owned by the Shuberts) and Ticketmaster (owned by Live Nation Entertainment) have over Broadway theatre to be broken up and passed out to competitive bidding and free market enterprise, where it is anticipated that quality, accountability and transparency would be increased exponentially. This industry has long been dominated by the Shuberts (for over one hundred years) and they are accused of damaging the industry by stifling innovation,  slow development and introduction of new technologies and continuing to operate a monopoly with all its negative traits. The recent addition of the new website TelechargeOffers.com is a very good case in point. Incidentally, the graphical seat map technologies that Ticketmaster have introduced for the Broadway theatres it controls are far superior to Shuberts dire attempt, even though the Shubert organization is supposed to know this industry far better than anyone else.

Shubert Refuses Comment

Charles Flateman, the VP of Marketing for Shubert Ticketing, declined to comment for this story citing Shubert’s policy of not commenting to the press, unless it’s through a press release.

Hugh Jackman to Host the 2014 Tony Awards, Sunday June 8, 2014

Hugh Jackman at the Tony AwardsOn June 8, 2014, Hugh Jackman will host the 68th Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall.  This is the fourth time the Tony Award winning actor will host the event, previously having emceed the Tony’s in 2003, 2004, and 2005.

Jackman is a favorite among Broadway audiences, as proven by the stupendous box office success of his limited engagement one-man show Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway in 2011, as well as A Steady Rain in 2009 where he played opposite Daniel Craig.  He earned the 2003 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his role in The Boy from Oz, in which he performed for a year.  He was also recognized with a special Tony Award in 2012 for his work to raise money and awareness for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.  He will appear on Broadway next season in Jez Butterworth’s play The River, with performances set to begin early 2015.

Jackman’s film credits include the role of Wolverine in the first installment of the X-Men Series, which he reprised in subsequent films X2, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: First Class, The Wolverine, and the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past.  In addition, he recently starred in Warner Bros’ 2013 film Prisoners, and he will also play Blackbeard in Warner Bros’ upcoming Pan.  In a more relevant role, he starred as Jean Valjean in the 2012 musical film adaptation of Les Misérables, for which he received an Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe Award.

2014 tony awardsIn 2005, Jackman received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program for his role in hosting the 2004 Tony Awards, and he was nominated for the same honor in 2006 for his efforts in 2005.  In 2009, that specific Emmy Award was retired, and thus Jackman cannot expect to win it this year.  However, this past year, the 2012 Tony Awards broadcast did quite well, receiving five nominations at the 2013 Primetime Emmy Awards: Outstanding Special Class Program, Outstanding Music Direction, Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics, Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special, and Outstanding Technical Direction, Camerawork, Video Control for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special.

Hugh Jackman at the Tonys in 2012.

In taking the mic for the fourth time, Jackman will be tied for having hosted the Tony Awards for the most number of times.  Neil Patrick Harris also hosted four times: in 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2013.  This year, however, Harris is starring in the title role of John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and will most likely join Jackman on stage as a nominee.

This is also the second year since the return of the Tony Awards to their long-time home at Radio City Music Hall.  For the two years prior, the Awards were relegated to the Beacon Theatre as Cirque du Soleil was occupying Radio City.  Award attendees were not pleased with the change in venue, as the Beacon was much smaller and required producers to limit their number of guests.  Thankfully, the event has now returned to its more spacious home, where it appears to stay.

The Tony Award nominations will be announced on April 29, 2014.  April 24, 2014 is the last day for Broadway shows to have their official opening and still be eligible for a nomination.  On June 8, 2014, the broadcast will air on CBS from 8:00 – 11:00 pm (live ET / delayed PT).

Broadway Stars at the 2014 Oscars

Last night, the 86th Annual Academy Awards crossed paths with Broadway in a number of ways.

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For the second year in a row, the event was produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron – who, in addition to having produced the recent Broadway revivals of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Promises, Promises, have perfected the Broadway musical to film adaptation concept with such movie hits as Annie (1999), Chicago (2002), The Music Man (2003), and Hairspray (2007).  They also executive produced NBC’s Broadway-themed TV show Smash.  It does make sense that these producers, with their expertise in the cross-section between theatre and film, would be chosen to run the film industry’s most significant stage show.

Last year, they may have taken the concept a little too far, as they made the unprecedented choice to give the 2013 Oscars a theme: music in film.   Though it was arguably appropriate because one of the nominees was Les Misérables, some critics thought they took the idea too far.  This year, they opted for a traditionally theme-less ceremony, and received far less criticism.  Still, purely on their own merits, some of Broadway’s favorite stars made appearances at the 86th Annual Academy Awards.

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Robert “Bobby” Lopez, who made his big break by co-writing the raunchy puppet musical Avenue Q, and furthered his renown by co-writing The Book of Mormon along with South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, made history last night.  At age 39, he became the youngest person ever to receive the honor known as EGOT – which refers to someone who has earned all four of “Emmy,” “Grammy,” “Oscar,” and “Tony” Awards.  Only twelve people have earned this honor throughout all of history, and he is the only person to have won all four within a decade.  At last night’s event, Bobby won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for having co-written Let It Go from Disney’s film Frozen, which in turn won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature.  He wrote the song along with his wife, Kristin Anderson Lopez.

The couple’s two young daughters, Kate and Annie, both had voice parts in Frozen.

Idina-Menzel-oscars-2014-2As is tradition at the Oscars, all the nominees for Best Original Song are performed at the ceremony by the artist who did so in the film.  Idina Menzel, who played Queen Elsa in Frozen, therefore had the privilege to sing the song at last night’s event – and she did so beautifully.  However John Travolta, who was chosen to introduce her, clearly was not familiar with one of Broadway’s biggest stars.  In reading off the teleprompter, he accidentally – and yet with a straight face – called her “Adele Dazim.”  Social media went into an uproar at the ridiculous mispronunciation.  Immediately, a twitter account in that name was created. Adele Dazim’s Twitter account gained thousands of followers within a short period of time. The account is now currently suspended.

Idina Menzel, as all Broadway aficionados know, rose to prominence when she premiered the role of “Maureen” in Rent, which she also reprised in the 2005 film adaptation, and she won the 2004 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance of “Elphaba” in Wicked.  This spring season, she has returned to Broadway to star in a new musical called If/Then, written by Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt, and directed by Michael Greif, who first cast her in RentIf/Then will begin previews March 3, 2014, and will open at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on March 30, 2014.  Therefore, Idina made the trip to Los Angeles just days before her big Broadway opening.

Musicals were not the only type of Broadway show to feature in last night’s Academy Awards.  In addition, two nominations were granted to August: Osage County, written by Tracy Letts based off of his Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play of the same name.  Those nominations were for Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, who were nominated for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, respectively.  Jean Doumanian, the producer of such Broadway shows as August: Osage County, The Mountaintop starring Samuel L. Jackson, Death of a Salesman starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Nice Work If You Can Get It starring Matthew Broderick, and The Book of Mormon, produced the movie adaptation of August: Osage County along with George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Steve Traxler, and Bob and Harvey Weinstein.  Though the film did not win any Academy Awards, it has had a profitable theatrical run, and succeeded in proving that a play can be great source material for a successful motion picture.

 

Heterosexual Males Prove To Be An Elusive Audience For Broadway Producers

For many years, a Broadway show producers lament has been “What’s more difficult than making a straight play on Broadway financially successful?  Making a straight man buy tickets to a Broadway show.”

Traditionally, heterosexual adult males have been an elusive demographic for Broadway. In the Broadway League’s newly released survey of the 2012-2013 season, it was found that 68 percent of audience members were female, which reflects a trend that has existed for decades.  Though little research has been done into the sexual orientation of Broadway audiences, it is clear from phenomenological observation that gay male theatre-goers are not hard to come by.

Mad Men In The Movie Theatre

Mad Men Photo Courtesy AMC Inc.

Straight men, however, are a rarer sight – according to a recent survey, 82 percent of heterosexual males who saw Broadway shows ended up going either because their partner made them or because someone else had bought the tickets.

Nevertheless, producers Fran Kirmser and Tony Ponturo have taken up this challenge three times in the past four years.  In mounting three plays by Eric Simonson that deal directly with sports-related content, they have aimed to woo straight men to the theatre.  Lombardi, a story about the eponymous football player, played at the Circle in the Square Theatre from 2010-2011; this show completed a successful run of 244 performances and is now being adapted into a film by Legendary Pictures.  However, their last two attempts with Simonson sports plays (Magic/Bird in 2012 and Bronx Bombers in 2014) both incurred major financial losses.  Bronx Bombers, which just announced its premature closing last week, recouped only 24 percent of its $3 million capitalization and averaged only 63 percent capacity throughout its short run.

Bronx Bombers

Sports is not the only subject that producers have undertaken in order to attract straight men to the audience.  Politics is another male-dominated topic.  This upcoming Broadway season includes one promising political play – Robert Schenkkan’s All The Way, which tells the behind-the-scenes story of Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidency during the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  In addition to its manly themes of power and justice, the Broadway production stars Bryan Cranston, who is well-known for his role in AMC’s Breaking Bad – a record-breaking hit television show and a favorite with men in particular.  Box office wraps for this play were strong enough to land it in the top 10 last week, though it is still in previews.  Other recent Broadway favorites on political themes include Frost/Nixon in 2007 and Gore Vidal’s The Best Man in 2012, both of which succeeded in recouping their investments.

Still, the playing field is open for wildcard topics to draw in the straight male audience.  For instance, Rock of Ages, with its head-banging 80’s rock score, has proved successful with this demographic.  Furthermore, both Monty Python’s Spamalot, which grossed more than $175 million over 1,500 performances between 2005 and 2009, and The Book of Mormon, running at full capacity with top box office grosses since 2011, provide an irreverent brand of comedy that appeals to the heterosexual male population.  Despite these successes, however, it still remains a challenge for producers to attract straight men to their theatres.