Carly White

About Carly White

Carly graduated University Of Toronto, Theatre and Performance program. She has written for various publications including art-speaks, Pembroke Daily Observer, Toronto Star - Performing Arts Section, The Canadian Post and more recently the Village Voice and the New York Daily News. As a member As a member of the Barrow Group, her specialties include performance stage production and talent casting.

Super Bowl XLVIII Negatively Impacts Broadway Ticket Sales, Despite Positive Expectations

superbowl 48 trophyOn Sunday, February 2, 2014, the Seattle Seahawks crushed the Denver Broncos, 43-8, winning the National Football League championship at the Super Bowl XLVIII. The game was held just over the Hudson River from New York City at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

As it turns out, the Broncos were not the only ones who could have used a better defense.  Though Broadway shows across the board adjusted performance schedules and made promotional efforts to engage the influx of sports fans flocking to the city, theatre ticket sales were at a disappointing low, with weekly box office grosses dropping $2.4 million and with 15,000 fewer tickets sold compared to the previous 7-day period.

Total ticket sales were only $16,714,694 in the week leading up to the Super Bowl, though they reached $19,122,428 in the preceding week.  The only shows to reach full audience capacity were The Book of Mormon and the double-bill Mark Rylance-led Shakespeare productions of Twelfth Night and Richard III.  Even long-running hits such as The Lion King saw a big drop in sales, decreasing 10 percent since the week before.  Although the total weekly gross for all productions was comparable to the total gross in Super Bowl week last year, there are presently four more shows running than this time last year.

In recent history, Broadway producers have seen non-weather related ticket sales slumps, the most recent during the Republican National Convention in 2004, when ticket sales dropped 22%. This time the slump was so severe, that the New York City Mayor may rethink efforts to bring other events to the area, like the Olympics, the World Cup or even the Stanley Cup. It may increase hotel receipts, but do little for the rest of the NYC economy.

superbowl-tobaggan-run

In honor of the football event, New York City and the Super Bowl Host Committee joined forces to carry out an unprecedented shutdown of 13 blocks in Midtown Manhattan.  As a result, traffic was restricted in the heart of Times Square on Broadway between 34th Street and 47th Street for the four days leading up to the game.  The officially dubbed “Super Bowl Boulevard” hosted a slew of events ranging from a toboggan run to an outdoor stage featuring performances by, among others, the Broadway casts of Rock of Ages and Jersey Boys.  Other shows – including Rocky, Pippin, Motown, Chicago, Mamma Mia! and Newsies – gave special performances in nearby Bryant Park.  Still, it appears the excitement of the game overpowered the convenience of the theatre district welcoming the flood of visitors with open arms. The “Super Bowl Boulevard” festivities felt crushed in the small space on Broadway, especially given that the Javits Center, on the West Side of Manhattan was the original location earmarked , but another event grabbed the booking.

Broadway producers, anticipating the conflict, made significant efforts to take advantage of the tourist traffic.  Broadway Week, an annual 2-for-1 ticket promotion, happened to coincide with the shutdowns, and every running production (with the exception of the confident hit The Book of Mormon) participated in the discount program – most likely aiming to attract Super Bowl theatregoers.  Furthermore, the Broadway League (calling themselves “the theatrical equivalent of the NFL”) released a press statement welcoming Super Bowl XLVIII to Times Square, providing a user-friendly map for pedestrians to navigate their way to the theatres, and announcing alternate curtain times to accommodate football aficionados.

Rock of Ages

One show, Rock of Ages, made multiple efforts to attract football fans.  The 1980s rock jukebox musical has traditionally done very well with the adult male demographic, which is unusual for Broadway musicals.  It therefore makes sense that they would take this opportunity to gain added exposure among sports fans.  In addition to performing a half hour set onstage at Super Bowl Boulevard on Thursday afternoon prior to the game, the cast made the journey to MetLife Stadium on game day, performing two sets outside the gates prior to kickoff.  In an even greater feat, the producers convinced three NFL stars to join the cast onstage at Broadway’s Helen Hayes Theatre, playing bartenders in four brief scenes for a temporary stint.  However, Rock of Ages was no exception in terms of poor box office performance; their gross was $60,000 less than the previous week.

Overall, despite positive expectations that the event might help rally the crowds to Broadway, the performance week was disappointingly low.  Presumably, the grosses might have been even worse had it not been for the Broadway League’s efforts to woo the scant few Super Bowl fans that actually did go to a show.  It is likely that the Super Bowl fans also booked all the hotel rooms in New York City, which meant that the normal tourists didn’t have anywhere to stay. Super Bowl Boulevard also served to distract the remaining tourists from going to the theatre, merely adding to the multitude of entertainment options available in Times Square.  Still, some of these marketing efforts may prove fruitful in the long run, having possibly increased national awareness of the current Broadway slate.

Broadway Musical Taboo Stages Reunion Concert

TabooThe beloved but relatively short-lived Broadway pop musical Taboo, which played the Great White Way in 2003, is holding a 10th Anniversary reunion concert tonight and tomorrow at the club 54 Below. There will be two performances of the reunion concert on February 7 at 8pm and 11pm and again on February 8 at 8pm and 11pm.

Produced by Rosie O’Donnell, Taboo was the biographical tale of Boy George and the ’80s London club scene, and even co-starred Boy George himself in the role of Leigh Bowery. The reunion show will feature several original cast members from the Broadway production of Taboo, including Jeffrey Carlson, Cary Shields, Liz McCartney, and Sarah Uriarte Berry.

John McDaniel, Taboo’s original music director on Broadway, will also provide music direction for the concert. Proceeds from the event will go to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.  Click here for more information.

Tony n’ Tina Coming Back to Off-Broadway

Tony n' Tina's WeddingA pioneer in interactive theater, the former long-running Off-Broadway hit Tony ‘n’ Tina’s Wedding is coming back to New York City’s Off-Broadway scene this year. Starting March 5, the two-part theater piece will play at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School (120 W. 46th Street) in midtown Manhattan where Tony and Tina’s comedic wedding ceremony will take place. The audience will then be led by the show’s performers (playing the bridal party and Tony and Tina’s friends and family) through Times Square to Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar (220 W. 44th Street), where they will eat an Italian buffet, enjoy cocktails, and dance to a DJ.

Brought to life by Hofstra University undergrads Nancy Cassaro and Mark Nasser in 1985, Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding went on to have a long commercial run in Greenwich Village, followed by a 10-year run in Times Square.

Tickets for this new production of the interactive performance piece are $125-175. Performances will be held Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7pm, along with 2pm Saturday matinees and 3pm Sunday matinees. Visit www.TonyLovesTina.com or call 866-811-4111 for tickets and information.

Real Housewives Star To Perform Off-Broadway

Kandi BurrussKandi Burruss, one of the stars of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Atlanta, will soon join the cast of the Off-Broadway show NEWSical The Musical. Her two-week stint in NEWSical will be from January 13-26, 2014.

“I am thrilled to join the cast of NEWSical The Musical,” said Kandi Burruss in a statement. “Having just come off of my own musical production, NEWSical The Musical furthers my journey in entertainment to, simultaneously, do more of what I love: act and sing.” As well as her role on the Atlanta edition of the popular Real Housewives franchise, Burruss is known as a songwriter and record producer.

NEWSical the Musical, which currently features Christine Pedi and Michael West, among others, is playing on Theatre Row at 410 W. 42nd Street. Tickets are $90 to $110. Go to www.NEWSicalthemusical.com for tickets and information.

Twelfth Night Goes Off-Broadway

Twelfth NightWhile audiences are enjoying the very Elizabethan-style version of Twelfth Night starring Mark Rylance on Broadway, the Off-Broadway scene is getting its own take on the beloved Shakespearean romantic comedy of mixed identities this month, courtesy of the Essential Theatre Group.

Unlike the Broadway production, which has an all-male cast (as productions did in William Shakespeare’s own time), ETG’s production has a mixed-gender cast — no doubt a relief to those who already find the gender-bending Twelfth Night a little confusing at times. ETG’s Twelfth Night, which is directed by Tony Lance, also features original music by Conly Basham and Gillian Bell (a sample can be viewed here).

Twelfth Night plays December 13-21 at The Tank Theatre, located in Times Square at 151 West 46th Street on the 8th floor. Tickets are a budget-friendly $15 and can be purchased at twelfthnighttank.brownpapertickets.com.

Broadway Schedule Changes for Thanksgiving Week

The Phantom of the OperaMajor holidays usually mean significant changes to the Broadway schedule, and that includes Thanksgiving. With families in town and visitors coming to NYC for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, it is good to know what changes to expect in the event that you want to catch a Broadway show during this holiday time.

The main change is that almost all Broadway shows have canceled their performances on Thanksgiving Thursday. The five shows that will be open that evening (all for 8pm performances) are Beautiful, Chicago, The Phantom of the Opera, Pippin, and The Winslow Boy.

To make up for the Thanksgiving closures, most Broadway musicals and plays are adding a matinee performance for the Friday following Thanksgiving Day. 700 Sundays, Mamma Mia, Phantom, Pippin, Richard III, The Snow Geese, Twelfth Night, Waiting for Godot, and The Winslow Boy are the only exceptions.

To see the complete Thanksgiving Week Broadway performance schedule, click here.

Julie Taymor Appears at the 92nd Street Y November 17

Julie TaymorIn “From Stage to Screen and Back Again,” an event at the 92nd Street Y, theatrical visionary and Broadway director/designer Julie Taymor will discuss her work with actor Harry Lennix (who was in Taymor’s 1999 movie Titus).

Tony Award winner Julie Taymor is of course best known for her extraordinary work in Disney’s stage adaptation of The Lion King, which has remained one of Broadway’s biggest hits for 15 years. However, she became very controversial during the development and preview period of the multi-million dollar Broadway production of Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark. Currently, she is directing a new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Theatre for a New Audience in Brooklyn.

Julie Taymor will be at the 92nd Street Y on November 17 at 7:30pm. Tickets start at $29 and can be purchased by calling 212-415-5500 or by visiting www.92y.org.

Broadway and TV Actor Len Cariou To Perform at 54 Below

Len CariouTelevision audiences will recognize Len Cariou for his role on the hit TV show Blue Bloods, but Broadway fans have long appreciated the veteran actor for his Broadway work. Soon Cariou will be seen on the stage at 54 Below (254 West 54th Street) performing beloved Gershwin songs.

Len Cariou will sing numbers by George and Ira Gershwin on December 11 at 7pm, December 13 at 8pm, and December 14 at 8pm. Tickets are $35 to $45, plus a $25 food/beverage minimum. More information can be found at www.54Below.com.

A Tony Award winner for his turn in the original Broadway production of the Stephen Sondheim/Hugh Wheeler musical Sweeney Todd, Len Cariou has also appeared on Broadway in the musicals Applause and A Little Night Music, as well as plays such as Proof and The Dinner Party.

Gypsy of the Year Competition to Play Minskoff Theatre December 9-10

Gypsy of the YearBroadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (BC/EFA) hosts a number of popular Broadway-related benefit events throughout the year, and the Annual Gypsy of the Year competition is one of the most loved. This year’s Gypsy of the Year will be held at the Minskoff Theatre, home to the long-running Disney musical The Lion King, on December 9 at 4:30pm and at December 10 at 2:00pm.

Now in its 25th year, Gypsy of the Year puts a spotlight on Broadway’s many ensemble dancers and singers, dedicated and talented performers — sometimes called “gypsies” — who don’t always get the glory but whose hard work is crucial to the vitality of Broadway. Over 200 of these Broadway gypsies will do original sketches, along with song and dance numbers, during the event.

The Gypsy of the Year performances in December will cap off a six-week fundraising push by the companies of Broadway, Off-Broadway, and touring shows as they try to raise money for BC/EFA. Since its inception, Gypsy of the Year has raised more than $50 million for charity. The company that raises the most funds will be recognized, as will the best performance.

You can purchase tickets to be in the audience for Gypsy of the Year by calling 212-840-0770 (ext. 268) or by visiting www.broadwaycares.org. Tickets range from $20-$110, with VIP tickets in the $200-$350 range.

Broadway Performers Joel Grey and Brooke Shields Named Living Landmarks

Joel Grey

Joel Grey

Every year the New York Landmarks Conservancy honors people who they dub as “living landmarks,” and this year two stage performers of different generations, Joel Grey and Brooke Shields, will be recognized in their annual event taking place at The Plaza in Manhattan on November 14.

One of the most respected elder statesman of the Broadway theater, Joel Grey has starred in Broadway musicals such as Cabaret, Chicago, Wicked, and most recently Anything Goes. Brooke Shields initially gained fame in film and television, but she has also appeared on Broadway a number of times in productions like Grease, Wonderful Town, and The Addams Family.

A Living Landmark herself, Liz Smith, will host the event, and music will be provided by Peter Duchin and his Orchestra. Tickets for the Living Landmarks gala are a pricey $1,000 (or $10,000 for a table). Call 212-995-5260 or email JennaSmith@nylandmarks.org for tickets and information.