Sangrit Malay

About Sangrit Malay

Sangrit loves working in New York City, he often writes advice columns on what to do for fun here. He is a frequent Broadway attendee and loves to write mostly about the intersection between art and commerce Favorite TV Talk Show: Late Night with Conan O'Brien

“Dames at Sea” Begins Previews on Broadway

The Musical That Launched Bernadette Peters’ Career

dames at seaDames at Sea played its first performance on Broadway on September 24, 2015 at the Helen Hayes Theatre. This musical had its world premiere in 1966 in an Off Off Broadway production starring Bernadette Peters, who would go on to receive seven Tony Award nominations and win two (for Song and Dance and Annie Get Your Gun). In 1968, the show transferred Off Broadway to Bouwerie Lane Theatre, followed by the Theater de Lys in 1969. For this production, Bernadette Peters took home the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical. In August of 1969, the musical then played in London’s Duchess Theatre, and Peters also starred in a regional production at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey in 1973. Still, despite all this success and notable beginnings as launching Bernadette Peters’ career, the show had not played on Broadway until this production. After beginning previews on September 24th, the show will officially open on October 22, 2015. The musical has book and lyrics by George Haimsohn and Robin Miller, with music by Jim Wise. This production is directed and choreographed by Randy Skinner.

A Meta Musical About a 1930s Broadway Showdames at sea

Though Dames at Sea had not played on Broadway until this year, it is actually a parody of a Broadway musical. Though originally premiering in the 1960s, the musical within the musical is set in the 1930s, parodying the style of movie musical made famous by Busby Berkeley, wherein a newly arrived chorus girl steps off the bus into New York City and becomes a Broadway star. The temperamental diva star is named Mona Kent, a wise-cracking chorus girl is named Joan, and the producer and director is named Hennesy. In this midst of the usual day to day, a new girl named Ruby arrives from Utah with nothing except for tap shoes in her luggage and a prayer in her heart. The moment she shows up, she faints in the arms of a young man named Dick, a sailor who aspires to be a song writer. Following that fiasco, Ruby is given a job in the chorus. Shortly thereafter, however, they are told that the theatre will be torn down and they will need to find another venue for the show. However, things go awry when they decide to rehearse the show on an actual ship. When the star Mona gets sea sick, Ruby is able to step into the lead part and finds the fame she was looking for all along.

An Excellent Cast and Creative Team

The lead part of Ruby the chorus girl turned star is played by Eloise Kropp, who has been on Broadway only once before, in the chorus of the recent revival of On the Town. The part of the original star Mona Kent is played by Lesli Margherita, a British star who has been on Broadway only once before as well, in Matilda the Musical as Mrs. Wormwood. The part of Dick is played by Cary Tedder, who has previously been seen in Honeymoon in Vegas, Big Fish, Memphis, and The Times They Are A-Changin’. The part of Hennesy and the Captain is played by John Bolton, whose previously shows include A Christmas Story the Musical, Curtains, Spamalot, Contact, Titanic, and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Other cast members include Mara Davi and Danny Gardner. The show has set design by Anna Louizos, costume design by David Woolard, lighting design by Ken Billington and Jason Kantrowitz, and sound design by Scott Lehrer.

“Fool for Love” Begins Previews on Broadway

Manhattan Theatre Club Production of Sam Shepard Play

fool for loveOn September 15, 2015, Fool For Love began previews at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, the Broadway venue of the not-for-profit theatre institution, the Manhattan Theatre Club. The show will officially open on October 8, 2015. The play, written by Sam Shepard, first premiered in 1983 at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco, followed by an Off-Broadway run that same year at the Circle Repertory Theatre followed by the Douglas Fairbanks Theatre, where the cast included the likes of Bruce Willis early in his career, as well as Ellen Barkin who rehearsed but never performed the role due to an injury. The show then played the National Theatre in London in 1984, as well as a West End production in 2006. This is the first time the show has played on Broadway. This production, directed by Daniel Aukin, first premiered at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts in the summer of 2014. Following excellent reception, the show is transferring to Broadway with the same lead cast: Nina Arianda as May, and Sam Rockwell as Eddie. The supporting cast is Tom Pelphrey in the role of Martin, and Gordon Joseph Weiss in the role of the Old Man. This is the Broadway directorial debut for Daniel Aukin, who has been building his career Off-Broadway for many years with such shows as 4000 Miles.

fool for loveStar Crossed Casting of Nina Arianda and Sam Rockwell

When Fool for Love was set for production at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in July 2014, the original casting was Chris Pine and Lauren Ambrose. However, both of them pulled out with just a month to go before performances. It was then that Arianda and Rockwell were cast in the show, and had only a month to rehearse. However, both actors admit that these roles have been on their minds for a long time, and their chance to portray them was as if star crossed good fortune. Nina Arianda came to fame after portraying the role of Vanda in David Ives’ Venus in Fur, first Off-Broadway and then in the Broadway transfer, just a year after completing her degree at New York University. She also was nominated for a Tony Award for her starring role in Born Yesterday. Her familiarity with Sam Shepard’s work dates back to age 12, when she saw a local production of Shepard’s play True West and wanted to appear in this part ever since. Sam Rockwell is well known for his film roles in such movies as Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Iron Man 2, and he, too, has long been interested in playing this part in Sam Shepard’s play. They were both very star struck when they shook the playwright’s hand moments before performing the play for him for the first time.

A Controversial Manhattan Theatre Club Season

This production of a play by Sam Shepard, a male playwright, comes on the wake of significant controversy over the selection of plays by Lynne Meadow, the artistic director of the Manhattan Theatre Club. When seven of the eight plays of the season were announced, all were by male playwrights, including this one, Fool for Love, and the only female director announced was Lynne herself, at the helm of a Richard Greenberg play. However, though the contracts had not all been signed yet, Meadow rushed to alert the press that the eighth and as yet unannounced play would be by a female playwright, Penelope Skinner, and that director, as yet unconfirmed, would likely be Lila Neugebauer. Nevertheless, the productions are all going ahead as planned, and Fool for Love is starting the season off with an exciting production.

Nederlander Sells Air Rights Above Neil Simon Theatre

Air Rights Go For Record $450 per Square Foot

neil simon theatreThe Nederlander Organization owns 9 of the 40 Broadway theatres, which makes it the second largest landlord on Broadway after the Shubert Organization, which owns 17. One of these nine is the Neil Simon Theatre, which is located at 250 West 52nd Street, between Broadway and 8th Avenue. Due to a zoning law break that was passed several years ago, Broadway theatre owners have the ability to sell the air rights above their landmark theatres – that is, literally the air above their buildings by the square foot. The reason for this ability to sell air is due to the landmark status of the theatres; most of the old Broadway theatres were built at a time when Times Square consisted mostly of three or four story buildings. Now that the area is predominantly made up of skyscrapers often in the realm of 20 stories high, the landlords of Broadway theatres were faced with a situation where they owned the air above their theatres but were unable to build into it. Therefore, a relaxed law allowed a marketplace for these air rights, so that the owners could profit from their real estate without violating the sanctity of the old theatre buildings. Of course, the landlords do not have an interest in demolishing the theatres, but they do have an interest in making millions of dollars off of selling air.

Neil Simon Air Rights Purchased to Build New Skyscraper on Seventh Avenuetimes square

Though the Neil Simon Theatre is on 52nd Street, the law allows the theatre owners to sell their air rights to anyone in the theatre district, defined as the West side of Manhattan from 40th to 57th Streets. Therefore, the buyer for these air rights is a consortium – made up of Soho Properties, MPH Real Estate, and Hampshire Hotels Group – that plans to use the rights to build a skyscraper on 7th Avenue between 40th and 41st Streets. The new hotel will cost $300 million, and rise to 29 stories, or 400 feet, high. Additional purchases of air rights in recent years have gone for quite a lot of money, but $450 per square foot is a record. Specifically, the almost 20,000 square feet of air was sold for $8.9 million. When the air rights were first made available, there was not much interest, and they would sometimes sell in the range of $100 per square foot. More recently, the Shubert Organization has sold air rights for $225 per square foot, with pending transactions in amounts over $300 per square foot. However, this recent Nederlander deal of $450 per square foot is the highest air rights sale yet by a Broadway theatre.

Sale Benefits Theatre, Both on Broadway and Beyond

The ability for Broadway landlords to sell their unusable air rights is a sort of payback for the landmark status of their buildings, allowing them to make money off their valuable property without destroying the buildings. This money often goes to much needed repairs of the buildings, so that they can keep them in beautiful condition for the variety of plays and musicals that rely on the old buildings to be in a good state. However, there are also other tangential benefits to the theatrical community at large. Any buyer of theatrical air rights must additionally contribute to a fund to foster the development of new theatrical work. This fund is overseen by the Theater Subdistrict Council, who meet regularly to decide how to allocate the money. For every square foot purchased of theatrical air rights, the buyer must donate $17.60 to the fund. Thus far, the fund has dispersed around $5 million for theatrical development.

“An Act of God” Wraps Up Its Run

Jim Parsons Plays Final Performance on August 2, 2015

an act of godOn May 7, 2015, An Act of God began previews at Roundabout Theatre Company’s Studio 54 theatre, although the show is not a Roundabout production. An Act of God is written by David Javerbaum, directed by Joe Mantello, and stars Jim Parsons in the role of God. The producers include Jeffrey Finn and the Shubert Organization. The official opening night then took place on May 28, 2015. The show opened just too late to be considered for Tony Awards nominations this past year, although it will be eligible for the following year’s awards. However, the Tony committee generally has a fairly short term memory, with even shows that ran in the fall season given less notice than those from the spring season. Therefore, with this show opening and closing all within the summer of 2015, it may be difficult for the Tony committee to remember it as a competitive show for the nominations in June of 2016. In any case, An Act of God was a hit, at least from a financial perspective. On July 15, 2015, it was announced that the show had recouped its initial capitalization of $2.9 million, and is now running in profits. In addition, the show received fairly positive reviews after its opening on May 28th. Therefore, from almost all perspectives, the show is a critical and commercial hit.

Excellent Box Office from Day Oneact-of-god-broadway-jim-parsons

In the first partial week of performances for An Act of God, the show brought in 93.01% of its gross potential. Those numbers dipped slightly throughout the following weeks of preview performances, but in the weeks following the show’s opening, the numbers were back up in the range of 85 to 90% of the show’s gross potential. In the last reported week of box office figures, the week ending July 26, 2015, the show finally broke through the 100% mark of its gross potential, and in addition it brought in over $1 million at the box office for the first time. That week, the weekly gross was $1,011,538, which represents 100.37% of its gross potential. With a top ticket price of $349.00, the average paid admission was $130.47, also the highest average ticket sale in any week yet. In addition, the average audience capacity reached a peak of 96.3% average across the eight performances. With just one week left of box office figures to report, chances are these numbers will continue to creep upwards as ticket buyers realize this is their last chance to see Jim Parsons live on Broadway in the estimable role of God.

Jim Parsons: A Big Box Office Name on Broadway

If An Act of God demonstrated anything about the type of show that sells well on Broadway, it can be gleaned that Jim Parsons is a big box office name. The other factors involved in the production leave nothing particularly remarkable to conclude, such as the small cast led principally by one actor (often a difficult sell on Broadway), the playwright being a well regarded name within TV circles but one whose name doesn’t mean much to most Broadway ticket buyers, and a show that opened after it would be eligible for Tony Awards consideration. Jim Parsons also had a great chance to shine in his last lead performance at Studio 54, that time in the Roundabout Theatre Company production of Harvey. His only other performance on Broadway to date was a supporting role in The Normal Heart, where the lead role was played by Joe Mantello, who is also the director of An Act of God. When Parsons played that same role in the HBO film version of The Normal Heart, he was nominated for an Emmy Award. All in all, Parsons has won the hearts of America, and we are sure to see him again on Broadway as soon as he has a break in his busy television and film schedule.

“Amazing Grace” Begins Previews on Broadway

A Summer Opening and a Risky Financial Bet

amazing graceOn June 25, 2015, a new musical called Amazing Grace began previews at the Nederlander Theatre. It was given this slot following the closure of Honeymoon in Vegas, another new musical that ran only 4 months before shuttering. Amazing Grace has been in development for many years, and its creator is a first-time Broadway writer. Christopher Smith was a former cop when he began developing this show, for which he is the lyricist, composer, and co-bookwriter along with Arthur Giron. He was inspired by the original story of the writing of the song “Amazing Grace,” and henceforth sprang this show through years of trial productions and re-crafting to prepare it for the large and demanding audiences of Broadway. In choosing to begin previews in late June, the show’s producers have made it more difficult for the show to succeed financially. Traditionally, Broadway shows open in waves in two seasons: the fall and the spring. Then, the crucial factor of the Tony Awards in early June can make or break a show. In the warm summer season, producers expect the audience to be made up of a higher proportion of tourists, who tend to flock to the longer running established musicals, rather than an unknown show with no big names. Therefore, Amazing Grace will have a tough time standing out with all of these factors against it.

A Cast Reckoning With the Portrayal of Slaveryamazing grace

The founding story of the song “Amazing Grace” is indelibly tied to the history of slavery. The song’s writer John Newton was a slave trader who then had a crisis of faith and became a full-fledged abolitionist. This song, which is commonly known as having originated with the slave population, was actually written by a white man. Nevertheless, the cast is principally made up of black actors who are portraying slaves. In contemporary society which embraces more and more color-blind casting, and certainly frowns upon the idea that black actors can only portray slaves and house servants, this show walks a fine line between pride and shame. These actors are asked to go deep within themselves to find how it felt to be a slave, in order to make a larger point about equality and the struggle for freedom. This is a plea that still resonates very strongly today in our society, which sadly still wrought with outbreaks of racially motivated violence. In any case, the producers of this show hope to attract audiences that might not be the traditional Broadway demographic. They are conducting targeted outreach to church groups and African American groups, in order to bring this powerful story to a new group of Broadway theatregoers.

Initial Difficulty at the Box Office

In the show’s first partial week of performances, in which it played five shows, Amazing Grace brought in $200,392, which represents only 29.21% of its gross potential. With a top ticket price of $197.00, the average paid admission was $57.57. The audience was filled up to an average capacity of 59.9%. Though it is too early to determine the financial fate of this production, the early figures are not extremely promising. Of course, when the show opens on July 16, 2015, it will receive wide press coverage, and then the quality of the reviews may be able to make or break the show. However, in the hubbub of the summer season, it will still be difficult to break through, especially in targeting an untraditional Broadway audience. Nevertheless, the producers are holding out that their hard work will pay off, so that this show about hard work and faith will be an inspiration to Broadway audiences.

“The Visit” Closes on Broadway

The Last Collaboration Between John Kander and Fred Ebb

Visit-Broadway-Musical-Chita-Rivera-Tickets-176-012818On March 26, 2015, The Visit began previews at the Lyceum Theatre. This was the last collaboration by John Kander and Fred Ebb, who were also the creators of Chicago, Cabaret, and The Scottsboro Boys. Upon its official opening night on April 23, 2015, it received firmly mixed reviews, with some critics praising the musical but others being more on the fence. Like most musicals, the show began with an open-ended run, but it has now officially closed as of June 14, 2015. The musical was one of only four shows nominated for the Tony Award for Best Musical, along with the victorious Fun Home as well as An American in Paris and Something Rotten! However, nobody really expected The Visit to win that award, as the box office grosses were dire from the beginning, never reaching beyond $250,000 in a given week. The show was also nominated for the award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical, honoring the 82 year-old Chita Rivera for her starring role. However, that award went to Kelli O’Hara for The King and I. Having won no Tony Awards, and performing poorly at the box office, the producers had no choice but to close this show, which had been on its last legs for a long time.

Struggles at the Box Officechita rivera roger rees

In the final week of its run, The Visit made its highest weekly gross of $274,465, which still only represented 35.99% of its gross potential. Its lowest week took place in the week ending May 31, 2015, when the show brought in only $149,032, representing 19.54% of its gross potential. With a top ticket price of $225.00, the average paid admission each week fluctuated between $34.45 and $59.50. Therefore, even in its best week there was a heavy amount of discounting to fill seats so that those audience members who had paid full price, or anything at all, for their tickets would feel that they were getting a fuller experience. The highest percentage of audience capacity was reached in the show’s first partial week of five performances, when the audience was filled up to an average of 79.5%. Still, on most weeks the audience was only 50% to 60% full. All productions have an agreement with the theatre landlord called a “stop clause,” whereby the landlord has a right to evict the production if its weekly gross is below a certain specified amount for a certain number of weeks in a row. With such low numbers, it is possible that The Visit was dangerously close to, if not in violation of, its stop clause, and perhaps the Shubert Organization allowed the show to remain in reverence to Fred Ebb, John Kander, and Chita Rivera, awaiting the Tony Award results. However, when the show received no awards, there was nothing left to hope for.

A Future Beyond Broadway

Nevertheless, a Kander and Ebb musical is still a valuable property to own the rights to, even if the Broadway run was a disappointment. As memory fades, diehard theatre fans will continue to remember the piece, and the show will likely receive productions all over the country on a range of levels. Furthermore, the music will be used for theatre auditions and the scores will be sold in published form. There is still a way for the producers to continue to make some money on their investment. Still, it only made $1,963,656 throughout the entire run, which is certainly nowhere near its entire capitalization, especially when running costs are added to the mix. Therefore, the show will certainly go down in history as a financial loss, but not a complete failure due to its Tony Award nomination for Best Musical.

“Late Show with Stephen Colbert” Debuts Podcast

Gearing Up for September 8th Premiere on CBS

stephen colbertWhen Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report aired its last show on December 18, 2014, Stephen Colbert had played his conservative Colbert character for 1,447 episodes. On Wednesday, May 20, 2015, David Letterman said goodbye to late night television, airing his last episode of Late Show with David Letterman. Over the summer before the Late Show with Stephen Colbert’s September 8th premiere, CBS has filled the vacant slot with reruns of a range of CBS dramas, awaiting the moment when Stephen Colbert steps into Letterman’s very worthy shoes. Meanwhile, Stephen Colbert has also been preparing. Since he took a leave from television at the end of 2014, he has been doing many things, one of which was growing a beard. Since being discovered by fans, the beard has fondly been called “the Colbeard.” However, CBS made Colbert shave the beard prior to appearing back on television. Rather than doing this quietly, Colbert took the opportunity to make a funny video, shaving his salt and pepper facial hair in segments, mocking the various stages of unconventional facial hair that he could choose to rock. However, he inevitably ends up with a clean shaven face, but he gives us lots of laughs in the meantime. This video debuted on his new website, and he also launched an app called Colbr and a podcast, all meant to whet fans’ appetites during the summer break.

The Late Show Podcastcolbert letterman

In taking over Letterman’s slot, Colbert is doing more than sitting in the seat where Letterman once sat. The Ed Sullivan Theatre is getting a complete makeover, including widening the seats for “American asses” as Colbert jokes. Beyond this, the Late Show team is embracing online outlets more than ever before. Colbert now has a new website,, where fans can catch videos, podcasts, photos, and news. The podcast is a particularly fun addition to his slate. He reported that the internet is overrun with many comedy podcasts, so his podcast is in part an effort to curate these podcasts. The first few episodes of the podcast have dealt with the process of writing the comedy show. This is a way for the show’s writers and producers, many of whom Colbert brought over from The Colbert Report, to keep on top of their game during the summer hiatus. It is also a way for Colbert to shine a spotlight on some of comedy’s greatest talents, allowing a greater pool of fans to access their brilliance. Still, the podcast is not the only way the show’s writers are staying active. Colbert reports that they are writing all summer, even if the news on which they are reporting will not be relevant three months from now. In this way, they are shouting jokes into a sock, but Colbert deems this necessary for his writers to stay sharp.

Colbert without the Colbert Character?

As the first few episodes of the Late Show with Colbert podcast are making clear, Colbert is a comedic genius, with or without the shroud of his mock-conservative Colbert character made famous on The Colbert Report. Many devotees of the now retired Comedy Central show are skeptical that Colbert will be as hilarious without this device, but Colbert is determined to prove them wrong. His team of writers is figuring out how this will work as much as his fans are waiting to see how it will work. Still, one thing that is becoming clear is that Colbert’s “character” had many qualities such as bone dry irony and surreal humor that will transfer to the more “straight” Colbert himself, just without the layer of conservative pretending. In this way, America will get to know the “real” Colbert, and CBS is resolute to demonstrate that this Colbert is the same man we have grown to love.

David Letterman Retires from “Late Show” with Final Episode

Final Show Airs May 20, 2015 on CBS

david lettermanFor 22 years, David Letterman has been the host of the Late Show with David Letterman, airing five late nights a week on CBS. Including his previous tenure on a late night talk show on NBC, this represents the end of 32 year career for David Letterman as the king of late night. At age 68, he finally feels ready to step down and pass the mantle. On May 20, 2015, the final episode of the Late Show with David Letterman airs on CBS. He will be succeeded by Stephen Colbert, whose The Colbert Report has gained immense acclaim with American viewers, but the Late Show with Stephen Colbert will not begin until September 8, 2015, allowing a summer break for viewers to get accustomed to Letterman’s departure and become eager for the new premiere. David Letterman has influenced generations of comedians, setting the tone for an entire era of comedy that was way ahead of his time. Unlike Johnny Carson who preceded him on the late night landscape, Letterman was not afraid to point out artifice around him, bringing an anarchic quirkiness to television that has undoubtedly paved the way for Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, and Craig Ferguson.

Tom Hanks and Bill Murray Among Final Week Guestsdavid letterman bill murray

Among the guests to appear on the final week of the Late Show with David Letterman, Tom Hanks made his 60th appearance on a show hosted by Letterman. His first time appearing with David Letterman took place on April 4, 1984. For Monday night’s show, Tom Hanks sat on the couch one final time. Also on that show, Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam performed, backed by Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra. For Tuesday night’s show, Bill Murray made his 44th appearance on a show hosted by Letterman. He was also a guest on the first ever Late Night in 1982, getting Letterman off to an excellent start with the undeniable chemistry between the duo. In a hilariously memorable moment, Murray walked on the stage in 1982 proclaiming that he had missed the beginning of the show, and asked what happened, and if it had been going well. In addition, for this penultimate episode, Bob Dylan was the musical guest. At age 73, Dylan hasn’t performed on a Letterman show in 22 years. The last time was in 1993, which was the first season the show played on CBS. As for the final show on May 20, the guests will be a slew of surprises, including a final Top Ten.

Changing the Landscape of Late Night Forever

With the departure of Letterman, late night viewers are awaiting the fall when Stephen Colbert will transition into this more serious role, a departure from his farcical portrayal as the faux conservative character he has played on The Colbert Report. This is not the only change taking late night by storm. In addition, Craig Ferguson completes his tenure on The Late Late Show also on CBS in December 2015. His replacement, the British comedian James Corden who starred on Broadway in One Man, Two Guvnors, will not begin until March 2016. It is unclear if there will be guest hosts in the interim between Letterman and Colbert, although CBS has announced that there will be guest hosts for The Late Late Show between Ferguson and Corden. In any case, the set for the Late Show with David Letterman will be torn down at the Ed Sullivan Theatre, making the way for Stephen Colbert to do his best to step into those very worthy shoes.

The Tony Nominations Have Been Announced!

Awards Ceremony Will Take Place June 7th at Radio City Music Hall

tony awardsOn June 7, 2015, the greatest stars and talents of the Broadway theatre community will gather at Radio City Music Hall for the 69th Annual Tony Awards ceremony. After great anticipation, the nominations have been announced by the Tony Nominating Committee. As the nominators are famously few, even in comparison to the privileged bunch who get to call themselves Tony voters, there is always a degree of subjectivity involved in these nominations. Sometimes very deserving candidates do not even get a chance to compete for awards that some might say they should have won, merely due to the choices of 50 theatre professionals. In comparison, there are approximately 868 individuals who are eligible to place a vote among these nominees. This year, it was a very competitive nomination process, as very few categories had obvious contenders. Arguably the most prestigious category is the award for Best Musical, as this can validate a show to be a long running hit, or even turn a hidden gem into a global brand name. For the 2015 Tony Awards, the nominees for Best Musical are An American in Paris, Fun Home, Something Rotten!, and The Visit. As for Best Play, the nominees are The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Disgraced, Hand to God, and Wolf Hall Parts One and Two.

Revivals, Book Writers, Composers, Actors, and Actressesan american in paris

The nominees for Best Revival of a Play are The Elephant Man, Skylight, This is Our Youth, and You Can’t Take it With You. The contenders for the category of Best Revival of a Musical are The King and I, On the Town, and On the Twentieth Century. As for Best Book of a Musical, the nominees are An American in Paris by Craig Lucas, Fun Home by Lisa Kron, Something Rotten! by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell, and The Visit by Terrence McNally. Hand in hand is the award for Best Original Score, the nominees for which are Fun Home with music by Jeanine Tesori and lyrics by Lisa Kron, The Last Ship with music and lyrics by Sting, Something Rotten! with music and lyrics by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick, and The Visit with music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb. As for the acting categories, the nominees for Best Lead Actor in a Play are Steven Boyer in Hand to God, Bradley Cooper in The Elephant Man, Ben Miles in Wolf Hall Parts One and Two, Bill Nighy in Skylight, and Alex Sharp in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. The nominees for Best Lead Actress in a Play are Geneva Carr in Hand to God, Helen Mirren in The Audience, Elisabeth Moss in The Heidi Chronicles, Carey Mulligan in Skylight, and Ruth Wilson in Constellations. The nominees for Best Lead Actor in a Musical are Michael Cerveris in Fun Home, Robert Fairchild in An American in Paris, Brian d’Arcy James in Something Rotten!, Ken Watanabe in The King and I, and Tony Yazbeck in On the Town. The nominees for Best Lead Actress in a Musical are Kristin Chenoweth in Something Rotten!, Leanne Cope in An American in Paris, Beth Malone in Fun Home, Kelli O’Hara in The King and I, and Chita Rivera in The Visit.

Snubs and Surprises

finding neverlandThis year, there were quite a few shows that did not receive any nominations at all, some of which come as a major shock. One of the most obvious snubs was Harvey Weinstein’s first venture in Broadway producing, Finding Neverland, which received no nominations at all. Another show that can be considered a snub is Larry David’s Fish in the Dark, which has been selling marvelously at the box office but was a critical bust. Other shows that did not receive any nominations are The River, The Country House, Living on Love, The Real Thing, Doctor Zhivago, Side Show, Love Letters, A Delicate Balance, It Shoulda Been You, and Holler if Ya Hear Me. Some of these such as The River and A Delicate Balance sold very well, but received no nods by the Tony committee. For Living on Love, the lack of recognition was enough to persuade the producers to announce the closing date of the show as quickly as possible. As for positive surprises, the fact that An American in Paris received 12 nominations, tying only with Fun Home for the most of any show, was not expected by most. Though the reviews were generally positive, this dance heavy adaptation was a surprise sweep of the nominations. As for It’s Only a Play, which was a major box office hit, the show only received one nomination: for its newcomer Micah Stock. The other actors are major stars, and the play was received very warmly, but none of these individuals were recognized except the Supporting Actor.

An American In Paris 12
Fun Home 12
Something Rotten! 10
The King and I 9
Wolf Hall 8
Skylight 7
The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Night-Time 6
Hand to God 5
On The Twentieth Century 5
The Visit 5
You Can’t Take It With You 5
Airline Highway 4
On The Town 4
The Elephant Man 4
The Audience 3
The Last Ship 2
Constellations 1
Disgraced 1
Gigi 1
Its Only A Play 1
The Heidi Chronicles 1
This is Our Youth 1

‘America’s Got Talent’ Faces Tough Time Filling Seats In NYC

For the May 2014 taping of season 9 of the NBC behemoth TV show, America’s Got Talent (AGT), Mariah Carey’s hubby, Nick Cannon and the various judges Howard Stern, Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum and Mel B are certainly a big draw for audiences to see the show in NYC, but producers have created confusion in the choice of varied tape dates and locations for the taping’s, leading to a shortage of audience members.

For what’s billed as “Judgment Week “, normally the AGT show would be sold out, but right now there are many empty seats to be had over the next few days and many “priority seating” options are left empty, which is quite rare. The timings of the taping’s are also pretty awful with two taping’s a day at 9 AM and 2:15 PM maintaining a rigorous and demanding taping schedule. Many New Yorker’s just aren’t getting up for this. It is expected that in order to keep the morning audience there for the afternoon that they will feed them lunch as a bribe, a classic Hollywood trick.

The latest taping location is at Pier 92/94 on the West Side Highway, which is normally a  trade show and special event venue that houses the Westminster dog show and various other corporate trade shows. It’s weird to see AGT relegated to such a meager environment, especially given the high quality of the previous taping locations . Pier 92/94 bills itself in the “heart of midtown”, but in reality it is located on the outskirts of Midtown Manhattan at 55th Street and the West Side Highway, with no subway and little public transportation going there, that doesn’t help audience members who want to see the show, and have to battle rush-hour traffic to get there. No doubt the celebrities on the show, will be able to use Howard Stern’s “Ronnie Mund” AKA ” Ronnie the limo driver” to take them out there, in the quiet comfort of his customized Audi A8 complete with a working AC petcock.

AGT americas got talent show datesIt’s widely know that the reason AGT is shot in NYC is due to Howard Stern’s demanding schedule with The Howard Stern Show at Sirius XM radio so it remains to be seen if this format of moving around NYC in search of shooting locations will work over time or Howard will get bored and move onto new TV projects. It seems like just only a few moments ago the show was stationed in the theater at Madison Square Garden and before that it was at the Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark NJ. It is not clear where the live shows will be taped in the summer of 2014, but given the constant go-around NYC, it could be pretty much anywhere in the tri-state area.

What also doesn’t help is that the show isn’t on our TV screens right now, so there is little interest in the public minds – out of sight, out of mind. All the footage from these current shows is recorded and then edited down to the bare minimum, so the feel of this kind of show is labored and somewhat less compelling than a “Live” show, where it seems like anything could happen. Audiences in Hollywood would often be paid to attend these kinds of shows, but the New York ones have to be run more cheaply as the cost of shooting these shows in NYC is about double the Californian rate. The taped show also take a lot longer to shoot, often two and a half hours, with re-shoots and lighting adjustments galore,  which makes the audience restless and often bored. So bored  in fact that they don’t come back, especially given the amount of boos that Nick Cannon received recently at Madison Square Garden, when he came to see the NY Knicks play. His AGT TV producers thought it would be a great idea to shoot an AGT promo at the game and for him to appear on the MSG Jumbotron and then do a trick shot (Throwing the ball behind his head, while someone else throws a ball into the basket) His appearance on the Jumbotron was met with loud crowd boos and then his failed trick shot added to the crowd torment and they started getting mean. After a 2nd, but successful, attempt Nick Cannon finally sat down and then left the stadium just ten minutes later as he appears to have little interest in the Knicks. New Yorker’s generally do not like Nick Cannon and clearly Knicks fans positively dislike him, and now he knows it  if he didn’t know already. NBC’s AGT producers are well known producers of “fakeality” TV Shows and are to expected to still use the negative footage recorded at MSG, remove the loud boos, overdub the audio and edit out the fans rude hand gestures and make it appear that Mr Cannon was in fact the darling of The Garden.

We look forward to see the live shows of AGT come back to NYC in July and it will be interesting to see if the public interest in seeing this show returns, but given the current nomadic spin on shooting locations, the show could end up in Danbury, Connecticut. The home of all the other NBC universal shows. If only Howard Stern would agree to the move.

For your information, the official address of this shooting location at Pier 92/94 is 711 12th Avenue, New York, NY 10019.