Pawdesh Salawi

About Pawdesh Salawi

Pawdesh has been writing about Broadway ever since seeing her first show on the great white way in 2001. Now she sees over one hundred Broadway (and off-Broadway) shows a year. She is also a member of the Drama Desk and would love to vote on the Tony's one day. The Office Voted Her Most Likely To: Marry rich and divorce young

“Penn & Teller” Completes Its Limited Engagement

Magic Show Recouped In Its Penultimate Week

penn and teller posterOn Sunday August 16, 2015, Penn & Teller on Broadway played its last performance at the Marquis Theatre. The famous magician duo came to Broadway for a strictly limited engagement of 6 weeks, including one partial week of previews which began on July 7, 2015. The official opening night took place on July 12, 2015. Throughout this short run, the show sold very well. There was a huge gross potential in the large Marquis Theatre, and the show never brought in more than 82.52% of this potential in any given week. Still, with more than a week to go in their six-week run, the producers announced that Penn & Teller on Broadway was a financial hit, having recouped its initial capitalization of $2.85 million. This amount is quite low for a Broadway show, but six weeks is extraordinarily low for the duration of a run on Broadway. Therefore, it is no small feat that this magic show managed to enter profits during its run. The best-selling week took place in the week ending August 9, 2015, when 12,145 people paid to see the show across the eight performances. The only other shows to bring in as many audience members were the best-selling musicals Wicked, Aladdin, The Lion King, and the newer show An American in Paris.

Overall Excellent Sales but a Downturn in the Final Weekpenn and teller

Over the course of the six-week run, Penn & Teller on Broadway made a steady climb in ticket sales. However, in the final week of the run, the week ending August 16, 2015, the show took a dip in sales. This is unusual, as most other shows manage to attract more audience members in their final week due to the last chance opportunity to see the show. However, everything about this show was unusual, from the short six-week duration of the show, to the fact that it is not a traditional play or musical, but instead a magic spectacle straight from Las Vegas. In the final week of sales, the show still brought in the impressive gross of $1,153,386, but this is a decrease of $268,702 from the week before, a 21.0% drop. People did pay more per ticket (the average paid admission went up from $117.09 the previous week to $122.71 in the final week), and yet the number of audience members went down (from the peak number of 12,145 to the lowest number of the run, 9,399 people). It is unclear why the final week demonstrated a decrease in interest to see the show. Perhaps the number of individuals interested in paying top dollar for a show in New York that is more suited for Las Vegas was saturated after just over 5 weeks. If this is the case, then the producers made the right choice in scheduling the show for a 6-week engagement.

Mixed Reviews that Did Not Sway Ticket Buyers’ Interest

After the show opened, there were mixed reviews from critics. Some were critical of the fact that the show was made up of seemingly simple tricks, such as the classic of pulling a rabbit out of a hat. However, this was clearly a crowd pleaser, and audiences did not shy away from rushing to the Marquis Theatre. Immediately after this run, the duo plans to return to Las Vegas where they have been performing together for 40 years. The six-week run was the longest break they could finagle from their producers at the Rio Hotel and Casino. Still, as demonstrated by the downturn in the last week of ticket sales, this may have also been the right move from a financial perspective.

Casting Announced for “She Loves Me” on Broadway

Roundabout Theatre Company Revives This Musical in Spring 2016

she loves meShe Loves Me first premiered on Broadway in 1963, when it was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Musical and took home the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical. It was since revived on Broadway twice, if you include a one-night benefit performance on December 5, 2011. Its first major revival took place in June 1993, when it ran for one year, first at the Criterion Center Stage Right, and then at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. This upcoming spring season, She Loves Me will shine on Broadway once more. The source material for this musical is a Hungarian play called Parfumerie by Miklos Laszlo, which has also served as the source material for the 1940 film The Shop around the Corner, the 1949 musical In the Good Old Summertime, and more recently, the 1998 film You’ve Got Mail starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. Nevertheless, the musical She Loves Me remains one of the lasting successes of this story, and the Roundabout Theatre Company is producing it at Studio 54 with previews beginning February 5, 2016, and an opening night scheduled for March 3, 2016. It is then scheduled to run until May 22, 2016, when Studio 54 will be vacated for the arrival of a new production.

Laura Benanti and Josh Radnor Are Joined By Stellar Supporting Castjosh radnor laura benanti

This past week, the full cast for the musical revival was announced. It had previously been disclosed that the lead part of Amalia Balash would be played by Laura Benanti (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, In the Next Room, Gypsy), and that the role opposite her, Georg Nowack, would be played by Josh Radnor (“How I Met Your Mother,” Disgraced, The Graduate). Now, it has been revealed that Jane Krakowski will join the duo in the role of Ilona Ritter; Jane is best known for her role on “30 Rock” and has also been seen on Broadway in Nine, Once Upon a Mattress, and Tartuffe among other roles. Furthermore, the role of Steven Kodaly will be played by Gavin Creel, who is presently playing Elder Cunningham in The Book of Mormon, and who has been nominated for two Tony Awards for his roles in Hair and Thoroughly Modern Millie. If that wasn’t enough, the cast has also been revealed to include Rene Auberjonois (Sly Fox, Dance of the Vampires) as Mr. Maraczek, Nicholas Barasch (The Mystery of Edwin Drood, West Side Story) as Arpad Laszlo, Michael McGrath (Tony Award winner for Nice Work if You Can Get It, On the Twentieth Century) as Sipos, and Peter Bartlett (Something Rotten!, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella) as the Headwaiter.

Creative Team Will Make This An Unmissable Production

She Loves Me has a book by Joe Masteroff, music by Jerry Bock, and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick. The show will be directed by Scott Ellis, the Roundabout Theatre Company associate artistic director who has helmed many shows in recent seasons, including On the Twentieth Century, The Elephant Man, You Can’t Take It With You, and The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Furthermore, the choreographer is the highly acclaimed Warren Carlyle, whose recent credits include On the Twentieth Century, After Midnight, A Christmas Story The Musical, and Follies, and he also directed and choreographed Chaplin and Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway. With scenic design by David Rockwell, costume design by Jeff Mahshie, lighting design by Don Holder, and sound design by Jon Weston, this production will surely be impeccable from a production standpoint. Now what rests to be told is whether audiences take to this classic romantic musical from 1963, or whether it gets buried in the otherwise exciting spring season.

“Amazing Grace” Continues Fight Against The Odds

A Tuner About the Origins of the Famous Gospel Song

amazing graceAmazing Grace began performances following the Tony Awards, thereby relinquishing its chance of competing for the biggest honors given to Broadway shows. However, it was more than the timing that has given Amazing Grace a difficult shot at succeeding on Broadway. Upon the show’s opening this month, it was reviewed negatively by all the major publications. Furthermore, its box office has been dire, with the show bringing in no more than 29% of its gross potential in any given week since the start of previews on June 25, 2015. With the July opening, the negative reviews demonstrate that word of mouth is not likely to give this show a boost in its financial figures. Amazing Grace was conceived over a long period of development by a Broadway newbie, Christopher Smith. Smith co-wrote the book along with Arthur Giron, and he also wrote the music and lyrics. A former cop, Christopher Smith came across the origin story of the famous gospel tune “Amazing Grace” and decided to craft it into a musical. As John Newton was a slave trader turned abolitionist, the story was found to be inspirational as well as connected to a familiar tune.

A String of Negative Reviews Upon Openingamazing grace

However, despite the potential for this show to make a big splash due to its name recognition and historical significance, it has flopped in terms of critical response. Charles Isherwood of The New York Times found the show to be an overstuffed history lesson combined with melodrama, although he admitted that the timing of the show was conveniently close to President Obama’s well recorded singing of “Amazing Grace” to the national public. David Cote from Time Out New York was equally dismayed by the production, as he bemoaned the fact that $16 million went to a poor imitation of Les Miserables, whereas that money should have partially gone to script doctors to fix the storyline. David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter was no more complimentary, though he admitted the show was sincere in its attempt to represent the true story of a repentant slave trader who wrote a famous hymn. Robert Kahn of NBC New York remarked that Christopher Smith was ambitious in his Broadway attempts, but did not appreciate how the song “Amazing Grace” did not appear until the end of the musical. Finally, Matt Windman of AM New York was astonished that this show made it to Broadway, deeming the entire construct of the story to be an unlikely prospect for this level of theatre production.

Poor Box Office to Match the Poor Reviews

In the last reported week of box office figures, Amazing Grace brought in $321,914, which represents 29.32% of the show’s gross potential. With a top ticket price of $197.00, the average paid admission was only $46.43, demonstrating a large amount of discounting. Still, this is the highest gross the show has brought in thus far. In its first week of previews, the weekly box office gross was $200,392, and the grosses have crept upwards each week since. Still, with such negative reviews, it is unlikely that Amazing Grace will be able to earn much higher grosses than it has been earning. Between the difficult summer season, where most theatregoers are tourists who prefer the big long-running musicals, and the negative response from theatre critics, this show is going to have a tough time sticking around even until the end of the summer season.

Deaf West “Spring Awakening” Comes to Broadway This Fall

Acclaimed Los Angeles Production of Tony Winning Musical

deaf west spring awakeningIn a surprise move, the Deaf West Theatre Company production of Spring Awakening has announced that it will come to Broadway this fall. Following the announcement that It Shoulda Been You will be closing on August 9, 2015 and vacating the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, the producers of Spring Awakening revealed that they will be taking advantage of the opportunity to move the production out east. With previews beginning on September 8, 2015, and an official opening night scheduled for September 27, 2015, Spring Awakening is scheduled to run for an 18 week limited engagement with a closing date of January 9, 2016. Spring Awakening premiered on Broadway in December 2006, and it conquered the 2007 Tony Awards by winning eight awards of their 11 nominations, with the wins including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Direction of a Musical, and Best Choreography. Spring Awakening has music by Duncan Sheik (American Psycho) and book and lyrics by Steven Sater. The original production was directed by Michael Mayer with choreography by Bill T. Jones. Though this production will step back onto the Broadway stage less than a decade later, it will be a very different Spring Awakening.

Deaf West Theatre Company’s Second Time on Broadwaydeaf west spring awakening

The Deaf West Theatre company was founded in Los Angeles in 1991, since which time they have been dedicated to producing theatre made for deaf and hearing audiences both, utilizing both deaf and hearing actors. The highest profile show of theirs to date was Big River, the Huckleberry Finn tale which transferred to Broadway in 2003 and was nominated for Best Musical. That year, the Deaf West Theatre company was also given an honorary Tony Award for their contributions to theatre. This production of Spring Awakening will be the second Deaf West production to make it to Broadway. Spring Awakening, which is based on an 1891 German play of the same name by Frank Wedekind, tells a story about teenagers reckoning with inner and outer tumult and dealing with their own burgeoning sexuality. One of the main themes is the teenagers’ difficulty communicating with parents who do not understand them, and that is one reason why the show is a particularly apt choice for a Deaf West production. This production, directed by Arden, premiered in Los Angeles at Inner-City Arts and then transferred to Beverly Hills’ Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, where it concluded its run on June 7, 2015. After receiving rave reviews, the show decided to move to Broadway.

The Beauty of Using Both Hearing and Non-Hearing Performers

According to Charles McNulty’s rave review in the Los Angeles Times, this production is a very successful reimagining of the modern classic, going above and beyond the mere fact of using deaf performers as well as hearing performers. The choice of which characters are to be played by hearing actors, or non-hearing actors, or sometimes both, is very thoroughly conceived. For example, one of the lead roles, a young woman named Wendla, is portrayed by two actors – one hearing, and one non-hearing who uses sign language. Therefore, we are able to step inside her head even more than usual, understanding the alienation and fear she is encountering while also listening to the beauty of these feelings expressed in song. However, the male lead of Melchior is played solely by one actor who sings his heart out. Overall, this production seamlessly integrates the complex logistics of this sometime dual casting, while making the audience completely suspend disbelief as they are lead into the heart of this beautiful ensemble story.

“Gigi” Concludes Its Run on Broadway

Negative Reviews, No Tony Love, and Inadequate Sales

gigi vanessa hudgensWhen Gigi began previews on March 19, 2015 at the Neil Simon Theatre, the first-time Broadway producer Jenna Segal had high hopes. She had shepherded this revival through substantial revisions to make it more suitable for modern day sensibilities, and she had found a bonafide star to play the title role: Vanessa Hudgens, making her Broadway debut no less. However, the community was fairly unwelcoming to this novice stage producer, which was demonstrating by the revival’s failure to receive any Tony nominations or awards. When the show opened on April 8, 2015, the reviews were mixed to negative, with most critics disliking the show for its bland attempts at political correctness and its overly bubbly efforts to dazzle without substance. Though Hudgens’ performance was praised, as was that of Victoria Clark who played Mamita, this was not enough to make the overall impression a positive one for reviewers. The musical did have a chance to perform at the Tonys, with Hudgens singing “The Night They Invented Champagne” along with the ensemble cast, but the highly theatrically and admittedly corny number did not sit well with broadcast audiences, and sales continued to be disappointing.

Unable to Achieve Even Half of Its Gross Potentialgigi-broadway-vanessa-hudgens

Since the show began performances, the highest weekly gross was $635,256, which occurred in the week ending April 12, 2015, shortly after the reviews came out. However, that response was very short lived, and probably was mostly made up of fans of Vanessa Hudgens who hadn’t yet heard she was on Broadway. However, a tween star has a limited marketing potential for Broadway audiences, who usually tend to average around age 55 and female. Therefore, other than that one week, the highest weekly gross was $585,448, which represents 49.44% of the show’s gross potential. The lowest gross earned thus far was $401,946, taking place in the week ending June 7, 2015, the week leading up to the Tony Awards. The following week, the show did see a jump to $508,643, which represents 37.81% of the show’s gross potential. However, that is not enough to allow this musical to persist on Broadway, as it has announced the closing date will be at the end of this week: June 21, 2015. The top ticket price is not abominably high at $198.00, and yet the average paid admission ranged from $65 to $80, demonstrating a heavy amount of discounting. Therefore, despite all the producers’ greatest efforts at marketing, much of which was done over social media, this show just couldn’t take off.

Demonstrating the Limited Power of Social Media on Broadway

Whereas social media has proven itself to be a force to be reckoned with in many other forms of entertainment, Broadway has been slow to embrace this marketing method. Gigi was an exception, with the producers aiming to leverage Hudgens’ young fan base. However, this wasn’t enough to make the show a hit at the box office. Though there is still potential for Broadway to catch up with the world in terms of how information is spread, it appears that theatre remains in the world of “old school,” with direct mail still functioning as a more effective marketing tool than social media. It is true that email blasts and websites are a major source of ticket sales and marketing, but social media is still proving a tough nut to crack for Broadway.

“It’s Only a Play” Concludes Its Run

Successful Run Concludes With Final Performance On June 7, 2015

it's only a play coverOn June 7, 2015, Jack O’Brien’s production of Terrence McNally’s It’s Only a Play played its final performance at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre. On August 28, 2014, it began previews, at that time playing at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. After its opening night on October 9, 2014, the show received mixed to positive reviews. However, that did not stop the show from becoming a huge hit, with the box office flowing healthily due to the star studded cast. The original cast included Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, bringing back the excellent chemistry from their world renowned star turn in The Producers. On top of those two, the cast included Stockard Channing (Grease, Other Desert Cities), Rupert Grint (“Ron” from the Harry Potter movies), Megan Mullaly (Young Frankenstein, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying), F. Murray Abraham (Mauritius, Triumph of Love, A Month in the Country), and Micah Stock. Though Micah Stock was the least famous of the bunch, and the only one making his Broadway debut, he was also the only one to be nominated for a Tony Award, that for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play. This was the only nominated the show received, and it did not win.

Nathan Lane is the Golden Ticketit's only a play cast

Despite the mixed recognition from reviewers and Tony voters alike, It’s Only a Play was an unqualified financial hit. On December 17, 2014, the production announced that it had recouped its $3.9 million investment, making it the first show of the 2014-2015 season to announce recoupment. Fortunately for the producers, that achievement took place before the planned departure of Nathan Lane, who quickly proved himself to be the biggest star in the show. In every single full performance week where Lane appeared, up until the week ending January 4, 2015, the show brought in over a million dollars. Immediately after he departed, starting the week ending January 11, 2015, the numbers took a huge dip. Whereas the play had been bringing in over 100% of its gross potential consistently, suddenly it was bringing in just over 60% for three weeks, and then those numbers dipped even further, bringing in around an average of 45% of its gross potential each week. In the week ending January 4, 2015, the weekly gross was $1,455,818, but just three weeks later, the weekly gross was $462,008.

Matthew Broderick Did Not Have As Much Box Office Pull

Matthew Broderick, who had originally also planned to leave on January 4, 2015, decided to extend his participation in the show until the end of the run, whereas Lane had to leave to appear in The Iceman Cometh. However, Lane clearly proved he is a bigger star than Broderick, as Broderick’s decision to remain did not keep the numbers as high as they had been. However, when Lane came back to It’s Only a Play on March 31, 2015, the numbers did jump up, though not quite as high as they had been. Once he returned, the weekly grosses were averaging around $600,000 to $700,000. In the last week of the run, the week ending June 7, 2015, both Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane took their final bow, with a weekly gross of $669,145, representing 66.51% of the show’s gross potential. Therefore, the show was clearly running in the black, having entered profits back in the end of 2014. Since that time, they were playing for laughs as much as for money.

“Airline Highway” to Close Early

Manhattan Theatre Club Production Shutters One Week Early

airline highwayOn April 1, 2015, Airline Highway began previews at the Manhattan Theatre Club’s Broadway venue, the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. It officially opened on April 23, 2015. At that time, it was scheduled to conclude performances on June 14, 2015. However, it has been announced that the show will close one week early, playing its final performance on June 7, 2015. Though the play received mixed reviews, it has been performing dismally at the box office the entire run. Perhaps surprisingly, the show received four Tony Award nominations in a season when many productions received zero (those snubbed include Finding Neverland, The River, It Shoulda Been You, Living on Love, and several more). Airline Highway received nominations for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play for K. Todd Freeman, Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play for Julie White, Best Costume Design of a Play for David Zinn, and Best Lighting Design of a Play for Japhy Weideman. Nevertheless, the show will close the same day as the Tony Awards, the producers figuring that even four wins (however unlikely) would not save the flailing production.

Mixed Post Opening Reviewsairline highway

When the play opened on April 23, 2015, critics had a mixed set of opinions. Charles Isherwood of The New York Times was in favor of this production, the first by a woman to be produced on a Broadway by MTC for some time. He found the play to be compassionate but unvarnished, with some excellent performances such as that by Julie White. Robert Kahn of NBC New York was also a fan of the show, finding the story of these misfits in New Orleans to be ultimately uplifting. However, other critics were more on the fence. For instance, Adam Feldman from Time Out New York found the show to have a jazzy vigor, but he finds that the plot doesn’t ultimately go anywhere of interest. Similarly, Terry Teachout of The Wall Street Journal was in favor of Lisa D’Amour’s play being chosen for production as she is such a young writer, but he finds the play to be wholly derivative. On the far negative end of the spectrum, David Rooney from The Hollywood Reporter found the play to be rambling, uninteresting, and deficient of any action, despite the noble efforts of the cast and creative team.

Struggling Box Office from Day One

Despite some positive reviews, the show never made greater than 36.84% of its gross potential in any given week. In the last reported week of box office figures, the week ending May 31, 2015, the show brought in $160,888, which represents 32.84% of its gross potential. The average paid admission was only $46.19, showing a significant amount of discounting as well as complimentary tickets being given out, but the audience capacity still only made it to an average of 69.4%. Even though the Manhattan Theatre Club has more of a luxury to sustain a suffering production than purely commercial productions, given their not for profit status as an institution, even they had to draw the line somewhere. The decision to close only one week early allowed them to save face and still go out with four Tony nominations, but they must have decided they would cut some minor losses to cancel the final eight performances.

“An Act of God” Begins Previews

Jim Parsons Stars in this Satirical Play

an act of godOn May 7, 2015, An Act of God began previews at Studio 54, produced by the Roundabout Theatre Company. In choosing to opening after the late April cut-off for Tony consideration, Roundabout was not positioning this show to succeed on the renown achieved by awards. Though it will be eligible for next year’s awards, it is generally the case that shows which have long ago shuttered before Tony consideration are often neglected or slighted. For example, Jez Butterworth’s highly commended play The River, which starred Hugh Jackman, broke box office records, and closed this fall after a limited engagement, did not receive any Tony nominations for this year’s awards. In any case, the show is sure to be an exciting one among audience members, if only for its lead actor, the beloved comedic star Jim Parsons. Parsons first came to fame from his television roles such as on “The Big Bang Theory,” and has since warmed many hearts on Broadway in Harvey and The Normal Heart. Though this play is not exactly a one-man show, as two other actors are billed in the cast, it is principally a showcase for Parsons’ comedic talents, as he plays none other than God. The play is written by David Javerbaum, based on his book The Last Testament: A Memoir by God. Javerbaum is also well known for being head writer and executive producer of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and soon to be the same on The Late Late Show with James Corden.

The Mysteries of Existence and Other Laughsan act of god

An Act of God professes to be a means for God to communicate his answers to the great questions such as the mysteries of existence. Satirical in nature, Jim Parsons speaks in a formalized godly voice to shed light on these profundities regarding existence and life on earth. The show is directed by Joe Mantello, who worked with Jim Parson as an actor in The Normal Heart, and who has directed many Broadway shows including Airline Highway, The Last Ship, and Casa Valentina. The two other roles are Michael, played by Christopher Fitzgerald (The Merchant of Venice, Chicago), and Gabriel, played by Tim Kazurinksy (“Saturday Night Live,” Police Academy films). The scenic design is by Scott Pask, the costumes are by David Zinn, the lighting design is by Hugh Vanstone, sound design is by Fitz Patton, and projection design is by Peter Nigrini. When David Javerbaum launched his book, he also coined the twitter handle @TheTweetOfGod. Now on Broadway, this twitter campaign is adapted for the stage show, making comments from the mouth of God in reference to the Broadway play.

A Divine Box Office Launch

In the first partial week of performances, in which An Act of God had four shows, the play brought in $477,703 at the box office, which represents 93.01% of its gross potential. This is an excellent feat for a new play with a small cast, especially amidst all the Tony excitement for other nominated shows. The following week, when the show had a full week of eight performances, it brought in $738,682, which is a slight decrease in percentage reached of gross potential, amounting to 73.3%. Still, the average paid ticket was $113.84, demonstrating that people are interested in paying top dollar for this hilarious and unusual show on Broadway. The show opens on May 28, 2015, and is currently scheduled to close on August 2, 2015.

America Got Talent AGT Begins Audition Shows in NJPAC

America’s Got Talent Audition Show At NJPAC Review

It is the tenth season of America’s Got Talent (AGT) TV show and to celebrate they taped two audition shows NJPAC in newark New Jerseya day for the entire week beginning March 2nd, 2015 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) located in Newark, New Jersey. The ten taped shows were then edited/spliced together and broadcast as four single shows in June 2015, to kick off AGT’s season. This is the only time that AGT will be at this location this season and they intend to resume their confusing changes of location in the regular season to Pier 92, MSG Theater and Radio City Music Hall for the in-season shows. Many of the audition acts that are taped get deleted in the editing stage, so anyone at the taping may have seen something that will never air.

The Perfect Demographic To See The Show

Howie Mandel at America's Got Talent

Each show at the NJPAC is a four-hour taping marathon and seeing it being taped live, in person, can be a poor experience for many people. But, If you are an older person, or have a young family, this show is perfect for you as you are already a good match for the sweet spot of the actual TV viewing demographic.

The only problem is that the advertisers do not want you. They want the single 18-35 demographic and there are very few of those people actually at the taping or even watching it on TV.

Seeing the show taping live, in-person, feels like it was lifted from a non-descriptive, washed-up theme park somewhere in the mid-west. Other parts of show feel like you are on a Carnival Cruise, watching a second rate production that is rocking back and forth. The corny warm-up guy, the cheesy set and the over-the-top reactions of everyone in the production could be just the ticket at ClevelandWorld or Universal Ohio, but this taping actually feels depressing. With the older audience members going to the bathroom every five minutes and young children standing on their chairs screaming, many middle-aged theatregoers would be horrified with the audience antics. When the warm-up guy, Tom Kelly (who loves to keep promoting the Tom Kelly Show, whatever that is), works the crowd for the biggest fan scream, you know you are in trouble. It never ceases to amaze what people will do for a free tee-shirt at this show. Its a tee-shirt and it costs nothing, but its about the only thing that NBC is giving away for free.

The Show Gets Off To A Rocky Start

Standing outside the theater, the first experience of the show is the confusion caused by the audience management team about which line of people was first. It ends up with all the people who arrived first, going in last, at the back of the orchestra seats, behind everyone else, which causes a great deal of ill-will from the get-go. When everyone was finally loaded into the theater, the NJPAC is only about one-third full and the audience management team moved everyone to one side of the theater, to make it appear that the theater is actually much fuller than it is. They also put a few people on the mezzanine to make things look fuller to the camera, but it is clear there are still hundreds of seats free in the back of the orchestra, which are actually closer to the stage and have a better view, but producers care more about how it looks on TV than the actual experience for an audience member.

There are no large TV screens in the theater to help people who are far away to see better, so anyone not in the front rows will not have the ability to see an act clearly, especially their facial expressions, which is something you would normally see at home. For some of the acts, many of the audience members start booing well before the act has even got underway because they are unable to see the subtle nuance of what is actually going on stage.

TTom Kelly at comedy clubom Kelly, The Warm Up Comedian Fails To Ignite The Crowd

This TV show, much like other TV shows in New York City has a warm-up guy to get the crowd going. In this case it is Tom Kelly, who has worked on many other New York TV shows. It might be the fact that he is doing two shows a day that is killing him, but Kelly was not funny and often just annoying – especially after dedicating a full thirty minutes (yes, thirty minutes) on a how-to-clap part that killed any natural audience reaction during the show. In the first half of the show there were over forty six forced standing ovations. By the end of the show it was over eighty.

The acts were good, but not that good. Kelly tried to fill in the gaps between taping with some clever banter, but was only able to make jokes at the expense of some orthodox Jews, some old people and some young black men. His multiple Fifty Shades of Grey references were way too inappropriate for the children at the show and he should know better. His failing grade at this show underlines NBC’s selfish interest to deliver good TV and treat the studio audience like idiots.

Nick Cannon Does Not Host The Live Show

Contrary to popular belief, although Nick Cannon does appear briefly on stage at the theater, Cannon is not the show host at the theater and gets very little stage time. He does, however, become the show host on TV, as he is always on the side of the stage talking to to the camera, which the theater audience is not privy to. Audience members at the theater do not get to see him until the TV editing is complete and he is added back into the process and then broadcast.

The Acts On The Show

The show consists of twenty audition acts, wrapped into the four hours of taping. The long hours of taping wear thin on the judges who have been banging out two shows all week long. On a couple of occasions, Howard Stern indicates that an act is “actually making me depressed”, but it was not the act that was causing his unhappiness, it may have been the show itself.bored-judges-618x254

Each half of this show was two hours long with ten acts per half. Many of the acts in the show were quite interesting, especially during the audition phase, where anything could pop up, especially the “possibly oedipal” mother and son ballet dancers, but the taping process is so long and drawn out that any natural enjoyment of the show is fully diluted. The audience gets restless, if not bored, by Tom Kelly’s repetitious lines of “who wants to be on TV” and “let’s give another round of applause to..” uttered over a mind numbing fifty times. Watching this TV show in person is perfect for those that want an afternoon out with the kids at no cost, but for anyone with a brain, it may be better to watch paint dry and wait for the edited versions of the show to be broadcast on TV where you do not have to undergo mindless hours of delay, repetition and boredom during the taping.

NBC and the AGT producers are not really interested in improving the audience experience at this live show event and are mainly focused on just making a good TV show for the camera. This being said, the live audience at this show is often an after-thought and they are mainly used as a prop, rather than the human beings that they actually are. Tickets to the audition shows are available on the day of the show and on their website and they are often desperate for audience members, because seeing this show live is just not that popular, despite its ratings according to Nielsen.

“Honeymoon in Vegas” Begins Previews on Broadway

A Jason Robert Brown Tuner, Derived from a Movie

honeymoon in vegasOn November 18, 2014, Honeymoon in Vegas began previews at the Nederlander Theatre. With music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown (Parade, The Bridges of Madison County), a book by Andrew Bergman (who wrote and directed the film), and based on the 1992 film of the same name starring Nicolas Cage, James Caan, and Sarah Jessica Parker, the Broadway production of Honeymoon in Vegas is directed by Gary Griffin (The Apple Tree, The Color Purple) and choreographed by Denis Jones (Legally Blonde, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels). The musical premiered at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey in September 2013, where it received positive reviews and ran for just over a month before transferring to Broadway just over a year later. The lead role of Tommy Korman is played by Tony Danza, and the other principal roles are played by Rob McClure (title role in Chaplin), Brynn O’Malley (Annie, Sunday in the Park with George), Nancy Opel (Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Memphis), and Matthew Saldivar (Act One, Peter and the Starcatcher).

A Tale of Wrought Love

Tony Danza

Tony Danza

Honeymoon in Vegas follows a young protagonist named Jack Singer (McClure), who is dating a young lady named Betsy (O’Malley), and although he has an established fear of marriage going back to a promise he made to her mother on her deathbed, Betsy has other plans. Meanwhile, a mafia man named Tommy Korman (Danza) takes notice of Betsy, and finds a strong resemblance between her and his recently passed wife. This makes him a renewed believer in the power of love, so he begins to form a plot of his own. Conveniently, Jack ends up in major debt to Korman during a poker game, and so he demands that in order to erase the debt, he will need to spend a weekend with Jack’s beloved Betsy – he agrees when they promise not to sleep together. Korman pulls out all the stops, taking Betsy to his vacation home in Hawaii. When Jack catches word that Korman plans to marry Betsy back in Vegas, he desperately tries to get there to stop it, only to get waylaid in a series of airports. Finally, however, Betsy escapes from Korman, and she and Jack end up happily ever after, married in a small chapel in Vegas with flying Elvises as their wedding guests.

Off to a Slow Start at the Box Office

You’d think that producers would realize theatregoers are getting tired of straight movie to musical adaptations, choosing a cheesy comedy and staging it with some song and dance. Though that combination can sometimes work, in recent years it has begun to show a serious decline in interest from the ticket-buying public. In the two weeks of reported box office figures thus far (one with only seven performances and one with the full eight), the musical has only managed to bring in $366,136 and $351,277 respectively. That means that with an entire extra performance the second week, the show still managed to lose $14,859 between the two weeks. With a top ticket price of $223.00, the average ticket price stayed fairly constant at around $69.00 each week. Therefore, despite a heavy amount of discounting, the show is still having difficult gaining any traction. The producers seemed to anticipate a difficult exit out of the gates, because it has allotted an entire eight weeks of previews, with its opening night scheduled for January 15, 2015. Perhaps they know the reviews will not be great, and they are trying to score some holiday tourist ticket-buyers before they can be dissuaded by the critics.