Jennifer R Jones

About Jennifer R Jones

With over 20 years experience in the Broadway field, including marketing, production, development and show investment, Jennifer R Jones is an all-around subject-matter-expert in the Broadway business. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and her iMac and tries to see at least five Broadway shows per week.

“The Ruins of Civilization” Added to MTC Season

Amidst Criticism That The Season Lacked Diversity

The Ruins of Civilization will be a world premiere Manhattan Theatre Club production in spring 2016. It is written a British playwright named Penelope Skinner, whose previous plays include The Village Bike (staged at MCC last year), Fred’s Diner, and Eigengrau. Skinner has received several awards for promising young playwrights, and she recently co-wrote the screenplay to the feature film How I Live Now.

Penelope Skinner

Penelope Skinner

However, the buzz about the announcement of her world premiere at MTC was not focused on her precocious accomplishments; rather, it has been squarely aimed at the discussion of how she is a woman. The reason is that Lynne Meadow, the artistic director of the Manhattan Theatre Club, had previously announced seven of the eight plays of their 2015 to 2016 season, all seven of which are written by white men. This was revealed in a post last week in American Theatre Magazine. There was immediate outcry online, with prominent playwright Paula Vogel tweeting “for a woman in theatre who attended Bryn Mawr, where is your sisterhood?” Then the playwright Kristoffer Diaz followed up with a tweet that said he would love to discuss strategies for approaching the goal stated in MTC’s mission to produce works “as diverse as NYC itself.”

Nonetheless, An Excellent MTC Season of Accomplished Playwrights

Lynne Meadow

Lynne Meadow

Manhattan Theatre Club produces both Broadway and Off-Broadway. Their Broadway season will kick off with Sam Shepherd’s 1983 play Fool for Love at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, starring Sam Rockwell and Nina Arianda. That play is directed by Daniel Aukin, who staged a rendition at last summer’s Williamstown Theatre Festival. The next Broadway show at the Friedman Theatre, which will open in January 2016, is Richard Greenberg’s play Our Mother’s Brief Affair, directed by Lynne Meadow and starring Linda Lavin. In April 2016, MTC will produce a Broadway production of Florian Zeller’s new play The Father, starring Frank Langella in a production directed by Doug Hughes. The Off-Broadway offerings, presented at New York City Center Stages I and II, include Ripcord by David Lindsay-Abaire directed by David Hyde Pierce and starring Holland Taylor, Rachel Dratch, and Marylouise Burke; Important Hats of the 20th Century by Nick Jones and directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel; John Patrick Shanley’s new play Prodigal Son, directed by Shanley and starring Robert Sean Leonard; and Nick Payne’s play Incognito.

Two of the Eight Plays are Directed by Women

The recent announcement of Penelope Skinner’s The Ruins of Civilization was made in haste due to the backlash, and the director has not yet been fully confirmed, but it is slated to be Lila Neugebauer. Skinner declared she felt strongly that a woman was best to direct this play. The only other female director of the season is Lynne Meadow herself, who is to direct Richard Greenberg’s Our Mother’s Brief Affair. It is an unfortunate coincidence that the season came together with all white playwrights and only one woman. In the past four seasons, 43% of the plays were written by women and people of color. Over the past ten years, there have been three seasons at MTC where no playwrights were female, but in five of those years at least half of the playwrights were women. This includes last year, where Lisa D’Amour’s Airline Highway was brought to Broadway amidst similar criticism that MTC continually failed to produce a play by a female playwright on their Broadway stage. Also over the past four years, 28 of the 49 commissions that MTC made for new plays went to women and minorities.

“American Psycho” Added to Broadway Spring Line-Up

Based Off the 1991 Bret Easton Ellis Novel

american psychoIn February 2016, a musical adaptation of the famous novel American Psycho will begin previews at a Shubert Theatre to be announced on Broadway. The opening will then follow in March 2016. This musical has been gestating for several years, with private industry readings having taken place in New York for several years. The music and lyrics are written by Duncan Sheik, who also composed the music for Spring Awakening, for which he won a Tony Award for Best Original Score, and which is being revived on Broadway this upcoming season in a Deaf West production with both hearing and non-hearing actors. American Psycho has a book written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who has been a co-producer and writer of Glee, a script doctor for the musical Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark, and the Chief Creative Officer of Archie Comics. The novel American Psycho was published in 1991 to wide acclaim and controversy, due to the dark and violent nature of the subject matter. It was then adapted into a feature film in 2000 starring Christian Bale in the title role of Patrick Bateman; that film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was widely touted as the next Fight Club. Though it polarized audiences, the film was a financial and critical success and is now considered a cult classic.

A Sold-Out London Run at the Almeida TheatreAmerican_Psycho_Musical

On December 3, 2013, American Psycho the Musical had its world premiere in London at the Off West End venue, the Almeida Theatre. The official opening night was December 12, 2013. The show was originally scheduled to run just until January 25, 2014, but it was extended until February 1, 2014. That production was directed by Rupert Goold, choreographed by Lynne Page, and starred Matt Smith as Patrick Bateman. Although the run was relatively short, it was sold out and received great critical acclaim. The Guardian admitted that it sounded strange to make a musical about a serial killer, but that the show worked superbly, confirming the mythic power of Bret Easton Ellis’ novel while also succeeding in being brilliantly entertaining. The Daily Mail called the show undoubtedly a theatrical event, and praised Duncan Sheik’s catchy score. The Independent called the production diabolically slick, praising the terrific attack of the singing and dancing ensemble and the ability to avoid sentimentality in the second act. The Telegraph was less enthralled, giving the show two stars out of five and calling the lead performance expressionless and boring. Variety flew out over the Atlantic to review the production, and reported back that the serial killer story lacked drama, which is a serious problem with this subject matter.

Benjamin Walker Stars in the Broadway Production

benjamin walkerIn the Broadway production, Rupert Goold will return to direct, and Lynne Page will also return to choreograph. However, the cast will be revamped for the New York production. In the lead role of Patrick Bateman, Benjamin Walker stars. Walker has been seen on Broadway in the title role of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, as Brick in the 2013 revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, as Le Chevalier Danceny in Les Liaisons Dangereuses, and as Bertram Cates in Inherit the Wind. Though the rest of the cast has not yet been announced, developmental readings have included actors such as Zosia Mamet (“Girls”), Jennifer Damiano (Next to Normal), Isabel Keating (The Boy from Oz), and Wesley Taylor (“Smash”). The story deals with a 26 year-old man named Patrick Bateman who is sophisticated, handsome, and dirty rich. He works on Wall Street and can get any girl he wants. However, there is a lot more going on in this man’s head than it first appears, and he commits a lot of murder anything starts to go wrong.

Jon Stewart Hosts Final Episode of “The Daily Show”

Last Week Countdown to Finale Episode on Thursday, August 6th

jon stewart the daily showOn January 11, 1999, Jon Stewart became the host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central. At the time, he took over the position from Craig Kilborn, who had been the show’s inaugural host since it first aired on July 22, 1996. Jon Stewart’s tenure has far outlasted his predecessor’s, as he wraps up his 16-year stint as host this week. The show will continue on in his legacy, as Trevor Noah has been tapped to begin hosting the new era on September 28, 2015. The final episode ever of Jon Stewart hosting The Daily Show took place last night on Thursday, August 6, 2015 at 11:00pm. The show ran 52 minutes, which is 22 minutes longer than the usual half-hour format. Furthermore, Comedy Central played a Daily Show marathon all day on August 6th leading up to the final episode. The week leading up to the final show featured some of Stewart’s most favored comedians as guests, including Amy Schumer, Denis Leary, and Louis C.K. In the remarkable number of seasons that Stewart has held this position, he has interviewed guests ranging from Barack Obama to Philip Seymour Hoffman to Kurt Vonnegut to George Clooney. As for the final episode, the guests were not revealed ahead of time, but were instead a surprise for viewers tuning in.

A Slam Dunk Final Show Paying Tribute to Top Talentsjon stewart the daily show

The finale was indeed a huge surprise, with a slew of heavy hitting talents from comedy to politics stopping in to pay tribute to Jon Stewart. Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street band bid adieu with a musical performance, singing two songs: “Land of Hope and Dreams” and “Born to Run.” Many individuals who were formerly correspondents on The Daily Show made appearances, including Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, Larry Wilmore, Rob Corddry, and Rob Riggle. Other comedians came through as well, such as Kristen Schaal, John Hodgman, Lewis Black, Mo Rocca, and Samantha Bee. In particular, Larry Wilmore made the joke that he stopped by because he had nothing else to do; his show, The Nightly Show, was moved to make way for Jon Stewart’s extended finale. A video was also made with the collaboration of many politicians including Hillary Clinton, Rahm Emanuel, Chuck Schumer, Chris Christie, and John McCain, some of them more gracious than others (McCain called Stewart a “jackass,” all in good fun of course). Darth Vadar even popped in, proclaiming that he was compared to Dick Cheney in an unfair moment.

An Outpouring of Gratitude for Stewart’s Impact on Comedy

On Monday evening, kicking off the final week, Amy Schumer was the guest of honor. This 34 year-old comedian has recently shot to fame with her Comedy Central show Inside Amy Schumer and more recently her feature film Trainwreck presently in theaters. In fact, Schumer reportedly turned down the opportunity to succeed Stewart in the hosting position of The Daily Show. Their interview began on a somber note, discussing a shooting that took place at a recent screening of Trainwreck. However, the conversation then became lighter, as Schumer discussed the havoc she and her friends (including Jennifer Lawrence) wreaked in a recent weekend in the Hamptons. On Wednesday evening, the penultimate episode and the last before the special finale, Louis C.K. was the guest of honor. He told Stewart that he was thrilled to be his “last dude,” and thanked him on behalf of comedy. Louis C.K. disclosed that watching Stewart perform standup long ago at the Comedy Cellar in New York was one of the reasons he decided to go into the comedy profession. Just last week, Stewart returned to that same venue to try his hand again at standup for the first time in many years. In a show of mutual love and respect, he told Louis that he was likewise inspired by him in deciding to return to the standup mic. Overall, it is clear the Jon Stewart will be sorely missed by the comedy community and far beyond. The next phase of his career is as yet unknown, but it will surely be interesting to watch.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 8/02/2015

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

A Steady Week With A Slight Upturn

In the week ending August 2, 2015, Broadway is still going strong with summer ticket sales. Overall, the entire industry of 28 currently running shows saw a relatively minor increase of $736,227 from the week before. The biggest increase was seen by mega-hit The Lion King, which brought in $215,787 from the week before, bringing it to a total weekly gross of $2,624,288. Remarkably, this huge number represents just 98.47% of the production’s gross potential in the massive Minskoff Theatre, whereas this and other shows have at times broken the 100% mark, or even the 110% mark of gross potential. With a top ticket price of $225.00, the average paid admission was the impressive $173.37. The only other show that came close in terms of average ticket price is The Book of Mormon, which brought in $1,474,355 last week, representing 107.10% of its gross potential in the comparably smaller Eugene O’Neill Theatre. With a top ticket price of the extremely inflated $475.00 per premium ticket, the average paid admission trailed just behind that of The Lion King at $168.48. The highest percentage of gross potential was reached by new hit musical Hamilton, which hasn’t even opened yet but is bringing in 111.67% of its gross potential. Overall, of the 28 shows running, 16 showed an increase from the week before, and 8 saw a decrease. The greatest decrease was seen by Kinky Boots at the relatively minor dip of $60,641.

“Hamilton” Well On Its Way to Top Musical of the Season

Hamilton the Musical opens in 2 days, but it brought in the highest gross potential of any show this past week while still in previews. This is the first week that they played eight performances, as opposed to two weeks of seven performances each. In this way, the show reached not only its maximum weekly gross so far at $1,490,816, but also the highest percentage of its gross potential, out of any week yet. Their audience capacity was filled up to an average of 100.5% across the eight performances, and the top ticket price has thus far held steady at $275.00. It remains to be seen whether the producers will choose to adopt a dynamic pricing strategy, whereby they raise the premium ticket prices and fluctuate the ticket pricing based on predicted demand, sometimes even across individual performances. The reviews will come out this week, but the show has already earned raves and great buzz from its recent Off-Broadway run at the Public Theatre, which was also the birthplace of the 2015 Tony Award winning best musical, Fun Home. At this point, it seems clear that Hamilton will be well remembered one year from now in time for the 2016 Tony Awards consideration. With a year’s appetite filled for this culturally imaginative, alternative political bio-drama, the show will surely be a contender for the Best Musical award, as well as many others. Still, an entire year remains for other shows to come out of the woodwork in contention for that great honor.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending August 2, 2015:Broadway-Show-Ticket-Analysis-08-02-15

Show Name GrossGross TotalAttn %Capacity AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $549,228 6,711 92.49% $81.84
ALADDIN $1,854,407 13,817 100.01% $134.21
AMAZING GRACE $308,313 4,947 53.22% $62.32
AN ACT OF GOD $1,074,778 7,883 97.95% $136.34
AN AMERICAN IN PARIS $1,388,952 12,518 93.20% $110.96
BEAUTIFUL $946,124 7,653 93.24% $123.63
CHICAGO $748,452 8,241 95.38% $90.82
FINDING NEVERLAND $1,200,295 11,851 98.50% $101.28
FISH IN THE DARK $841,809 8,354 97.32% $100.77
FUN HOME $782,634 5,976 100.95% $130.96
HAMILTON $1,490,816 10,619 100.48% $140.39
HAND TO GOD $285,603 4,186 67.78% $68.23
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $390,829 5,286 74.99% $73.94
IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU $432,210 6,278 77.54% $68.85
JERSEY BOYS $651,437 7,053 71.79% $92.36
KINKY BOOTS $890,611 9,205 80.80% $96.75
LES MISÉRABLES $766,999 9,856 87.44% $77.82
MAMMA MIA! $939,807 9,415 100.93% $99.82
MATILDA $1,108,854 11,480 100.21% $96.59
ON THE TOWN $475,889 7,664 51.12% $62.09
PENN & TELLER ON BROADWAY $1,304,660 11,426 87.41% $114.18
SOMETHING ROTTEN! $1,073,132 11,791 88.41% $91.01
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,474,355 8,751 102.61% $168.48
THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME $842,068 7,515 92.28% $112.05
THE KING AND I $1,134,145 8,264 98.66% $137.24
THE LION KING $2,624,288 15,137 99.17% $173.37
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $1,090,526 11,852 92.31% $92.01
WICKED $2,118,401 16,175 93.95% $130.97
Total $28,789,618 259,904 88.93% $106.05

Broadway ticket sales raw data are provided courtesy of The Broadway League All other data, text, opinion, charts and commentary are copyright © 2015 nytix.com

“Tuck Everlasting” Finds Broadway Theatre for Spring Season

Musical Will Begins Previews March 23, 2016 After Long Delay

tuck everlastingThis musical based off of Natalie Babbitt’s well known young adult novel has been gestating for a long time. The first announcement of a pre-Broadway run specified that the show would have trial production in Boston in the summer of 2013. However, allegedly due to the scarcity of an available theatre to transfer the show to after the Boston run, that production was postponed. It is also possible that the show was not ready creatively at that point. In any case, the world premiere of Tuck Everlasting finally took place at the Alliance Theatre in Georgia in early 2015. The show is directed by Casey Nicholaw, who is also the director behind such hits as The Book of Mormon, Aladdin, and Something Rotten! Finally, it has now been announced that the Broadway production will indeed take place this upcoming spring 2016 season. With previews beginning on March 23, 2016, the musical is scheduled to open on April 17, 2016, just in time for Tony Awards consideration for next year.

The Broadhurst Theatre Will Be The Musical’s New Hometuck everlasting

Presently, Mamma Mia! is playing at the Broadhurst Theatre, and it is scheduled to wrap up its performaces on September 12, 2015. Previously, Mamma Mia! ran at the Winter Garden Theatre for many years since 2001, but it stepped aside in November 2013 to allow for the highly anticipated musical production of Rocky, which had a surprisingly short run due to low ticket sales. Following the conclusion of Mamma Mia!, the Broadhurst will house a limited engagement of the play Misery by William Goldman, directed by Will Frears, and starring Bruce Willis and Laurie Metcalf. When that production concludes on February 14, 2016, the theatre will be available for Tuck Everlasting to step in. The Broadhurst is owned by the Shubert Organization, which is the landlord for many of the theatres on Broadway. In order to secure this theatre, the producers of Tuck Everlasting had to make an agreement with the Shuberts to occupy one of their houses, and it was just decided that the Broadhurst would be it.

A Warm Reception for the Atlanta Pre-Broadway Run

When Tuck Everlasting opened in Atlanta in February 2015, Charles Isherwood of the New York Times flew down to witness it and report back to New York. Isherwood was moved by the piece, remarking that it was refreshing to see a musical based off of dancers in dream sequences, which used to be a staple of theatre but is lesser seen in recent years. Isherwood also remarked that it is surprising to see this direction from Casey Nicholaw, as it demonstrates a softer touch than is seen in some of his shows such as The Book of Mormon and Aladdin. He found the show to be already polished, which is a compliment for a trial run where many other Broadway shows are still working out their kinks. Even though the show is kid-friendly and emotionally compelling, Isherwood did remark that perhaps the show may find it difficult to compete in the commercially cutthroat atmosphere of Broadway, as it does not rely on the element of spectacle.

“Penn & Teller on Broadway” Opens at the Marquis Theatre

Famous Magician Duo on Broadway for Limited Engagement

penn and teller posterPenn & Teller on Broadway played its opening night performance at the Marquis Theatre. This famous magician duo has been in residence at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas for 14 years, and it is a rare treat for them to come to Broadway. In this case, they were able to swing a quick engagement just over a month in New York. Penn, whose full name is Penn Jillette, is always the one who talks onstage, whereas Teller, who just goes by the single name Teller, is mute onstage. In this classic reimagining of their act, they incorporated many of the most famous magician tricks, such as pulling a rabbit out of a hat, and sawing a woman in half. They also incorporated the use of technology, at one point asking an audience member to videotape a certain trick so that it can be projected on a large screen for the entire audience to see. In an interview, Penn explained how this New York engagement is an opportunity for them to make their act a little more intellectual, in an effort to appeal to a New York audience rather than the usual Las Vegas crowd. This show is directed by John Rando, who has also directed Broadway shows including On the Town, A Christmas Story: The Musical, and Urinetown.

A Mixed Review by the New York Timespenn and teller

In Ben Brantley’s review of Penn & Teller on Broadway in The New York Times, he did justice to the profundity with which Penn and Teller have infiltrated themselves into the contemporary American cultural mindset. The review begins by explaining that the duo has been performing together for 40 years, and yet they seem as fresh and relevant as ever. This is partly due to the fact that the magicians, while holding down their gig in Las Vegas for 14 years, also have made several television shows that have solidified their inclusion in the continued cultural zeitgeist. For example, they had a long running series on Showtime called Penn and Teller: BS, and more recently they began a new show called Penn and Teller: Fool Us on ITV in Britain and the CW in the U.S. In Brantley’s review, in addition to remarking on this wide reach of the famous magicians, he also commented that their acts were not entirely new or surprising. While some may have appreciated the relatability of the common acts such as pulling a rabbit out of a hat, the choice also bespeaks a lack of creativity.

A Fairly Successful Start at the Box Office

In the first two weeks of performances, which are the only two weeks of box office figures that have been reported thus far, Penn & Teller on Broadway show a significant increase. In the first week, the week ending July 12, 2015, the show brought in $1,075,289, which represented 62.40% of its gross potential. In the second week, the week ending July 19, 2015, the show saw an increase of $150,111, bringing the weekly gross to $1,225,400, which represents 71.11% of the show’s gross potential. This past week, the average audience capacity was 70.0%, which is a decrease from the first week’s average audience capacity of 78.6%. However, the average paid admission went up to $120.37 this week from $114.64 the week before, resulting in an overall increase in ticket sales for this past week. Overall, it is clear that Penn & Teller are a major box office draw, even as visitors to New York from their usual home of Las Vegas, and that as word of mouth spreads, the box office will most likely continue to creep upwards.

ABC’s The View in Slow Motion Crash

Rosie Perez and Nicolle Wallace to Step Down

the view cohostsIn the eighteenth season of The View on ABC, the original creator and co-host Barbara Walters had stepped down, and it was new territory to test whether the remaining co-hosts would bring in as high ratings and overall support from audiences and the network. Along with Walters’ departure, her co executive producer and co-creator Bill Geddie also stepped down, and he was replaced with Bill Wolff, the former executive producer of The Rachel Maddow Show and vice president of primetime programming at MSNBC. In addition, Season 18 had a new filming location, now taking place at the former studios of the now cancelled talk show Katie, which is located in the ABC Broadcast Center in New York City. As for the most interesting personnel on the show for the majority of audiences, the co-host positions also underwent significant transitions in the eighteenth season. The lone incumbent was Whoopi Goldberg, who was joined by former co-host Rosie O’Donnell. In addition, actress Rosie Perez and former Republic correspondent Nicolle Wallace were the remaining co-hosts. However, O’Donnell cited health reasons in announcing she would not return for the 19th season of The View. In addition, both Perez and Wallace will be stepping down. Therefore, for the 19th season, which will commence in mid-September 2015, Whoopi Goldberg will be joined by an additional group of co-hosts.

Wallace Asked to Resign, Raven-Symoné and Michelle Collins Will Joinrosie perez nicolle wallace

For the 19th Season of The View, Rosie Perez chose to step down in order to pursue acting opportunities. Nicolle Wallace, on the other hand, was asked to step down. She was offered the position of rotating co-host for a contributor slot, and she is currently thinking that over. However, she was reportedly offended to be refused the permanent co-host slot on the new season. As for the new co-hosts, it has been announced that former child star Raven-Symoné (from the Disney Channel’s That’s So Raven) will be joining the panel. This is sure to rile up the discussion topics, as Raven has already caused some controversy. During a guest host appearance, Raven contributed to a discussion on politicians feeling obliged to take selfies by saying that she gets a cramp in her hand now when she tries to sign autographs. Nicolle Wallace responded with a rare burst of aggressiveness by quickly asking if she was that famous. However, the ratings must have shown more of an appreciation for Raven’s self interested-ness than with Wallace’s witty instincts because Wallace has been axed, whereas Raven has been offered a permanent position. In addition, comedian Michelle Collins has been offered a co-hosting position for the 19th season. Collins has appeared as a guest host on several occasions, and is excited to join the permanent panel.

“The View” in Slow Motion Crash

Since Barbara Walters retired from The View in May 2014, the ratings have taken a significant dip. In the second quarter of 2015, the ratings were down 16% from last year, reaching 2.48 million viewers. As for the key demographic of women aged 18 to 49, the ratings were down 18% to only 386,000 women viewers. With the relative failure of the 18th season, the producers are aiming for a five co-host format again in the 19th season. This will include Whoopi Goldberg, Raven-Symoné, Michelle Collins, and two co-hosts to be announced. One of these will possibly be a rotating co-host slot, and it remains to be seen whether Nicolle Wallace will accept the offer to be an occasional rotating co-host in this slot. The show cannot seem to decide whether if it wants to focus on news-worthy items or just cover the frivolous pieces, like who has the best looking pooch. Without Walters and Geddie, the show now appears rudderless, but instead of running in small circles, The View is running like a full speed, out of control, speedboat with an imminent crash in sight as soon as it hits land. Expect more firings to come until they can turn it around.

“Penn & Teller on Broadway” Begins Previews

Famous Magician Duo Returns for a Broadway Engagement

penn and tellerOn July 7, 2015, Penn and Teller on Broadway began previews at the Marquis Theatre. The show is scheduled for a limited engagement to conclude on August 16, 2015. The performance is directed by John Rando, who has directed many shows on Broadway including the current revival of On the Town, A Christmas Story: The Musical, The Wedding Singer, Urinetown, and A Thousand Clowns. The duo – whose full names are Penn Jillette and Teller (Teller goes by just the one name) – has been performing together for over 40 years. However, they haven’t performed on Broadway together since 1991, with their show The Refrigerator Tour. One of the reasons for the long hiatus is that they have strict contracts with the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, which is understandably reluctant to let them take even seven weeks off from their regular performing five nights a week to do the Broadway show. Penn Jillette told Entertainment Weekly that when you’re having success in Las Vegas, Las Vegas wants to keep you there. Therefore, the negotiation just to take this break for New York took 15 years to complete, even though they wanted to return to the Big Apple the moment they left.

Old Tricks and New Nutty Ideaspenn and teller

The duo reportedly works very hard on their bits, even though they appear to be effortless on stage. For example, Teller revealed in an interview that they have a new bit for this show where they use the song “I’m a Little Teapot,” where Penn picks up Teller and pours tea out of him like a teapot. Even though it will be quick in performance, they said they have been working on that new trick for two years and three months. This New York run is an opportunity for Penn and Teller to reconfigure their act for a different audience. Though America has become more homogenous over the years, Penn mentioned that he believes the audiences in New York are a little more intellectual, and a little more interested in political content. Although their show will not enter the realm of the political, they will be taking the opportunity to put a little more intellectual thought into this show. They will be performing one of their oldest tricks – Needles – where Telle eats a fistful of needles and some sewing thread, and then pulls it out of his mouth with the needles threaded. Furthermore, they are bringing back one of the oldest tricks in magic, but one which they say is deceptively hard to do: pulling a rabbit out of a hat.

Sardi’s Caricature and “Fool Us” TV Show

Just last week, Penn and Teller were welcomed into the Broadway community the best way we know how: they were given their very own framed caricature to be hung on the walls of Sardi’s Restaurant. They had a small signing ceremony at the classic Broadway eatery on July 1, 2015. Now theatregoers can enjoy their smiling faces alongside all the timeless faces while enjoying their pre or post theatre meal. Furthermore, just one day before previews began for their Broadway show, their television show Penn & Teller: Fool Us began its second season on the CW. In this British-American co-produced television show hosted by Jonathan Ross, Penn and Teller hold a magic competition where magicians line up to show off their best tricks to the duo. Penn and Teller do their best to explain how the trick is done. If they cannot figure it out, the magicians win a five-star trip to Las Vegas where they get to perform as the opening act to Penn and Teller’s show at the Rio Hotel and Casino. On top of this, the duo will be performing their act in the upcoming feature film Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! With such a busy schedule, it will likely be a long time before they return to Broadway again, so this six-week engagement is an exciting time to catch them live in New York.

“Wolf Hall Parts One and Two” Concludes On Broadway

Final Performance July 5 at the Winter Garden Theatre

wolf hallOn March 20, 2015, Wolf Hall: Parts One and Two began previews at the Winter Garden Theatre. The two plays in repertory, written by Mike Poulton and based off of Hilary Mantel’s novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, respectively, officially opened on April 9, 2015 under the direction of Jeremy Herrin. The productions transferred to Broadway following a successful London run, where the plays had been named the same as the novels; the name simplification was instituted for American audiences. These very ambitious productions amounted to five and a half hours in total, and could be seen separately or together, on the same day or different days. The stories deal with the reign of King Henry VIII and his several wives, the first play dealing with the period from 1500 to 1535, and the second with the period that follows immediately after. A third novel, The Mirror and the Light, is planned to be published later this year, and that will deal with the period from 1536 to 1540, the last four years of Thomas Cromwell’s life. Playful Productions, the London-based theatre producers who staged the shows both in the United Kingdom and on Broadway, have announced their intention to develop the third novel into a play as well, and eventually to stage the trilogy all together. That will certainly happen in London, but whether the trilogy will make it to New York anytime soon remains to be seen. Wolf Hall Parts One and Two plays its final performances on Sunday, July 5, 2015, wrapping up a run that started very strong but has dwindled at the box office in recent weeks.

A Six Million Dollar Advance But No Recoupment As of Yetwolf hall

The double bill Wolf Hall Parts One and Two had a reported capitalization of $4.2 million. (In comparison, it had cost just under a million pounds to stage the plays in London.) Playful Productions, who also staged the very successful British play The Audience this same season, appeared to be going strong with these plays as well. Before the shows began previews, they had collected an advance of $6 million. Though this is larger than the initial capitalization, there are also weekly running costs to take into account, and so it’s a game of making enough each week to sustain those running costs in addition to making back the initial capitalization, before the shows can be operating in profits. In this case, Wolf Hall has not officially announced recoupment; The Audience, on the other hand, did so after only eight weeks. Unlike The Audience which starred Helen Mirren in a performance that won her a Tony Award as well as an Olivier and an Oscar, Wolf Hall had no major stars to speak of. Furthermore, the box office was burdened by the apprehension American audiences may have faced regarding the duration of the double bill, as well as the cost incurred to watch two productions in order to get the full story. Though Wolf Hall was nominated for eight Tony Awards including that for Best Play, it won only one: that for Best Costume Design of a Play for Christopher Oram.

A Final Push to Fill Seats

wolf hallThough Wolf Hall was aided by the BBC mini-series starring Mark Rylance, as well as the novels, which helped spread the name recognition of the title, the plays had trouble keeping up in their final weeks. For this final weekend, made more difficult by the Independence Day holiday taking people out of town or to the beach, the producers even resorted to offering complimentary tickets on papering sites such as studentrush.org. This was in order to fill seats and give the illusion to paying audiences of a full house. In the last reported week of box office figures so far, the week ending June 28, 2015, the shows collectively brought in $515,472, which represents only 46.24% of its gross potential. This is in contrast to their top grossing week, the week ending March 29, 2015, wherein the shows earned $886,920, representing 64.38% of their gross potential.

Jason Alexander Replaces Larry David in “Fish in the Dark”

Box Office Takes Major Dip With David’s Departure

jason alexander larry davidFish in the Dark has been one of this season’s major hits. Written by and starring Larry David, the creator of Seinfeld and creator / star of Curb Your Enthusiasm, this play marked the household name’s Broadway debt. The theatre going audience was riveted by this new face on the big stage, as the box office receipts were immediately excellent right out of the gate, and stayed that way until Larry David’s final performance on June 7, 2015. This was the same day as the Tony Awards. Although Fish in the Dark was not honored with any awards or nominations, there was a nod to the stardom of Larry David as he was given the honor of presenting the most coveted award and the final award of the evening: that for Best Musical. He presented this award to Fun Home. Despite this lack of accolades, Fish in the Dark was an undeniable box office success. It announced recoupment of its initial capitalization on May 20, 2015. It brought in over one million dollars every week, with rising weekly grosses as the run went one, from the first full week of performances ending February 15, 2015 until Larry David’s final week ending June 7, 2015. However, the moment Jason Alexander stepped in on June 9, 2015, the box office took a major dip. In his first week, the week ending June 14, 2015, the show saw a decrease in ticket sales of $403,563 from the week before. Though Jason Alexander is also a major star, he is also a much more prevalent face on Broadway, and fans were just not as excited to pay top dollar to see him.

Three Weeks of Piddling Grossesjason alexander larry david

In the three weeks of full performances since Alexander took over, the weekly grosses have remained fairly constant. Following the week ending June 14, 2015 with the weekly gross of $842,633, there was the week ending June 21, 2015 with a gross of $849,330, and then this past week ending June 28, 2015 had a weekly gross of $848,378. In this past week, the average paid admission was $107.66, which is still higher than many plays on Broadway, but it is a sharp decrease from the average paid admission in David’s final week, which was $142.98. Whereas David was regularly filling up the audience to an average capacity of 101.5%, the weekly average audience capacity since Jason Alexander took over have averaged about 90%. Finally, while the average percentage reached of gross potential during David’s run was about 114%, the percentage reached of gross potential since Alexander took over has been about 81%.

Keeping It in the “Seinfeld” Family

When Jason Alexander played George Costanza on Seinfeld for many years, he was reportedly written to be a character based on Larry David himself. It is therefore appropriate that he should replace David in the role he wrote and played himself in his Broadway debut. Alexander is a common name on Broadway. He was in the second cast of The Producers opposite Martin Short, when Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane departed the production. He has also appeared in Accomplice, Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, Broadway Bound, The Rink, and Merrily We Roll Along. Most of these roles were before his Seinfeld days, so he left his established position of appearing onstage when he became a sitcom regular. At this point, however, he is returning to his stage roots, combined with the creative source that made him a household name as well. However, he just isn’t able to sell tickets the way Larry David can. Alexander continues with the show until its final performance on August 1, 2015.