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 Elephant Man” Concludes Its Run

A Broadway Success, Closing One Day Early

elephant manOn Saturday, February 21, 2015, The Elephant Man plays its final Broadway performance. It has been running at the Booth Theatre since it began previews on November 7, 2014, and opening night took place on December 7, 2014. This revival of the 1977 play by Bernard Pomerance was directed by Scott Ellis, and has received rave reviews and excellent box office performance. The production was originally scheduled to conclude one day later, on Sunday, February 22, 2015; Sunday is a common closing night for Broadway shows. However, this particular Sunday also happens to be the Academy Awards, of which the star of The Elephant Man – Bradley Cooper – was nominated for two for the biographical war film American Sniper. Not only is this the third consecutive year in which Cooper has received an Academy Award acting nomination (the previous two were for Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle), but this is the first time he is also being honored with the nomination for Best Picture, as he is also a producer on American Sniper. This was therefore a good enough reason for The Elephant Man to cancel their final planned performance, allowing Cooper to travel to Los Angeles for the Academy Awards. This is the second instance in which Cooper cancelled performances for an awards ceremony; the first was for the DGA Awards on February 7-8, 2015.

Next Up: London’s West Endelephant man

Following the huge critical and commercial success of the Broadway run, The Elephant Man with Bradley Cooper in the lead role will arrive at London’s West End this spring. It will begin performances at the Theatre Royal Haymarket on May 19, 2015, and is scheduled to run until August 8, 2015. It will be a transfer production also directed by Scott Ellis, and Bradley Cooper’s co-stars Patricia Clarkson and Alessandro Nivola will join the London run as well. This will actually be the third time that these four individuals will have collaborated on this piece; the first instance was at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts in summer 2012. It is remarkable that Cooper has the stamina to continue to play this physically demanding role, in which he transforms into a deformed man based off a real-life figure named John Merrick. Cooper portrays Merrick, as the play has been traditionally done, without means of any stage makeup, but rather by means of physicality alone. It is therefore testament to Cooper’s true acting chops to be able to maintain this role in a third incarnation, which not all actors known for their film successes would be able to do.

Excellent Box Office Sales

In the last week of reported sales, the week ending February 15, 2015, The Elephant Man brought in an impressive gross of $1,113,192. This was the sixth highest grossing show that week, and by far the highest grossing straight play. It was only beat out by musicals, specifically The Lion King, The Book of Mormon, Wicked, Aladdin, and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. This eight performance week followed a six performance week in which Cooper took off two shows to attend the DGA awards, causing the production to cancel those performances. Therefore, there is intense demand for this show as it nears its closing performance. After all, it will be a bit more difficult for New York theatregoers to catch the show in London.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 2/15/2015

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

Two New Shows: “The Audience” and “On The Twentieth Century”

In the week ending February 15, 2015, two new shows began previews on Broadway. The first, On the Twentieth Century, began performances on February 13, 2015, and played four times in this first week. Starring Kristin Chenoweth and Peter Gallagher, this musical revival with book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and a score by Cy Coleman, is produced by the Roundabout Theatre Company at their American Airlines Theatre. In the first four performances, it had mediocre box office performance, bringing in $228,661 which represents 56.95% of the show’s gross potential that week. With an average paid admission of $80.04, the show filled up 96.5% of the seats, which shows a fair amount of discounting. The next night, The Audience began performances on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2015, at the Gerald Scheonfeld Theatre. Starring Helen Mirren in the role of Queen Elizabeth II, whom she won an Academy Award for portraying in the film The Queen also written by Peter Morgan, brought in a huge audience and box office response. In the first two previews, the show brought in $331,101, which is 111.21% of the gross potential. With a top ticket price of $293.00, and an average paid admission of $153.22, the show had standing room only with no discounting whatsoever. This is testament to the popularity of Helen Mirren, especially in this acclaimed role, along with excellent producing by the Brits who brought the show over the Atlantic.

An Overall Excellent Week of Box Office Sales

Of the 28 shows that had performances in the week ending February 15, 2015, all but one experienced an increase in box office from the week before. That show, Constellations, saw a decrease in sales of $39,530, bringing in a weekly gross of $491,055, which is not too bad at a gross potential of 71.75%. As for the rest of Broadway, every single show increased in ticket sales. One major reason may be that this week included Valentine’s Day, which was conveniently on a Saturday night. Not only is Broadway an excellent idea for date night, but the weekend positioning opened up the opportunity for Valentine’s associated dates to take place in five separate performance slots. The top earning shows were, as expected, The Lion King with a gross of $1,726,042, The Book of Mormon with a gross of $1,648,502, Wicked with a gross of $1,586,692, Aladdin with a gross of $1,489,612, and Beautiful which brought in $1,132,369. Excellent sales were also seen by The Elephant Man starring Bradley Cooper, with a weekly gross of $1,113,192. That show is one week from closing, and has also been offering less than full performance weeks due to Cooper’s schedule (last week they only played six), causing intense demand for this show during its limited engagement.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending February 15, 2015:Broadway show ticket sales analysis week ending 2/15/15

Show Name GrossGross TotalAttn %Capacity AvgPdAdm
A DELICATE BALANCE $491,763 4,799 74.80% $102.47
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $642,010 5,769 78.98% $111.29
ALADDIN $1,489,612 13,770 99.90% $108.18
BEAUTIFUL $1,132,369 7,548 91.96% $150.02
CABARET $975,224 7,178 100.48% $135.86
CHICAGO $593,437 6,884 79.68% $86.21
CONSTELLATIONS $491,055 5,173 99.48% $94.93
DISGRACED $351,175 4,647 63.28% $75.57
FISH IN THE DARK $1,015,643 7,630 101.58% $133.11
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $635,303 5,656 80.24% $112.32
HONEYMOON IN VEGAS $491,146 6,092 64.86% $80.62
IF/THEN $687,134 8,669 82.66% $79.26
IT’S ONLY A PLAY $541,427 5,715 66.33% $94.74
JERSEY BOYS $679,472 6,569 66.87% $103.44
KINKY BOOTS $1,012,786 9,370 82.25% $108.09
LES MISÉRABLES $669,499 7,610 67.51% $87.98
MAMMA MIA! $562,438 6,921 74.20% $81.27
MATILDA $945,588 9,976 87.08% $94.79
ON THE TOWN $552,450 7,385 49.26% $74.81
ON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY $228,661 2,857 96.52% $80.04
THE AUDIENCE $331,101 2,161 101.08% $153.22
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,648,502 8,749 102.59% $188.42
THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME $767,648 7,014 86.12% $109.45
THE ELEPHANT MAN $1,113,192 6,300 101.74% $176.70
THE LION KING $1,726,042 13,447 98.88% $128.36
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $721,008 8,056 62.74% $89.50
WICKED $1,586,692 12,583 86.95% $126.10
YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU $412,057 5,167 60.19% $79.75
Totals $22,494,432 203,695 82.44% $108.80

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

“The Audience” Begins Previews

Helen Mirren Stars as Queen Elizabeth II

the audienceOn Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2015, The Audience began previews at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. The play, written by Peter Morgan and directed by Stephen Daldry, premiered in the West End’s Gielgud Theatre almost exactly two years ago. It was a huge success, winning several awards including the Olivier Award for Best Actress for Helen Mirren. In June 2013, the production participated in the National Theatre’s NT Live programme, in which it was broadcast live to cinemas around the world. This broadcast broke records, bringing 80,000 viewers in the UK and another 30,000 in North America. The success of this production convinced the producers, Matthew Byam Shaw, Robert Fox, and Andy Harries, to mount it on Broadway, with the same director and several original cast members, including Helen Mirren (Queen Elizabeth II), Geoffrey Beevers (the Queen’s equerry), Michael Elwyn (Anthony Eden), Richard McCabe (Harold Wilson), and Rufus Wright (David Cameron). The play is scheduled for a limited engagement to run until June 28, 2015, with opening night taking place on March 8, 2015.

“The Queen,” and the Story of “The Audience”helen mirren

This production marks the second time writer Peter Morgan and actress Helen Mirren have collaborated on a work surrounding the life of Queen Elizabeth II. Released in 2006, Morgan wrote the screenplay for a film entitled The Queen directed by Stephen Frears, in which Mirren also starred as Queen Elizabeth II. For this performance, Mirren won both the Academy and BAFTA Awards for Best Actress. This is following her success as the title character in the television series Elizabeth I, for which she earned both the Emmy and Golden Globe Awards for her performance. The enormous success of the stage version The Audience has led not only to this Broadway transfer, but in addition a West End revival starring Kristin Scott Thomas at the Apollo Theatre, just two years after the West End premiere, to run concurrently with the Broadway production. The Audience refers to the weekly meetings the Queen was said to have with all former prime ministers from the start of her reign in 1952. The cast therefore includes actors portraying John Major, Gordon Brown, Harold Wilson, Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden, Margaret Thatcher, David Cameron, and Jim Callaghan. The play is a fictional portrayal of these meetings, with each prime minister confessing their deepest thoughts and feelings to the queen in private conversation.

Cast and Creative Team

In addition to Helen Mirren, as well as original cast members Geoffrey Beevers, Michael Elwyn, Richard McCabe, and Rufus Wright, the show will feature Dylan Baker as John Major, Judith Ivey as Margaret Thatcher, Anthony Cochrane as Cecil Beaton, Dakin Matthews as Winston Churchill, Rod McLachlan as Gordon Brown, and Elizabeth Teeter as Young Elizabeth. The scenic design is done by six-time Tony winner Bob Crowley, and the lighting design is by Rick Fisher, a two-time Tony winner. Furthermore, sound is by Tony winner Paul Arditti, and Paul Englishby did the music. The producers, Matthew Byam Shaw of Playful Productions, Robert Fox, and Andy Harries, also produced the original West End run.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 2/8/2015

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

“Fish in the Dark” Strong Out of the Gates

On February 2, 2015, Larry David’s Fish in the Dark began previews at the Cort Theatre. In its first week of seven performances, it fared brilliantly at the box office. As previously reported, this play broke advance box office records due to the notoriety of its writer and star, Larry David, who rose to fame principally through the TV show Curb Your Enthusiasm as well as through co-creating Seinfeld. In the week ending February 8, 2015, the show brought in a weekly gross of $993,940, which is especially not bad given that was with only seven performances. It made 113.39% of its gross potential, with an average paid admission of $130.95 and a top ticket price of $423.00. Miraculously, it had the fifth highest gross this week on Broadway, following only the mega hit musicals The Lion King, The Book of Mormon, Wicked, and Aladdin. Once again, that was with one fewer performance that week than the other shows.

“If/Then” Struggling Following Week-Long Hiatus

Idina Menzel, the star of the presently running musical If/Then, took a weeklong hiatus from performing in that show in order to travel to Phoenix, Arizona to sing the National Anthem at Super Bowl XLIX on February 1, 2015. Without her, the producers felt it best to cancel performances for that entire week, rather than bring in an understudy. Menzel’s fame is clearly soaring, due in large part to her recent success playing the lead part and singing the hit song “Let It Go” from the Disney animated film Frozen, as well as John Travolta’s heavily referenced flub of her name, calling her Adele Dazeem. It is for this reason she was asked to sing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl. However, If/Then isn’t doing quite as well. It’s clear that without Menzel at center stage, this musical would be faring even less well. Still, in the first week back after this week-long hiatus, the musical brought in $563,156, which was only 43.65% of its gross potential. With an average paid ticket price of $76.71, the show is clearly doing a lot of discounting. Still, it only managed to reach an average capacity of 70.0%.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending February 8, 2015:Broadway-Show-Ticket-Analysis-2-8-15

 

Show Name GrossGross Total Attn %Capacity AvgPdAdm
A DELICATE BALANCE $456,872 4,427 69.00% $103.20
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $584,938 5,838 80.46% $100.19
ALADDIN $1,203,871 13,090 94.97% $91.97
BEAUTIFUL $966,461 7,330 89.30% $131.85
CABARET $932,882 7,016 98.21% $132.96
CHICAGO $447,331 5,903 68.32% $75.78
CONSTELLATIONS $530,585 5,132 98.69% $103.39
DISGRACED $333,741 4,633 63.09% $72.04
FISH IN THE DARK $993,940 7,590 101.05% $130.95
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $473,945 4,507 74.59% $105.16
HONEYMOON IN VEGAS $359,163 4,849 51.63% $74.07
IF/THEN $563,156 7,341 69.99% $76.71
IT’S ONLY A PLAY $474,936 5,633 65.38% $84.31
JERSEY BOYS $616,604 6,870 69.93% $89.75
KINKY BOOTS $819,594 8,385 73.60% $97.75
LES MISÉRABLES $511,848 6,773 60.09% $75.57
MAMMA MIA! $362,236 5,157 55.29% $70.24
MATILDA $692,151 9,328 81.42% $74.20
ON THE TOWN $379,914 5,420 36.15% $70.09
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,455,237 8,715 102.19% $166.98
THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME $738,815 7,130 87.55% $103.62
THE ELEPHANT MAN $721,450 4,651 100.15% $155.12
THE LION KING $1,463,314 13,180 96.91% $111.03
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $583,683 7,818 60.89% $74.66
THE RIVER $503,377 5,703 102.42% $88.27
WICKED $1,262,017 12,266 84.76% $102.89
YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU $334,244 4,507 52.50% $74.16
Totals $18,766,304 189,192 77.35% $97.66

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

“Saturday Night Live” 40th Anniversary Special

saturday night liveA Star-Studded Three Hour Event

On February 15, 2015, NBC’s Saturday Night Live will air a three hour 40th anniversary special to celebrate four decades on television. The actual premiere of the late-night sketch comedy and variety show took place on October 11, 1975. Though this anniversary celebration may be eight months early, this special event is sure to attract a lot of attention due to its star-studded excitement. The occasion will welcome many previous cast members of SNL, along with past guests, who will be joining the present cast members and a slew of exciting live performances. The last time a big anniversary was celebrated on the show was 1999, when the twenty-fifth was honored. Compared to that special, executive producer Lorne Michaels said that this fortieth anniversary would feature more live performances in comparison to pre-taped bits. He also mentioned that every host and cast member from history was invited, and that he doesn’t expect all of them to come. However, when a positive RSVP was received from any of them, that’s when their team began writing sketches surrounding their involvement. In any event, this show is certainly something special, as it has been presided over by the same individual, Lorne Michaels, since it first began 40 years ago. That has allowed the brand to grow into one of the most highly regarded comedy shows today.

A Brief SNL Historysaturday night live

The origins of Saturday Night Live date back to 1975. At that time, NBC had been filling the Saturday night timeslot with reruns of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. However, Carson requested that the network remove these episodes from the weekend so that they could be saved for occasional weekday fillers, when Carson wanted to take a night off. Therefore, NBC was tasked with finding a new show to fill this crucial time period, and Lorne Michaels was approached. The NBC president at the time Herbert Schlosser tasked his VP of late night programming Dick Ebersol with filling the slot. Thus Saturday Night Live was born, although it didn’t get that name until 1977, as the name was already in use by a show on ABC. Fortunately, the spectacular success of this comedic romp gave NBC the incentive to purchase the rights to this name. Early on, the show adopted the famous tagline, “Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!”

Cast Members, Hosts, and Returning Guests

This year, the fortieth season of Saturday Night Live, includes a number of repertory players as well as featured players who will likely go on to lead successful comedy careers, as many SNL players have done in the past. Current cast members include Vanessa Bayer, Aidy Bryant, Taran Killam, Kate McKinnon, Bobby Moynihan, Jay Pharaoh, Cecily Strong, and Kenan Thompson. Each episode is hosted by a different individual; this season, hosts have included Chris Pratt, Sarah Silverman, Bill Hader, Jim Carrey, Chris Rock, Woody Harrelson, Cameron Diaz, James Franco, Martin Freeman, Amy Adams, Kevin Hart, Blake Shelton, and J.K. Simmons. As for the past cast members and hosts who will be joining the 3-hour fortieth anniversary special, that waits to be seen. However, some names have been leaked. One interesting individual who will be showing his face on the special is Eddie Murphy, who made a point of never appearing on the show since he left in 1984. This opens up the possibility that any number of surprise guests may be making an appearance, and the special will certainly be an exciting one indeed.

“The River” Concludes Its Run

An Unqualified Success Both Critically and Commercially

hugh jackmanOn February 8, 2015, The River concludes its run at the Circle in the Square Theatre on Broadway. It has been running since its first preview on October 31, 2014, with its official opening night taking place on November 16, 2014. The small-scale play starred Hugh Jackman along with Laura Donnelly and Cush Jumbo, the latter two who are British actresses making their Broadway debuts. Hugh Jackman, on the other hand, is a huge Broadway name, as well as a magnificent actor commended for his work on both stage and screen, musical and dramatic. It is no question that Jackman’s stature contributed to the vast success of this show at the box office, but the unmatchable quality of the production precedes him. The play is written by Jez Butterworth, an English writer whose previous Broadway production, Jerusalem, starred Mark Rylance and received rave reviews in both London and New York. Like Jerusalem, The River is also directed by Ian Rickson, and also produced by Sonia Friedman Productions, both of whom have a secure reputation for producing only works of the finest quality.

A Profitable Production, Plus a T-Shirt Auction for Charityhugh jackman laura donnelly

After just seven weeks of performances, The River recouped its $3.2 million capitalization and entered profitmaking territory. This is especially impressive given the intimate size of the Circle in the Square Theatre, which seats just 776 audience members, by far smaller than most all other houses on Broadway. With just three actors and one set staged “in the thrust,” the show still had a moderately high budget for a play, presumably due to the star salary required by Jackman’s representation. However, this was no challenge for this dramatically compelling and intellectually provocative work of art, as it attracted as much money as it did praise. In addition, the creative team decided to incorporate an innovative strategy into their efforts to raise money for Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS. Whereas most shows in this season raise money merely with a post-show speech and some plastic buckets held by supporting cast members, Jackman took center stage once again following his bow to conduct a crowd-pleasing auction. The item for sale was none other than the t-shirt he wore each night. The winner also earned the chance to go backstage with him briefly to receive it. Of the $5.2 million record-breaking amount that this organization earned from the totality of Broadway shows, The River contributed a miraculous $550,000. In one high profile example, Taylor Swift attended the show with her family on Christmas Eve, and purchased his t-shirt for $6,000. Jackman matched that amount himself, and another audience member bought his belt for $2,000.

Proof that Quality-Driven Productions Can Thrive on Broadway

It is to the credit of the marvelous Sonia Friedman Productions that plays like The River can even come to Broadway in the first place, not to mention earn vast profits and critical praise. This is an example of expert producing, which is an underappreciated artform perfectly illustrated in this case. Sonia is an advocate of the artist, and that is why Jez Butterworth’s play and works directed by Ian Rickson time and again are produced by her company. It is not only a matter of seducing the perfect star, in this case Hugh Jackman, but it is also demonstrating a true appreciation for good art that allows these artistic relationships to thrive. It is certainly not an easy balance to strike, but The River has proved that this recipe does exist; it just takes experience, dedication, and excellent taste.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 2/1/2015

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

The Winter Continues to Take Its Toll

In the week ending February 1, 2015, New York was cold and the Broadway wraps show this clearly. Of all the shows running on Broadway, only two experienced a slight upturn in ticket sales, and both only by small amounts. The biggest increase was seen by It’s Only a Play, making up for a large dip it took last week, increasing its weekly gross by $51,381 for a weekly box office of $513,389. This only represents 44.21% of that show’s gross potential, whereas it was playing in the millionaire’s club only a month ago. In addition, a new addition to the Broadway slate Constellations saw an even smaller upturn of $8,907, which brought it to a weekly gross of $508,352. This Jake Gyllenhaal starrer only made 64.99% of its gross potential this past week, which is around the median range that the show has been achieving since it began previews 5 weeks ago. Other than these two shows, every single play and musical experienced a decrease in sales from the week before. The Lion King saw the biggest decrease of $303,224, followed by Aladdin with a decrease of $228,422, and then Wicked with a decrease of $209,690. The highest earning shows may be able to afford to take the biggest toll, but that still does not represent a healthy week on Broadway.

“The Elephant Man” and “The Book of Mormon” Lead the Way

This past week, only two shows made more than 100% of their gross potential, which is the marker these days for a successful week due to the overabundance of premium tickets sold on Broadway. The greatest percentage of gross potential was achieved by The Elephant Man starring Bradley Cooper, which brought in 104.28% of its gross potential with a weekly gross of $976,936. Still it saw a slight decrease of $58,883 from the week before. This revival of a classic play has announced that it will take its success with it to London, where Cooper will continue with the transfer production. The other show that earned more than 100% of its gross potential was The Book of Mormon, which is still an unbeatable earner on Broadway. This past week, it brought in $1,423,750, which represents 102.36% of its gross potential. It was also the highest earning show of the whole week, beating out even The Lion King and Wicked, both of which have much larger audience capacities.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending February 1, 2015:Broadway-Show-Ticket-Analysis-2-1-15

Show Name GrossGross TotalAttn %Capacity AvgPdAdm
A DELICATE BALANCE $462,985 4,289 66.85% $107.95
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $610,647 6,228 85.83% $98.05
ALADDIN $1,119,398 11,343 94.05% $98.69
BEAUTIFUL $964,098 7,222 87.99% $133.49
CABARET $896,478 6,756 94.57% $132.69
CHICAGO $365,600 4,948 65.45% $73.89
CONSTELLATIONS $508,352 5,060 97.31% $100.46
DISGRACED $348,413 4,911 66.87% $70.95
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $604,410 5,704 80.92% $105.96
HONEYMOON IN VEGAS $369,342 5,088 54.17% $72.59
IT’S ONLY A PLAY $513,389 5,681 65.94% $90.37
JERSEY BOYS $624,100 6,953 70.78% $89.76
KINKY BOOTS $839,718 8,762 76.91% $95.84
LES MISÉRABLES $565,551 7,730 68.58% $73.16
MAMMA MIA! $357,539 5,297 64.90% $67.50
MATILDA $682,942 9,085 79.30% $75.17
ON THE TOWN $491,489 7,272 48.51% $67.59
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,423,750 8,676 101.74% $164.10
THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME $756,733 7,396 90.82% $102.32
THE ELEPHANT MAN $976,936 5,913 95.49% $165.22
THE LION KING $1,337,983 11,847 99.55% $112.94
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $555,046 7,607 67.71% $72.97
THE RIVER $484,695 5,575 100.13% $86.94
WICKED $1,291,035 12,829 88.65% $100.63
YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU $354,139 4,986 58.08% $71.03
Totals $17,504,766 177,158 78.84% $97.21

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

Jimmy Fallon Heads West for the Super Bowl

jimmy fallonFirst Stop Phoenix for a Post Super Bowl “Tonight Show”

Jimmy Fallon is bringing his Tonight Show westward for the first week in February. Tonight, after the Super Bowl XLIX telecast where the Seattle Seahawks battle the New England Patriots, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon will be broadcasting from Phoenix’s Orpheum Theatre. Tickets were released for a free giveaway at 9:30am on Wednesday, January 14, 2015, and a reportedly 42,000 people signed on for the opportunity. All tickets were gone by 9:34am. Since Fallon commenced his role in succession to Jay Leon, he has been the bona fide king of late night, maintaining high ratings and a beloved status among celebrities and fans alike. He is sure to attract a lot of stars on his show tonight, as they are all in town for the big event. It has been announced that his guests will include Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart, and Ariana Grande. The latter will perform her recent single “One Last Time,” giving her first live television performance of the song.

Second Stop Los Angeles for a Week-Long Stayariana grande

After the post-game show, Fallon will head to Los Angeles for the week from February 2 through 5, 2015, where the show will tape from Universal Studios Hollywood. This marks the first time The Tonight Show will be hosted from Los Angeles since the show moved from Burbank to New York City for Fallon’s takeover. The show’s origins date back to 1954 when the debut took place in New York City, but since 1972 it has been filmed primarily in Los Angeles County, except for a brief stint in Chicago in 1957. Still, Fallon and his team chose to take a little vacation from the cold winter in New York City, taking advantage of the Super Bowl timing in order to visit some friends out West. The guests appearing in the L.A. week include Vin Diesel, Carl Reiner, Gwen Stefani, Michael Keaton, Will Smith, Rosamund Pike, Ellen DeGeneres, and Jack White. This is a great opportunity for Fallon to invite some exciting guests who may not live in New York or who are hard to pin down to appear on the show when they are visiting the East coast.

The Super Bowl Special

Following Super Bowl XLIX, NBC will air one episode of The Blacklist, after which the local late news will air, followed by the live airing of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Most of the show’s secrets are undisclosed, but it is revealed that a famous lip sync battle will take place between Jimmy Fallon, Kevin Hart, and Will Ferrell. Furthemore, Ariana Grande will make her live TV debut with her new single from her second album, performing with the house band The Roots. The show is also sure to include some hilarious games such as the “box of lies” shtick, as well as a number of jokes about football. The evening will feature some other stars as well: for the Super Bowl’s pre-game festivities, Idina Menzel will sing the national anthem, and John Legend will sing “America the Beautiful.” Furthermore, the Super Bowl halftime show will feature performances by Katy Perry and Lenny Kravitz.

Larry David’s “Fish in the Dark” Breaks Advance Records

fish in the darkThe “Curb Your Enthusiasm” Star Conquers Broadway

Larry David, best known for creating and starring in the television show Curb Your Enthusiasm, as well as for co-creating and lead writing the series Seinfeld, is coming to Broadway as both lead actor and writer. Fish in the Dark, billed as a dark comedy that involves the death of the patriarch of the family, has released little other information about the show. However, the pedigree of Larry David’s name alone has allowed the show to break advance box office records. Additional cast includes Rita Wilson, Rosie Perez, and Jayne Houdyshell. The show is directed by Anna D. Shapiro (Motherf**ker with the Hat) and produced by Scott Rudin. Previews begin this upcoming Monday, February 2, 2015, and the play is already selling out. Opening night is scheduled for March 5, 2015, and the run is intended to be a limited engagement of 18 weeks.

A Record Breaking $13.5 Million Advancelarry david

It has taken in a remarkable $13.5 million, which breaks the advance box office records for a straight play. The previous record for a straight play’s advance was $13.05 million, earned by Betrayal starring Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz. That play was produced by Scott Rudin, who is also the producer of Fish in the Dark. The budget for this play has not been reported, but it is surely in the low millions, probably not over $3 million. It is therefore a surefire hit before it even begins. Other plays this season are also doing well, but not quite as well as Fish in the Dark. It’s Only a Play starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick was performing alongside top musicals this whole season, but its opening advance was only $10 million. The Bradley Cooper led revival of The Elephant Man also performed very well at the box office, as did Hugh Jackman in The River, but neither could compete with Fish in the Dark in terms of advance sales. Other starry plays opening this spring include Helen Mirren in The Audience, as well as Bill Nighy in Skylight by David Hare.

Larry David, the Broadway Newbie

Larry David is a novice in the theatre. He told the press that he has not been in a play since the eighth grade. In a memorable episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, David plans to star in The Producers alongside fellow performers David Schwimmer and Cady Huffman. Though the audience is wowed, Mel Brooks is not impressed, and he ends up failing to make the cut. Of course the entire scenario was played for comedic effect, but he certainly demonstrated that he was not intending to pursue a career in musical theatre. Nevertheless, theatre itself is not outside his domain, as he is making quite a debut on Broadway this week. The critical response will become clear in March after the opening night, but there is no going back now; audiences are already committed to loving this show.

“The Curious Incident” Recoups on Broadway

A Financial Coup for a Straight Play

curious incidentThis week, it was announced that the Broadway production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time has recouped its capitalization. The budget was reported to be $4.75 million, which is high for a straight play, though low compared to most musicals. This is therefore an extraordinary achievement, not only because it is a financial success with a high capitalization for its genre, but also because it is difficult and statistically unlikely for straight plays to recoup on Broadway in general. Whereas audiences generally flock to uplifting musicals with glitzy spectacle and catchy scores, it is more difficult for a play to gain traction and for positive word of mouth to spread enough for ticket sales to reach the level of profits. It is even more unusual for this to happen when there are no Hollywood stars leading the cast. The star of The Curious Incident is Alex Sharp, a recent Juilliard graduate who plays a 15 year-old boy with Asperger’s syndrome (although this diagnosis is never specifically mentioned in the play).

A Transatlantic Success Storyalex sharp

However, this play does have one thing going for it that can be considered a predictable factor: that is transferred from London. It is more likely due to the fact that London breeds theatre of such immense quality due to a strong theatrical tradition, than that ticket buyers have a bias towards British content, that this is a trend. However, time and again, if a show transfers from London and gets good reviews, people take notice more than they might have with a homegrown production. For instance, One Man, Two Guv’nors was a critical and commercial hit that made its lead actor a talk show star in America. Like One Man, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time also transferred from the National Theatre via the West End. This play is based on a novel of the same name by Mark Haddon, which may have also contributed to its recognition, but most importantly the show has built up strong word of mouth due solely to excellent reviews from critics and audience members alike.

An Open Ended Run

Whereas most straight plays will announce limited engagements of 12, 16, or 20 weeks, and then perhaps announce an extension if the play is doing well, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time has not yet said when it will close. The open-ended run began with the first preview on September 10, 2014, and its official opening night was on October 5, 2014. It has since run for over 130 performances in addition to the 23 preview performances, and it may not be stopping anytime soon. Whereas only a quarter of shows ever enter profits, this play managed to do so after only 4 and a half months. This quirky play is said to be spectacular in design, brilliantly clever in construction, and flawless in execution, which overcomes its less than commercial subject matter and cast. The play is written by Simon Stephens and directed by Marianne Elliott, who won the Tony Award for her direction of War Horse, another excellent example of a British transfer that won over America while still proving a great success at home.