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 Colbert Report” Plays Its Final Episode

As Colbert moves on, the Colbert Character retires

colbert characterAfter nine years and 1,447 episodes, The Colbert Report played its final show on December 18, 2014 on Comedy Central. Though Colbert fans must concede their congratulations to their beloved host, who is moving on to host CBS’ The Late Show in a post vacated by the illustrious, long-standing David Letterman, they are also sorely disappointed. That is because the reason they came to love Stephen Colbert in the first place – his fictional ultra-conservative superhero furtively promoting liberal values – is supposed to be no more. True diehards of the show cannot image losing this character, who has at times seen so vividly real – such as when he spoke in front at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. However, in respect to the tradition held by David Letterman for decades (as well as for the ratings he brought in), Colbert will maintain the structure of The Late Show with his opening monologue, and non-character interviews of celebrities. However, audiences are still hoping to see glimpses of this character, because it is such an effective critical tool in a world where politically sensitive topics are frighteningly becoming risqué.

The Hilarious, Worthy Finale

The screwball final 30 minutes of The Colbert Report let Colbert release his character into eternity. He gazed into the eyes of Alex colbertTrebek to discover the answers to all the world’s questions, and he passed the torch to Jon Stewart. He threatened to kill off the character through the special guest of “Grimmy”, aka Death, but then suddenly, immortality took over, and a huge group of past guests convened all together to sing “We’ll Meet Again,” foreshadowing an eerie reincarnation of a supposedly departed figure. The show has been offbeat from the beginning, and it is to Colbert’s credit that the finale was just as unlikely – he didn’t cave to normalizing commercial pressures. Although the shelf life of this show is not certain, as his topics were always so timely, his contribution to the cultural mindset is definite.

He Provided a Revolution

Colbert himself admitted that he has served as a revolutionary figure over the past few years – for after all, a revolution is turning around 360 degrees and staying where you are. His humility is touching, but he is also being truthful to say that. He always showed the world what it was; his portrayals of conservative viewpoints were so mesmerizingly accurate that he was said to have convinced conservatives that he was speaking genuinely. That may have accounted for part of his fanbase, but ultimately it was the cunning ingenuity of the construct that made him such a successful satirist over the past decade. He managed to cause sincere belly laughs at the same time as expand our intellectual points of view. Though he will continue to play this role as host of The Late Show, he will also need to inevitably cut back on his mischief. However, the finale of “We’ll Meet Again” certainly implies that the Colbert character is not gone forever – but rather, like Santa Claus, hiding in the North Pole until he is needed next.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 12/14/2014

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

Sting Has Helped “The Last Ship” From Sinking

The Last Ship has been struggling at the box office from the time it began previews on September 29, 2014. The new musical about a British shipyarding town with music and lyrics by the multi Grammy Award winning musician Sting has had trouble gaining traction with theatregoers. However, Sting was not going to let his beloved Ship sink without making a last ditch effort. Similar to how the citizens of the show’s town join together in one last effort to build one Last Ship, Sting has chosen to make a radical move: starting December 9, 2014, he stepped into the role of Jackie White. According to the box office in the week ending December 14, 2014, theatregoers are responding positively to this move. This past week, the show grossed $817,897, which was an increase of $325,987 from the week before. With a top ticket price of $225.00, the average paid admission was $98.79. That is a significant increase in average paid admission, which previously did not top $80.69. Furthermore, the previous highest weekly gross was only $575,155. Therefore, Sting may save the ship after all.

“The Illusionists” Made the Millionaire Club

An unusual fare for Broadway, The Illusionists: Witness the Impossible is a magic show rife with spectacle. However, it appears that ticketbuyers are drawn to this change in offering. In its first week ending November 30, 2014, the show made it past the millionaire mark, earning $1,048,858, which was 76.07% of its gross potential. The show went quickly from previews (commencing November 26, 2014) to opening night (which took place December 4, 2014), as the show needed less preview preparation than most fully staged plays and musicals. Upon reviews hitting the presses, theatregoers responded positively. Still, they have not yet made it back to the levels of that first week. In the week ending December 14, 2014, the show brought in $987,234, which was an increase of $108,818 from the week before, but still not in the millionaire’s club. Time will tell whether this magic show can make it back into the big leagues in the coming weeks.


The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending December 14, 2014:

Broadway Show Ticket Analysis w/e 12-14-14

Show Name GrossGross TotalAttn %Capacity AvgPdAdm
A DELICATE BALANCE $854,322 6,015 93.75% $142.03
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $879,103 6,899 94.46% $127.42
ALADDIN $1,529,288 13,631 98.89% $112.19
BEAUTIFUL $1,354,390 8,230 100.27% $164.57
CABARET $808,669 6,858 96.00% $117.92
CHICAGO $414,484 5,112 59.17% $81.08
CINDERELLA $851,242 10,561 75.39% $80.60
DISGRACED $415,019 4,841 65.92% $85.73
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $640,340 6,242 88.55% $102.59
HONEYMOON IN VEGAS $396,473 6,655 71.90% $59.58
IF/THEN $502,861 6,051 57.69% $83.10
IT’S ONLY A PLAY $1,413,682 8,447 98.77% $167.36
JERSEY BOYS $847,588 7,680 78.18% $110.36
KINKY BOOTS $1,295,982 10,317 90.56% $125.62
LES MISÉRABLES $719,973 7,970 70.71% $90.34
LOVE LETTERS $274,612 4,231 56.59% $64.90
MAMMA MIA! $437,209 5,298 56.80% $82.52
MATILDA $900,826 9,335 81.49% $96.50
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL $982,656 8,993 74.59% $109.27
ON THE TOWN $756,779 9,370 62.50% $80.77
ONCE $601,479 6,597 77.87% $91.17
PIPPIN $468,537 5,821 73.50% $80.49
ROCK OF AGES $376,586 4,138 88.72% $91.01
SIDE SHOW $467,909 6,467 62.04% $72.35
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,739,667 8,751 102.61% $198.80
THE ELEPHANT MAN $934,580 6,233 100.66% $149.94
THE ILLUSIONISTS – WITNESS THE IMPOSSIBLE $987,234 9,883 77.36% $99.89
THE LAST SHIP $817,897 8,279 76.71% $98.79
THE LION KING $1,925,063 12,637 92.92% $152.34
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $760,079 9,021 70.26% $84.26
THE REAL THING $456,725 5,509 93.06% $82.91
THE RIVER $865,695 5,608 100.72% $154.37
THIS IS OUR YOUTH $270,455 5,260 61.97% $51.42
WICKED $1,746,037 13,554 93.66% $128.82
YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU $498,935 5,317 61.94% $93.84
Totals: $30,085,952 273,383 80.53% $106.47

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

“A Delicate Balance” Opens on Broadway

An Albee Masterwork with a Stellar Cast

a delicate balanceOn November 20, 2014, Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance opened at the John Golden Theatre. Directed by Pam MacKinnon (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Clybourne Park), who is known as the greatest contemporary interpreter of Albee’s works, the show has been running since its first preview on October 20, 2014. While Albee himself has solidified his status as a playwrights whose works are worth seeing, the success of this production is also due in no small part to the high stature of the cast. The lead roles of Agnes and Tobias are played by Glenn Close (Sunset Boulevard, The Real Thing) and John Lithgow (The Columnist, All My Sons) respectively, and their daughter Julia is played by Martha Plimpton (Pal Joey, Top Girls). Agnes’ alcoholic yet visionary sister Claire is played by Lindsay Duncan (Private Lives, A Midsummer Night’s Dream), and their surreally dependent friends Harry and Edna are played by Bob Balaban (Speed-the-Plow, The Inspector General) and Clare Higgins (Vincent in Brixton) respectively. In addition to the theatre credits of these actors, their pedigree extends deeply into the world of the screen, with some extremely well-known titles affixed to their names. In this richly profound and relatable play, these actors create an extremely appealing and accessible performance for theatregoers.

An Overall Positive Critical Response

Though not every reviewer was on their hands and knees bowing down to this production, several critics did present huge praise and a delicate balanceothers also saw great merit in the show. David Cote from Time Out New York calls this show a “parlor puzzler,” harking both to its accessibility taking place in the living room as well as its complex intrigue, declared the show full to bursting. Dave Quinn from NBC New York loved the show as well, especially praising Glenn Close’s triumphant return to Broadway after a 20 year hiatus. Charles McNulty of the Los Angeles Times also found the show to be a roaring success, praising the scenic design of Santo Loquasto as well as the richness of the comedic existentialist work. Ben Brantley of the New York Times was less fully sold on the production, agreeing more with critics following the 1966 premiere who were not comfortable declaring this one of Albee’s best works. Furthermore, Terry Teachout of the Wall Street Journal felt that the show is at best thought provoking but is ultimately a bit slow going, and therefore is not one of Albee’s most praiseworthy pieces. Nevertheless, the show did win the Pulitzer Prize following its 1966 production, showing that newspaper critics are not always on exactly the same page as other notable minds in the field.

A Financial Success

In the seven weeks that A Delicate Balance has been running in full eight performance weeks, is has done exceedingly well at the box office. In its first week of previews, the show was more than sold out, bringing in 102.25% of its gross potential with a gross of $884,596. Though it hasn’t done quite as well since, it has never dipped below 83.43% of the gross potential, and generally has been squarely in the 90% range. In the last recorded week – the week ending December 7, 2014 – the show brought in $873,152, representing 94.59% of its gross potential, with a top ticket price of $323.00 and an average paid admission of $143.33. This shows little to no discounting, as theatergoers are flocking to this treat of a play starring some of their favorite actors. In particular, Glenn Close must be a major draw, as she hasn’t performed live on Broadway for two decades. John Lithgow, on the other hand, was seen as recently as 2012 when he starred in The Columnist, which didn’t do quite as well financially.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 12/07/2014

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

“Love Letters” to Candice Bergen and Alan Alda

Love Letters has had a degree of difficulty at the box office since it began previews on September 13, 2014. One element that was difficult to navigate in terms of predicting sales trends was the unusual casting method of replacing one or both of the two characters in the play with a rotating cast of major stars. Though this is how the play has been done traditionally, it is difficult to predict how much more one star will attract ticketbuyers than the next. It appears that the duo of Candice Bergen and Alan Alda was a winner. Though it took some time for word of mouth to spread, their last week saw a surefire increase in ticket sales. In the week ending December 7, 2014, Love Letters demonstrated the highest increase in ticket sales from the week before of any show, bringing in $100,682 more than last week’s gross of $309,103. Though this gross of $409,785 was still only 52.48% of the gross potential, this is the highest week yet, almost tied with the week ending November 23, 2014 in which the same two actors played. The early pair of Mia Farrow and Brian Dennehy seemed to stir the least interest, although it is also possible that the show in general, independent of its stars, took time to gain some traction.

“This Is Our Youth” Struggling to Stay Alive

The Kenneth Lonergan scribed, Anna D. Shapiro helmed, revival of This Is Our Youth starring Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin, and Tavi Gevinson is having a lot of trouble at the box office. In the week ending December 7, 2014, the show brought in its lowest gross yet: $262,663 across eight performances. Since the show began previews on August 18, 2014, it has never made more than $421,840 in a week, which represents 54.34% of its gross potential. It has basically fluctuated around a mean gross of $300 to $350,000 per week, which is pretty dismal given the stature of the stars involved. However, though this play certainly has a boatload of indie cred, it has very little of the star power necessary to sell tickets on Broadway: that is, stars whose names resonate with the average Broadway ticket buyer, a 55 year-old woman. These young actors, as well as the material they are acting, is more suited for the youth of New York City, not tourists or middle aged adults. Unfortunately, these individuals do not generally consider Broadway in their purview or their price range, and the show is suffering for it. The show is slated to run until January 4, 2015; it will probably survive until then, but not in great financial shape.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending December 7, 2014:

Broadway Show Ticket Analysis w/e 12-07-2014


Show Name GrossGross TotalAttn %Capacity AvgPdAdm
A DELICATE BALANCE $873,152 6,092 94.95% $143.33
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $892,158 6,882 94.22% $129.64
ALADDIN $1,516,840 13,553 98.32% $111.92
BEAUTIFUL $1,324,837 8,202 99.93% $161.53
CABARET $894,223 7,084 99.16% $126.23
CHICAGO $466,607 5,762 66.69% $80.98
CINDERELLA $805,921 9,995 71.35% $80.63
DISGRACED $410,321 4,883 66.49% $84.03
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $610,431 6,002 85.15% $101.70
HONEYMOON IN VEGAS $410,775 7,784 84.10% $52.77
IF/THEN $546,374 6,552 62.47% $83.39
IT’S ONLY A PLAY $1,424,039 8,483 99.19% $167.87
JERSEY BOYS $913,846 7,836 79.76% $116.62
KINKY BOOTS $1,321,866 10,325 90.63% $128.03
LES MISÉRABLES $771,307 8,154 72.34% $94.59
LOVE LETTERS $409,785 4,966 66.43% $82.52
MAMMA MIA! $547,087 6,290 67.43% $86.98
MATILDA $928,149 9,285 81.05% $99.96
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL $1,065,120 9,474 78.58% $112.43
ON THE TOWN $779,021 9,116 60.81% $85.46
ONCE $554,966 6,127 72.32% $90.58
PIPPIN $464,138 5,675 71.65% $81.79
ROCK OF AGES $373,834 4,010 85.98% $93.23
SIDE SHOW $483,252 6,438 61.76% $75.06
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,734,478 8,752 102.63% $198.18
THE ELEPHANT MAN $755,087 6,208 100.26% $121.63
THE ILLUSIONISTS – WITNESS THE IMPOSSIBLE $878,416 10,702 83.77% $82.08
THE LAST SHIP $491,910 6,338 58.73% $77.61
THE LION KING $1,919,765 12,360 90.88% $155.32
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $785,441 9,112 70.97% $86.20
THE REAL THING $458,860 5,392 91.08% $85.10
THE RIVER $873,863 5,612 100.79% $155.71
THIS IS OUR YOUTH $262,663 5,247 61.82% $50.06
WICKED $1,814,918 13,954 96.42% $130.06
YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU $519,282 5,451 63.50% $95.26
Totals: $30,147,627 275,732 81.26% $106.16

Broadway ticket sales raw data are provided courtesy of The Broadway League All other data, text, opinion, charts and commentary are copyright © 2014

“Peter Pan Live” Airs on NBC

Allison Williams and Christopher Walken Star

Peter Pan Live!On December 4, 2014, NBC continued its now annual tradition of airing a theatrical production filmed exclusively for television. Last year, NBC had a stupendous success with their airing of a live production of The Sound of Music, amassing 22 million viewers for the special, which was produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (the producers of the Oscars as well as many musical films such as Chicago and Hairspray). This year, the same producing team mounted a production of Peter Pan, adapting the version first produced in 1954. Following in a tradition led by Mary Martin and Cathy Rigby of a female portraying the young boy, Allison Williams (Girls) was cast as Peter Pan. In addition, Christopher Walken (A Behanding in Spokane, Hurlyburly) portrayed Captain Hook, Christian Borle (Peter and the Starcatcher) played Smee, Kelli O’Hara (The Bridges of Madison County) played Mrs. Darling, and Minnie Driver played the adult Wendy and the narrator. The broadcast, though not as successful as last year’s The Sound of Music, brought in 9.129 million viewers.

Sometimes Growing Up Is Not So Bad photo

Allison Williams is a star who has recently skyrocketed to national recognition, and this performance certainly took her notoriety one step further than the already immense fame she has garnered for her supporting role on Lena Dunham’s Girls on HBO. It’s not an accident that her father is Brian Williams, managing editor and anchor of NBC nightly news for over 20 years. Still, it’s hard to resent the nepotism involved here, because both father and daughter are so sweetly earnest. This photo is a screen shot of a recent facebook post Allison Williams made on her personal profile, showing how she has yearned to play this role since the age of 2 and a half. And her father was the first to announce the casting on his news show, adorably citing how this is a role she has always longed to play, and he should know, as he’s her father. This was an interesting way for Williams to foray into professional stage performance, as the broadcast had elements of both stage and screen performance. Whereas the musical was written and principally staged for the full-scale live stage performance, there were also elements that were only possible due to the filmed format, such as a larger set and cast and more diverse camera angles. Walken was cited to express ambivalence about this duality of performance methods, as he wasn’t thrilled about having a stage show broadcast to millions without the usual weeks of rehearsals and previews given to a Broadway show, and also that he’s never quite sure when the camera was even on him.

Firmly Mixed Reviews

peter panEven prior to the airing on Thursday evening, Williams conducted several interviews in which she predicted that many people would “hate-watch” the special, but also expecting that once they sat down to view it, it would be difficult to realize the “hate” part of the equation. Perhaps her self-aware semi-cynicism stems from her friendship with fellow millennial stars such as Lena Dunham and Jemima Kirke, who would never be caught dead performing in such a classically un-ironical role such as this one (though Dunham probably wishes she could be a musical star, but she cannot sing and her comedy stems from a very different place; Kirke honestly would never wish this upon herself). Anyway, Williams was thrust amongst these fellow girls, and does offer a nice juxtaposition to their sentiment on the HBO show, but in this case, she proves herself to be paving the way to a very different career. As for actual reviews, some people loved it, and some people genuinely despised it, but most were somewhere in between. Alessandra Stanley in The New York Times said that Allison “ruined hate-watching,” because she convincingly pulled off the role after all. The Hollywood Reporter lauded Williams’ performance, and considered the entire special a success. Still, musical theatre lover Adam Feldman in Time Out New York came out with perhaps the most objectively accurate response, critiquing the entire show of Peter Pan for not being a first-rate show in the first place, but also critiquing Zadan and Meron for minimizing the inherent theatricality of the piece. Still, he expressed a sincere wish that NBC try again with the live television musical theatre concept next year, which the network has already expressed their intent to do.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 11/30/2014

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

“The Illusionists” Launching Onto The Scene

In the week ending November 23, 2014, The Illusionists – Witness the Impossible began previews. With only seven performances since the first preview on November 26, 2014, the show brought in a first weekly gross of $1,048,858. Though this only represents 76.07% of the show’s gross capacity, that is still a huge amount out of the gates. With a top ticket price of $175.00, the show’s average paid ticket was $107.44, which represents little to no discounting. This magic spectacle show is different from the average Broadway fare. Opening over Thanksgiving weekend, the show was a major draw for tourists who were looking for something a little less intellectual and a little more spectacular. It will wait to be seen whether the show’s grosses continue to pick up as word of mouth spreads and reviews come out, but for now this show appears to be doing very well on the Great White Way.

An Overall High Week on Broadway

This past week, of the 36 shows presently running on Broadway, all but five saw an increase in ticket sales from the week before. Those five that saw a decline were Love Letters (went down by $102,662), The Last Ship (went down by $38,645), The Real Thing (went down by $24,509), Disgraced (went down by $20,904), and Honeymoon in Vegas (went down by $14,859). All the rest of the shows saw an increase in sales. Other than The Illusionists – Witness the Impossible, which began previews this week and therefore saw a huge increase from zero the week before, the highest increase was seen by Wicked, which increased by $979,623. Following next was The Lion King with an increase of $711,252, Matilda with an increase of $690,490, and The Phantom of the Opera with an increase of $454,438. Overall, this increase can be explained by the fact that it was Thanksgiving weekend, so tourists were crawling all over the city in great numbers, comparably to over the summer season. They therefore flocked to the more tourist-friendly fare, such as these big blockbuster musicals.

“It’s Only a Play” Playing in the Musical Leagues

Since it began previews, It’s Only a Play has made over one million dollars in every full performance week. It is squarely amidst a slew of musical in this range of numbers. It could not be more clear that it is only a play, not a musical, and still tourists and locals alike are flocking to it. This is clearly due to the A-list cast, as the reviews were only mild.


The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending November 30, 2014:Broadway-Show-Ticket-Analysis-11-30-14

Show GrossGross Total Attn %Cap AvgPdAdm
A DELICATE BALANCE $807,472 5,650 88.06% $142.92
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $974,924 7,046 96.47% $138.37
ALADDIN $1,759,955 13,784 100.00% $127.68
BEAUTIFUL $1,405,434 8,026 97.78% $175.11
CABARET $948,085 7,101 99.40% $133.51
CHICAGO $583,103 6,614 76.55% $88.16
CINDERELLA $1,115,935 13,197 94.21% $84.56
DISGRACED $412,694 5,009 68.21% $82.39
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $653,674 6,135 87.03% $106.55
HONEYMOON IN VEGAS $351,277 5,078 54.86% $69.18
IF/THEN $615,096 6,452 61.52% $95.33
IT’S ONLY A PLAY $1,354,791 8,002 93.57% $169.31
JERSEY BOYS $920,735 7,913 80.55% $116.36
KINKY BOOTS $1,314,521 10,293 90.35% $127.71
LES MISÉRABLES $992,609 9,806 86.99% $101.22
LOVE LETTERS $309,103 3,978 53.21% $77.70
MAMMA MIA! $662,155 7,334 78.62% $90.29
MATILDA $1,454,493 11,463 100.06% $126.89
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL $1,011,459 9,200 76.31% $109.94
ON THE TOWN $885,138 8,975 59.87% $98.62
ONCE $563,704 6,362 75.09% $88.60
PIPPIN $670,217 6,847 86.45% $97.88
ROCK OF AGES $360,759 3,664 78.56% $98.46
SIDE SHOW $466,970 5,800 55.64% $80.51
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,875,135 8,751 102.61% $214.28
THE ELEPHANT MAN $958,970 6,219 100.44% $154.20
THE ILLUSIONISTS – WITNESS THE IMPOSSIBLE $1,048,858 9,762 89.11% $107.44
THE LAST SHIP $458,563 6,418 59.47% $71.45
THE LION KING $2,422,719 13,602 100.01% $178.11
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $1,131,137 11,319 88.15% $99.93
THE REAL THING $451,370 5,220 88.18% $86.47
THE RIVER $906,275 5,629 101.10% $161.00
THIS IS OUR YOUTH $341,572 4,977 58.64% $68.63
WICKED $2,432,132 15,714 96.52% $154.77
YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU $548,572 5,479 63.83% $100.12
Totals: $34,121,642 284,569 82.85% $115.18

Broadway ticket sales raw data are provided courtesy of The Broadway League All other data, text, opinion, charts and commentary are copyright © 2014

Stephen Colbert Gets Letterman Slot, Jon Stewart Ponders Future

Jon Stewart’s Contract is Up at the End of the Year

jon stewartJon Stewart has hosted The Daily Show on Comedy Central since 1999. This half-hour long late night satirical television show premiered in 1996 under the helm of Craig Kilborn, but it quickly became Stewart’s domain, and he has steered the ship ever since. It is a self-described fake news program, covering politics and the national media. The second longest running show on the network, The Daily Show has won 18 Primetime Emmy Awards. In a recent interview in The Hollywood Reporter, Stewart remarked that, like with anything if you do it long enough, there are aspects that come to feel like a grind. With Stephen Colbert recently promoted to the slot held by David Letterman in the CBS program The Late Show, it is clear that the talk show royalty is undergoing a transition. With Stewart’s contract up at the end of the year, he is pondering a transition as well. After all, Stewart was one of the major contenders to host The Late Show, and with Colbert securely in that role for years to come, he is looking to other avenues for his creative and professional outlets.

Jon Stewart’s Film Directorial Career

In June 2013, Stewart took a twelve week hiatus from hosting The Daily Show in order to direct a feature film called Rosewater. The film,rosewater which premiered at the Telluride Film Festival and was shopped around to distributors at the Toronto Film Festival this past September, is a drama about a journalist who ended up imprisoned in Iran for four months. The shoot took place in Amman, Jordan, and difficulties were encountered such as an overlap with the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, as well as the given long days and rigorous work schedule facing any feature film, as opposed to cable television. Stewart has inevitably faced a great deal of criticism for taking on such a controversial topic, and yet he has also encountered a lot of appreciation from his fans, who are happy to see him branch out into other realms of entertainment. In this light, it will be interesting to watch how Stewart’s career unfolds in upcoming years. Will he allow his contract to expire without renewing? Will he continue on this new track of directing feature films?

Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show”

Whether it happens at the end of this year or not, it is unclear who will eventually take over Stewart’s throne on The Daily Show. Still, other changes are happening at the network. They just added two new writers: Hasan Minhaj and Trevor Noah. Minjah will replace the seat recently vacated by Michael Che as correspondent, and Noah will be a contributing writer starting this December. Like always, the show is staying fresh with new comedic voices, while Stewart sits comfortably in the pilot’s seat. Interestingly, the captivated audience of Daily Show fans often considers the show their primary news source, despite the fact that Stewart goes out of his way to make the show satirical. In spite of this, Stewart does have real news underneath the layers of satire. He co-authored several books including the 2004 bestselling America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction, which also dug its teeth into real issues underneath the jokes. In any case, Stewart is undeniably a pop culture icon in and of himself, independent of his role on The Daily Show, as proven when he hosted the Academy Awards in 2006 and 2008.

Disney Announces Unprecedented Ticket Exchange Policy

Ticketholders for “Aladdin” and “The Lion King” Can Swap Dates

The Lion King Broadway Musical, logoTwo of Disney’s most popular animated films have become two of their most exciting stage musicals. For the Broadway productions of both Aladdin and The Lion King, Disney Theatrical Productions has announced that ticketholders can exchange their tickets for another performance time, up until 2 hours before curtain. There will be a $12 ticket exchange fee for each change transaction, excepting cases in which the change happens less than 24 hours after the purchase was made. Also, the exchange must happen in the same way that the purchase was originally transacted: either at the box office, the Disney on Broadway hotline, or online via Ticketmaster. Though this announcement applies to both Aladdin and The Lion King, theatregoers must stick with the production they originally chose; there is no exchange allowed between tickets for the two shows. Still, this flexibility is sure to please audience members for both shows alike, thereby perhaps encouraging seeing both to take advantage of the scheme.

An Unprecedented Move, So Why Now?

Generally, purchasing tickets to a Broadway show is seen as a non-refundable commitment, requiring all other scheduling to Aladdin on Broadwayaccommodate the unchanging requirements of the time as originally selected. Therefore, this decision by Disney completely changes the nature of the Broadway ticket-buying marketplace. It’s possible that if this proves to be a successful incentive for choosing these shows over other offerings, that other producers may follow suit. The disincentive for this flexibility is that producers and managers need to keep careful track of each performance, understanding when they need to discount, offer complimentary tickets, or implement dynamic pricing to suit the availability of each performance. Disney has the unusual flexibility to engage this policy because both shows are such consistent hits, so even if theatregoers change their minds last minute, Disney is confident they can fill up those seats either at the TDF booth, box office, or online, still continuing with a steady stream of profits. And furthermore, Disney may benefit quite strongly from this $12 change fee, which may seem slight at the time of change, but could definitely add up to another significant revenue stream for the organization.

“The Lion King” and “Aladdin”

The Lion King is undoubtedly one of Broadway’s biggest hits, having run at the Minskoff Theatre at top box office grosses since it began performances on October 15, 1997. It has now played for over 7000 performances, generally with weekly grosses between $1.5 million and $2.5 million. With music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice, the production was directed by Julie Taymor and choreographed by Garth Fagan, famously utilizing giant puppets to simulate the animals of the kingdom with human dancers inside them. Aladdin is a much newer production, having only begun previews on February 26, 2014 at the New Amsterdam Theatre. Still, it quickly rose to the top of the box office charts, consistently earning grosses between $1.2 million and $1.6 million. Perhaps Disney is attempting to get Aladdin up to the league of The Lion King, incentivizing ticketbuyers by grouping the two shows together with this flexible policy. In any case, the brand power from the animated films of both of these shows will certainly live on.

“The Real Thing” Opens on Broadway

A Stoppard Play with an All-Star Cast

the-real-thing-pink-and-blackOn October 30, 2014, The Real Thing opened at the American Airlines Theatre, one of the Roundabout Theatre Company’s three Broadway venues. The play, a classic by Tom Stoppard (Arcadia, Rock n Roll, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead) originally produced in 1982, was directed by Sam Gold, a relative newcomer who has taken New York theatre by storm with such productions as The Realistic Joneses, Seminar, and many Off-Broadway hits. With such a creative team behind it, the production was able to a number of Hollywood stars. Two are making their Broadway debuts: Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Dark Knight, Donnie Darko, White House Down) and Ewan McGregor (Trainspotting, Big Fish, Star Wars). Furthermore, the show stars Cynthia Nixon (Sex and the City, Broadway productions including Wit, Rabbit Hole, Angels in America) as well as Josh Hamilton (Dead Accounts, The Coast of Utopia, Proof). With all of these powerhouse names behind it, the show was destined to be a critical hit. However, something the perfect ingredients do not make the perfect stew, and in this case, the result was sadly underwhelming.

Mixed Reviews from Critics

The most influential of New York theatre critics, Ben Brantley of The New York Times, gave The Real Thing a review that was all but playwright Tom Stoppard event gray whitedisdainful. He called the revival “tinny,” and claimed that the production lacked any real evidence of chemistry between the performers, or any sort of deep feelings in general. The beauty of Stoppard’s work often lies in the fact that his words may be highly complex and intellectual, but there is a deep humanity bubbling beneath the surface. Brantley’s view is that this production (due to a mixture of casting and directing) lacked that crucial underlayer. Other reviewers were less critical, falling prey to the combination of writing and fame onstage that can persuade the audience they are enjoying a well-done production. Mark Kennedy of the Associated Press, for example, thought the revival was thoroughly excellent, and enjoyed the interspersed tunes that Sam Gold opted to include between scenes, often hummed along by the actors. Thom Geier of Entertainment Weekly also praised the production, perhaps delighted merely to see his Hollywood favorites onstage. He claimed Gyllenhaal’s performance oozed poise and sophistication, which may be true, but the argument could also be made that the softness beneath was missing. David Rooney from the Hollywood Reporter was more on the fence, correctly praising Ewan McGregor’s Broadway debut for the professional excellence of his performance, but also calling Gold’s direction “hollow.”

Struggling at the Box Office

It is always interesting to follow how the combination of recognizable playwright, famous actors, and critical response has on the box office. In this case, audiences were not moved by the result, certainly not enough to make this show stand out financially. The show has never reached more than 77.56% of its gross potential in any given week, and the weekly numbers have been squarely in the $400,000 range for each week. With stars such as McGregor, Gyllenhaal, and Nixon onstage, this is almost an insult. And for the true theatre aficionados, the fact that a Stoppard play would be given this treatment is just a shame. However, given that the revival is produced by Roundabout, a not-for-profit theatre institution with an endowment and a subscriber base to keep it afloat, the show will likely be able to play out its intended limited run. The show is scheduled to close on January 4, 2015.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 11/23/2014

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

New Show: “Honeymoon in Vegas”

On November 18, 2014, Honeymoon in Vegas began previews at the Nederlander Theatre. With music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown (Parade, Bridges of Madison County), a book by Andrew Bergman, and based off the motion picture of the same name, this musical is directed by Gary Griffin and choreographed by Denis Jones. The musical stars Tony Danza, Rob McClure, Brynn O’Malley, and Matthew Saldivar. In its first week of previews, it played seven performances and brought in a preliminary weekly gross of $366,136. This is really not that spectacular, given that the show has the potential of bringing in $983,218, so that represented only 37.24% of the show’s gross potential. With a top ticket price of $233.00, the average paid admission was $69.24, demonstrating a heavy amount of discounting. It is a shame that a maestro composer such as Jason Robert Brown has time and again resorted to working on movie to musical adaptations, which are meant to be commercial but don’t even succeed in that regard.

An Overall Slow Week for Broadway

In the week ending November 23, 2014, the entire Broadway community saw an overall increase in gross sales of $261,421. That is barely a move at all, but on an individual sow basis, all but 13 saw a decrease in sales. Other than Honeymoon in Vegas, which began previews and thus increased from zero, the highest increase was seen by The Lion King, which brought in $1,711,467, representing an increase of $183,478 from the week prior. Increases were also seen by The River, Cabaret, Wicked, Cinderella, and Aladdin. Still, these increases were slight in comparison with their potential grosses. The following week, which included the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, ended up being much stronger. However, this week was a slow gearing up for the impending holidays, which are sure to make a difference in the otherwise slow winter season. As tourists flock to New York, these numbers will be sure to increase.


The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending November 23, 2014:

Broadway-Show-Ticket-Analysis- w/e 11-23-14

Show GrossGross Total Attn %Cap AvgPdAdm
A DELICATE BALANCE $745,933 6,356 99.06% $117.36
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $775,336 6,939 95.63% $111.74
ALADDIN $1,372,657 13,737 99.66% $99.92
BEAUTIFUL $1,279,198 7,974 97.15% $160.42
CABARET $816,760 6,701 93.80% $121.89
CHICAGO $419,363 5,339 61.79% $78.55
CINDERELLA $680,334 8,934 63.78% $76.15
DISGRACED $433,598 5,212 70.97% $83.19
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $548,527 5,590 79.30% $98.13
HONEYMOON IN VEGAS $366,136 5,288 65.29% $69.24
IF/THEN $502,191 7,168 68.34% $70.06
IT’S ONLY A PLAY $1,342,409 8,417 98.42% $159.49
JERSEY BOYS $727,159 7,132 72.60% $101.96
KINKY BOOTS $1,100,608 10,077 88.46% $109.22
LES MISÉRABLES $617,818 7,960 70.62% $77.62
LOVE LETTERS $411,765 4,764 63.72% $86.43
MAMMA MIA! $491,950 6,236 66.85% $78.89
MATILDA $764,003 8,418 73.48% $90.76
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL $981,245 10,303 85.46% $95.24
ON THE TOWN $795,604 9,912 66.12% $80.27
ONCE $425,226 5,383 63.54% $78.99
PIPPIN $367,437 4,997 63.09% $73.53
ROCK OF AGES $296,522 3,533 75.75% $83.93
SIDE SHOW $419,203 7,397 70.96% $56.67
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,579,606 8,742 102.51% $180.69
THE COUNTRY HOUSE $146,741 3,439 66.13% $42.67
THE ELEPHANT MAN $938,509 6,211 100.31% $151.10
THE LAST SHIP $497,208 7,222 66.92% $68.85
THE LION KING $1,711,467 13,503 99.29% $126.75
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $676,699 8,266 64.38% $81.87
THE REAL THING $475,879 5,441 91.91% $87.46
THE RIVER $882,153 5,621 100.95% $156.94
THIS IS OUR YOUTH $287,243 4,533 53.40% $63.37
WICKED $1,452,509 12,670 87.55% $114.64
YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU $467,067 5,057 58.91% $92.36
Totals: $26,699,450 262,452 79.00% $98.32

Broadway ticket sales raw data are provided courtesy of The Broadway League All other data, text, opinion, charts and commentary are copyright © 2014