“An Act of God” Opens on Broadway

Jim Parsons as Our Holy Father

an act of godOn May 28, 2015, An Act of God opened at Studio 54, a Roundabout Theatre Company Broadway venue. It had been running in previews since May 7, 2015. Presently, it is scheduled for a limited engagement to close on August 2, 2015. Although much of the excitement in the Broadway community these days regards the Tony Awards, which will happen this upcoming weekend, An Act of God made the unusual choice to open just after the cut off for Awards consideration. Therefore, like God in heaven above, the play is above all the awards hubbub, and it thrives independent of any commendation or lack there of from the Tony nominating committee and voters. The play stars Jim Parsons (“The Big Bang Theory,” Harvey, The Normal Heart) as God, and the cast also includes archangels Michael, played by Christopher Fitzgerald, and Gabriel, played by Tim Kazurinsky. The play is directed by Joe Mantello, who appeared as an actor alongside Jim Parsons in The Normal Heart, and whose directing credits include Airline Highway, Casa Valentina, and 9 to 5. The play is written by David Javerbaum, the producer of “The Late Late Show with James Corden” and previous writer and producer of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” It is based off his book “The Last Testament: A Memoir by God.”

Generally Positive Reviewsan act of god

Most all critics gave the play a standing ovation. Charles Isherwood at The New York Times found Parsons to be an adorable and funny version of God, and that the play is divinely funny itself. David Cote from Time Out New York found this play to be so good that it went beyond comfort, instead rattling the audience’s complacencies. Frank Scheck from The Hollywood Reporter found Parsons to be surprisingly authoritative as the Great Almighty, and enjoyed the play greatly. Jesse Green from Vulture loved how the play moved with great ease between camp and profundity. Only Marilyn Stasio from Variety was more on the fence, deciding it was a waste of time to review a play by God, but she did praise Parsons’ performance as a source of light.

Box Office Started Well, Now Just Okay

When the show began previews on May 7, 2015, the first week of box office looked divine. Over the course of its first four performances, An Act of God brought in $477,703, which represented 93.01% of its gross potential. However, in the three full weeks since, the show has decreased each week in its weekly grosses. This past week, the week ending May 31, 2015, the show brought in $693,379, which represents only 68.80% of its gross potential. With a top ticket price of $349.00, the average paid admission was $93.92. This is a decrease from the previous week, when the average paid admission was $109.95. Therefore, the production is offering more discounts that they did the previous week. However, it seems to have worked, as the average audience capacity increased to 91.7%, up from 82.5% the week before. After these post opening reviews, interest should increase, and once the Tony Awards buzz wears down, An Act of God has the potential to have a successful summer.

“Airline Highway” to Close Early

Manhattan Theatre Club Production Shutters One Week Early

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

Mixed Post Opening Reviewsairline highway

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

Struggling Box Office from Day One

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

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 5/31/2015

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

An Overall Poor Week on Broadway

In the week ending May 31, 2015, the Broadway box office took a major toll, with 29 of the 33 currently running shows reporting a decrease in ticket sales from the week before. The biggest increase was seen by Something Rotten!, which brought in $1,100,399, an increase of $36,234 from the week before. The only other show to increase in the five digits was The King and I, which increased by $25,885. Furthermore, Fun Home went up by $1,329, and Fish in the Dark went up by $1,289. As for the remaining 29 shows, every single one saw a decrease in ticket sales. Of all 33 shows, the overall decrease in ticket sales was $2,382,536 from the week before. The biggest decrease was seen by Beautiful, which went down by $235,946, bringing in a weekly gross of $909,618. One major reason why the industry took such a dip this week may be due to Tony voters cashing in on all their free tickets, as each of the approximately 700 voters receives a free pair of tickets to all shows (except Finding Neverland, as Harvey Weinstein revoked the offer upon the show receiving no nominations). Therefore, the overall grosses may have seen a decrease with all of the comps being cashed in as the Tony Awards are nearing very close. Furthermore, the overall ticket buying community may have purchased excitedly when the nominations came out, but now may be waiting for the results next week before choosing which shows to see next.

“An American in Paris” Continues to Bring In Big

One of the biggest contenders for the Tony Award for Best Musical is An American in Paris. In the week ending May 31, 2015, the show brought in $1,339,416. Though this is a slight decrease of $10,516 from the week before, it is still a consistently high number. The biggest weekly gross thus far was the previous week, when the show brought in $1,349,932, which represented 91.75% of its gross potential. This past week, the show reached 91.04% of its gross potential, which is almost as good. Furthermore, it filled 99.1% of its audience capacity. It is clear that ticket buyers are going crazy for this revamped Gershwin dance musical, based off the film of the same name. With such great buzz, this show may very well win the award for Best Musical. However, Fun Home, which still has not come close to the million dollar mark, granted in a much smaller theatre, is also an interesting pick due to its groundbreaking nature. Fun Home is the first mainstream musical to deal with the concept of lesbianism as its major plot point. Time will tell whether Tony voters choose to commend the novel concept of Fun Home or whether they are swayed by the good old-fashioned excellence of An American in Paris.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending May 31, 2015:Broadway-Show-Ticket-Analysis-05-31-15

Show Name GrossGross TotalAttn %Capacity AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $485,524 5,745 79.18% $84.51
AIRLINE HIGHWAY $160,888 3,483 69.44% $46.19
ALADDIN $1,469,138 13,788 100.03% $106.55
AN ACT OF GOD $693,379 7,383 91.74% $93.92
AN AMERICAN IN PARIS $1,339,416 13,305 99.05% $100.67
BEAUTIFUL $909,618 6,997 85.25% $130.00
CHICAGO $638,980 7,563 87.53% $84.49
FINDING NEVERLAND $1,048,475 11,140 92.59% $94.12
FISH IN THE DARK $1,216,518 8,718 101.56% $139.54
FUN HOME $628,970 6,001 102.76% $104.81
GIGI $426,246 6,013 54.31% $70.89
HAND TO GOD $406,784 5,011 81.14% $81.18
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $390,177 4,306 61.09% $90.61
IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU $272,693 4,393 54.26% $62.07
IT’S ONLY A PLAY $535,098 5,742 66.64% $93.19
JERSEY BOYS $643,630 6,847 69.70% $94.00
KINKY BOOTS $855,703 8,812 77.35% $97.11
LES MISÉRABLES $611,524 7,853 69.67% $77.87
MAMMA MIA! $697,686 7,831 83.95% $89.09
MATILDA $876,521 10,661 93.06% $82.22
ON THE TOWN $512,816 10,025 66.87% $51.15
ON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY $583,755 5,663 98.04% $103.08
SKYLIGHT $782,580 6,337 98.77% $123.49
SOMETHING ROTTEN! $1,100,399 12,184 91.36% $90.32
THE AUDIENCE $1,096,582 7,466 99.77% $146.88
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,417,312 8,737 102.45% $162.22
THE KING AND I $1,095,371 8,376 100.00% $130.77
THE LION KING $2,026,910 13,578 99.84% $149.28
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $928,487 11,146 86.81% $83.30
THE VISIT $149,023 3,564 49.45% $41.81
WICKED $1,670,922 13,830 95.67% $120.82
WOLF HALL PARTS ONE & TWO $548,136 5,436 49.13% $100.83
Totals $26,921,735 265,125 83.23% $97.72

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 King and I” Extends and Announces National Tour

Nine Tony Nominations and Indefinite Extension

the king and iWhen Lincoln Center’s current revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I opened on April 16, 2015, it received a full round of rave reviews from critics. Then, it received nine Tony Award nominations, including those for Best Revival of a Musical, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical for Ken Watanabe, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical for Kelli O’Hara, Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical for Ruthie Ann Miles, Best Scenic Design, Best Costume Design, Best Lighting Design, Best Direction for Bartlett Sher, and Best Choreography for Christopher Gattelli. Ken Watanabe received this nomination in his Broadway debut, and Kelli O’Hara received her sixth Tony nomination; perhaps this will be her first and long-awaited win. Furthermore, since the nominations were announced, the box office has broken the million dollar mark for the weekly grosses, and there it has stayed for three weeks and running. With all of this good news, Lincoln Center announced that the musical will be extended indefinitely at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre. This is big news for the 51 member company, who will continue to play for months to come.

National Tour to Commence November 2016the king and i

In addition to the news of the indefinite extension, the producers announced that this revival of The King and I will embark on a national tour to begin in November of 2016, launching in Providence, Rhode Island. Throughout the 2016 to 2017 season, the show will play a mixture of multi-week and single week runs in different cities throughout the nation. It has not yet been announced what the cast will be, or whether it will be an Equity or non-Equity tour, which is always a matter of some discussion given the costs and benefits to both producers and company. Comparably in 2008, Bartlett Sher directed another revival of a timeless musical – South Pacific – also starring Kelli O’Hara and also produced by Lincoln Center Theatre. That show, too, was a huge success, extending at first indefinitely and ultimately running for 996 performances, in addition to 37 preview performances. When South Pacific began its national tour, it did so in a non-Equity production with a smaller orchestra in order to save costs. It is possible that The King and I will follow suit, although that may stir some controversy.

Rave Reviews and Excellent Box Office

Upon the show’s opening, Ben Brantley of The New York Times found The King and I to be impressive and resplendent, relishing in the detailed revival. David Cote of Time Out New York found the show to be majestic, pointing out the timelessness of this masterpiece. David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter found the revival to be breathtaking and magnificent, praising not only the large scale of the production but also its fine quality. Steven Suskin of The Huffington Post enjoyed that the show was produced as written, rather than taking unnecessary artistic liberties, thereby preserving the classic. Robert Kahn of NBC New York was equally smitten by the production, impressed by the cast of over 50 and deeming Kelli O’Hara’s performance astonishing. Following suit, the box office has been excellent. In the last reported week of box office figures, the week ending May 31, 2015, The King and I brought in $1,095,371, which is the largest weekly gross in the run thus far. This is still only 89.90% of the show’s gross potential, but it shows much promises to continue increasing in upcoming weeks. With a top ticket price of $297.00, that week’s average paid admission was $130.77. Therefore, audience members are willing to pay top dollar to see the revival of this classic, with such a breathtaking production and magnificent reviews.

“Finding Neverland” Thrives Despite Tony Snub

Broadway Proving Not So Welcoming to Harvey Weinstein

finding neverland posterHarvey Weinstein, the mega powerful film producer and distributor whose countless credits include Shakespeare in Love, Gangs of New York, The Artist, and The King’s Speech, has served as lead producer for the first time of a Broadway show. Finding Neverland, based on the 2004 film of the same name which Weinstein executive produced, is a new musical that has been running at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre since it began previews on March 15, 2015. Its official opening night was April 15, 2015. Technically, Weinstein has been on the producing team of several Broadway shows in the past such as The Producers and Billy Elliot, but his involvement with those shows was almost exclusively financial. With Finding Neverland, he takes on the full producing responsibility for the first time on Broadway. Unfortunately, Broadway is proving a tough nut to crack, even for a man as powerful as Weinstein. The most important recognition that a show can receive is the Tony Award, and Finding Neverland was nominated for a grand total of zero of these awards. Proving the hostility Weinstein felt towards the Broadway community, he rescinded the invitations to the approximately 700 Tony voters, who are generally offered a free pair of tickets to all shows on Broadway. Though he had already sent out those invitations prior to the nominations, he bitterly revoked the offer upon the show receiving no nominations.

A Pitiful Series of Reviewsfinding neverland

In line with the Tony nominating committee’s decision not to recognize Finding Neverland, the show received almost entirely negative reviews after its opening night. Ben Brantley of The New York Times disdained the show, not falling for the strength of the brand name of the show or its stars, Kelsey Grammer and Matthew Morrison. David Cote of Time Out New York was equally unimpressed, calling the show awkward, garish, and manipulative. David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter reported that the show was severely lacking in charm, despite admitting that it is probably critic-proof due to the strong brand name and pre-opening ticket sales. Jesse Green of Vulture found the show utterly false and therefore deeply frustrating. Robert Kahn of NBC New York was only slightly more generous, admitting there is some thrilling stage magic but ultimately finding it erratic. However, as The Hollywood Reporter presaged, the show is proving immune to these negative reviews, as it has been over the million dollar mark at the box office for every full week of its run so far.

Strong Box Office and Celebrity Album

finding neverlandThough Weinstein may be aggravated by the lack of full welcome to the Broadway community, his ticketbuyers don’t seem to be devastated. In the most recently reported week of ticket sales, the week ending May 24, 2015, Finding Neverland brought in a weekly gross of $1,107,925, which is almost exactly how much the weekly gross has been since its first full week ending March 22, 2015, give or take $100,000 at the most. That weekly gross represents 75.06% of the show’s gross potential, and the audience capacity was an average of 94.2% full. Therefore, there is some room for growth still in the box office grosses, but failing motivation from Tony recognition or critical appreciation, Weinstein is trying another approach. One innovation he has introduced is that he is releasing an album of celebrities singing the score for Finding Neverland, though most of these celebrities are not involved with the show. This is pure promotion, and Weinstein clearly knows how to pull a lot of strings. The extensive list of impressive singers on the album include Christina Aguilera, Nick Jonas, Jon Bon Jovi, John Legend, the Goo Goo Dolls, Kiesza, Jennifer Lopez, Ellie Goulding, and Matthew Morrison, only the last of which is actually in the cast of the show. The album is to be released on June 9, 2015 via Republic Records, although pre-sales started on May 12, 2015. In addition to providing another income stream for the show, this album is sure to spur continued interest in the Broadway musical, which is still looking for that last boost to reach its full gross potential.

“It Shoulda Been You” Box Office Unmoved By Reviews

Tyne Daly Stars In This Untraditional Wedding Comedy

it shoulda been youThis past week, the week ending May 24, 2015, It Shoulda Been You brought in $378,180 at the box office. This is a decrease from the first full week following the show’s opening on April 14, 2015. In the week ending April 26, 2015, which is the first week of eight performances after the post opening reviews hit the press, the gross was $447,362. However, a month later, the grosses are dragging, and this isn’t looking good for a musical that received no Tony nominations in an exciting period of Broadway theatergoing, when many other shows are buzzing from the awards season. It Shoulda Been You has a book by Brian Hargrove and a score by Barbara Anselmi, both of whom are making their Broadway debuts with this musical. The show had a pre-Broadway trial run at the George Street Playhouse in 2011, and then transferred to Broadway this season. The biggest name involved is the director, David Hyde Pierce, who is well known for his acting roles both on screen (“Frasier,” Nixon), as well as stage (Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, La Bete, Curtains). This, however, is his Broadway directorial debut. As it happens, Brian Hargrove, the book writer, is his life partner. Nevertheless, Pierce and team have constructed an entertaining, unconventional, if still not utterly exhilarating, piece of musical theatre.

Difficulty at the Box Officeit shoulda been you

For this past week’s gross of $378,180, the show brought in only 38.16% of its gross potential. The greatest percentage reached of this potential thus far was the week ending April 26, 2015, when the show brought in $447,362, representing 45.14% of its gross potential. Still, the following week saw a decrease in ticket sales of $97,081, bringing the weekly box office down to $350,281. In the week following, it increased slightly, and then increased even more slightly the week after that, but this past week saw a decrease again of $40,236 from the week before. Therefore, this show is demonstrating no level of increased interest from the reviews, which were decidedly mixed. It did not help that It Shoulda Been You received no Tony nominations, and is a relatively small scale musical with few big names attached. The biggest star in the show is Tyne Daly, who plays the mother of the bride, and whose other Broadway credits include Mothers and Sons, Master Class, and Rabbit Hole. Though she is a fairly important name on Broadway, that isn’t generally enough to sway ticket sales when many other shows feature big Hollywood stars. The other main actors are Sierra Boggess (Master Class, The Little Mermaid), Harriet Harris (Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Thoroughly Modern Millie), and David Burtka (Gypsy, The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?). None of these names are large enough to have much impact on the box office, and with poor reviews and no Tony Awards recognition, this show may have difficulty maintaining even the low box office it has been achieving thus far.

Mixed Reviews from Critics

Ben Brantley of The New York Times did not like It Shoulda Been You, found the show aggressively bubbly. Meanwhile, Adam Feldman of Time Out New York felt that the only way to enjoy this musical was to deceive oneself that one is watching a lost TV show from the 1970s, denoting that the show feels dated. Steven Suskin from the Huffington Post proclaimed that the show was only laudable for its load of Jewish related humor. Robert Kahn from NBC New York enjoyed the campy nature of the show, and also found the cast to be a dream team for a musical about a wedding. Only Frank Scheck from The Hollywood Reporter was fully in favor of this show, relishing in the modern twist presented by this otherwise traditional proceedings. However, these reviews were overall not very positive, and are certainly not a major incentive for ticket buyers in this otherwise very enticing Broadway season.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 5/24/2015

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

“Something Rotten!” Breaks Through to Hit Status

In the week ending May 24, 2015, the new musical Something Rotten! earned 102.71% of its gross potential, breaking through the 100% mark for the first time. Also, the show broke through the million dollar mark for the first time, bringing in $1,064,165. This show is nominated for the Tony Award for Best Musical, which has certainly helped spur an increased interest in ticket sales in anticipation of the awards. The show deals with a pair of brothers, Nigel and Nick Bottom, who live in Shakespeare’s time and are having trouble competing with him – until they invent the world’s first musical. Though Ben Brantley of The New York Times found the show to be overly sugary and falsely attempting an endless string of show stoppers, most other critics were delighted by the score and storyline. In every week since the show began previews at the end of March, it has increased its weekly gross from the week before. This past week, it took a jump of $113,747 from the week before, continuing the trend of continuous increasing. There is not much further up this gross can go, but there is still a little wiggle room, as this past week it filled the audience capacity to an average of 96.9%. The pressure is high for the Tony Awards, and this show is proving to be a strong contender, along with An American in Paris and Fun Home.

“The Visit” Barely Holding On Despite Tony Nominations

Among the four shows nominated for the Tony Award for Best Musical, Kander and Ebb’s The Visit looks least likely to win. Not only were the reviews decidedly mixed, but the box office has been stalled and gasping for breath. This past week, The Visit brought in $201,623, which represents only 26.44% of its gross potential. Among all the shows running on Broadway, this is the least percentage reached of gross potential. The second lowest percentage was achieved by Gigi, which brought in 33.98% of its gross potential. Still, The Visit is staying alive, if only to wait out the results of the Tony Awards. Chances are it will close shortly after that event. It seems that ticket buyers were barely swayed, if at all, by the Tony nomination for this show, as this week actually marks a decrease in ticket sales from the week before. The previous week, it brought in $211,430, so this week was a loss of $9,807. Since the show began previews at the end of March, it has been flip flopping around a weekly gross of approximately $200,000, the lowest yet in a full performance week being $167,410, and the highest yet being $224,289. Therefore, theatergoers are just not interested in seeing this Tony nominated musical amongst all the other choices, even though they will likely not have many more weeks to catch it.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending May 24, 2015:Broadway Show Ticket Gross Chart 5-24-15

Show Name GrossGross TotalAttn %Capacity AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $633,136 6,501 89.59% $97.39
AIRLINE HIGHWAY $172,882 3,568 71.13% $48.45
ALADDIN $1,516,242 13,786 100.01% $109.98
AN ACT OF GOD $729,982 6,639 82.49% $109.95
AN AMERICAN IN PARIS $1,349,932 13,481 100.36% $100.14
BEAUTIFUL $1,145,564 8,210 100.02% $139.53
CHICAGO $737,596 8,580 99.31% $85.97
FINDING NEVERLAND $1,107,925 11,334 94.20% $97.75
FISH IN THE DARK $1,215,229 8,719 101.57% $139.38
FUN HOME $627,641 6,006 102.84% $104.50
GIGI $457,095 7,120 64.31% $64.20
HAND TO GOD $442,073 5,478 88.70% $80.70
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $478,538 5,321 75.49% $89.93
IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU $378,180 5,911 73.01% $63.98
IT’S ONLY A PLAY $659,426 6,650 77.18% $99.16
JERSEY BOYS $723,418 7,598 77.34% $95.21
KINKY BOOTS $1,012,506 10,057 88.28% $100.68
LES MISÉRABLES $805,027 9,797 86.91% $82.17
MAMMA MIA! $766,648 8,663 92.87% $88.50
MATILDA $941,402 10,931 95.42% $86.12
ON THE TOWN $638,515 11,431 76.25% $55.86
ON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY $621,043 5,767 99.84% $107.69
SKYLIGHT $799,055 6,414 99.97% $124.58
SOMETHING ROTTEN! $1,064,165 12,919 96.87% $82.37
THE AUDIENCE $1,158,926 7,555 100.96% $153.40
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,551,727 8,752 102.63% $177.30
THE KING AND I $1,069,486 8,376 100.00% $127.68
THE LION KING $2,066,573 13,601 100.01% $151.94
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $1,074,914 12,305 95.83% $87.36
THE VISIT $201,623 4,795 66.52% $42.05
WICKED $1,776,153 15,155 98.36% $117.20
WOLF HALL PARTS ONE & TWO $600,295 6,403 57.87% $93.75
Totals $29,304,272 285,566 89.43% $100.18

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

“Doctor Zhivago” Concludes Run Early

Shuttered After Only 26 Previews and 23 Regular Performances

doctor zhivagoOn May 10, 2015, Doctor Zhivago played its last performance in a very short Broadway run, which began with the first preview on March 27, 2015. After the opening night on April 21, 2015, it became clear that Doctor Zhivago would not be surviving based on the commendation of the critics, as there was almost unanimous agreement that the show was not very good. Based on Boris Pasternak’s novel from 1957 of the same name, and immortalized on screen in the 1965 film directed by David Lean and starring Julie Christie and Omar Sharif, this epic musical set during the Russian Revolution just couldn’t cut it in this competitive Broadway season. Playing at the Broadway Theatre, the show was directed by Des McAnuff (700 Sundays, Jersey Boys, Jesus Christ Superstar), and choreographed by Kelly Devine (Rocky, Rock of Ages). In addition, the book is written by Michael Weller (Spoils of War, Loose Ends), with music by Lucy Simon (The Secret Garden), and lyrics by Michael Korie (Grey Gardens) and Amy Powers (Sunset Boulevard). Still, the pedigree of its creative team could not save this musical, which failed to receive any Tony nominations or pull any significant weight at the box office.

Unanimous Discontent Among Critics and Tony Votersdoctor zhivago

This show was the third to announce its closing following disappointing results from the Tony nominations. The first was Living on Love, which also received zero, and the second was The Heidi Chronicles, which only received one nomination for Elisabeth Moss, in the category of Best Actress in a Lead Role in a Play. Even with poor critical response, Tony recognition can sometimes save a show just enough by boosting its renown among theatregoers. In this case, Doctor Zhivago had no luck in either account. When the reviews came out, all major critics gave it a thumbs down. Charles Isherwood at The New York Times asked in his review, “Is it over yet?”, proclaiming the show to be turgid, baggy, and expositional. Frank Scheck of The Hollywood Reporter compared it to a poor man’s Les Miserables. David Cote of Time Out New York did the same, referring to Doctor Zhivago as a pale juggernaut in comparison. Jesse Green from Vulture wanted to affirm once and for all that sprawling European novels do not make good musicals, as evidenced by this failure. Furthermore, Joe Dziemianowicz from the New York Daily News called it an “epic miss.”

Struggles at the Box Office

In the show’s last week of performances, the week ending May 10, 2015, Doctor Zhivago reached its peak at the box office, which amounted to $537,474. That represented only 44.79% of its gross potential. With a top ticket price of $247.00, the average paid admission that week was $62.66. Even with such discounting, the average audience capacity was only 72.5%. Though these numbers are not as dire as some other shows that continue to run, the producers made the decision to close the show upon the announcement of the Tony nominations, as they could not imagine the musical gaining any more traction. With a capitalization of $12 million, the show was reported to have brought in a total gross of less than $2.7 million, not to mention running costs. However, there is still hope for the 50 odd producers, many of them first-time Broadway producers convinced to invest in this production, as the show may be able to make back some of its money on further productions and tours, both nationally and internationally. At least, the brand name should hold some weight on tours around the world.

“An Act of God” Begins Previews

Jim Parsons Stars in this Satirical Play

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

The Mysteries of Existence and Other Laughsan act of god

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

A Divine Box Office Launch

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

Four Newly Opened Shows Vie for Best Musical

“An American in Paris,” “Fun Home,” “Something Rotten!” and “The Visit”

fun homeOn June 7, 2015, the Tony Awards will be broadcast live from Radio City Music Hall. The most prestigious and significant award is arguably that for Best Musical. This year there are four nominees for that honor: An American in Paris, Fun Home, Something Rotten! and The Visit. It will certainly be a tough race, and it is difficult to determine which the favorite will be among Tony voters. A somewhat less prominent Broadway awards ceremony, the Outer Critics Circle Awards, just announced their winners, which may or may not presage the Tony results. Of the five nominees for the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, three overlap with the Tony nominees, but Fun Home was excluded from the options, while It Shoulda Been You and The Last Ship were also included. The winner was An American in Paris. Still, many believe that Fun Home and also Something Rotten! have a fighting chance at this year’s awards. The Visit, on the other hand, is a nod to its creators John Kander and Fred Ebb, but there is little chance that show will prove victorious on the big day.

Post-Opening Critical Responsesomething rotten

If the critical reaction to these musicals means anything for their Tony prospects, then it does seem that it’s most likely a race between An American in Paris and Fun Home. When An American in Paris opened on April 12, 2015, the New York Times gave it a rave, as did most other critics. Charles Isherwood called the ballet musical adapted from the film of the same name “rhapsodic,” “witty,” and “vivifying.” Of the major press, only David Cote from Time Out New York was on the fence, deeming the quality of the show “patchwork,” though admittedly “lavish,” and believing it to be principally a dance show with a storyline squeezed in between the numbers. As for Fun Home, all the main reviewers were extremely impressed, with Ben Brantley of The New York Times describing Visit-Broadway-Musical-Chita-Rivera-Tickets-176-012818it as a universal detective story. He was relieved and revitalized by the breath of fresh air that this show is in comparison to the often recycled nature of Broadway fare. Furthermore, Adam Feldman of Time Out New York found Fun Home to be graceful and moving. As for Something Rotten!, many critics were moved and delighted by this original take on the origin of the musical in Shakespearean times, but the most well regarded critic, Ben Brantley of The New York Times, vehemently disagreed. He was not impressed by the unchecked enthusiasm on display, and he was bored by the repetitive nature of the wannabe showstopper. Still, many other critics were impressed, such as David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter, who found the show rambunctious and magnificently cheesy. As for The Visit, the reviews were decidedly mixed.

If Box Office Has Any Bearing on the Awardsan american in paris

Furthermore, the box office response is interesting to consider in light of the show’s potential at the Tony Awards. Ever since the Tony nominations were announced in late April, An American in Paris has been firmly in the millionaire’s club, which cannot be said of any of the other three nominees. This past week, the week ending May 17, 2015, the show brought in $1,280,111, which represents 87.01% of its gross potential. It was full to 99.9% capacity, which demonstrates a small amount of discounting. Fun Home, on the other hand, is having a more difficult time attracting an audience. Though reviews are splendid and buzz is abounding, the highest week thus far, which was this past week, brought in a weekly gross of $587,716, representing 78.85% of its gross potential. The show is playing in the much smaller Circle in the Square Theatre, but still it is having difficulty keeping up with An American in Paris, even in terms of percentage of gross potential. Nevertheless, this past week it had filled 102.5% of its audience capacity, so the energy is high in the theatre and excitement is sure to pick up as the Tony’s approach. Something Rotten! has also been creeping up since the Tony nominee announcements, reaching a high this past week of $950,418, representing 91.74% of its gross potential. The Visit, on the other hand, is barely staying afloat, bringing in only $211,430 this past week, which represents only 27.72% of its gross potential. Chances are that The Visit will close soon after the Tony Awards.