Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 4/13/2014

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN

This past week, The Cripple of Inishmaan began previews at the Cort Theatre starring Daniel Radcliffe.  With only two performances underway, it is difficult to estimate the success of advance ticket sales for this show, but its early figures look promising.  The show grossed $155,234 over two performances, averaging 99.4% capacity with an average paid admission of $72.78.  Though this ticket price is fairly low, presumably due to discounting as well as complimentary tickets for the creative team, the play still made 94.75% of its gross potential.  Clearly the star power of Daniel Radcliffe has a lot to do with these high numbers, especially in light of the fact that a revival of an Irish dark comedy may not otherwise do so well.  This is a transfer from a West End revival of the show, also starring Daniel Radcliffe.

REVIEWS DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Two straight plays that opened last week to positive reviews saw a significant increase in ticket sales.  A Raisin in the Sun starring Denzel Washington was already faring quite well, selling out during previews.  The play even grossed over one million dollars for two weeks in a row during previews, a significant coup for a straight play.  However, in the week leading up to the show’s opening, the weekly gross fell to $929,151.  Fortunately, after the play opened on April 3rd to laudatory notices, audiences responded with ticket purchases, as this past week the play had its highest weekly gross yet: $1,182,511.

More notably, The Realistic Joneses also saw a stark increase in sales following its opening.  The reason this increase is more notable than that of A Raisin in the Sun is because the play is written by Will Eno, a playwright only theatre die-hards would know, and it stars famous actors who are not nearly as famous as Denzel Washington.  Though this play grossed less than half as much as Raisin, it still saw a steep increase of $107,825 from the previous week.  After the play opened on April 6th, The New York Times declared it a Critics’ Pick, and many other reviewers responded strongly as well.  Therefore, these figures show how theatregoers indeed respond to published praise, which is good news for producers who rely on critical support to demonstrate the merits of their shows without recognizable names to boost the box office.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis 4-13-14

Show GrossGross Total Attn %Cap AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $407,665 5,122 70.59% $79.59
A RAISIN IN THE SUN $1,182,511 8,368 100.00% $141.31
ACT ONE $309,452 6,316 72.83% $48.99
AFTER MIDNIGHT $417,318 5,568 67.18% $74.95
ALADDIN $1,178,422 13,786 100.01% $85.48
ALL THE WAY $893,167 8,206 72.13% $108.84
BEAUTIFUL $917,392 7,669 93.43% $119.62
BULLETS OVER BROADWAY $813,145 11,221 86.05% $72.47
CABARET $667,721 6,823 96.59% $97.86
CASA VALENTINA $192,074 4,047 78.55% $47.46
CHICAGO $607,106 7,070 81.83% $85.87
CINDERELLA $946,408 11,425 81.56% $82.84
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $884,092 7,048 100.59% $125.44
IF/THEN $964,759 9,295 88.63% $103.79
JERSEY BOYS $665,420 6,741 68.62% $98.71
KINKY BOOTS $1,422,291 10,769 94.53% $132.07
LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR & GRILL $366,156 4,639 97.17% $78.93
LES MISÉRABLES $1,147,961 10,126 89.83% $113.37
MAMMA MIA! $627,337 7,442 79.78% $84.30
MATILDA $1,174,694 11,368 99.23% $103.33
MOTHERS AND SONS $238,128 3,412 53.18% $69.79
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL $1,067,046 10,425 86.47% $102.35
NEWSIES $744,353 8,701 91.78% $85.55
OF MICE AND MEN $796,078 8,321 96.94% $95.67
ONCE $473,697 5,333 62.95% $88.82
PIPPIN $630,280 6,307 79.63% $99.93
ROCK OF AGES $347,060 4,227 90.63% $82.11
ROCKY $754,394 8,773 72.34% $85.99
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,586,091 8,752 102.63% $181.23
THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY $322,366 4,424 54.27% $72.87
THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN $155,234 2,133 99.39% $72.78
THE LION KING $1,914,937 13,602 100.01% $140.78
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $958,388 11,535 89.84% $83.09
THE REALISTIC JONESES $518,159 5,935 85.08% $87.31
THE VELOCITY OF AUTUMN $100,056 3,074 50.63% $32.55
VIOLET $258,167 5,080 86.51% $50.82
WICKED $1,930,362 15,275 99.03% $126.37
Totals: $28,579,879 288,358 84.34% $93.06

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

‘The Realistic Joneses’ Opens on Broadway

It’s not an easy time for a new play to thrive on Broadway.  The Realistic Joneses, which opened on April 6, 2014 to largely positive reviews, is still struggling to stay afloat at the box office.  This is the Broadway debut for playwright Will Eno, who is known for his less accessible but equally quirky Off-Broadway works such as Thom Pain (based on nothing) and Middletown.  The play premiered in May 2012 at the Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut.  Both the regional and Broadway productions are directed by Sam Gold, whose remarkable career rise has confirmed him as the go-to director for adventurous new plays, especially those that feature a casual, realistic writing style.  Of the four actors in the cast, only one has remained for the transfer – Tracy Letts, who is the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright of August: Osage County as well as the Tony Award winning actor from last year’s revival of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

The Realistic Joneses on Broadway

The Realistic Joneses on Broadway

The other three roles are played by Toni Collette, who has been on Broadway once before in The Wild Party, Michael C. Hall, who has played Broadway musical leads in both Cabaret and Chicago, and Marisa Tomei, who has previously appeared in three Broadway plays: Top Girls, Salome, and Wait Until Dark.  Though all three actors are much better known for their film work, these names are by no means box office gold of the likes of Denzel Washington, Daniel Radcliffe, or James Franco, who are presently competing for audience attention on Broadway, also in straight plays.  Whereas musicals can often survive on Broadway without Hollywood stars, especially if they feature a familiar title, plays rarely enter the greater national consciousness without a special boost.

Although The New York Times critic Charles Isherwood gave the play an unqualified rave, marking it as a Critics’ Pick, the box office was actually worse for this past week than the one preceding it.  For the week ending in April 6, 2014, gross ticket sales were $410,334, down $51,902 from the previous week.  However, it must be noted that the week leading up to a show’s opening includes numerous performances designated as “press performances,” for which complimentary tickets are offered to critics from a wide array of publications.  This would partly explain the lower gross, especially in light of the fact that the average ticket price also went down that week to $67.88 from $82.62 the week before.

The play is scheduled to run until July 6, 2014.  Its producers, Jeffrey Richards and Jerry Frankel, often take gambles with shows that are not guaranteed slam dunks.  In this same season, they also are producing All the Way, a new play but with the box office support of its star Bryan Cranston, The Bridges of Madison County, a musical with a familiar title that is struggling to stay alive, and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, which features Broadway favorite Audra McDonald as the timeless favorite Billie Holiday.  Though The Realistic Joneses may be this producing team’s most risky show on Broadway right now, they have made a habit of mounting shows by recognized playwrights, which may or may not have stars.  In any case, it is to their credit that they manage to support new writing in a climate where few dare to take such ventures, seeking to overcome the bias against plays without megastars.

A Rise in Thursday Matinees On Broadway

The traditional Broadway show week includes eight performances, typically with evening shows on Tuesday through Saturday, and matinees on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday.  For actors and crew, this means Monday off and a double show day on Wednesdays, or in cases with a Sunday evening show, this requires them to play for a five performance weekend.  However, Wednesday matinees have traditionally slow sales, and five performances over one weekend can be a lot for actors.  Therefore, producers have begun experimenting with changes to this performance calendar.  The most extreme change that several shows have begun instigating is a matinee on Thursday afternoon.Broadway thursday matinee show

In recent weeks, three musicals have begun to offer shows on Thursday afternoons: Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Mamma Mia!, and The Phantom of the OperaMatilda the Musical is reportedly also considering such a change.  In order to stick to Actor’s Equity rules of no more than an eight performance week (although sometimes they make exception for holiday periods, allowing nine performances in a week), the producers of each show have needed to alter the overall weekly schedule, and each show has done so differently.

Cinderella has opted to keep their Wednesday matinee in adding on a Thursday matinee, instead removing Tuesday evening performances.  As this musical caters to children, especially young girls, it makes sense that weekdays would be preferable to weekday evenings, as tourists on week-long vacations will be able to take advantage during the daytimes.  Mamma Mia!, on the other hand, has opted to remove their Wednesday matinee in adding on a Thursday matinee, and furthermore they offer a Monday 8:00pm performance in place of a Sunday matinee.  More of a date night fare, this show therefore offers 8:00pm showings every night except Sunday, with matinees on Thursdays and Saturdays.  Phantom of the Opera has chosen to do something very similar, with matinees on Thursdays and Saturdays, except that on Tuesdays their curtain is at 7:00pm.

A 7:00pm curtain has also begun to appear more and more frequently in recent years, which allows theatregoers to attend a late dinner after shorter shows, or instead to eat a very early dinner and get home earlier.  This decision to vary evening curtain times allows for the fact that theatregoers have differing schedules, avoiding the chance that someone will decide not to attend a show just because the hour at which it begins or ends does not work with their work or home schedules.

This addition of a Thursday matinee will be an interesting trend to watch.  It will allow theatre-loving tourists to cram more shows into a week if they happen to be in town for just a few weekdays.  Furthermore, if it is more successful than the Wednesday matinee has been, then it will show that people tend to have more flexible schedules later in the week.  In any case, this demonstrates that producers are trying to keep on top of changing trends and stay relevant to their audience community.

“The Velocity of Autumn” Begins Previews

On April 1, 2014, previews began for The Velocity of Autumn, a new play by Eric Coble that also played in the fall of 2013 at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.  The Broadway transfer was originally announced for last spring, but a lack of theatre availability necessitated the delay.  The play has now found a home at the intimate 780 seat Booth Theatre, one of the smallest houses on Broadway, which will allow the subtle performances to resonate with the audience.  The two-hander stars Estelle Parsons and Stephen Spinella, who both received strong notices from the Washington D.C. production.  Molly Smith, the artistic director of Arena Stage, serves as the director for the play.

Estelle Parsons, lively and witty at age 86, plays 79 year-old Alexandra, who barricades herself in her Brooklyn brownstone with explosives in response to her children’s plea that she leave her home.  When her estranged yet beloved son Christopher (Stephen Spinella) climbs a tree and hops in her window, they are forced to confront the issues at the heart of their family dilemma, as well as what it means to get older.  According to reviews from the Arena Stage production, the play is not as strong as the performances, but the slightly contrived set-up evolves into a touching story as the two actors brilliantly portray their characters.

Stephen Spinella won an Obie Award last year for his moving performance in the New York Theatre Workshop production of An Iliad, and he also appeared in the Public Theater’s 2011 production of Tony Kushner’s The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures.  In addition, Spinella has won two Tony Awards for his role in Kushner’s Angels in America.  Estelle Parsons has been nominated for four Tony Awards, stemming back to her first nomination in 1968 for The Seven Descents of Myrtle, and she has recently appeared on Broadway in Nice Work if You Can Get It, August: Osage County, and Good People.  Furthermore, she won an Academy Award in 1967 for her role as Blanche in Bonnie and Clyde.

The Velocity of Autumn is produced by Larry Kaye of Hop Theatricals, in addition to Van Dean of the Broadway Consortium.  As for the creative team, scenic design is by Eugene Lee, costume design is by Linda Cho, lighting design is by Howell Binkley, and sound design is by Darron L. West.  The play has had several pre-Broadway runs, with its premiere at the Boise Contemporary Theater in Idaho in April 2011, and then a follow-up April 2012 production at Cleveland’s Beck Center for the Arts in Ohio, prior to the Washington D.C. run.  The capitalization amount of the Broadway production is reported to be $2.5 million, which is fairly low for a play due to its small cast.  Though this play may still have a tough time earning profits without top Hollywood names or a recognizable title, the producers may be gearing for Tony Award nominations for its actors, both of whom are awards favorites and were praised by critics for the Arena Stage production.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 4/06/2014

This weeks notable movements on Broadway are:

NEW SHOWS THIS WEEK

There were two plays that started previews this past week, both of which did relatively poorly at the box office.  Casa Valentina, Harvey Fierstein’s world premiere play directed by Joe Mantello, only grossed $155,775 over the course of 7 performances.  Though the show filled up to the moderate average capacity of 75.74%, these performances were highly discounted, as the average paid admission was only $45.20.  Even with many Broadway stalwarts leading the cast such as Patrick Page, Reed Birney, John Cullum, and Patrick Page, there were no A-list Hollywood names to attract pre-sales, and only miraculous post-opening reviews will make this a hit.

Furthermore, The Velocity of Autumn did even less well, grossing $135,307 also over 7 performances.  With an average paid of admission of only $39.96 and an average capacity of 62.2%, this play earned only 20.2% of its gross potential, as the Booth Theatre is larger than the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, where Casa Valentina plays.  Fortunately for the latter, Casa Valentina is a Manhattan Theater Club production, which takes off some financial pressure for its producers due to being underwritten by a non-profit organization.

LONG-RUNNING MUSICALS ON THEIR LAST LEGS

Several musicals that have done very well over the course of their run are looking to be in their final months.  Jersey Boys, which has been running since 2005 with frequent ventures into the millionaires club, only grossed $647,306 this past week, down $90,078 from the previous week.  Furthermore, Rock of Ages, which has succeeded in wooing the traditionally elusive heterosexual male market since its Broadway premiere in 2009, only grossed $340,194 this past week, down $36,100 from the previous week.  In addition, Mamma Mia!, which recently transferred to the Imperial Theatre from its home since 2001, the prominently placed Winter Garden Theatre, only took in $551,065 this week, down $122,902 from the week before.  Of course, many factors go into a show’s decision to close after a lengthy run, and it is possible that the producers of these shows will decide to float through weeks of losses in hopes that their shows will resuscitate in the warmer summer season.  Interestingly, all of these musicals have been adapted to film versions, including Jersey Boys which will be released in June 2014.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending April 6, 2014:

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 4-06-14

Show GrossGross Total Attn %Cap  AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $415,509 5,332 73.48% $77.93
A RAISIN IN THE SUN $929,151 8,368 100.00% $111.04
ACT ONE $316,124 5,513 63.57% $57.34
AFTER MIDNIGHT $377,050 5,511 66.49% $68.42
ALADDIN $1,170,038 13,779 99.96% $84.91
ALL THE WAY $917,842 8,761 77.01% $104.76
BEAUTIFUL $868,034 7,298 88.91% $118.94
BULLETS OVER BROADWAY $765,755 11,210 85.97% $68.31
CABARET $594,765 6,257 101.23% $95.06
CASA VALENTINA $155,775 3,446 75.74% $45.20
CHICAGO $486,529 6,213 71.91% $78.31
CINDERELLA $857,341 10,502 74.97% $81.64
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $772,606 5,968 99.27% $129.46
IF/THEN $931,268 9,419 89.81% $98.87
JERSEY BOYS $647,306 6,458 65.74% $100.23
KINKY BOOTS $1,351,725 10,380 91.12% $130.22
LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR & GRILL $363,460 3,958 82.91% $91.83
LES MISÉRABLES $1,153,829 10,377 92.06% $111.19
MAMMA MIA! $551,065 6,856 73.50% $80.38
MATILDA $1,096,734 11,243 98.14% $97.55
MOTHERS AND SONS $221,430 3,214 50.09% $68.90
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL $1,016,236 10,318 85.58% $98.49
NEWSIES $743,632 8,795 92.77% $84.55
OF MICE AND MEN $823,309 8,366 97.46% $98.41
ONCE $500,434 5,607 66.18% $89.25
PIPPIN $615,583 6,429 81.17% $95.75
ROCK OF AGES $340,194 4,223 90.54% $80.56
ROCKY $753,365 8,485 69.96% $88.79
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,598,000 8,750 102.60% $182.63
THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY $341,175 4,707 57.74% $72.48
THE LION KING $1,683,062 13,362 98.25% $125.96
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $884,496 10,966 85.40% $80.66
THE REALISTIC JONESES $410,334 6,045 86.65% $67.88
THE VELOCITY OF AUTUMN $135,307 3,386 62.17% $39.96
VIOLET $278,904 4,963 84.52% $56.20
WICKED $1,806,067 14,901 98.14% $121.20
Totals: $26,873,431 279,366 82.81% $91.20

Broadway ticket sales raw data are provided courtesy of The Broadway League All other data, text, opinion, charts and commentary are copyright © 2013 nytix.com

“A Raisin in the Sun” Opens on Broadway

On April 3, 2014, a new revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s groundbreaking 1959 play A Raisin in the Sun opened at Broadway’s Ethel Barrymore Theatre, the same house where the play ran in its first production.  Directed by Kenny Leon, who has become the go-to theatre director for African American content, the play received largely unqualified rave reviews from critics far and wide.  With a superb cast led by mega movie star Denzel Washington as Walter Lee Younger, the production succeeded in proving the timelessness of Hansberry’s masterwork.

A Raisin in the Sun with Denzel Washington on BroadwayThis is the play’s second revival on Broadway, following the original 1959 production.  In 2004, Kenny Leon also served as director for the show.  According to The New York Times theatre critic Ben Brantley, Leon made new choices in the 2014 revival, justifying his return to directing the same play only a decade later.  He stated that this production “feels far more of a whole” than the 2004 revival, as the relaxed approach he takes in the new revival is emotionally very compelling.  Furthermore, in 2012, Bruce Norris’ clever riff off of this play, Clybourne Park, played on Broadway to great acclaim, winning the Pulitzer Prize for Drama as well as the Tony Award for Best Play.

The 2004 production of A Raisin in the Sun was the Broadway directing debut for Kenny Leon, who served as the artistic director of Atlanta’s True Colors Theatre Company from 1988 to 2000.  Since his first Broadway credit, Leon has directed numerous Broadway shows featuring a primarily African American cast, including three plays by August Wilson: Gem of the Ocean in 2004-5, Radio Golf in 2007, and Fences in 2010, the last of which also starred Denzel Washington in a sold-out hit run.  Furthermore, he helmed The Mountaintop starring Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett as well as Stick Fly, both in the 2011-2 fall season.  Following A Raisin in the Sun, Leon will direct a second show also in this spring season, the musical inspired by the songs of Tupac Shakur, Holler If Ya Hear Me.

When Lorraine Hansberry wrote A Raisin in the Sun, she was the first African American woman to have a play produced on Broadway.  The play was nominated for four 1960 Tony Awards, including Best Play, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Direction.  It was also named the Best Play of 1959 by the New York Drama Critics’ Circle.  This new revival holds promise to match up to the success of the play’s premiere.  In addition to receiving laudatory notices from a slew of major publications, the play is well on its way to entering financial profits.  The play has reached 100% capacity for every week thus far, crossing the million dollar mark for its past two weeks of grosses, which is a serious feat for a straight play.  After all, Mr. Washington is not your average Hollywood star.  He has consistently garnered well-deserved respect due to his extreme talent along with his humility, a rare combination at his level of fame.

Broadway’s Anna Kendrick to Host SNL on April 5

Anna Kendrick, the multi-talented actress and singer, has been tapped to host Saturday Night Live on April 5, 2014.  This will be her SNL hosting debut.  The telecast will also feature Pharrell, the seven-time Grammy Award winner known for his recent hit “Happy” from the animated film Despicable Me 2.  Created and executive produced by Lorne Michaels, SNL is filmed in front of a live studio audience at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City.

anna kendrick on SNL Saturday Night LiveAnna Kendrick made her Broadway debut at the age of 12, when she played Dinah Lord in the 1998 production of High Society.  She was nominated for a Tony Award for this performance, but she has not appeared on Broadway since.  Subsequently, her career has mostly been focused on film, yet she has not forgotten her musical roots.  Her screen debut was 2003’s Camp, where she played nerd turned surprise diva Fritzi Wagner.  More recently, her fame skyrocketed due to her role in the a cappella themed film Pitch Perfect, as her performance of the song “Cups (When I’m Gone)” became the number 2 hit on Billboard’s Adult Pop Song Chart.  Furthermore, she has just finishing filming two musical screen roles: Cathy Hyatt in The Last Five Years and Cinderella in Into the Woods, both of which will be released later this year.

anna kendrick on SNL on 04/05/14 on NBC Saturday Night LiveSince its original airing in 1975, NBC’s weekly late night variety and sketch comedy show has often been a place for celebrities to let loose and stretch their versatility.  As such, there has often been an overlap between Broadway actors and SNL hosts.  The record for having hosted SNL the most number of times is held by Alec Baldwin (he hosted 16 times since 1990), who has been on Broadway 5 times.  His Broadway debut was Loot in 1986, and he was recently seen on stage in the 2013 production of Orphans.  Furthermore, many individuals who have hosted the Tony Awards over the years have also served as SNL hosts.  These include Hugh Jackman, Neil Patrick Harris, Sean Hayes, Bernadette Peters, and Rosie O’Donnell, to name a few.  Even Seth MacFarlane, who hosted last year’s musical themed Academy Awards show, has also hosted SNL.

Anna Kendrick at the Toy Awards Red Carpet 2013

The list of Broadway performers who have hosted SNL does not end there.  Many A-list actors have been featured both in Broadway shows and also as the host of SNL.  For example, the stars of The Producers, Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, have both served as SNL hosts.  So have Martin Short and Jason Alexander, who played those same roles in the Los Angeles production and US National Tour.  The stars of the film version of Chicago, Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones, have both hosted SNL.  Furthermore, there are several famous Hollywood actors who are presently appearing on Broadway, who have also served as SNL hosts.  These include James Franco, Alan Cumming, Daniel Radcliffe, and Bryan Cranston, among many more in recent years.

Anna Kendrick may not have been on Broadway since she was 12 years old, but she is nonetheless a beloved star of stage and screen, whose singing chops make her memorable as a musical theatre star.  After she makes her SNL hosting debut, and then appears back-to-back in two major musical film releases, we may see her on the Great White Way once again before too long.

“Casa Valentina” Begins Previews on Broadway

Tonight at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, previews will commence for the Manhattan Theatre Club production of Casa Valentina, a world premiere play written by four-time Tony Award winner Harvey Fierstein.  Directed by two-time Tony Award winner Joe Mantello, the play will run for a limited engagement between April 1, 2014 and June 15, 2014, with the official opening night taking place on April 23, 2014.  Fierstein, who has seen enormous success in penning the book for musicals including Kinky Boots, Newsies, and La Cage aux Folles, has not had a straight play produced in almost thirty years.  Well, none of Harvey Fierstein’s content is ever “straight,” per say.

casa-susanna is the basis for the Casa Valentina Broadway Show

casa-susanna is the basis for the Casa Valentina Broadway Show

Casa Valentina is based on the true story of a group of New York men in the 1960s – white collar professionals with families – who vacationed in the Catskill Mountains during the summers.  Unlike most vacationers in that period, however, these men had a particular quirk: they dressed up as women.  Beyond assuming female wardrobe to a meticulous degree of detail, they also adopted the personalities of their female counterparts during the vacation.  While transvestitism has proliferated in our culture in many forms since that time, these men were truly transgressive, and yet they were still firmly embedded in conventional heterosexual culture in the course of their everyday lives.  The play introduces us to these unique individuals, and then follows them as they are confronted with a difficult choice: the opportunity to become an official organization, effectively outing their precious secret.

casa-susanna is the basis for the Casa Valentina Broadway Show

Just as interesting as the plot of the play, however, is the background of how this true story became uncovered.  Some time ago, a pair of antique collectors discovered a large collection of old photographs at a New York flea market.  When they realized that the gorgeous women depicted in the photographs were in fact men, which was not immediately obvious, they decided to publish them in a book entitled Casa Susanna.  The pictures alone tell the heartbreaking story of these conflicted souls.  However, what is exceedingly interesting is that none of the press releases about this new Broadway play refer to the original source material.

After purchasing the rights to this book of photographs, the producers Colin Callender, Robert Cole, and Frederick Zollo commissioned Harvey Fierstein to write a play based on the images.  To mitigate their risk in bringing an untried play directly to Broadway, they partnered with the Manhattan Theatre Club, and agreed to be credited as granting the production “by special arrangement.”  It is curious that the producers decided not only to change the name of the play to Casa Valentina from the original title of Casa Susanna, but also to neglect to mention the book of photographs in any press release.  Perhaps the reason was to protect the appearance of originality for Harvey Fierstein, and calling this a “world premiere” by Fierstein certainly implies that it was his idea in the first place, which it was not.

casa-susanna is the basis for the Casa Valentina Broadway Show

Of course, none of this background information would affect the quality of the play itself, which is to be seen in the coming weeks as previews unfold.  What does bode well is the extraordinary cast of Broadway stalwarts and up-and-comers, including Reed Birney, John Cullum, Gabriel Ebert, Larry Pine, and Patrick Page.  Under the skilled direction of Joe Mantello, and surely featuring Harvey Fierstein’s signature wit, this play could be a very exciting addition to the Broadway season.  Indeed, it would be a true achievement if Fierstein’s concocted narrative comes close to representing the understated yet superb beauty of the mysterious found photographs, which the producers of this play clearly do not want the audience to discover.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 3/30/2014

This weeks notable movements on Broadway are:

HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH
This past week saw the start of previews for the highly anticipated Broadway production of John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch.  This glam rock musical, which tells the story of an East German transsexual who underwent a botched sex-change operation, has stirred hearts and minds since its original Off-Broadway production in 1998.  Its audience of fans has expanded through the 2001 movie version and further productions worldwide, yet this is the first time the show has come to Broadway.  Starring Neil Patrick Harris, who has proven his charm to the Broadway community through hosting the Tony Awards on several occasions, this production is sure to be an audience favorite – and the numbers show it.  With only one performance in this first week, the show grossed $144,194, which amounted to an audience capacity of 101.40%, reaching 120.35% of its gross potential.  Collecting an average paid admission of $141.92, Hedwig was the top ticket price, with only The Book of Mormon charging a higher average admission.  In starting off with a bang, this bodes well for a profitable run.

OTHER NEW SHOWS
In the same week, two other shows began previews, but to a much less profitable start.  Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, which stars Audra McDonald as Billie Holiday, only grossed $337,951 over its 7 performances, representing an audience capacity of 83.91%.  The show must have discounted significantly, as average paid admission was only $84.36.  Even less profitably, the Roundabout Theatre Company production of Violet ran for four performances at the American Airlines Theatre, grossing only $169,792 with an average paid admission of $60.53.  Still, they filled up 96.46% of their audience capacity, with the lower gross deriving from discounted and subscription tickets.

NEW MUSICAL SUCCESSES
A musical that saw a steep increase in ticket grosses this past week was the new revival of Les Misérables, which grossed $1,223,317, up $191,448 from last week.  In addition, the new Disney production of Aladdin took in $1,104,798, which was an increase of $167,699 from the previous week.  Both of these are new productions that are proving to be strong contenders for long healthy runs.

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

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis

Show GrossGross Total Attn %Cap AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $472,344 5,879 81.02% $80.34
A RAISIN IN THE SUN $1,045,534 8,368 100.00% $124.94
ACT ONE $318,292 5,491 63.32% $57.97
AFTER MIDNIGHT $702,074 7,378 89.02% $95.16
ALADDIN $1,104,798 13,783 100.17% $80.16
ALL THE WAY $949,056 9,283 81.60% $102.24
BEAUTIFUL $749,305 6,610 80.53% $113.36
BULLETS OVER BROADWAY $886,469 11,806 90.54% $75.09
CABARET $494,440 5,069 95.68% $97.54
CHICAGO $595,765 7,559 87.49% $78.82
CINDERELLA $1,012,922 11,953 85.33% $84.74
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $144,194 1,016 101.40% $141.92
IF/THEN $1,002,321 9,897 97.03% $101.28
JERSEY BOYS $737,384 7,700 78.38% $95.76
KINKY BOOTS $1,489,070 10,995 96.52% $135.43
LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR & GRILL $337,951 4,006 83.91% $84.36
LES MISÉRABLES $1,223,317 10,736 95.24% $113.95
MAMMA MIA! $673,967 8,032 86.11% $83.91
MATILDA $1,212,014 11,524 100.59% $105.17
MOTHERS AND SONS $228,669 4,518 70.42% $50.61
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL $1,171,326 11,075 91.86% $105.76
NEWSIES $798,338 9,333 98.45% $85.54
NO MAN’S LAND/WAITING FOR GODOT $782,396 8,286 96.53% $94.42
OF MICE AND MEN $868,728 8,390 97.74% $103.54
ONCE $595,070 6,320 74.60% $94.16
PIPPIN $774,699 7,384 93.23% $104.92
ROCK OF AGES $376,294 4,496 96.40% $83.70
ROCKY $828,848 9,178 75.68% $90.31
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,638,380 8,752 102.63% $187.20
THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY $352,896 4,920 60.35% $71.73
THE LION KING $1,885,162 13,603 100.02% $138.58
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $1,057,502 12,439 96.88% $85.02
THE REALISTIC JONESES $462,236 5,595 80.20% $82.62
VIOLET $169,792 2,805 96.46% $60.53
WICKED $1,946,536 15,423 99.99% $126.21
Totals: $29,088,086 289,602 89.29% $97.63

Broadway ticket sales raw data are provided courtesy of The Broadway League All other data, text, opinion, charts and commentary are copyright © 2013 nytix.com

‘The Book of Mormon’ Inks Deal with StubHub.com

The Book of Mormon now officially sells tickets on StubHub.com.

Since its opening in 2011, the Broadway production of The Book of Mormon has been selling out its houses at the 1,006 seat Eugene O’Neill Theatre.  With rampant demand for the satirical musical written by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, along with Avenue Q writer Bobby Lopez, the show has regularly seen premium ticket prices as high as $477.  The show’s lead producers Scott Rudin and Anne Garefino have often been at the cutting edge of strategies to maximum their ticket revenue, utilizing dynamic pricing to vary ticket prices throughout the house in line with demand.  As of just week ago, they have announced a new partnership that changes the game for the Broadway ticket marketplace: they will now sell tickets on StubHub.com.

Book of Mormon and Stubhub join forces

Book of Mormon and StubHub.com  join forces

StubHub.com, an online ticket marketplace owned by eBay, has grown from America’s largest secondary-market ticket marketplace to the world’s largest ticket marketplace.  The secondary market for tickets refers to when tickets are re-sold, often at a higher amount than their original price, especially when the primary ticket sellers have sold out their inventory.  Another example of a secondary-market ticket site is TicketsNow.com, which is an acquired subsidiary of Ticketmaster.  Ticketmaster often redirects its customers to TicketsNow.com when the original inventory is sold out, which is effectively the same thing as selling tickets at a higher price through the same outlet.  Critics of secondary market ticket sites consider them to be just another form of scalping, and thus the legality of such sites is often questioned.

In an unprecedented move for Broadway, The Book of Mormon has decided to utilize StubHub.com as another outlet to sell their higher priced premium tickets.  In this way, StubHub will not be functioning as a secondary ticket marketplace, but rather a primary ticketing outlet.  Presently, the primary ticketing outlet for Broadway shows is more often than not Telecharge.com, which is owned by the Shubert Organization, one of the major Broadway landlords.  Therefore, this decision will present StubHub as a direct competitor to Telecharge.

It is common for producers to turn to additional outlets to help move their inventory, yet this is generally done in the form of discount ticket sales.  When sales are slow for a certain show, producers will often offer lower priced tickets either by direct mail to potential ticket buyers’ homes, or through online promotions by email or on websites.  However, the decision to sell premium seats for this hot-ticket show specifically through StubHub is an interesting maneuver, especially as the StubHub customer base may not be accustomed to seeing theatre options on the site.  StubHub’s biggest business comes from the music and sports industries, and this will present a Broadway option to this largely untapped audience.  On the other hand, the advantage from StubHub’s point of view is that it will help shift their reputation from that of a glorified online scalper to a more legitimate ticket sales outlet.

In any case, this novel approach presents an interesting dilemma for the Shuberts, who own Telecharge.com.  If premium tickets can be sold directly though secondary outlets commonly known for scalping tickets, there is a grey area between the primary and secondary market ticket outlets that had not previously existed for the Broadway marketplace.  If they neglect the opportunity to invest in secondary outlets, like Ticketmaster did with TicketsNow, then they might very well be losing profits in the long run.  Still, for now, The Book of Mormon’s new partnership will be a noteworthy case study to see if the StubHub customer base opens up new avenues for premium Broadway ticket sales.