Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 7/19/2015

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

Right Away, “Hamilton” Is a Run-Away Hit

In the week ending July 19, 2015, Hamilton began previews at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway. After playing a highly acclaimed run Off-Broadway at the Public Theater, it transferred with its first preview on July 13, 2015. Though it only played seven performances in its first week, rather than the usual 8, it brought in a weekly gross of $1,288,436. That represents 110.30% of its gross potential, and the average audience was filled up to 100.3%. With a top ticket price of $275.00, the average paid admission was $138.94. This is an extremely good achievement for a musical in its first week of previews, especially one that opened in the height of summer without the Tony Award buzz to boost it forward. Hamilton has been highly buzzed for many months, and there were even talks about bringing it to Broadway before the Tony Awards this year, but the creative team decided to wait until July in order to finely tune the piece. Furthermore, this allowed the Public Theater’s other masterpiece, Fun Home, to win Best Musical without competition from Hamilton, and now Hamilton will certainly be in the running for that award next year. This show is Lin Manuel-Miranda’s newest concoction, following his success with In the Heights, although this show is more controversial, and also more enticing, due to its reimagining of an important historical figure.

An Overall Excellent Week on Broadway

Including the $1,288,436 that Hamilton brought to the table in its first week of previews, the week ending July 19, 2015 saw an overall increase in ticket sales of $3,458,042 from the week before. Of the 29 shows currently running, 27 of them saw an increase in ticket sales, and only two decreased by a small amount. Following Hamilton’s powerful entrance onto the scene, the next biggest increase in ticket sales was seen by The Lion King, which brought in $311,125 more than the week before to reach a gross of $2,620,016, Wicked, which brought in $267,724 more than the week before to reach a gross of $2,167,815, and The Book of Mormon, which brought in $203,287 more than the week before to reach a gross of $1,654,152. Also, all three of these hit musicals played 9 performances this past week, up from the usual 8 which they played last week. Furthermore, Penn & Teller on Broadway continued to creep up in box office, bringing in $1,225,440 which is an increase of $150,111 from the week before. Other six figure increases were seen by The Phantom of the Opera, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Les Miserables, Beautiful, and On the Twentieth Century. Though On the Twentieth Century had been performing fairly poorly, it played its final performance on July 19, 2015, and this announcement of the final week was enough to bring the last week’s gross up by six figures to $571,895.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending July 19, 2015:Broadway show ticket analysis week ending 7-19-15

Show Name GrossGross TotalAttn %Capacity AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $538,813 6,783 93.48% $79.44
ALADDIN $1,833,662 13,818 100.01% $132.70
AMAZING GRACE $321,914 6,933 74.58% $46.43
AN ACT OF GOD $990,023 7,713 95.84% $128.36
AN AMERICAN IN PARIS $1,439,179 12,878 95.88% $111.75
BEAUTIFUL $1,023,705 7,835 95.46% $130.66
CHICAGO $638,796 7,791 90.17% $81.99
FINDING NEVERLAND $1,164,664 11,844 98.44% $98.33
FISH IN THE DARK $902,194 8,099 94.35% $111.40
FUN HOME $817,665 6,120 103.38% $133.61
HAMILTON $1,288,436 9,273 100.28% $138.94
HAND TO GOD $344,030 4,598 74.45% $74.82
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $681,087 6,552 92.95% $103.95
IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU $392,500 5,725 70.71% $68.56
JERSEY BOYS $709,588 7,430 75.63% $95.50
KINKY BOOTS $909,402 9,393 82.45% $96.82
LES MISÉRABLES $801,902 9,692 85.98% $82.74
MAMMA MIA! $909,862 9,342 100.15% $97.39
MATILDA $1,110,520 11,439 99.85% $97.08
ON THE TOWN $501,525 9,178 61.22% $54.64
ON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY $571,895 5,788 100.21% $98.81
PENN & TELLER ON BROADWAY $1,100,653 9,144 69.95% $120.37
SOMETHING ROTTEN! $1,111,321 12,095 90.69% $91.88
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,654,152 9,828 102.44% $168.31
THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME $920,865 7,923 97.29% $116.23
THE KING AND I $1,152,974 7,971 95.16% $144.65
THE LION KING $2,620,016 15,100 98.93% $173.51
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $1,064,460 12,031 93.70% $88.48
WICKED $2,167,815 16,815 97.67% $128.92
Total $29,683,617 269,131 90.73% $106.77

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

“Hamilton” Begins Previews on Broadway

Lin Manuel-Miranda’s Hit at the Public Theater

hamiltonOn July 13, 2015, the highly anticipated new musical Hamilton began previews at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway. The official opening night is scheduled for August 6, 2015. With book, lyrics, and music by Lin Manuel-Miranda (In the Heights), Hamilton had its New York premiere at the Off-Broadway Public Theater in the East Village, with previews beginning on January 20, 2015, its official opening night on February 17, 2015, and wrapping up performances on May 3, 2015. The show was directed by Thomas Kail and choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler, who are the same director and choreographer as for the Broadway production. The show is inspired by the life story of United States founding father Alexander Hamilton, and is specifically based off of the biography Alexander Hamilton written by Ron Chernow. Chernow has served as the historical consultant for this production. When the show premiered Off-Broadway, critics far and wide hailed it as a magnificent achievement. With so much buzz, the producers considering bringing it to Broadway in time for Tony Awards consideration in 2015. However, with the Public Theater’s Fun Home also competing for Best Musical (which it ended up winning), and with the creative team of Hamilton believing more work could be done to perfect the musical, the show’s Broadway transfer was delayed until the summer.

Lin Manuel-Miranda Stars in His Own Musical in the Title Rolehamilton

Not only did Lin Manuel-Miranda write the book, lyrics, and music for Hamilton, but he also takes to the stage in this production, playing the role of Hamilton himself. There is also an alternate actor to play Hamilton on select performances, that is Javier Muñoz. This weekend in particular, President Obama and his two daughters attended the matinee performance of Hamilton on Saturday; this day was scheduled to be a day when Miranda sat in the audience to watch the show, and on which Muñoz would perform the title role. Even though the Obamas came for this performance, Miranda stuck to his original plan and sat in the audience to watch his show for the first time as an audience member. The concept of this show is a fresh take on the story of Alexander Hamilton. Rather than being rooted in the principally white background of the forefathers of this country, Miranda opted to embrace the racial diversity present in modern day America, incorporating R&B, jazz, hip hop, tin pan alley, and contemporary Broadway style music into his compositions. The casting incorporates a vast amount of racial diversity, and the show has been praised for its cultural reimagining of this time period.

A Stellar Supporting Cast and Creative Team

In addition to Lin Manuel-Miranda in the title role, the cast includes Jonathan Groff as King George, Jasmine Cephas Jones as Peggy Schuyler, Christopher Jackson as George Washington, Phillipa Soo as Eliza Hamilton, Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette, and Renee Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler. The scenic design is by David Korins, the costume design is by Paul Tazewell, the lighting design is by Howell Binkley, the sound design is by Nevin Steinberg, and the hair and wig design is by Charles G. LaPointe. Overall, this cast and creative team is sure to make a big splash on Broadway, and even though they missed the Tony Awards this time around, the buzz this show is generating implies that it will be a major contender at the Tony Awards in 2016.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 7/12/2015

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

Sales Pick Up After Holiday Weekend

In the week ending July 12, 2015, Broadway as a whole saw an increase of $2,076,675 from the week before. This is primarily because in the week ending July 5, 2015, Broadway had seen a decrease in sales of $2,288,441. Therefore, sales are almost back to their levels a week ago, but still not quite as high. With the closure of Wolf Hall Parts One and Two and the beginning of previews of Penn & Teller on Broadway, sales still saw a pick up on a show by show basis. The biggest increase in a show that was running both weeks was seen by Aladdin, which increased by $188,986 to a figure of $1,787,410. The next biggest jump was seen by The Lion King which went up by $165,547, reaching the weekly gross of $2,308,891. At the height of the summer season, this tourist favorite managed to gross 100.1% of its gross potential. Amazing Grace, which is still performing terribly, saw an increase of $90,234 to reach the weekly gross of $291,315, representing just 26.54% of its gross potential. After the over two million dollar gross of The Lion King, the next biggest weekly gross was seen by Wicked with a gross of $1,900,091. Aladdin came it at number three, and the fourth highest weekly gross was earned by The Book of Mormon at $1,450,865. Overall, the most popular audience seats on Broadway in the heat of summer are the tourist attractions, as the locals are at the beach.

Penn & Teller Launches Out of the Gate

On the note of tourist shows, Penn & Teller have left their semi permanent home of the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas to do a seven week run on Broadway. In the first week of eight performances, Penn & Teller brought in $1,075,289, which represents 62.40% of the show’s gross potential. Though this figure is outstanding at over one million dollars for the first week of previews, there is still a lot more ticket selling room at the Marquis Theatre, which can seat 1,611 people. With a top ticket price of $247.00, the average paid admission was $114.64, showing that the magic of the world’s most famous magicians extends beyond their home territory in Nevada. Those who travel to New York looking for a spectacle-filled Broadway show are not looking for dramatic or literary profundity; they are looking to be dazzled. Therefore, Penn & Teller is a great tourist treat, not relying on the Tony Award buzz to sell tickets in the summer months right after the awards. Though the audience was only 66.4% filled this week, word of mouth is sure to spread as Penn & Teller stick around New York for another month and a half. The word of mouth needs to spread quickly in order to catch up with the longtime performing duo before they turn right back around and return to Vegas.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending July 12, 2015:Broadway-Show-Ticket-Analysis-07-12-15

Show Name GrossGross TotalAttn %Capacity AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $489,049 5,707 78.65% $85.69
ALADDIN $1,787,410 13,785 100.01% $129.66
AMAZING GRACE $291,315 5,810 62.50% $50.14
AN ACT OF GOD $920,623 7,375 91.64% $124.83
AN AMERICAN IN PARIS $1,406,875 12,894 95.99% $109.11
BEAUTIFUL $918,122 7,337 89.39% $125.14
CHICAGO $625,581 7,675 88.83% $81.51
FINDING NEVERLAND $1,126,473 11,526 95.79% $97.73
FISH IN THE DARK $861,784 7,863 91.60% $109.60
FUN HOME $783,291 6,129 103.53% $127.80
HAND TO GOD $317,244 4,239 68.64% $74.84
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $533,938 5,539 78.58% $96.40
IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU $358,327 5,281 65.23% $67.85
JERSEY BOYS $614,775 6,423 65.38% $95.71
KINKY BOOTS $841,500 8,802 77.26% $95.60
LES MISÉRABLES $688,996 8,389 74.42% $82.13
MAMMA MIA! $852,207 9,130 97.88% $93.34
MATILDA $1,077,379 11,416 99.65% $94.37
ON THE TOWN $509,820 9,090 60.63% $56.09
ON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY $469,559 5,219 90.36% $89.97
PENN & TELLER ON BROADWAY $995,616 8,685 66.44% $114.64
SOMETHING ROTTEN! $1,088,662 11,847 88.83% $91.89
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,450,865 8,745 102.54% $165.91
THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME $890,693 7,711 94.68% $115.51
THE KING AND I $1,247,155 8,376 100.00% $148.90
THE LION KING $2,308,891 13,556 99.91% $170.32
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $914,409 10,596 82.52% $86.30
WICKED $1,900,091 14,729 96.34% $129.00
Total $26,270,648 243,874 85.97% $104.00

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

Deaf West “Spring Awakening” Comes to Broadway This Fall

Acclaimed Los Angeles Production of Tony Winning Musical

deaf west spring awakeningIn a surprise move, the Deaf West Theatre Company production of Spring Awakening has announced that it will come to Broadway this fall. Following the announcement that It Shoulda Been You will be closing on August 9, 2015 and vacating the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, the producers of Spring Awakening revealed that they will be taking advantage of the opportunity to move the production out east. With previews beginning on September 8, 2015, and an official opening night scheduled for September 27, 2015, Spring Awakening is scheduled to run for an 18 week limited engagement with a closing date of January 9, 2016. Spring Awakening premiered on Broadway in December 2006, and it conquered the 2007 Tony Awards by winning eight awards of their 11 nominations, with the wins including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Direction of a Musical, and Best Choreography. Spring Awakening has music by Duncan Sheik (American Psycho) and book and lyrics by Steven Sater. The original production was directed by Michael Mayer with choreography by Bill T. Jones. Though this production will step back onto the Broadway stage less than a decade later, it will be a very different Spring Awakening.

Deaf West Theatre Company’s Second Time on Broadwaydeaf west spring awakening

The Deaf West Theatre company was founded in Los Angeles in 1991, since which time they have been dedicated to producing theatre made for deaf and hearing audiences both, utilizing both deaf and hearing actors. The highest profile show of theirs to date was Big River, the Huckleberry Finn tale which transferred to Broadway in 2003 and was nominated for Best Musical. That year, the Deaf West Theatre company was also given an honorary Tony Award for their contributions to theatre. This production of Spring Awakening will be the second Deaf West production to make it to Broadway. Spring Awakening, which is based on an 1891 German play of the same name by Frank Wedekind, tells a story about teenagers reckoning with inner and outer tumult and dealing with their own burgeoning sexuality. One of the main themes is the teenagers’ difficulty communicating with parents who do not understand them, and that is one reason why the show is a particularly apt choice for a Deaf West production. This production, directed by Arden, premiered in Los Angeles at Inner-City Arts and then transferred to Beverly Hills’ Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, where it concluded its run on June 7, 2015. After receiving rave reviews, the show decided to move to Broadway.

The Beauty of Using Both Hearing and Non-Hearing Performers

According to Charles McNulty’s rave review in the Los Angeles Times, this production is a very successful reimagining of the modern classic, going above and beyond the mere fact of using deaf performers as well as hearing performers. The choice of which characters are to be played by hearing actors, or non-hearing actors, or sometimes both, is very thoroughly conceived. For example, one of the lead roles, a young woman named Wendla, is portrayed by two actors – one hearing, and one non-hearing who uses sign language. Therefore, we are able to step inside her head even more than usual, understanding the alienation and fear she is encountering while also listening to the beauty of these feelings expressed in song. However, the male lead of Melchior is played solely by one actor who sings his heart out. Overall, this production seamlessly integrates the complex logistics of this sometime dual casting, while making the audience completely suspend disbelief as they are lead into the heart of this beautiful ensemble story.

“Penn & Teller on Broadway” Begins Previews

Famous Magician Duo Returns for a Broadway Engagement

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

Old Tricks and New Nutty Ideaspenn and teller

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

Sardi’s Caricature and “Fool Us” TV Show

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

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 7/05/2015

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

An Overall Slow Week on Broadway

In the week ending July 5, 2015, the entire Broadway industry saw a decrease in ticket sales of $2,288,441 across the 27 shows running. Of these 27 shows, only four saw an increase in ticket sales, and the remaining 23 brought in less money at the box office than they had the week before. The biggest decrease was seen by Beautiful, which brought in $860,890, a decrease of $193,146 from the week before. Even Wicked, which still brought in 104.74% of its gross potential with a weekly gross of $1,864,235 saw a decrease of $182,908 from the week before. Something Rotten! brought in $1,053,848, a decrease of $176,771 from the week before. Wolf Hall Parts One and Two, which played its final performances on Sunday July 5, 2015 saw a decrease of $169,013 from the week before. This is particularly surprising, because even shows that are not doing well at the box office tend to see an upsurge, even if slight, in their final week of performances. In this case, Wolf Hall Parts One and Two brought in only $346,459, which represents a dismal 31.08% of its gross potential – by far the lowest percentage reached of gross potential throughout its run. In this case, the Independence Day holiday weekend was pretty much the opposite sentiment to the stark and serious beauty of the English double bill. Wolf Hall even resorted to papering (giving away free tickets) in their final week. The only four shows to show an increase did so very slightly. The King and I saw an increase of $66,981 from the week before, the highest increase of any show.

“Amazing Grace” Looking Dire at the Box Office

In this overall difficult week on Broadway, the show that may have suffered the most is Amazing Grace, which only began previews on June 25, 2015. In these preview weeks prior to its opening night date of July 16, 2015, at which time reviews will be published to spread awareness of the new musical, the show is fine-tuning its production but suffering from a lack of interest. In the week ending July 5, 2015, Amazing Grace brought in $201,081, which is an increase of $689 from the week before. However, this negligible increase coincided with an addition of two performances from the previous partial week of 5 performances. So, on average the show brought in less money per performance. This past week, its weekly gross amounted to a threateningly low percentage reached of gross potential of 18.32%. This is a decrease from 29.21% the week before. With a top ticket price of $197.00, the average paid admission this past week was only $38.92, cheaper than most Off-Broadway fare. Therefore, it remains to be seen whether Amazing Grace will even make it to opening night without shuttering, but chances are that unless the reviews are stupendous, it won’t make it much further than that.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending July 5, 2015:Broadway-Show-Ticket-Analysis-7-05-15

Show Name GrossGross TotalAttn %Capacity AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $483,592 6,105 84.14% $79.21
ALADDIN $1,598,424 13,786 100.01% $115.95
AMAZING GRACE $201,081 5,166 63.51% $38.92
AN ACT OF GOD $903,661 7,612 94.58% $118.72
AN AMERICAN IN PARIS $1,348,052 12,530 93.28% $107.59
BEAUTIFUL $860,890 7,378 89.89% $116.68
CHICAGO $571,954 7,329 84.83% $78.04
FINDING NEVERLAND $1,087,396 11,494 95.53% $94.61
FISH IN THE DARK $854,571 8,128 94.69% $105.14
FUN HOME $744,230 6,125 103.46% $121.51
HAND TO GOD $317,404 4,357 70.55% $72.85
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $475,996 5,763 81.76% $82.60
IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU $344,925 5,577 68.89% $61.85
JERSEY BOYS $644,185 7,319 74.50% $88.02
KINKY BOOTS $823,566 9,175 80.54% $89.76
LES MISÉRABLES $689,495 8,916 79.10% $77.33
MAMMA MIA! $805,674 8,928 95.71% $90.24
MATILDA $1,039,197 11,456 100.00% $90.71
ON THE TOWN $473,731 8,920 59.50% $53.11
ON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY $487,786 5,485 94.96% $88.93
SOMETHING ROTTEN! $1,053,848 11,978 89.82% $87.98
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,382,123 8,751 102.61% $157.94
THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME $861,351 7,552 92.73% $114.06
THE KING AND I $1,241,086 8,376 100.00% $148.17
THE LION KING $2,143,344 13,603 100.02% $157.56
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $971,851 11,125 86.64% $87.36
WICKED $1,864,235 14,732 96.36% $126.54
WOLF HALL PARTS ONE & TWO $346,459 6,559 59.28% $52.82
Total $24,620,107 244,225 87.03% $96.58

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

“Wolf Hall Parts One and Two” Concludes On Broadway

Final Performance July 5 at the Winter Garden Theatre

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

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

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

A Final Push to Fill Seats

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

“Amazing Grace” Begins Previews on Broadway

A Summer Opening and a Risky Financial Bet

amazing graceOn June 25, 2015, a new musical called Amazing Grace began previews at the Nederlander Theatre. It was given this slot following the closure of Honeymoon in Vegas, another new musical that ran only 4 months before shuttering. Amazing Grace has been in development for many years, and its creator is a first-time Broadway writer. Christopher Smith was a former cop when he began developing this show, for which he is the lyricist, composer, and co-bookwriter along with Arthur Giron. He was inspired by the original story of the writing of the song “Amazing Grace,” and henceforth sprang this show through years of trial productions and re-crafting to prepare it for the large and demanding audiences of Broadway. In choosing to begin previews in late June, the show’s producers have made it more difficult for the show to succeed financially. Traditionally, Broadway shows open in waves in two seasons: the fall and the spring. Then, the crucial factor of the Tony Awards in early June can make or break a show. In the warm summer season, producers expect the audience to be made up of a higher proportion of tourists, who tend to flock to the longer running established musicals, rather than an unknown show with no big names. Therefore, Amazing Grace will have a tough time standing out with all of these factors against it.

A Cast Reckoning With the Portrayal of Slaveryamazing grace

The founding story of the song “Amazing Grace” is indelibly tied to the history of slavery. The song’s writer John Newton was a slave trader who then had a crisis of faith and became a full-fledged abolitionist. This song, which is commonly known as having originated with the slave population, was actually written by a white man. Nevertheless, the cast is principally made up of black actors who are portraying slaves. In contemporary society which embraces more and more color-blind casting, and certainly frowns upon the idea that black actors can only portray slaves and house servants, this show walks a fine line between pride and shame. These actors are asked to go deep within themselves to find how it felt to be a slave, in order to make a larger point about equality and the struggle for freedom. This is a plea that still resonates very strongly today in our society, which sadly still wrought with outbreaks of racially motivated violence. In any case, the producers of this show hope to attract audiences that might not be the traditional Broadway demographic. They are conducting targeted outreach to church groups and African American groups, in order to bring this powerful story to a new group of Broadway theatregoers.

Initial Difficulty at the Box Office

In the show’s first partial week of performances, in which it played five shows, Amazing Grace brought in $200,392, which represents only 29.21% of its gross potential. With a top ticket price of $197.00, the average paid admission was $57.57. The audience was filled up to an average capacity of 59.9%. Though it is too early to determine the financial fate of this production, the early figures are not extremely promising. Of course, when the show opens on July 16, 2015, it will receive wide press coverage, and then the quality of the reviews may be able to make or break the show. However, in the hubbub of the summer season, it will still be difficult to break through, especially in targeting an untraditional Broadway audience. Nevertheless, the producers are holding out that their hard work will pay off, so that this show about hard work and faith will be an inspiration to Broadway audiences.

“The Audience” Completes Its Run

An Irrefutable Success Story

the-audience-300x300On February 14, 2015, The Audience began previews on Broadway. It officially opened on March 8, 2015 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. The play was written by Peter Morgan and starred Helen Mirren, reuniting the Oscar winning team from the film The Queen which dealt with the same subject matter. The director was Stephen Daldry, who also directed Skylight this same season. Audience members flocked to this play, which had excellent sales throughout its run. On April 13, 2015, it was announced that the show had recouped its initial investment of $3.4 million. That is particularly outstanding for a straight play to perform so well, earning back its capitalization in only eight weeks. The show earned two Tony Awards, that for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play for Helen Mirren, as well as that for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play for Richard McCabe. It was also nominated for Best Costume Design of a Play for Bob Crowley. The play transferred to New York following an excellent West End run in 2013, as well as international screenings of the National Theatre Live version in cinemas. On May 5, 2015, yet another production began in the West End starring Kristin Scott Thomas in the lead role.

Record Sales For Final Week Ending June 28thhelen mirren the audience

On June 28, 2015, the Broadway production of The Audience concluded its run. That week, the show brought in $1,425,523, which was an increase of $219,205 from the week before. This outstanding increase was mostly due to the fact that the show played an extra performance, totaling eight, whereas it had only played seven performances each week throughout the rest of the run. It is therefore even more remarkable that the show recouped so quickly, as most shows play eight performances per week as the standard. Nevertheless, in addition to this extra performance in the final week, the show made even more money per performance. Whereas the show brought in 114.11% of its gross potential in its penultimate week, the final week brought in the outstanding gross that amounted to 118.49% of its gross potential. Therefore, the show managed to squeeze out even more dollars per available seat in the theatre for each of the eight performances. In the final week, the average audience capacity was 101.8%. With a top ticket price of $323.00, the average paid admission was $163.67, up from $158.48 the week before. Overall, it is clear that this show made an extraordinary profit for its investors and producers, operating in profits for the majority of its run, in addition to all the moneymaking opportunities from the London productions.

Helen Mirren Might As Well Be The Queen of England

Helen Mirren was lauded for every instance in which she portrayed Queen Elizabeth II. In addition to winning the Tony Award for her performance in The Audience on Broadway, she won the Olivier Award for the same role in the West End, and she also brought home the Academy Award for portraying Queen Elizabeth II in Peter Morgan’s screenplay for The Queen. This is only the third time that Helen Mirren has appeared on Broadway. Her previous outings were in 2001 to 2002 as Alice in Dance of Death, as well as in 1995 when she portrayed Natalia Petrovna in A Month in the Country. However, her London and screen credits have made her a household name, and the Broadway production of The Audience has secured her position as royalty in the minds of audiences, both American and British alike.

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

Box Office Takes Major Dip With David’s Departure

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

Three Weeks of Piddling Grossesjason alexander larry david

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

Keeping It in the “Seinfeld” Family

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