“This Is Our Youth” Begins Previews on Broadway

Kenneth Lonergan’s Broadway Debut

this is our youthThroughout his writing career, Kenneth Lonergan has had countless successes for stage and screen, including the Pulitzer Prize nominated play The Waverley Gallery, the Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner and Academy Award Best Screenplay nominee You Can Count on Me, and the Academy Award nominated Best Screenplay Gangs of New York.  Still, this is the first time his work has been seen on Broadway.  This Is Our Youth began previews on August 18, 2014 at the Cort Theatre, starring Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin, and Tavi Gevinson.  The play’s official opening will take place on September 11, 2014.  It is the story of three lost youths, taking place in 1982 in New York City.  The play originally premiered Off-Broadway in 1996 produced by the New Group, when it starred Josh Hamilton, Mark Ruffalo, and Missy Yager.  It has also been produced in the West End with an array of stars including Freddie Prinze, Jr., Anna Paquin, Casey Affleck, Jake Gyllenhaal, Matt Damon, Colin Hanks, Hayden Christensen, and Heather Burns.

Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin, and Tavi Gevinson

The Broadway production of This Is Our Youth is directed by Anna D. Shapiro (August: Osage County, Motherf**ker with the Hat).  This this is our youth castproduction originated in Chicago at the Steppenwolf Theatre, prior to arriving on Broadway.  Michael Cera and Kieran Culkin are longtime collaborators, having starred in these same roles in a production of This Is Our Youth in 2012 at the Sydney Opera House.  They also co-starred in the film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.  All three young actors are making their Broadway debuts.  Michael Cera is best known for his screen comedic roles such as the television show Arrested Development as well as films including Juno, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Superbad, and This is the End.  Kieran Culkin is a well-known actor for roles in such films as Igby Goes Down and Music of the Heart.  Furthermore, he is renowned as the younger brother of Macaulay Culkin, and he also previously acted in a film written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, Margaret.  Tavi Gevinson is only 18 years old, but she has already had a celebrated career as a fashion blogger and model.  She only recently turned to acting, appearing in films such as Enough Said.

Young and Adrift

this is our youth posterThe play takes place in an apartment in the Upper West Side of Manhattan in 1982.  Dennis Ziegler is a cocaine dealer and friend to Warren Straub, a 19 year-old who has just been kicked out of his house and stolen $15,000 from his alcoholic father.  When a young fashion student named Jessica Goldman comes over to the apartment, Warren hopes that he can entice her to sleep with him with his newfound load of cash.  The play is bitingly realistic and insightful about issues of adolescence and maturity, and these three actors are sure to bring a fresh and vibrant take on the material to the Broadway stage.  The play is produced by mega-producer Scott Rudin, who often uses his power to bring high quality material to the stage that might not otherwise be seen by such large-scale audiences.  Interestingly, he has already made one creative marketing move: the marquee outside the theatre appears as if the sign for This Is Our Youth was illegally taped over the sign for the show that was previously in the Cort Theatre – the recently shuttered The Cripple of Inishmaan starring Daniel Radcliffe.  Incorporating the show’s themes of rebellion and youth, this marketing ploy is sure to cause a few heads to turn.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 8/17/2014

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

A Summer With No Straight Plays

As represented by the week ending August 17, 2014, the summer has reached the point where there are no straight plays running.  The only so-called play still running is actually a play with music, and could legitimately be deemed a musical – that is, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill.  This goes to show that the theatre industry truly goes in cycles, with the fall and spring seasons climaxing with a slew of opening intended to attract a range of clientele, including New York locals.  The summer season, on the other hand, is reserved pretty exclusively for tourists, who are more generally drawn to large-scale musical fare.  At this point in the summer, many New Yorkers are on vacation, or are concerned with catching the final outdoor bursts of enjoyment in their leisure hours.  Theatre, on the other hand, is reserved for the colder months for locals.

An Overall Decrease in Sales

This past week, the majority of shows saw a decrease in box office compared to the week prior.  As for the industry as a whole, the composite weekly gross was $25,177,910, which was a decrease of $332,330 from the week before.  Of the 25 shows presently running, only 8 saw an increase in sales this week.  The biggest increase was on the part of The Book of Mormon, which grossed $1,759,420, compared to $1,647,095 last week.  The bigger loser, on the other hand, was Aladdin, which grossed $104,809 less this week than last week, when it reached $1,602,785.  The only other shows that saw an increase were A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Rocky (in its final week), Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Cabaret, Newsies, Les Misérables, and Chicago.  In sum, these are either long-running musicals, 2014 Tony Award winners, or musicals about to close.  In general, however, it seems this week was a moderate one on Broadway, with few new shows having opened as the fall season begins to gear up.


The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending August 17, 2014:Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis 8-17-14

Show GrossGross Total Attn %Cap AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $920,946 7,307 100.70% $126.04
ALADDIN $1,497,976 13,784 100.00% $108.67
BEAUTIFUL $1,301,425 8,104 98.73% $160.59
BULLETS OVER BROADWAY $635,965 9,232 70.80% $68.89
CABARET $828,681 6,731 94.22% $123.11
CHICAGO $627,709 7,662 88.68% $81.93
CINDERELLA $741,574 10,187 72.72% $72.80
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $1,139,903 7,177 101.82% $158.83
IF/THEN $717,723 8,425 80.33% $85.19
JERSEY BOYS $808,545 8,329 84.78% $97.08
KINKY BOOTS $1,219,264 10,845 95.20% $112.43
LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR & GRILL $506,840 4,452 93.26% $113.85
LES MISÉRABLES $990,003 10,089 89.50% $98.13
MAMMA MIA! $809,675 8,871 95.10% $91.27
MATILDA $1,127,748 11,459 100.03% $98.42
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL $968,020 10,123 83.97% $95.63
NEWSIES $966,603 9,485 100.05% $101.91
ONCE $453,259 6,157 72.67% $73.62
PIPPIN $596,032 7,000 88.38% $85.15
ROCK OF AGES $342,772 3,978 85.29% $86.17
ROCKY $870,165 10,355 85.38% $84.03
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,759,420 9,846 102.63% $178.69
THE LION KING $2,208,482 13,450 98.90% $164.20
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $1,112,478 12,145 94.59% $91.60
WICKED $2,026,702 15,771 94.11% $128.51
Totals: $25,177,911 230,964 90.87% $107.47

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

“Rocky the Musical” Closes on August 17th

Boxing and Singing Prove a Confusing Combination for Audiences

rocky the musical on BroadwayRocky the Musical, based off the renowned film of the same name, has announced a premature closing on Broadway.  The musical began previews on February 13, 2014, and had its official opening on March 13, 2014.  It will close on Sunday, August 17, 2014, after only 28 preview performances and 180 regular performances.  With a hefty budget of $16.5 million, that means the musical will certainly close at an extraordinary loss.  It would have had to run for at least a year with excellent sales in order to recoup, so this represents a significant disappointment for the show’s producers, who were expecting this to be a huge hit.  After a slam dunk run in Hamburg, Germany, the show transferred to Broadway, where it received only mixed reviews.  The director, Alex Timbers, is one of Broadway’s darlings, having sprung onto the scene at a young age, and already directed several shows on Broadway including Peter and the Starcatcher, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, and The Pee-wee Herman Show.  Nevertheless, his theatrical ingenuity was not enough to spur sales on a show that was perhaps dissonant with the usual Broadway demographic.

Another Flop for Stage Entertainment

Rocky is a very ambitious show from a technical perspective.  In the final extended musical number, an entire boxing ring even rocky golden circlesprung up in the middle of the orchestra, requiring some audience members to re-seat.  This spectacle was certainly astonishing for theatergoers, but unfortunately spectacle alone did not send ticketbuyers flying to the box office.  The disappointment is particularly severe for the show’s producers, the international theatre presenters Stage Entertainment who have seen several Broadway flops in recent years, including Sister Act and Big Fish.  Though Stage Entertainment has reaped significant financial success from many of their European productions, Broadway is proving a harder nut to crack.  Still, the show is likely to go on a national tour, which raises the question of how to transport the heavy scenic elements on the road, and it is also sure to have a series of regional productions.  These further runs will contribute to financial revenue for the producers, though the show will still likely be a long way off from proving a financial success.

Recent Weeks Show Financial Promise, But to No Avail

Grosses at the Winter Garden Theatre have shown an upsurge since the closing announcement was made in mid-July.  In the week ending August 10, 2014, the show brought in a gross of $795,275, which was an increase of $27,756 from the week before.  In the week before that, the show demonstrated an increase of $65,714, and before that there was an increase of $27,742.  Therefore, the show has been on a steady increase in ticket sales in the last month.  This shows that there is an audience for the show, but unfortunately ticketbuyers did not prioritize this purchase amongst the slew of Broadway options to choose from.  Perhaps they expected the show to stick around for longer, but now that there is not much time left to catch the performance, they are pulling out their wallets.  Unfortunately, this demonstration of interest came too late for Rocky the Musical, which may have had a chance given another few months for the brand to pick up and for word of mouth to spread.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 8/10/2014

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

Rock of Ages Not Seeing A Boost from Constantine Maroulis

The 80s rock jukebox musical Rock of Ages was at the bottom of the box office pack this past week, with a weekly gross of only $350,119. That was a decrease of $28,267 from the week before, and was equivalent to only 65.32% of the show’s gross potential. Performing even lower than musicals that have already announced closing such as Violet and Bullets over Broadway, Rock of Ages was aware that it needed a box office boost. That is why the producers decided to invite back Constantine Maroulis who originated the Broadway lead role in 2009, and then continued with the show through its national tour. Maroulis, who first came to fame in the fourth season of American Idol, and who then solidified his Broadway renown in the title role of Jekyll and Hyde, was thought to be an attractive box office name for this struggling show. However, in his first week of performances, the box office does not seem to have budged; in fact it saw a decrease. This is likely because the summer tourist crowd is not particularly aware of recent news of cast changes, and instead purchases based on familiarity with a show’s title alone.

Summer Musicals Performing Excellently As Predicted

In the week ending August 10, 2014, the top two grossing shows were, as expected, The Lion King and Wicked. The Lion King brought in an impressive $2,295,313, which was 100.08% of its gross potential, and Wicked reaped in $2,059,477, which was a whomping 122.51% of its gross potential. Though Wicked plays in a bigger theatre than The Lion King (the Gershwin has 15,424 seats to fill in an eight performance week, whereas the Minskoff has just 13,600 in the same eight performances), the difference in gross potential derives from the higher ticket pricing for Wicked. Whereas the top ticket for Wicked $300.00, the top ticket for The Lion King is a more affordable $197.50. Nonetheless, the average paid ticket for The Lion King this past week was $168.76, whereas the average paid ticket for Wicked was $133.73. With more seats to fill, they must be able to discount more heavily. Following these two top grossing shows, the top grossing shows in order were The Book of Mormon, Aladdin, Beautiful, Kinky Boots, Matilda, The Phantom of the Opera, and Hedwig and the Angry Inch, all musicals that broke the million dollar mark.


The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending August 10, 2014:Broadway-Show-Ticket-Analysis-8-10-14

Show GrossGross Total Attn %Cap AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $834,051 7,312 100.77% $114.07
ALADDIN $1,602,785 13,786 100.01% $116.26
BEAUTIFUL $1,325,505 8,217 100.11% $161.31
BULLETS OVER BROADWAY $665,229 9,458 72.53% $70.34
CABARET $779,352 6,354 88.94% $122.66
CHICAGO $622,094 7,630 88.31% $81.53
CINDERELLA $788,538 10,665 76.14% $73.94
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $1,087,988 7,218 102.40% $150.73
IF/THEN $760,509 8,421 80.29% $90.31
JERSEY BOYS $853,728 8,393 85.43% $101.72
KINKY BOOTS $1,292,063 11,105 97.48% $116.35
LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR & GRILL $567,272 4,633 97.05% $122.44
LES MISÉRABLES $983,256 10,193 90.43% $96.46
MAMMA MIA! $835,969 9,126 97.83% $91.60
MATILDA $1,196,626 11,496 100.35% $104.09
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL $979,900 10,206 84.65% $93.01
NEWSIES $929,159 9,245 97.52% $100.50
ONCE $493,177 6,292 74.27% $78.38
PIPPIN $627,328 6,956 87.83% $90.19
ROCK OF AGES $350,119 4,052 86.88% $86.81
ROCKY $795,275 10,308 84.99% $77.15
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,647,095 8,752 102.63% $188.20
THE LION KING $2,295,313 13,601 100.01% $168.76
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $1,138,432 12,560 97.82% $90.64
VIOLET $416,276 5,863 99.85% $71.00
WICKED $2,059,477 15,400 99.84% $133.73
Totals: $25,926,516 237,242 92.09% $107.49

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

Constantine Maroulis Returning to “Rock of Ages”

Returning to His “Rock” Roots

Rock of Ages Broadway Musical celebrates RocktoberfestConstantine Maroulis, who originated the role of the protagonist Drew in the Broadway production of Rock of Ages, has returned to the role for a limited 12 week engagement. Maroulis first sang the part onstage in October 2008, when the show had its New York premiere in an Off-Broadway production at New World Stages. When the show transferred to Broadway in March 2009, Maroulis went with it. At the time, he had been on Broadway once before, as a two-month replacement in fall 2006 as Sammy in The Wedding Singer musical. For his role in Rock of Ages, Maroulis was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical. He then set out on the show’s national tour, in September 2010, traveling to sixty venues including Washington D.C. Chicago, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Orlando, and Fort Lauderdale. On August 4, 2014, Constantine returned to the Helen Hayes Theatre where he will reprise his role for 12 weeks.

From “American Idol” to “Jekyll and Hyde”

MaroConstantine Maroulis stars in the Jekyll & Hyde Tourulis first entered the national consciousness in 2004, when he made it to the final six contestants on the fourth season of

American Idol. As earlier seasons of Idol made an even bigger difference in the careers of contestants than later seasons, Maroulis saw a significant boost from this success. He launched a solo career in 2005, and amongst other performances, he premiered a New York show called “A Night at the Rock Show” in September 2009. Other stage credits include the Off-Broadway shows Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris. He also played the role of Roger in the National Tour of Rent. His third and thus far only other Broadway credit began in April 2013, when he played the lead role of Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde in Jekyll and Hyde. Prior to this Broadway run, he traveled with the show for a 25 week National Tour.

“Rock of Ages” Continues to Rock

Though Constantine has been pursuing other endeavors since he completed the Rock of Ages national tour in July 2011, the show has been alive and well. With a book by Chris D’Arienzo and featuring a jukebox of classic 1980s rock hits such as “Don’t Stop Believin’,” “Here I Go Again,” “I Wanna Know What Love Is,” and “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” it has been playing to continuously appreciative houses at the Helen Hayes Theatre ever since. Furthermore, a fairly successful film was released in 2012 starring Russell Brand, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Tom Cruise, Bryan Cranston, Mary J. Blige, Paul Giamatti, Alec Baldwin, Julianne Hough, and Diego Boneta in the role of Drew. The show will surely get a boost from Constantine’s return, but perhaps he is pursuing this opportunity for his own interest as much as because it will benefit the show. After all, he has a long way before his name is box office gold, although he has seen great success in his three Broadway outings. In any case, he is surely a face to watch on Broadway, and his voice will continue to soar to amazing heights.

Poor Movie Reviews for Eastwood’s “Jersey Boys” Damage Dodgers’ Gravy Train

The Dodgers’ Hopes for Jersey Boys Are Dashed

Jersey Boys Broadway MusicalDodger Theatricals, the producing team behind Broadway’s Jersey Boys, hasn’t had any new tricks in a while. Their most recent Broadway production is Matilda, which has been running since April 2013. Though that show has been performing quite well at the box office, the Dodgers are only second in command there, hanging onto the coattails of the Royal Shakespeare Company who originally produced the musical in the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, the Dodgers’ biggest hit in the last decade is the jukebox musical Jersey Boys, based on the life and incorporating the music of The Four Seasons. Jersey Boys has been running since November 2005 at the August Wilson Theatre, often to stupendous feats of success. Not only did the show win the 2006 Tony Award for Best Musical (amongst its 4 wins and 8 nominations), but it has had excellent box office success over the years. It broke the August Wilson Theatre’s box office record for highest weekly gross for the 30th time in January 2010, and it is presently the 14th longest running show on Broadway.

Jersey Boys filmThe “Jersey Boys” Movie

In light of this success, the decision was made to adapt Jersey Boys into a film, following in the tradition of many musical to movie adaptations of recent years including Les Misérables, Chicago, Hairspray, and Rent. Unlike all of those adaptations, however, the biggest name involved with Jersey Boys is the director, Clint Eastwood. Eastwood opted to choose actors from the stage musical casts rather than filling it with big Hollywood stars. The theory was that the name of the property itself – Jersey Boys – would be enough to attract large audiences to the movie theater. However, the movie received mixed reviews, and the box office response has been fairly modest. With a budget of $40 million, the film has so far posted a domestic gross of $46,377,524 as of August 7, 2014. Though this is less than 2 months past its release date of June 20, 2014, expectations were that the box office response would be greater.

Film Reception Not Improving Broadway Grosses As Hoped

Though the Dodgers are not producers on the film, it is certain that their licensing agreement allowed for a cut of the profits of the movie. More importantly, they must have been hoping that a successful movie run would indirectly boost profits for the still running Broadway production, as the brand power of the show would increase. However, Jersey Boys on Broadway is nowhere near the financial heights that it once had reached. When it broke the theatre’s box office record, for example, it had grossed $1,440,456 in a week. Though this summer has been more successful than the spring and winter that preceded it, the box offices grosses since June have still only been hovering around $800,000 to $900,000, which is around 70% to 80% of the box office gross potential. Therefore, to the disappointment of the floundering Dodgers, the movie does not seem to be re-launching Jersey Boys as a top grossing hit.

Have The Dodgers Run Out Of Good Ideas?

Matilda Broadway Musical Roald DahlMoreover, Micheal David’s Dodgers seem to be losing steam on their own development, as they haven’t announced a new show in a while. Before Matilda, their most recent show was a revue, An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin, and before that it was the notorious flop Elling which only ran for a total of nine regular performances in November 2010. Resting on the success of the RSC’s Matilda, the Dodgers now seem to have run out of good ideas. Unfortunately, it does not look like the Jersey Boys movie was the golden ticket that had been hoping for and David and his renegade team will be looking for a way out, creatively speaking, pretty soon.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 8/03/2014

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

“Hedwig and the Angry Inch” Soars Above the Pack

This past week, Hedwig and the Angry Inch may not have earned the highest gross, but it earned the highest amount in terms of percentage of gross potential. Whereas Wicked and The Lion King play in enormous theatres that allow them to gross over $2 million, Hedwig is playing in the Belasco theatre (which is only just over 1,000 seats), and yet it managed to earn 127.25% of its gross potential this past week. With a weekly gross of $1,061,754, the average paid ticket was an astounding $147.18, and the top ticket price is $248.00. Furthermore, the show is only mounted 7 times a week, whereas most all other shows play 8 performances a week. It is therefore especially impressive that audience demand has allowed this show to flourish so brilliantly at the box office.

“Bullets over Broadway” and “Violet” Floundering in Their Final Weeks.

These two musicals have already announced closing, but that announcement does not seem to have upped their box office sales. Bullets over Broadway, based on the Woody Allen film of the same name, will close on August 24, 2014, having played only 156 performances. This past week, it was at the bottom of the pack in terms of gross potential, having earned only 42.29% of this potential with a weekly gross of $641,157. That was a decrease of $22,793 from the week prior. Furthermore, the previous week also saw a decrease of $22,743 compared to the week before that. Meanwhile, the Roundabout Theatre Company production of Violet starring Sutton Foster has announced that it will close on August 10, 2014, after only 128 performances. This past week, the show was second to the bottom in terms of gross potential, having earned only 47.42% of that potential with a weekly gross of $365,789. Though this early closing is a disappointment, especially as Foster is such a big star, Roundabout is better equipped to handle this loss with its not-for-profit status than a commercial production would be.



The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending August 3, 2014:Broadway-Show-Ticket-Analysis-8-03-14

Show GrossGross Total Attn %Cap AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $950,133 7,322 100.91% $129.76
ALADDIN $1,570,266 13,784 100.00% $113.92
BEAUTIFUL $1,308,762 8,141 99.18% $160.76
BULLETS OVER BROADWAY $641,157 9,028 69.23% $71.02
CABARET $839,690 6,868 96.14% $122.26
CHICAGO $614,092 7,583 87.77% $80.98
CINDERELLA $785,390 10,562 75.40% $74.36
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $1,061,754 7,214 102.34% $147.18
IF/THEN $780,181 8,533 81.36% $91.43
JERSEY BOYS $867,352 8,578 87.32% $101.11
KINKY BOOTS $1,245,947 10,972 96.31% $113.56
LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR & GRILL $529,942 4,551 95.33% $116.45
LES MISÉRABLES $1,081,040 10,796 95.78% $100.13
MAMMA MIA! $804,605 8,938 95.82% $90.02
MATILDA $1,201,174 11,546 100.79% $104.03
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL $1,016,377 10,893 90.35% $93.31
NEWSIES $919,050 9,289 97.99% $98.94
ONCE $512,632 6,840 80.74% $74.95
PIPPIN $615,505 7,308 92.27% $84.22
ROCK OF AGES $378,386 4,137 88.70% $91.46
ROCKY $767,519 10,152 83.71% $75.60
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,645,580 8,752 102.63% $188.02
THE LION KING $2,559,076 15,306 100.04% $167.19
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $1,149,037 12,647 98.50% $90.85
VIOLET $365,789 5,309 90.41% $68.90
WICKED $2,181,109 16,746 97.21% $130.25
Totals: $26,391,544 241,795 92.55% $106.95

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

“Lady Day” Recoups on Broadway

Continual Extensions, and a Financial Hit

microphoneLady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, the play with music starring Audra McDonald as Billie Holiday, has recouped its investment and will conclude its run having earned a substantial profit. Running at the modest sized Circle in the Square Theater since March 25, 2014, with its official opening on April 13, 2014, this production has been extended three times, and is now slated to run until September 21, 2014 (with a hiatus between September 1st to 7th). With a budget of $2.6 million, the play was performing only mediocrely at the box office until June, when Audra McDonald took home the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play. Since then, the show has taken in between 80 and 90% of its gross potential each week. The weekly grosses are lower than many other shows due to the small seating capacity of the theatre, but audience demand nevertheless allowed the show to enter profits.

Audra McDonald Draws in the Audiences

The critical response to the show was mixed, but reviewers unanimously lauded McDonald’s performance as Holiday at the end Actress singer Audra McDonald red carpet event black dressof her career. The plot piles in the more tragic elements of Holiday’s life, and some reviewers felt that this storytelling was contrived. However, McDonald – a favorite with theatregoers, Tony voters, and critics – was praised for her ability to tone down her magnificent voice to communicate the sadder period of Holiday’s career, and yet she still managed to convey a rich and expressive tone. The production, directed by Lonny Price, was nominated for one more Tony Award beyond McDonald’s, that for Best Sound Design of a Play (Steve Canyon Kennedy), which it did not win. The Tony committee deemed that the show was eligible for the award of Best Revival of a Play, which was controversial both because the play had never been done on Broadway, and because it is full of music. However, the committee felt it was best categorized as a play with music.

The Play’s History

Lady Day was written by Lanie Robertson with its original premiere in 1986 at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia. The play also ran Off-Broadway at the Vineyard Theatre in 1986, running for 281 performances. The Broadway production, produced by Jeffrey Richards and Jerry Frankel, was originally scheduled for a 10-week limited engagement, but awards recognition and audience support allowed the show to continually announce extensions. With many weeks now left to go, the show will conclude its run significantly in the black.

Recoupment on Broadway This Season

Several other shows have announced recoupment this season. Most recently, Of Mice and Men starring James Franco ended its run having passed the line into profits. A Raisin in the Sun starring Denzel Washington, which won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play, also made back its investment, while also performing excellently both critically and in terms of awards. Furthermore, All the Way starring Bryan Cranston recouped its investment, having won the Tony Award for Best Play. Finally, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which is still running indefinitely after having won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical, has already announced recoupment. This goes to show that in general, Tony Awards make a huge difference at the box office, especially for the four major awards (Best Play, Best Musical, Best Revival of a Play, and Best Revival of a Musical), as well as the Best Performance categories.

“Of Mice and Men” Concludes Its Run

A Magnificent Financial Success

Of Mice and Men with James Franco and Chris O'DowdThis year’s revival of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, starring James Franco, Chris O’Dowd, and Leighton Meester, concluded performances this past Sunday, July 27, 2014. Having begun performances on March 19, 2014 at the Longacre Theatre, the play officially opened on April 16, 2014. Directed by Anna D. Shapiro (Motherf**ker with the Hat), this production received moderate to positive reviews, but it succeeded in becoming a record-breaking financial hit. With a budget of $3.8 million, the play recouped its capitalization in just 12 weeks of its 19 week run. With sales doing well but not extraordinarily throughout the bulk of the run, Of Mice and Men saw a huge upsurge in box office in its final week of performances, earning $1,038,106 over the course of 8 performances. With just over 100 seats, the Longacre Theatre has never seen a gross this high; in fact, it marks the first time a show in this theatre has broken the million dollar mark.

National Theatre Live

The production also locked down another notable achievement in its final weeks. The National Theatre Live series produced by the National Theatre in London, which films live performances to be screened to 500 movie theaters around the world, has chosen Of Mice and Men as the first ever Broadway production to be filmed for its series. In fact, this is the first time a non-British production has been chosen for this prestigious scheme allowing it to be seen so accessibly worldwide. So far, the National Theatre Live series has filmed and screened 40 productions. After the final public performance on Sunday, July 27, 2014, instead of loading out of the theatre on Monday, the crew loaded in the equipment of the National Theatre. On Tuesday, July 29, 2014, the cast performed the play once more to be filmed, this time for a select group of invited guests. Although this would generally break many union requirements, the show’s producers have come to agreement with all the relevant unions.

The Cult of James Franco

The play earned two Tony Award nominations – those for Best Leading Actor for Chris O’Dowd and for Japhy Weideman for james francoLighting Design – but it won neither. A notable snub was that James Franco was not nominated for an award, although the press surrounding the show is overwhelming in his regard. This is possibly because the theatre community resented Franco’s entitled egotism, which he displayed prominently on social media following a negative review by the most respected New York Times theatre critic, Ben Brantley. In any event, the show’s reviews did not seem to deter ticket buyers, as those who wanted to see the show would not be put off by some niche bad theatre press. After all, James Franco’s influence is gigantic and increasingly so, as he continues to expand into more and more domains. During the period in which he was performing in this Broadway show eight times a week, which is usually enough to occupy any actor, he also directed an Off-Broadway show at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre called The Long Shrift, not to mention his numerous other commitments ranging from teaching acting in Los Angeles, to running his film production outfit Rabbit Bandini, to performing and directing in numerous film projects. In this light, the cult of James Franco does not seem to be slowing its pace anytime soon, and Broadway is another box he can tick on his infinite list of achievements.

Broadway Dims Its Lights for Elaine Stritch

On Thursday, July 17, 2014, Elaine Stritch, the notorious and viscerally talented star of stage and cabaret, died at the age of 89. The following evening at 7:45pm, every Broadway marquis dimmed its lights in her honor for one minute. This is a long Broadway tradition only given to truly eternal contributors to the world of Broadway, and Elaine Stritch is certainly one of them.

elaine stritch

A Long and Lauded Career

Stritch first performed on Broadway in 1946, playing the role of Pamela Brewster in a play called Loco. Her first major recognition came from her performance as Melba Snyder in the 1952 revival of the musical Pal Joey, when she famously performed a song called “Zip!”. She earned her first Tony Award in 1956, earning the honor of Best Featured Actress in a Play for her role as a waitress named Grace Hoylard in William Inge’s Bus Stop. Her next Tony Award came in 1962, when she won the award for Best Actress in a Musical for her role as Mimi Paragon in Noël Coward’s Sail Away. Perhaps the role for which she is best remembered, however, is Joanne in Stephen Sondheim’s Company. Not only did she win the 1971 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance, but her rendition of “Ladies Who Lunch” will always be definitive. She also won a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance in 1996.

elaine stritch at libertyCabaret Performance and Documentary

More recently, Stritch performed a one-woman show entitled Elaine Stritch: At Liberty, which premiered Off-Broadway at the Public Theater in 2001, then transferring to Broadway in 2002. This show earned the Tony Award for Best Special Theatrical Event. Directed by George C. Wolfe and with a book by John Lahr (or rather the technical credits are Constructed by John Lahr, and Reconstructed by Elaine Stritch), the cabaret show then toured to London’s Old Vic Theatre, and it was also filmed for a TV documentary. Furthermore, Stritch was the subject of a 2014 documentary film entitled Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me, which received a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and includes interviews with her friends such as Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey, James Gandolfini, Cherry Jones, Nathan Lane, Harold Prince, John Turturro, and George C. Wolfe.

Personal Life

Stritch was candid about her long struggle with alcoholism. In the beginning of her career, this gave her credit as a woman who could challenge a man at anything, even drinking, but as the years progressed she admitted it as a problem, and supposed it as a cause for her later onset of diabetes. She began to drink at age 14 in order to overcome stage fright, but her drinking got worse after her husband’s passing. As recounted in her cabaret show, Stritch has had romances over the years with Marlon Brando, elaine stritchGig Young, and Ben Gazzara, and was married for a short time to John Bay, until his death in 1982.

In the final years of her life, she retired to her home state of Michigan. She died in her sleep in her home in Birmingham at the age of 89. Upon news of her passing, not only did Broadway dim their lights, but countless obituaries surfaced from many individuals – some very renowned – who loved her very dearly.