“Disgraced” Opens on Broadway

Unanimously Positive Reviews

disgraced posterOn October 23, 2014, Disgraced had its official opening night at Broadway’s Lyceum Theatre. It had been running in previews since September 27, 2014. The show transferred to Broadway following a successful critical run at Lincoln Center Theatre’s Off-Broadway venue the Claire Tow Theatre, which focuses on producing plays through the LCT3 initiative for new writing. This play was written by Ayad Akhtar, a Pakistani American who studied Directing in graduate school at Columbia University after earning his BA in theater at Brown University. He has worked as an actor as well as writer for film and television, and Disgraced was his first play. Amazingly, his debut into playwriting earned him the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Perhaps predictably, then, the critics unanimously loved the play. Charles Isherwood of The New York Times gushed over the deliciousness of the play (which takes place over dinner), declaring the show a Critics’ Pick. David Cote of Time Out New York loved that the play was issue-based. Thom Geier of Entertainment Weekly determined that the play was indeed worthy of the Pulitzer Prize, and Mark Kennedy of Associated Press praised the show’s punch and power.

Now Will The Numbers Match the Praise?

As is always a question when a play earns top reviews, it is now to be seen whether the box office figures will follow suit in earning top disgracednumbers. However, it is unfortunately infrequently the case that they do. The exception, for some reason, seems to be British plays, which often earn extraordinary figures following extraordinary reviews, even if the public had never heard of the play before the cross-Atlantic transfer. In this case, however, Disgraced has merely transferred some blocks downtown from Lincoln Center to Broadway, and thus it will be difficult to prove to the public that it is worth shelling out for the higher priced fare. After all, when Disgraced ran as part of the LCT3 initiative for new writing, the tickets were a mere $25. It is difficult to justify the price spike, especially when the cast does not include any A-list stars. The closest is Gretchen Mol (Boardwalk Empire) in the role of Emily. Of course, there is the fact that the show has now won the Pulitzer Prize and has widely been deemed excellent. Still, it is often difficult to break through the barrier of skepticism when there is so much competition among new shows this season.

Box Office Performance Thus Far

In the most recently reported figures, which was the week ending October 26, 2014, Disgraced brought in $362,147, which represents only $46.84% of the show’s gross potential. Fortunately, the box office figures have been on a steady incline, beginning with the first full week’s figures (the week ending October 5, 2014) of $292,989 – and that week had only 7 performances. Now that the production is up to a normal eight performance week, it has the potential to fill 7,344 seats over the course of the run. Unfortunately, at its peak thus far, it has only sold 5,990 of them. With a top ticket price of $198.00, the show is heavily discounting, because the average paid ticket price that past week was only $60.46. Still, it is likely that the numbers will increase, if not extraordinarily, as the run continues and word of mouth spreads. At least, that is the pattern the numbers are displaying thus far.

“Side Show” Begins Previews on Broadway

Come Look At The Freaks

side showOn October 28, 2014, Side Show began previews at Broadway’s St. James Theatre. Official opening night is scheduled for November 17, 2014. This spectacle-filled musical about a freak show in the 1930s premiered on Broadway in 1997, running less than 4 months before it flopped and had to close. This revival, however, has taken a different approach. Whereas the earlier advertising campaign had an old-fashioned picture of a 1930s side show with audience members eagerly wondering what lay on the other side of the curtain, in 2014 the producers have decided to up the Hollywood lights and portray the leading ladies – Siamese twins Daisy and Violet Hilton – more like Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart in Chicago, except conjoined. In fact, Side Show is based off a true story of real Siamese twin circus performers Daisy and Violet Hilton, who were also the subject of the 1932 pseudo-documentary film Freaks. The 1997 premiere, though closing early, earned four Tony Award nominations including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Score, and Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical (Alice Ripley as Violet), although it failed to win any. Nevertheless, the musical has gained somewhat of a cult status since its original production, enough to warrant a glitzy revival.

Cast and Creative Teamside show erin davie emily padgett

The musical has book and lyrics by Bill Russell (Call Me Madam, The Last Smoker in America) and music by Henry Krieger (Dreamgirls, The Tap Dance Kid). This production is directed by Bill Condon (Chicago the film, Dreamgirls the film, the Twilight film series), who also contributed new material to the revival. Reportedly, the revised book focuses more on the principal storyline of the sisters searching for love in a world apparently set against them, and less on the supporting characters of the various freak show performers. The lead roles of Daisy and Violet Hilton are respectively played by Emily Padgett (Rock of Ages, Grease, Legally Blonde) and Erin Davie (The Mystery of Edwin Drood, A Little Night Music). Other cast members include Matthew Hydzik (West Side Story, Grease) as Buddy Foster, Robert Joy (Abe Lincoln in Illinois) as Sir, Ryan Silverman (Cry-Baby, Chicago) as Terry, David St. Louis (Jesus Christ Superstar, The Scarlet Pimpernel) as Jake, and many ensemble members playing multiple roles including other performers in the freak show.

The 2014 Revival

This updated production of Side Show had two pre-Broadway tryouts. From November 5, 2013 to December 15, 2013, the show ran at the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, California, directed by Bill Condon and starring Erin Davie and Emily Padgett. Then, from June 14, 2014 to July 13, 2014, the same production with the same leading ladies played at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. These two productions were successful enough to attract the attention of Broadway producer Darren Bagert, who assembled the producing team to raise the $7.8 million capitalization needed to bring this show to Broadway. Although the 1997 production quickly flopped, there may be more hope for this revival. First of all, freak shows have recently re-entered the zeitgeist, thanks to shows such as American Horror Story: Freak Show. Furthermore, this musical is so little known due to its previous failure that it may actually have the chance to reinvent itself anew in the minds of theatregoers. The verdict will be more determinable after reviews come out following the opening night of November 17, 2014.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 10/26/2014

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

“A Delicate Balance” Off to a Flying Start

On October 20, 2014, A Delicate Balance began previews at the John Golden Theatre. In this first week of recorded box office figures, representing a full week of eight performances, the show brought in a remarkable starting gross of $884,596, which represents 102.25% of its gross potential. With a top ticket price of $323.00 and an average ticket price of $137.87, the show was completely sold out, having sold all 6,416 seats across the eight performances. The success of this show is not simple to explain, as though it does have a cast full of stars, so do other shows that aren’t selling quite as well (for example, The Real Thing). Nevertheless, ticketbuyers are drawn to the names attached to A Delicate Balance, including not only the playwright Edward Albee and the director Pam MacKinnon, but more importantly the actors Bob Balaban, Glenn Close, John Lithgow, Lindsay Duncan, and Martha Plimpton. In addition, credit must truly be given to the producer, Scott Rudin.

A Continuing Decline for Long-Running Musicals

The biggest decrease in weekly box office gross this past week was seen by Wicked, which brought in $1,489,079, representing a decrease of $191,770. The next biggest decline was seen by Les Miserables with a decrease of $125,605, followed by Matilda with a decrease of $121,364. Furthermore, declines were seen by Cinderella, The Phantom of the Opera, Kinky Boots, Pippin, Aladdin, The Lion King, The Book of Mormon, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Chicago, If/Then, Cabaret, Jersey Boys, and Once – all of which are long-running musicals. This goes to show that as the fall season is truly getting underway, with the crux of new shows opening in surroundin weeks, the ticketbuying market is steering towards the new shows, many of which are plays. In addition to the immense increase seen by A Delicate Balance, other plays with increased sales this week include The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Disgraced, and It’s Only a Play.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending October 26, 2014:

Broadway Show Ticket Analysis w/e 10/26/14

Show Name GrossGross Total Attn %Cap AvgPdAdm
A DELICATE BALANCE $884,596 6,416 100.00% $137.87
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $880,770 7,165 98.75% $122.93
ALADDIN $1,383,638 13,608 98.72% $101.68
BEAUTIFUL $1,316,237 8,271 100.77% $159.14
CABARET $685,293 5,926 82.95% $115.64
CHICAGO $538,587 6,695 77.49% $80.45
CINDERELLA $527,426 7,146 51.01% $73.81
DISGRACED $362,147 5,990 81.56% $60.46
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $600,961 6,161 87.40% $97.54
IF/THEN $592,093 7,902 75.34% $74.93
IT’S ONLY A PLAY $1,376,686 8,683 101.53% $158.55
JERSEY BOYS $826,860 7,992 81.35% $103.46
KINKY BOOTS $1,262,058 10,698 93.91% $117.97
LES MISÉRABLES $665,387 7,500 66.54% $88.72
LOVE LETTERS $313,629 3,944 46.16% $79.52
MAMMA MIA! $693,670 8,190 87.80% $84.70
MATILDA $820,241 9,773 85.31% $83.93
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL $1,112,900 11,462 95.07% $97.09
ON THE TOWN $837,948 11,987 79.96% $69.90
ONCE $417,186 5,151 60.80% $80.99
PIPPIN $478,031 5,914 74.67% $80.83
ROCK OF AGES $364,112 4,104 87.99% $88.72
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,610,255 8,754 102.65% $183.95
THE COUNTRY HOUSE $250,259 3,811 73.29% $65.67
THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME $871,327 8,020 98.48% $108.64
THE LAST SHIP $546,914 9,312 88.05% $58.73
THE LION KING $1,851,134 13,496 99.24% $137.16
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $830,932 9,863 76.81% $84.25
THE REAL THING $446,621 5,783 97.69% $77.23
THIS IS OUR YOUTH $367,824 4,996 58.86% $73.62
WICKED $1,489,079 13,258 91.61% $112.32
YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU $653,710 7,107 82.79% $91.98
Totals: $25,858,522 255,078 83.89% $98.51

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

“A Delicate Balance” Begins Previews on Broadway

Edward Albee’s Pulitzer Prize Winning Drama

a delicate balanceOn October 20, 2014, A Delicate Balance began previews at Broadway’s John Golden Theatre. Written by Edward Albee (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Seascape, The Goat or Who is Sylvia?), A Delicate Balance first premiered on Broadway in 1966, winning the Pulitzer Prize for Drama the following year. This is the play’s third revival; the second took place in 1996. This production is directed by Pam MacKinnon (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Clybourne Park), who has built her reputation as the preeminent interpreter of the works of Edward Albee. This is her second time producing one of his works on Broadway, but she also directed many Off-Broadway and regional productions of his work, including Peter and Jerry at Second Stage Theatre in 2007, The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? at Houston’s Alley Theatre in 2003, a previous production of A Delicate Balance in 2009 at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., and Occupant at the Signature Theatre in 2008. Edward Albee’s work is frequently performed at the Off-Broadway Signature Theatre, as he is one of the five playwrights honored by being selected in their Residency Five program, through which he will have five productions of his plays over five years.

A Cast Full of Stars

The cast of this Broadway revival of A Delicate Balance includes Glenn Close as Agnes, John Lithgow as her husband Harry, Bob a delicate balance marqueeBalaban and Clare Higgins as their friends Harry and Edna, Lindsay Duncan as Agnes’ alcoholic sister Claire, and Martha Plimpton as Agnes and Tobias’ daughter Julia. Glenn Close is best known for her roles in such films as The Big Chill, 101 Dalmatians, Air Force One, and Dangerous Liaisons, but she has appeared on Broadway several times before in shows such as The Play What I Wrote (2003), Sunset Boulevard (1997), and Death and the Maiden (1992). Similarly, John Lithgow is known for his screen performances including the television show 3rd Rock from the Sun and movies such as Shrek and Rise of Planet of the Apes, but his Broadway credits are also numerous including The Columnist (2012), All My Sons (2008), and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (2005). In fact, all of these actors have been on Broadway before, and some of them many times. This is an example of a show that may be selling its tickets based on the fame of its cast, but the cast is not made up of movie stars trying their hand at Broadway; rather they are tried and true stage performers as much as they are movie stars.

A Brilliant and Surreal Play

The play opens in the home of Agnes and Tobias, a middle age couple who live with Agnes’ alcoholic sister Claire. Their adult daughter Julia has come home after a failed marriage – not her first. Meanwhile, their friends Harry and Edna come over in a state of terror; without explanation, they can no longer bear to live at their own home, and feel inclined to regress back to the womb. They are invited to stay as long as they like as houseguests, which Julia truly resents. Furthermore, Claire may be alcoholic, but at times she seems to have her head on straighter than do any of the others; her insights are often valuable contributions to the story’s progress. In general, Agnes and Tobias fret about the possibility of losing their minds. They drink and discuss their lives, and there is a continual sense of doom approaching – or alternatively, nothing happening at all, which is almost as bad. The play is written with a strong sense of realism, and yet there are surreal moments that creep up completely unexpected. As such, it succeeds in being a chilling and powerful drama that accessibly opens up introspection about the meaning of life.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 10/19/2014

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

A Record-Breaking Week for “It’s Only a Play”

In a week where the majority of Broadway shows had a decreased gross from the week before, It’s Only a Play is on the up and up. This revival of a Terrence McNally play directed by Jack O’Brien is chock full of stars, including Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Megan Mullaly, F. Murray Abraham, Rupert Grint, and Stockard Channing. In that light, this show is a paradigm example of movie stars selling tickets, because those tickets are selling at a phenomenal rate. In the week ending October 19, 2014, It’s Only a Play brought in $1,375,481, which is an increase of $1,173,897 from the week before. That represents 104.34% of its gross potential, with an average ticket price of $159.02 and a top ticket price of $225.00. Furthermore, that gross is a weekly record for the show, which began performances on August 28, 2014 and officially opened on October 9, 2014 to mixed reviews. Prior to this past week, the highest weekly gross for It’s Only a Play came in for the week ending September 21, 2014 at $1,277,059. The entire run for the play is supposedly close to sold out, and the show is scheduled to continue until January 4, 2015.

As the Season Progresses, a Move Away from the Summer Blockbusters

This past week demonstrated that as the weather is getting colder, there are fewer tourists flooding New York, and specifically buying tickets to the top summer musicals. In the week ending October 19, 2014, Aladdin saw a gross decrease of $176,405, The Lion King went down by $155,070, Matilda decreased by $151,064, Wicked went down by $125,326, Hedwig and the Angry Inch went down by $118,386, and Cinderella decreased by $117,091. In fact, the entire Broadway industry saw a decrease of $1,072,660. There were some shows that experienced increases in gross, such as It’s Only a Play with a remarkable increase of $201,584, On the Town with a post-opening increase of $87,877, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time with an increase of $78,309. These are all newer fare on the Great White Way, which demonstrates an increased interest in the buying practices of local New Yorkers. These people are more aware of the recent changes in Broadway offerings, rather than continually purchasing tickets to long-running shows.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending October 19, 2014:

Broadway Show Ticket Analysis w/e 10-19-2014

Show GrossGross Total Attn %Cap AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $920,334 7,319 100.87% $125.75
ALADDIN $1,438,023 13,750 99.75% $104.58
BEAUTIFUL $1,308,749 8,271 100.77% $158.23
CABARET $719,254 6,208 86.90% $115.86
CHICAGO $574,653 7,071 81.84% $81.27
CINDERELLA $643,770 8,384 59.85% $76.79
DISGRACED $352,737 6,002 81.73% $58.77
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $544,166 5,552 91.89% $98.01
IF/THEN $627,377 7,788 74.26% $80.56
IT’S ONLY A PLAY $1,375,481 8,650 101.15% $159.02
JERSEY BOYS $860,751 8,208 83.55% $104.87
KINKY BOOTS $1,363,976 11,024 96.77% $123.73
LES MISÉRABLES $790,993 8,821 78.26% $89.67
LOVE LETTERS $319,810 4,374 51.19% $73.12
MAMMA MIA! $678,393 8,115 87.00% $83.60
MATILDA $941,606 10,815 94.40% $87.06
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL $1,074,895 10,768 89.32% $99.82
ON THE TOWN $696,571 13,079 87.24% $53.26
ONCE $448,800 5,162 60.93% $86.94
PIPPIN $536,740 6,355 80.24% $84.46
ROCK OF AGES $369,767 4,204 90.14% $87.96
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,651,464 8,752 102.63% $188.70
THE COUNTRY HOUSE $253,441 3,933 75.63% $64.44
THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME $848,236 7,879 96.75% $107.66
THE LAST SHIP $575,155 7,899 74.69% $72.81
THE LION KING $1,895,200 13,414 98.63% $141.29
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $935,841 10,843 84.45% $86.31
THE REAL THING $475,917 5,620 94.93% $84.68
THIS IS OUR YOUTH $409,597 5,796 68.28% $70.67
WICKED $1,680,849 14,440 99.78% $116.40
YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU $680,921 7,506 87.44% $90.72
Totals: $25,993,464 256,002 85.85% $98.61

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

“It’s Only a Play” Opens on Broadway

Ticket Sales Anticipate Reviews

it's only a playOn October 9, 2014, It’s Only a Play opened at Broadway’s Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, after having played 48 preview performances since the first on August 28, 2014. Generally, an opening night is vital for a show to gain traction after reviews hit the press, but in this case, the reviews were all but unnecessary. The show is already almost completely sold out until the end of its run, currently scheduled for January 4, 2015. In every single week that the show has been running, it has brought in over 100% of its gross box office potential, due to premium ticket sales on top of outstanding regular priced sales. Discounts are not part of the equation in this case. In the first partial 5-performance week ending August 31, 2014, the show earned 112.45% of its gross potential. In the full 8-performance weeks following, the show has unfailingly passed the million dollar mark on each occasion. In order, from the week ending September 7, 2014 until the most recently reported week ending October 12, 2014, the weekly grosses were: $1,163,626, $1,230,603, $1,277,059, $1,261,025, $1,248,660, and $1,173,896. The reason for this outstanding box office performance can be summarized in two words: star power.

Chock Full of Stars

With regards to attracting ticketbuyers, the most important names associated with this production are its actors. First of all, the it's only a play castproduction reunites Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick who made Broadway history with their performances in 2001’s The Producers. Beyond the combination of this power duo, each has individually earned a remarkable series of accolades, including two Tony Awards a piece: Lane earned the Best Actor honor for The Producers and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and Broderick earned the same for Brighton Beach Memoirs and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. They are joined by Stockard Channing, who came to fame with the film Grease, and earned a Tony Award for A Day in the Death of Joe Egg. In addition, F. Murray Abraham won an Academy Award for 1985’s Amadeus and is a seasoned veteran of stage and screen. Furthermore, the cast includes Rupert Grint making his Broadway debut, and yet he may hold the honor of having been seen by the most eyeballs due to his starring as Ron in the Harry Potter franchise. On top of the stellar cast, rounded out by Megan Mullaly and Micah Stock, the playwright Terrence McNally has had a remarkable 21 productions of his plays on Broadway, and the director Jack O’Brien has helmed at least 26 shows on Broadway (winning three Tony Awards with an additional seven nominations), also serving as the artistic director of the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego from 1981 to 2007.

Critical Appreciation, with Some Reservation

In general, the reviews are positive though some are mixed. In particular, Ben Brantley of The New York Times saw through the starry exterior and reviewed the play on its merits. He remarked how McNally revised the script to be more up-to-date. As the play, originally written in 1982, has some antiquated references, newer stars such as James Franco, Rosie O’Donnell, and Denzel Washington were swapped in for their written predecessors. Most notably, the respected theatre critic Frank Rich was swapped out for none other than Brantley himself. He responded to this fact with sufficient grace and only mild resentment, explaining that the entire premise of the play was to throw mud at famous names, whether those of critics or actors. In any case, he was fully aware that his review would not be affecting ticket sales, which are already more victorious than any written assessment of the play’s merits could expect to be.

“On the Town” Opens on Broadway

New York, New York, It’s a Helluva Town

on the town posterOn September 20, 2014, On the Town began previews at the Lyric Theatre, previously known as the Foxwoods. On October 16, 2014, the show opened after 24 preview performances. The reviews are in, and critics are loving it! This is encouraging given that the Lyric Theatre is a notoriously difficult theatre in which to sell tickets profitably. The most recent overambitious financial catastrophe there was Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark (when the theatre was called the Foxwoods), which had a $70 million capitalization and garnered bad press due to injuries from flying spectacles and subsequent lawsuits. Although that show sold many tickets, many tourists compelled rather than deterred by the press, it was still unable to recoup anywhere near its capitalization, and closed at a loss. The next show slated for the Lyric was King Kong – a musical complete with a giant spectacular gorilla. However, when that show got postponed, On the Town was brought in to fill the slot. This was not looking promising, as On the Town is a revival of a semi-dated, fun-loving classic Broadway musical – not exactly groundbreaking fare. And though ticket sales to date have not been stupendous, these positive reviews are certainly heartening.

The Reviews Are InOn the town cast

Ben Brantley of The New York Times fell in love with On the Town. He compared it to candy-colored heaven, and congratulated it on being a show that dealt with sex and yet was appropriate for the whole family. Joe Dziemianowicz of the New York Daily News praised the performers, the choreography, and the classic score, while deeming it a love song to the city. Mark Kennedy of the Associated Press found the show lively and uplifting, calling it the perfect way to clear the bad energy of the doomed Spiderman. Dave Quinn of NBC New York lauded the musical for its ability to convert even the most jaded New Yorkers to understand a new appreciation for the city, seen through the eyes of those who are arriving there for the very first time. David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter fell immediately for the 28-piece orchestra’s rendition of the National Anthem, and his attention was retained throughout the entire show. He was relieved that this revival succeeded in bringing back the brilliance of the original 1944 production, when the last two revival attempts (in 1971 and 1988) both failed.

Financial Data

The numbers have not yet been affected by these positive reviews, but the show is going to need a boost in order to stay afloat. In each of the four weeks of previews, the show has barely made 40% of its gross potential. In the last reported data – the week ending October 12, 2014 – the show brought in $608,694 over the course of 7 performances, which only represents 39.05% of its gross potential. Of course, the show has a relatively high gross potential due to the gigantic size of the theatre; with 14,992 seats to fill over the course of a normal week of 8 performances, On the Town is potentially able to bring in as much as $1,775,166 each week, not taking into account premium ticket sales. At that rate, it would be competing with the most successful shows on Broadway such as Wicked and The Lion King. However, though these positive reviews may persuade some ticketbuyers to check out the show, unfortunately critics do not hold as much sway as they once did. Whereas some niche readers may appreciate the observation that this production succeeded where the past two revivals failed, none of this will overcome the bias of someone who believes off the bat that this is a tired, old show compared to some of the newer, more exciting options on Broadway.

“Once” to Close on January 4, 2015

The Little Irish Musical That Could

poster Once Broadway Musical white black guitarThe 2012 Tony Award winning Best Musical Once has scheduled its closing date: January 4, 2015. This marks the culmination of a true success story for this simple show dealing with complex emotions. The journey began with the 2007 musical film of the same name that was written, composed, and performed by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. The stage adaptation with book by Enda Walsh, music and lyrics by Hansard and Irglova, direction by John Tiffany, and movement by Steven Hoggett began its New York life Off-Broadway at the East Village’s New York Theatre Workshop. Ecstatic reviews allowed the show to transfer to Broadway’s Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, where it began performances on February 28, 2012 and opened on March 18, 2012. It entered a competitive season filled with large-scale musicals with brand recognition such as Evita, Porgy and Bess, Newsies, and Nice Work If You Can Get It. Nevertheless, Once stood out from the pack due to its relatable story, brilliant score, beautifully subtle performances, and magical orchestral staging, and it took home eight Tony Awards, including the coveted honor of Best Musical.

The Future for “Once”

Cristin Milioti and Steve Kazee in Once the Broadway Show

Cristin Milioti and Steve Kazee in “Once”

In addition to its New York productions, Once began its run in London’s West End in March 2013, and it is scheduled to run there until March 2015. That followed a pre-West End run in Dublin, Ireland in February 2013 where it received much acclaim. Furthermore, the United States national tour began in October 2013, and it is scheduled to continue until August 2015. Recently, on September 26, 2014, a production of Once opened in Melbourne, Australia, where it is scheduled to run until November 16, 2014. Also in late November of this year, the cast from the U.S. tour will fly to Japan for an engagement of several weeks. Though this will be in English, there are future plans for a Japanese language version as well. The first foreign language production of Once will commence in Seoul, South Korea in December. Furthermore, a production is scheduled to begin in February 2015 in Toronto, Canada. Other countries on the horizon for Once include Holland, Greece, Thailand, Brazil, Sweden, the Czech Republic, and Ireland – the last two of which directly relate to the cultural exploration in the show itself.

With Decreasing Grosses, Closing Was Only a Matter of Time

After cleaning up at the Tony Awards, Once regularly brought in over one million dollars each week in the middle and end of 2012. In 2013, the show’s grosses began in the $900,000 range, soon decreased to $800,000 and then $700,000, and then fluctuated between the $500,000 and $700,000 range through to the beginning of 2014. Over the course of this year, however, grosses have been more in the $400,000 to $500,000 range per week, and the show even reached the low of $355,062 in the week ending September 28, 2014. On October 7, 2014, the show’s closing date was announced. Though the musical has already recouped its capitalization and has been earning profits, with such low weekly grosses it has become difficult for Once to meet its weekly running costs and justify remaining open. However, with many other profitable productions in the pipeline, the producers and creators are sure to continue to profit from their fantastic achievement. And it is also very likely that grosses will rise in the last few months of the run, as ticketbuyers realize this may be their last chance to see Once on Broadway anytime soon.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 10/12/2014

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

“Curious Incident” Seeing a Major Boost from Good Reviews

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, the latest transfer from the National Theatre in London, opened on October 5, 2014 to extremely positive notices. In last week’s ticket sales analysis, it was not yet clear whether these reviews would have a strong impact on ticket sales, but with an additional eight performances underway since opening night, it is clear that they have. In the week ending October 12, 2014, this show brought in a weekly gross of $769,927, which was an increase of $268,735 from the week before. This higher gross represents 80.49% of the show’s gross potential, having filled 97.3% of the total 8,144 seats across the eight performances. Whereas there is still room for growth, this significant increase demonstrates that ticketbuyers are reading reviews and word of mouth is spreading. This is unfortunately not always the case, as many a wonderfully reviewed show has still faltered at the box office. Shows from London in general, and the National Theatre in particular, however, have a way of cutting through the noise when a powerful show has crossed the Atlantic.

Overall a Strong Week for Broadway

This past week, the entire Broadway industry brought in $27,066,127, which was a significant difference of $4,579,067 from the prior week, which had only brought in $22,487,060. This steep increase is most likely accounted for by the fact that many of the new fall plays are beginning to open, which leads to a lot of press coverage. As the fall season continues to gear up, the industry should continue to see healthy sales. However, much of the steep increase also stems from higher sales of long running musicals that are keeping up their momentum. For example, the highest increase was seen by Wicked, which earned $399,953 more this week than the week before. The next was Matilda with an increase of $379,183, followed by Aladdin at an increase of $296,300. Significant increases were also seen by If/Then, Cinderella, and Kinky Boots. As for plays, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time went up by $268,735, followed by The Real Thing at an increase of $197,456.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending October 12, 2014:

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis 10-12-14

Show GrossGross Total Attn %Cap AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $948,209 7,286 100.41% $130.14
ALADDIN $1,614,428 13,785 100.01% $117.11
BEAUTIFUL $1,411,132 8,257 100.60% $170.90
CABARET $689,019 6,083 85.15% $113.27
CHICAGO $590,152 6,804 78.75% $86.74
CINDERELLA $760,861 9,937 70.94% $76.57
DISGRACED $319,485 5,137 79.94% $62.19
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $662,552 6,576 93.29% $100.75
IF/THEN $741,315 8,486 80.91% $87.36
IT’S ONLY A PLAY $1,173,897 8,690 101.61% $135.09
JERSEY BOYS $940,451 8,817 89.75% $106.66
KINKY BOOTS $1,376,997 10,998 96.54% $125.20
LES MISÉRABLES $814,410 8,408 74.59% $96.86
LOVE LETTERS $339,907 4,462 52.22% $76.18
MAMMA MIA! $766,485 8,882 95.22% $86.30
MATILDA $1,092,670 10,962 95.69% $99.68
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL $1,109,204 11,130 92.32% $99.66
ON THE TOWN $608,694 11,243 85.71% $54.14
ONCE $437,660 5,428 64.07% $80.63
PIPPIN $589,427 6,929 87.49% $85.07
ROCK OF AGES $373,909 4,180 89.62% $89.45
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,739,131 8,752 102.63% $198.71
THE COUNTRY HOUSE $268,583 4,273 82.17% $62.86
THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME $769,927 7,926 97.32% $97.14
THE LAST SHIP $540,725 7,359 79.52% $73.48
THE LION KING $2,050,270 13,604 100.03% $150.71
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $975,371 11,088 86.36% $87.97
THE REAL THING $462,063 5,507 93.02% $83.90
THIS IS OUR YOUTH $421,840 5,378 63.36% $78.44
WICKED $1,806,175 14,715 96.15% $122.74
YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU $671,178 7,529 87.71% $89.15
Totals: $27,066,122 258,611 87.20% $100.81

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 Country House” Opens on Broadway

Mixed to Negative Reviews

country houseOn October 2, 2014, The Country House opened at the Manhattan Theatre Club’s Samuel J. Friedman Broadway Theatre. It had been running in preview performances since September 9, 2014. Starring Blythe Danner as Anna Patterson, a leading lady at the Williamstown Theater Festival, this new play by Donald Margulies (Time Stands Still, Brooklyn Boy, Dinner With Friends) premiered at Los Angeles’ Geffen Playhouse this past summer before transferring to Broadway. Critics were much less taken with this Broadway production in the big leagues than they seemed to have been in Los Angeles, as no reviewer gave it a rave. Ben Brantley of The New York Times praised the performance of Danner, but outed it as a flimsy script relying on the leading lady to sell its tickets. Marliyn Stasio in Variety said the play, just as its characters accused each other of being, is not interesting enough. Adam Feldman in Time Out New York called it “safe,” and declared it a much less successful Chekhov homage than last season’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike by Christopher Durang. David Finkle in The Huffington Post did not like the play at all, saying that it falls far short of the emotional and dramaturgical level of Chekhov.

Shepherded by the Manhattan Theatre Club

Donald Margulies has long been championed by one of New York’s most esteemed not-for-profit theatre institutions: the Manhattan Theatre Club. Though many of his works have received recognition far beyond the sphere of this circle, this has propelled his career and granted him a degree of access that most playwrights covet. Margulies’ first Broadway production was 1994’s What’s Wrong With This Picture?, which was a commercial production, but his next show on the Great White Way was 2004’s Sight Unseen, playing at MTC’s Biltmore Theatre. This launched a string of productions by MTC of Margulies’ work, including Brooklyn Boy (2005), Time Stands Still (2010), Collected Stories (2010), and now The Country House – and these are just his Broadway productions. As MTC is supported by an endowment from its subscribers, it can take much greater risks with the shows it chooses to produce than most Broadway producers can tackle; sometimes this leads to artistic ingenuity, but other times it leads to boring choices of not the best work by playwrights with whom MTC has a longstanding relationship. Unfortunately, The Country House seems to be the latter.

Cast and Creative Team

This production is directed by Daniel Sullivan, who also has a longstanding relationship with MTC. His productions with the theatre blythe dannercompany include Sharr White’s The Snow Geese (2013) starring Mary-Louise Parker, David Auburn’s The Columnist (2012) starring John Lithgow, David Lindsay-Abaire’s Good People (2011) starring Frances McDormand, and also Donald Margulies’ 2010 production of Time Stands Still starring Eric Bogosian and Alicia Silverstone. In addition the Blythe Danner, the cast includes Kate Jennings Grant (The Lyons, Guys and Dolls), David Rasche (To Be or Not To Be, Getting and Spending), Sarah Steele (Off-Broadway’s Russian Transport), Daniel Sunjata (Macbeth, Cyrano de Bergerac), and Eric Lange (ABC’s Lost). Scenic design is by John Lee Beatty, lighting is by Peter Kaczorowski, sound is by Obadiah Eaves, and costume design is by Rita Ryack. The production does not have a scheduled closing date, but it is likely to play for the duration of the fall season.