Who Chooses The Tony Award Nominees?

Voters and Nominators

The Tony Awards are an immensely important event for the theatre community, distinguishing the top honors for shows and artists, making and sometimes breaking careers. Presently, there are approximately 700 Tony Voters – that is, people to whom free tickets are allotted for all Broadway shows in a given year, and who then get to place their vote for each category. It is expected that voters will attend all nominated productions so that they are able to make informed decisions. This group of individuals is made up of members of the Broadway League, which includes many Broadway producers, in addition to members of the governing boards of the Actors Equity Association, the Dramatists Guild, as well as unions and organizations of directors, choreographers, scenic designers, theatre press agents, and theatre casting agents.

A Larger Group of Nominators Chosen for the 2014-5 Season

Though 700 people ultimately get to vote for the awards, it is alarming how few individuals get to decide who is nominated in the tony awards statuefirst place – that is, the Tony Nominating Committee. In past years, this has included only about 30 people, made up of theatre professionals. This small group decided, for example, that Denzel Washington would not be nominated for Best Actor this year for his role in A Raisin in the Sun, and that Bullets over Broadway would not be in the running for Best Musical. These people see all new Broadway productions and then meet shortly after the Tony eligibility deadline to determine the nominations using secret ballots. For the 2014-5 season, a new group of Tony Nominators was just announced. Perhaps due to criticism about how small that select group has been in past years, this year it will consist of 50 individuals.

Who Are These Esteemed Individuals?

The range of theatre professionals included in this group is impressive. It includes, for instance, the leadership of certain New York not-for-profit theatre institutions including Arin Arbus, the Associate Artistic Director of Theatre for a New Audience; Douglas Aibel, the Artistic Director of the Vineyard Theatre; Christian Parker, the Associate Artistic Director of the Atlantic Theater Company; Arlene Shuler, the President and CEO of New York City Center; and Preston Whiteway, the Executive Director of the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. It also includes individuals affiliates with university arts programs, including Mark Brokaw, the Artistic Director of the Yale Institute for Musical Theatre (also a prominent director); Mary Schmidt Campbell, the Dean of Tisch School of the Arts at NYU; Kent Gash, the Founding Director of NYU Tisch School of the Arts’ New Studio on Broadway; and Ravi S. Rajan, the Dean of the School of the Arts at SUNY Purchase. This year’s group also includes journalists such as John Darnton, the former Cultural Editor of The New York Times; Corby Kummer, a Senior Editor at the Atlantic Magazine; and Jim McLaughlin, the Former Producer at CBS News/ TV Features.

mary louise parkerThe 2014-5 Nominating Committee also includes actors such as Harvey Evans, Cheyenne Jackson, Dick Latessa, John Leguizamo, Marsha Mason, Debra Monk and Mary-Louise Parker. There are designers such as Paul Gallo (lighting designer), Wendall K. Harrington (projection designer), Ann Hould-Ward (costume designer), Roger Morgan (lighting and theatre designer), Wynn Thomas (production designer), and Robin Wagner (scenic designer). There are other prominent creatives including Scott Schwartz (director), Jack Hofsiss (director), Susan Birkenhead (lyricist), Adam Guettel (composer/lyricist), Sara Lukinson (TV writer and documentary film producer), Patricia Marx (American humorist and writer), Donald Byrd (choreographer), and Liza Gennaro (choreographer). There are former or retired producers including Ira Bernstein and Barry Brown, and other arts organization leadership such as Ben Cameron (Doris Duke Charitable Foundation), Veronica Claypool (Full Circle Management Group), Paul Cremo (Metropolitan Opera), Jacqueline Davis (New York Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center), Jenny Gersten (Friends of the High Line), Philip Himberg (Sundance Institute Theatre Program), Reynold Levy (former president of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts), and Linda Shelton (Joyce Theater Foundation).

With an increased number of nominators, the race will hopefully be more equitable this year. However, there will always be more qualified individuals and shows than there are nominee slots, and these individuals will surely need to make some tough decisions.

“Mothers and Sons” To Close on June 22

Terrence McNally’s New Play Stars Tyne Daly

Mothers and Sons, a new play by Terrence McNally, has been running at Broadway’s Golden Theatre since February 23, 2014.  Starring Tyne Daly, a frequent McNally collaborator, this play opened on March 24, 2014 to fairly positive reviews.  The production was directed by Sheryl Kaller (Next Fall), produced by Tom Kirdahy and Roy Furman, and the cast also featured Bobby Steggert, Grayson Taylor, and Frederick Weller.  The play received two Tony Award nominations: Best Play, and Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role for Tyne Daly.  However, soon after the Tony Awards played out and Mothers and Sons did not win any honors, the announcement was made that the show will close on June 22, 2013, having played 104 performances and 33 previews.

Mothers and Sons Broadway Show tyne daly

Mothers and Sons Broadway Show

Next Season, McNally Returns with “It’s Only a Play”

McNally is one of the few living playwrights whose work has proved the test of time, with his new plays still consistently being produced on Broadway, irrespective of their star power or recognizable brand titles.  Mothers and Sons is McNally’s 20th Broadway show, marking the 50 year anniversary of his work being shown on Broadway.  This is by no means the end of his streak, however, as next season his play It’s Only a Play will be revived starring Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Stockard Channing, F. Murray Abraham, Megan Mullally, and Micah Stock.  Directed by Jack O’Brien, that new production will begin previews in the fall at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, with an opening night set for October 9, 2014.  That is sure to be an exciting production, as it will reunite Lane and Broderick who co-starred in the celebrated 2001 Broadway hit The Producers, not to mention the rest of its stupendous cast and creative team.

Financial Woes

Mothers and Sons has been struggling financially for some time, never earning much more than 30% of its gross potential since it began performances.  With an average ticket price around $65, the production has been offering heavy discounts throughout its run.  In the week ending June 8, 2014, the show only grossed $197,920, which is only 25.79% of its gross potential, and it filled up to only 43.9% of its audience capacity.  It must have been holding out for the Tony Awards, and when it did not win any, it cut its losses and announced closing.

Critical Performance

Like many of McNally’s plays, Mothers and Sons deals with concepts of homosexuality and AIDS.  It is the story of Katharine Gerard (played by Tyne Daly), who lost her son to AIDS 20 years ago, and now decides to visit her son’s partner Cal (Frederick Weller), who has since married a man named Will (Bobby Steggert).  Ben Brantley of The New York Times was lukewarm in his review, opining that the play’s intellectual debate overshadowed its emotional effects.  Still, he commended Tyne Daly’s performance and the production for the unstated sorrow beneath the words.  Other reviewers, such as NBC New York, Time Out New York, and the Associated Press, all gave more positive reviews.  Still, the play was unable to compete in this difficult marketplace against much more crowd-pleasing titles.  Perhaps the next McNally show will fare better.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 6/08/2014

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

In Anticipation of the Tony Awards, Nominated Shows See Boost

The week ending June 8, 2014 culminated in the 68th Annual Tony Awards, held at Radio City Music Hall.  Almost every single nominated show saw an increase in ticket sales this week form the week prior.  The winner for Best Musical, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, earned a weekly gross of $733,879, which was an increase of $32,900 from the week before.  It will be interesting to watch how much this gross increases now that the award has been taken home.  Furthermore, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which also received a slew of nominations and won four awards, grossed $1,021,708 this past week, which was an increase of $42,465 from the week prior.  This is an extremely hot ticket, which is a major achievement with its countercultural themes.  The winner of Best Play, All the Way, earned $940,550 in the week approaching the Tony Awards, which was an increase of $27,635 from the week before.  Finally, the winner of Best Play Revival was A Raisin in the Sun, which earned a whomping $1,226,464, up $40,888 from the week before.

Long-Running Shows Slow Down

In contrast, many long-running shows saw a decrease in sales this week.  Mamma Mia! earned $89,116 than it did the week before, Motown the Musical went down by $21,038, the 2012 Best Musical winner Once decreased by $24,401 this week, Rock of Ages went down by $12,187, The Lion King saw a decrease of $9,801, The Phantom of the Opera went down by $95,397, and even the megahit The Book of Mormon saw a decrease in weekly grosses this week of $36,161.  This goes to show that theatregoers are indeed paying attention to awards news, and they are flocking to see the shows that were in contention for awards this past Sunday evening.

Holler if Ya Hear Me is Not Being Heard

This week saw the beginning of previews for a new musical based on the music and life of Tupac Shakur: Holler if Ya Hear Me.  With an almost full week of seven performances, this musical only grossed $148,964, which is only 19% of the show’s gross potential.  The average ticket price was only $24.10, as the production must have been heavily discounting and also offering many complimentary seats, still managing to fill 81.2% of its audience capacity.  In a noisy climate with much awards excitement, it makes sense that this unusually themed musical would get lost in the undertow.  However, once reviews come out after its opening on June 19, 2014, the show will have more of a chance of catching wind.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending June 8, 2014:


Show GrossGross Total Attn %Cap AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $733,879 7,313 97.88% $100.35
A RAISIN IN THE SUN $1,226,464 8,368 98.64% $146.57
ACT ONE $439,011 6,034 65.72% $72.76
AFTER MIDNIGHT $515,296 6,237 69.53% $82.62
ALADDIN $1,286,953 13,784 98.53% $93.37
ALL THE WAY $940,550 7,986 69.17% $117.77
BEAUTIFUL $1,152,112 8,253 98.93% $139.60
BULLETS OVER BROADWAY $731,949 8,345 62.73% $87.71
CABARET $762,132 6,998 95.84% $108.91
CASA VALENTINA $262,224 4,017 74.32% $65.28
CHICAGO $451,792 5,733 65.08% $78.81
CINDERELLA $798,936 10,169 71.52% $78.57
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $1,021,708 7,220 100.85% $141.51
HOLLER IF YA HEAR ME $148,964 6,182 31.76% $24.10
IF/THEN $822,382 8,719 75.80% $94.32
JERSEY BOYS $715,475 7,240 73.33% $98.82
KINKY BOOTS $1,374,315 11,022 96.20% $124.69
LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR & GRILL $382,910 3,971 78.03% $96.43
LES MISÉRABLES $989,826 9,900 85.00% $99.98
MAMMA MIA! $594,226 7,045 73.33% $84.35
MATILDA $967,335 10,630 92.62% $91.00
MOTHERS AND SONS $197,920 2,815 39.25% $70.31
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL $908,099 9,044 73.53% $100.41
NEWSIES $636,215 8,508 85.34% $74.78
OF MICE AND MEN $764,761 7,934 90.34% $96.39
ONCE $400,932 4,965 56.37% $80.75
PIPPIN $548,081 6,028 73.55% $90.92
ROCK OF AGES $278,823 3,431 70.00% $81.27
ROCKY $617,990 7,453 56.47% $82.92
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,592,249 8,734 102.36% $182.30
THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN $546,947 6,094 68.44% $89.75
THE LION KING $1,949,684 13,497 99.03% $144.45
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $869,478 10,637 81.28% $81.74
THE REALISTIC JONESES $417,565 4,894 68.32% $85.32
VIOLET $376,607 4,763 75.92% $79.07
WICKED $1,924,272 15,195 97.50% $126.64
Totals: $28,348,060 279,158 78.13% $97.07

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 Winners Are In For The 68th Annual Tony Awards!

Hugh Jackman Hosts, Many Tune In

On Sunday, June 8, 2014, the Tony Awards were held at Radio City Music Hall.  As anticipated, they were a gigantic success, and Hugh Jackman received enormous praise for his hosting prowess.  Much discussion was had about Jackman’s very bouncy opening number, which was as aerobic as it was silly, but still it was a very fun way to start the show.  This is the fourth time that Jackman has hosted the event, while another frequent host Neil Patrick Harris took home the award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical for his role as Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch.  Though that category was pretty much considered to be a shoe-in, many other winners took the audience and theatre fans worldwide by surprise.  The ceremony was also full of spectacular performances by nominated shows.  7.02 million viewers tuned in to watch the live telecast on CBS, which was a dip from last year’s ratings of 7.24 million viewers.  Unlike other awards shows, there was no official online live stream of the event, but still many people have been watching online clips since the event’s original airing.

a gentleman's guide to love and murder a new musical comedyTied for the Most Wins: A Gentleman’s Guide and Hedwig and the Angry Inch

As many predicted, the Tony Award for Best Musical went home with A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, a sleeper hit that beat strong odds to win this coveted award.  This show also earned the award for Best Direction of a Musical for Darko Tresnjak, the artistic director of Hartford Stage where the show first premiered.  He is the first Connecticut artistic director ever to win a Tony Award, and the first Broadway transfer for that theatre since 2003’s Enchanted AprilA Gentleman’s Guide also took home the awards for Best Book of a Mhedwig and the angry inch neil patrick harris titleusical (Robert L. Freedman) and Best Costume Design of a Musical (Linda Cho), which tied it for the most wins: four.  The other show to win four awards was Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which took home the award for Best Revival of a Musical, as well as Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical for Neil Patrick Harris.  Furthermore, Hedwig earned the award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical for Lena Hall, who played a female to male drag character Yitzhak, as well as Best Lighting Design of a Musical (Kevin Adams).

A Raisin in the Sun, Twelfth Night, Lady Day, All the Way, and all the rest

The most awards for a straight play went to A Raisin in the Sun, which earned three: Best Revival of a Play, Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play (Sophie Okonedo), and Best Direction of a Play (Kenny Leon).  This is Leon’s first Tony win; he was also nominated for 2010’s Fences, which like Raisin starred Denzel Washington.  In his acceptance speech, Leon made it clear that he believes Washington was snubbed in not receiving a nomination for his role.  Another winning play was Twelfth Night, which took home two awards: Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play (Mark Rylance as Olivia), and Best Costume Design of a Play (Jenny Tiramani).  This is Mark Rylance’s third Tony win, and the first time his acceptance speech did not consist of a poem by Louis Jenkins.  In addition, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill took home two awards: Best Performance by anTwelfth Night Shakespeare play poster Actress in a Leading Role in a Play (Audra McDonald), and Best Sound Design of a Play (Steve Canyon Kennedy).  At the age of only 43, this is Audra McDonald’s record-setting sixth Tony win, and she is also now the only person to have earned a Tony Award in all four acting categories.  Finally, Robert Schenkkan’s All the Way took home the award for Best Play, and Bryan Cranston earned the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play for portraying Lyndon B. Johnson in that play.

Beautiful Broadway ShowThe award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical went to Jessie Mueller for portraying Carole King in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, which also took home the award for Best Sound Design of a Musical (Brian Ronan).  The Bridges of Madison County was the only nominated musical not to perform at the event, and yet it earned two awards for Jason Robert Brown: Best Original Score (he wrote the music and lyrics), and also Best Orchestrations.  Rocky won the award for Best Scenic Design of a Musical (Christopher Barreca), and After Midnight won the award for Best Choreography (Warren Carlyle).  Act One took home the award for Best Scenic Design of a Play (Beowulf Boritt), and Aladdin earned the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical (James Monroe Iglehart).  The Glass Menagerie took home the award for Best Lighting Design of a Play (Natasha Katz), which is the first time this play has ever earned a Tony Award of the course of its seven productions across history.

The shows that were nominated but failed to win any awards were Bullets over Broadway, Cabaret, Casa Valentina, The Cripple of Inishmaan, If/Then, Les Misérables, Machinal, Mothers and Sons, A Night with Janis Joplin, Of Mice and Men, Outside Mullingar, Richard III, The Velocity of Autumn, and Violet.  Still, this was a year in which no show earned more than four awards, with the winners being fairly well dispersed.  In any case, the winners will surely see a box office boost from their Tony Awards, most notably A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, which will most certainly attract many more theatregoers now that it has taken home the honor of Best Musical.

2014 Tony Award Winners:

Best Musical
Best Book of a Musical (Robert L. Freedman)
Best Direction of a Musical (Darko Tresnjak)
Best Costume Design of a Musical (Linda Cho)

Best Revival of a Musical
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical (Neil Patrick Harris)
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical (Lena Hall)
Best Lighting Design of a Musical (Kevin Adams)

A RAISIN IN THE SUN - 3 Tony Awards
Best Revival of a Play
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play (Sophie Okonedo)
Best Direction of a Play (Kenny Leon)

ALL THE WAY - 2 Tony Awards
Best Play (Author: Robert Schenkkan)
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play (Bryan Cranston)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical (Jessie Mueller)
Best Sound Design of a Musical (Brian Ronan)

Best Original Score Written for the Theatre (Music & Lyrics: Jason Robert Brown)
Best Orchestrations (Jason Robert Brown)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play (Audra McDonald)
Best Sound Design of a Play (Steve Canyon Kennedy)

TWELFTH NIGHT – 2 Tony Awards
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play (Mark Rylance)
Best Costume Design of a Play (Jenny Tiramani)

ACT ONE – 1 Tony Award
Best Scenic Design of a Play (Beowulf Boritt)

Best Choreography (Warren Carlyle)

ALADDIN - 1 Tony Award
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play (James Monroe Iglehart)

Best Lighting of a Play (Natasha Katz)

ROCKY – 1 Tony Award
Best Scenic Design of a Musical (Christopher Barreca)

The Tony Awards Ceremony Is This Sunday, June 8th

The Tony Awards Are In Two Days

On this upcoming Sunday, June 8, 2014, the 68th Annual Tony Awards will be held at Radio City Music Hall, hosted by Hugh 2014 tony awardsJackman.  The nominations, which were announced on April 29, 2014, promise an exciting race that may contain some surprises.  Oftentimes certain categories have obvious shoe-ins, but this year there are many awards for which the winners are presently unclear.  As the date is approaching, many theatre critics have published their predictions, and producers have spent money on advertising to broadcast the nominations of their shows.  However, these efforts are often more to sell tickets than to persuade the approximately 700 Tony voters, who will generally make their decisions based on their own judgments.

Best Play and Best Musical

In the race for Best New Musical, the most likely contender is A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, which stars Jefferson Mays a gentleman's guide to love and murder a new musical comedyin a stupendous and versatile leading role.  The other contenders are Disney’s newest show Aladdin, the Harlem jazz revue After Midnight, and the jukebox musical Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.  As many shows that were thought to be contenders were left off the nominations list, the most likely winner of these four does seem to be A Gentleman’s Guide, both due to its box office performance and general critical consensus.  As for Best Play, the five nominees are Lincoln Center’s Moss Hart bio-play Act One, Robert Schenkkan’s historical drama about Lyndon Johnson All the Way, Harvey Fierstein’s drag period piece Casa Valentina, the Manhattan Theater Club production of John Patrick Shanley’s Outside Mullingar, and Terrence McNally’s new play Mothers and Sons.  Of these, the most likely contender may very well be All the Way, which took home the Drama League Award for Distinguished Production of a Play.

Best Play and Musical Revivals

As for the revivals, in the play category the nominees are Martin McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan starring Daniel Radcliffe, John Tiffany’s production of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie starring Cherry Jones and Zachary Quinto, Kenny Leon’s production of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun starring Denzel Washington, and the all-male Globe transfer of Twelfth Night starring Mark Rylance.  That race will be tight, but it is most likely down to The Glass Menagerie and Twelfth Night.  The musical revival nominees are Hedwig and the Angry Inch starring Neil Patrick Harris, Les Misérables, and the Roundabout Theater Company production of Violet.  This last category could be said to have a shoe-in prediction: Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Lead Acting Categories

The nominees for Best Leading Actor in a Play are Samuel Barnett from Twelfth Night, Bryan Cranston from All the Way, Chris O’Dowd from Of Mice and Men, Mark Rylance from Richard III, and Tony Shalhoub from Act One.  The nominees for Best Actress in a Play are Tyne Daly from Mothers and Sons, LaTanya Richardson Jackson from A Raisin in the Sun, Cherry Jones from The Glass Menagerie, Audra McDonald from Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, and Estelle Parsons from The Velocity of Autumn.  Interestingly, neither of these categories has an obvious winner, and thus the race will be very exciting to watch this coming Sunday.  As for Best Leading Actor in a Musical, that award will most surely go to Neil Patrick Harris from Hedwig and the Angry Inch, but the award for Best Actress in a Musical is less sure, with the nominees being Sutton Foster from Violet, Idina Menzel from If/Then, Jessie Mueller from Beautiful, Kelli O’Hara from The Bridges of Madison County, and Mary Bridget Davies from A Night with Janis Joplin.tony awards statue

In any case, Sunday is sure to be a thrilling evening, with careers being boosted, the lives of shows being extended, and producers taking home their prize trophies.  Tune in at 8:00pm EST on CBS.

Disney Confirms “Frozen” Stage Musical in Development

Bobby Lopez Returns to Broadway with a Screen Success

Bobby Lopez, the co-songwriter of the 2013 smash hit Disney film Frozen, is no stranger to Broadway.  He made a name for himself when he co-wrote the raunchy puppet musical Avenue Q, which won the 2004 Tony Awards for Best Musical as well as Best Original Score.  In an even more stupendous success, he followed that show by co-writing The Book of Mormon along with South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.  The Book of Mormon, which also won the Tony Awards for Best Musical as well as Best Original Score, has been playing a sold-out run at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre since March 2011, and it remains an extremely tough ticket to this day.  Unlike many Broadway composers, however, Lopez did not keep his sights set on the stage only.  After a few other ventures into screen composing, Bobby, along with his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez, scored the gig to write songs for the 2003 Disney film Frozen.  In addition to winning the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, Frozen was also awarded the honor of Best Original Song, written by the Lopez duo, which was “Let It Go” sung by Broadway favorite Idina Menzel.

“Frozen” Stage Musical in Early Stages of Development

frozen movie posterIn January of this year, it was announced that Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez are in the early stages of adapting Frozen to become a stage musical.  Disney has had many stage hits in the recent past, including The Lion King, Mary Poppins, and the newly running Aladdin.  The film Frozen includes eight original songs by the husband and wife team, and presumably they would write additional tunes for the stage score, which would rely more heavily on music in place of animation.  Time will tell whether Idina Menzel, a Broadway star who has performed in such shows as Rent and Wicked, will reprise her role as Elsa, the 21 year-old snow queen who inadvertently turns her kingdom into ice.  If this were to happen, the storyline would need to be slightly adjusted for Idina, who is presently 43 years old.  At this time, she is starring in a new musical called If / Then, where she plays a 40 year-old woman who moves back to New York City in search of a new start after a divorce.  The other lead role in the film, Princess Anna, was played by Kristen Bell, the beloved screen star known for her role on the television series Veronica Mars.  Bell has only been on Broadway twice; the last time was The Crucible in 2002.  Therefore, it will be fascinating to see if she reprises her screen role on the stage as well.

But First, “Up Here”

Though Frozen is still in its early stages of becoming a stage show, Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez are keeping busy.bobby lopez kristen anderson lopez  They have written the score to another new musical called Up Here, the storyline of which follows a millennial protagonist named Dan who reckons with his subconscious mind while seeking a romantic relationship.  That show will premiere at San Diego’s La Jolla Playhouse in the 2015 – 2016 season directed by Alex Timbers, a young director who has made a name for himself with such hit shows as Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Peter and the Starcatcher, Rocky, and Here Lies Love.  Up Here is a more alternative story, and therefore its potential to transfer to Broadway is questionable.  This tryout run will serve to show Broadway producers if such a niche story could have a wide enough appeal to survive in this competitive marketplace.  In any case, the Lopez duo and Timbers both have plenty of connections to keep on making mainstream potential hits such as Frozen, while also experimenting with more alternative fare.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 6/01/2014

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

An unequivocal loss for Broadway

In the week ending June 1, 2014, without fail, every single Broadway show grossed less money than it did the week before.  The fact that there was not a single exception to this fact is astonishing.  It is true that last week was a particularly good week for Broadway, with the entire industry earning $1.5 million dollars more than it had the week previously.  Still, the entire industry seems to have lost a “double or nothing” bet, as this week the gross was over $3 million less than it was last week.  The show that lost the least was Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which only grossed $3,232 less than it had the week before.  The biggest loser was Pippin, which earned only $488,036, a loss of $206,509 from the week before.  Still, despite this fact, four shows earned more than 100 percent of their gross potential (which is accounted for by the price of premium seats): these were Wicked which earned 107.35% of its potential, A Raisin in the Sun which grossed 108.45% of its potential, The Book of Mormon, which reaped in 117.07% of its potential, and Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which managed to earn 117.36% of its gross potential.

What could explain this phenomenon?

The previous week included Memorial Day weekend, during which tourists flocked to New York City, and New Yorkers took themselves out to the theatre.  However, this past week, the number of theatregoers not only went back to its pre-Memorial Day levels, but also doubled its loss.  Perhaps there was a saturation point with how much theatre people wanted to see, be they tourists or locals.  Or, perhaps the bout of warm weather and the onslaught of June, marking the true arrival of summer, persuaded people to get out of town for the weekend.  These are all just hypotheses, however, as the market of theatregoers ebbs and flows like any industry, and this week just happened to be a low.

Theatre subsidized by not-for-profits subsists despite low grosses

Shows performing on the lower end of the box office spectrum are often produced by not-for-profit theatre institutions.  Act One, the Lincoln Center bio-play about Moss Hart, earned $395,328 this week, which was only 36.4% of its gross potential.  Casa Valentina, the Tony Award nominated play by Harvey Fierstein about transvestitism in the 1960s, is staying afloat with a gross of only $245,811 because it is produced by Manhattan Theatre Club.  Violet, a musical revival produced by Roundabout Theatre Company, earned only 47.37% of its gross potential, which is particularly low for a musical, and yet it is still surviving.

Broadway Show Ticket Analysis w/e 6-1-14 The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending June 1, 2014:

Show GrossGross Total Attn %Cap AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $700,979 7,296 100.55% $96.08
A RAISIN IN THE SUN $1,185,576 8,368 100.00% $141.68
ACT ONE $395,328 5,532 63.79% $71.46
AFTER MIDNIGHT $483,964 5,901 71.20% $82.01
ALADDIN $1,196,720 13,790 100.04% $86.78
ALL THE WAY $912,915 8,151 71.65% $112.00
BEAUTIFUL $1,079,349 8,228 100.24% $131.18
BULLETS OVER BROADWAY $718,220 7,989 61.27% $89.90
CABARET $765,328 7,026 98.35% $108.93
CASA VALENTINA $245,811 3,915 75.99% $62.79
CHICAGO $511,901 6,185 71.59% $82.76
CINDERELLA $753,836 9,708 69.30% $77.65
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $979,243 7,212 102.31% $135.78
IF/THEN $801,212 8,844 84.32% $90.59
JERSEY BOYS $695,419 7,094 72.21% $98.03
KINKY BOOTS $1,358,527 10,970 96.30% $123.84
LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR & GRILL $492,306 4,431 92.82% $111.10
LES MISÉRABLES $958,439 9,812 87.05% $97.68
MAMMA MIA! $683,342 7,938 85.10% $86.08
MATILDA $949,295 10,529 91.91% $90.16
MOTHERS AND SONS $159,811 2,659 41.44% $60.10
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL $929,137 9,471 78.56% $98.10
NEWSIES $627,670 8,573 90.43% $73.21
OF MICE AND MEN $803,260 8,180 95.29% $98.20
ONCE $425,333 5,283 62.36% $80.51
PIPPIN $488,036 5,542 69.97% $88.06
ROCK OF AGES $291,010 3,696 79.25% $78.74
ROCKY $652,931 7,654 63.11% $85.31
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,628,410 8,752 102.63% $186.06
THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN $502,637 5,850 68.15% $85.92
THE LION KING $1,959,485 13,572 99.79% $144.38
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $964,875 11,376 88.60% $84.82
THE REALISTIC JONESES $432,608 5,372 77.01% $80.53
VIOLET $365,403 4,770 81.23% $76.60
WICKED $1,804,729 14,670 96.61% $123.02
Totals: $27,903,045 274,339 82.58% $97.72

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

Tina Fey’s “Mean Girls” Musical Sets Sights on Broadway

Mean Girls In Development To Become A Stage Musical

Mean Girls, the American teen comedy film released in 2004, was written by Tina Fey, directed by Mark Waters, produced by Lorne Michaels, and starred Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Lizzy Caplan, Lacey Chabert, Amanda Seyfried, Amy Poehler, and Tina Fey.  The movie received fantastic reviews and was a box office smash, grossing $129,042,871 worldwide with a budget of $17 million.  A story of high school cliques and how girls can be very mean when getting back at each other in competition for popularity, it struck a chord with a wide demographic and became a very influential film over the last decade.  In January 2013, Tina Fey confirmed that a stage musical adaptation was underway, with Fey writing the book and possibly directing, and with her husband Jeff Richmond, who composes the music for her television show 30 Rock, writing the score.

mean girls

According to Press Statements, “Mean Girls” Workshops Are Underway

It was recently announced that the musical development has made significant progress since it was first announced, and that they may be getting it on its feet for private workshops as early as this summer.  They promised a sufficient amount of female belting, specifically on the part of Regina, who plays the popular girl whose downfall is plotted.  According to press statements, they have begun by focusing on turning the three-act structure of the movie into a two-act structure for the stage, but that they have come a long way this year in terms of the show’s development.  Paramount Pictures, who distributed the film, will likely be involved in the Broadway production, and they are presently meeting with Broadway industry folks to find their ideal partners.

The Brilliant Writing and Acting Career of Tina Fey

Tina Fey is an American actress, writer, and comedian, best known for her NBC television show 30 Rock which she created and tina feystarred in, as well as her work in films including Baby Mama, Date Night, Admission, and Muppets Most Wanted.  She is also the writer of a best-selling autobiographical book Bossypants, which remained at the top of the New York Times Best Seller list for five weeks.  She has received eight Emmy Awards among her many other honors, and she has built a career defining herself as a trailblazing female creative and comedic mind.  She has been married to husband Jeff Richmond since 2001, and they have two children.  In addition to composing for 30 Rock, Jeff also composed music for the film Baby Mama and used to compose for Saturday Night Live until 2006.  Since 30 Rock concluded its seventh and final season in January 2013, the creative couple should now have a little more time to focus on the development of this anticipated Broadway show.

Tupac Shakur Musical “Holler if Ya Hear Me” Begins Previews

“Holler if Ya Hear Me”, Inspired By The Late Tupac Shakur, Begins Previews On Broadway

Tupac Shakur is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold over 75 million records in his career.  His albums include “2Pacalypse Now,” “Until the End of Time,” “All Eyez on Me,” “Me Against the World,” and “Pac’s Life.”  The life of this brilliant rapper and actor was cut short in 1996, however, when he was shot multiple times in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas at the age of only 25.  Despite the brevity of his career, he has managed to maintain a huge following and long-standing appreciation, with Rolling Stone Magazine having recently proclaimed him the 86th Greatest Artist of All Time.  The themes of Tupac’s music often involve the hardship of the life in inner cities, as well as racism and other social issues; both of his parents were members of the Black Panther Party.  Tupac’s legacy has been upheld through organizations, honors, and multiple documentaries, but for the first time, his music and story are coming to Broadway.

holler if ya hear meOpening  scheduled for June 19, 2014 at the Palace Theatre on Broadway

On June 2, 2014, Holler if Ya Hear Me, a new musical inspired by the music of Tupac Shakur, will begin previews at the Palace Theatre.  With an opening night scheduled for June 19, 2014, the musical is presently set for an open-ended run.  The show is directed by Kenny Leon, whose magnificent career has sky-rocketed in recent years to define him as the preeminent interpreter of African American content for the Broadway stage.  The book was written by Todd Kreidler, who has served as Dramaturg for two Broadway productions directed by Leon and written by August Wilson – Gem of the Ocean and Radio Golf – and who also associate directed another Leon-Wilson collaboration: Fences starring Denzel Washington in 2010.  This is the first time, however, that Kreidler has stepped up to a major position on the creative team of one of Kenny Leon’s productions.  The choreography is by Wayne Cilento (The Who’s Tommy, Wicked).

The Show borrows “Holler if Ya Hear Me” from Tupac’s Second Album

The title of this musical comes from the name of a song on Tupac’s second studio album.  The story is not exactly a biographical depiction of the late singer’s life, however; it is a fictional tale of a young black man who is released from prison, only to face a continued slew of obstacles that lie in his path.  It uses the phrases and ideas found in Tupac’s music to tell this universal tale of friendship, family, love, and hope.  The musical received a 5-week workshop last summer in anticipation of its Broadway run this season.  The show is produced by Tupac’s mother, Afeni Shakur, along with Eric L. Gold, Chunsoo Shin, Jessica Green, and Marcy Kaplan-Gold.  The large cast is made up mostly of ensemble, but it also includes actors such as Tonya Pinkins (Caroline or Change, Radio Golf) and the principal young man is played by actor and rapper Saul Williams, making his Broadway debut.

The Show Is Geared For A Wide Demographic, But Socially Conscious

The intention of the show is socially conscious, which is an unusual first motive for Broadway shows, especially thostupac shakure opening in the summer season, generally known for lighter fare such as Beatles revues and long-running shows.  However, Leon and his cast will not shy away from shining a light on important issues at the heart of the contradictions in American society.  Geared for a wide demographic of all ages and colors, the show will nevertheless aim to expose the hypocrisy of free speech in present day American culture.  Thankfully, the prominent voice kept alive through Tupac’s music will now find another outlet on the Broadway stage.

“School of Rock” Heading to Broadway

School of Rock, inspired by the 2003 film, in development for Broadway

The film School of Rock was released in 2003 to impressive critical acclaim and stupendous box office success.  Starring Jack Black as Dewey Finn, a struggling rock guitarist who unwittingly becomes an inspiring children’s rock music teacher, School of Rock opened at #1 at the box office, earning $19,622,714 in its first weekend, and it eventually reached a total box office gross of $131,282,949.  Directed by Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise trilogy) and produced by Scott Rudin, the film was beloved by a wide demographic audience, earning an impressive 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, as well as a high rating of “universal acclaim” on Metacritic, which amasses the critical response to films.  In addition, the movie spurred a string of small town rock n roll schools to teach music to children that borrowed the name “School of Rock.”

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group Behind the Adaptation

Last year, it was announced that School of Rock has its sights set on the stage.  Even more interestingly, the producing mind behind this adaptation is none other than Andrew Lloyd Webber, the composer of such classic musicals as Jesus Christ Superstar, The Phantom of the Opera, and Cats.  In addition to being a musical creative genius, Webber founded a London-based producing entity in 1977 called the Really Useful Group.  RUG has since expanded to be concerned with not only stage productions, but also film, television, video, and concert productions.  Furthermore, the company owns and operates six theatres in the West End of London: the Adelphi Theatre, the Cambridge Theatre, the New London Theatre, the London Palladium, the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, and Her Majesty’s Theatre, where The Phantom of the Opera has been playing since 1986.jack black school of rock

Issues in Adaptation From Movie To Broadway

Though School of Rock may seem a far cry from The Phantom of the Opera, it is clear that Webber is less concerned with genre than with quality, and both may boast excellence in those terms.  In an interview last year with CBS Radio, Webber made an off-hand comment that he is “very excited” about the development of the stage production of this successful movie.  One question is that of the score: the movie already has a substantial number of songs included, encompassing both a range of classic rock tunes as well as new songs written for the film.  Webber mentioned that there is the possibility of his composing additional songs for the stage musical version, but that an attempt would be made to bridge the already existing score with anything new required for the live medium.

Will Jack Black reprise his role?

Another question is that of casting.  It is possible that Jack Black could reprise his role for the stage, as he has a huge following, both in terms of his screen acting, as well as through his rock music group Tenacious D.  However, he has never played a role on stage, neither on Broadway nor in London, where this musical might premiere.  Though Webber has made no insinuation that Black may be the one to play Dewey Finn onstage, it is very possible that Black could be tempted to make this his stage debut.  As of now, the only solid piece of news is that the Really Useful Group, under the leadership of Andrew Lloyd Webber, has bought the rights to turn this movie into a stage show.  We will hopefully soon be told more information, including cast, creative team, and schedule of when to expect this show to premiere.