Sting Joins the Cast of “The Last Ship”

Hoping to Prevent “The Last Ship” from Sinking

the last shipThe sexiest thing about the production of the floundering new musical The Last Ship has always been its composer and lyricist, Sting – who has been nominated for the Grammy Awards 38 times, and has won for 11 of them. He has been inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame, has also won 25 American Music Awards, and has also acted in films ranging from Quadrophenia in 1979 to The Adventures of Baron Munchausen in 1988, and 20 Feet from Stardom in 2013. However, since it began previews on September 29, 2014, The Last Ship has not been performing well at the box office. It has never earned more than $575,155 in one week, and it has never made more than 51.62% of its weekly gross potential.

A Last-Ditch Effort to Save the Last Shipsting last ship

Starting December 9, 2014, however, Sting decided to make a last-ditch effort to save his beloved musical tale of the last ship built by an English seafaring town. He entered the cast in the role of Jackie White, a foreman of the shipyard. Though he is not the main role, he is on stage about 40% of the time, and he sings tunes such as one that has been particularly beloved with fans “Island of Souls.” The show takes place in his hometown and is semi-autobiographical. It is unclear whether the role of Jackie White is the autobiographical part, but it is most likely that Sting’s personal experience overlaps more with the protagonist Gideon Fletcher played by Michael Esper, but that at this age it was more appropriate for Sting to take on the role of White.

An Extension to Six Weeks

Though it was first announced that Sting would be in the show for four weeks only, from December 9, 2014 to January 10, 2015, it has recently been announced that Sting will stay on an additional two weeks until January 24, 2015. Perhaps he was just getting into his groove, and wanted to stick around for a bit longer, or perhaps the replacement they found had a scheduling conflict. Sting stepped in to replace Jimmy Nail as Jackie White; Nail is a British actor for whom this is his Broadway debut. It is most likely that Nail will come back in following Sting’s departure, allowing Nail to still be paid as an understudy, but Sting performing the role with an endnote that is somewhat flexible.

“A Delicate Balance” Opens on Broadway

An Albee Masterwork with a Stellar Cast

a delicate balanceOn November 20, 2014, Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance opened at the John Golden Theatre. Directed by Pam MacKinnon (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Clybourne Park), who is known as the greatest contemporary interpreter of Albee’s works, the show has been running since its first preview on October 20, 2014. While Albee himself has solidified his status as a playwrights whose works are worth seeing, the success of this production is also due in no small part to the high stature of the cast. The lead roles of Agnes and Tobias are played by Glenn Close (Sunset Boulevard, The Real Thing) and John Lithgow (The Columnist, All My Sons) respectively, and their daughter Julia is played by Martha Plimpton (Pal Joey, Top Girls). Agnes’ alcoholic yet visionary sister Claire is played by Lindsay Duncan (Private Lives, A Midsummer Night’s Dream), and their surreally dependent friends Harry and Edna are played by Bob Balaban (Speed-the-Plow, The Inspector General) and Clare Higgins (Vincent in Brixton) respectively. In addition to the theatre credits of these actors, their pedigree extends deeply into the world of the screen, with some extremely well-known titles affixed to their names. In this richly profound and relatable play, these actors create an extremely appealing and accessible performance for theatregoers.

An Overall Positive Critical Response

Though not every reviewer was on their hands and knees bowing down to this production, several critics did present huge praise and a delicate balanceothers also saw great merit in the show. David Cote from Time Out New York calls this show a “parlor puzzler,” harking both to its accessibility taking place in the living room as well as its complex intrigue, declared the show full to bursting. Dave Quinn from NBC New York loved the show as well, especially praising Glenn Close’s triumphant return to Broadway after a 20 year hiatus. Charles McNulty of the Los Angeles Times also found the show to be a roaring success, praising the scenic design of Santo Loquasto as well as the richness of the comedic existentialist work. Ben Brantley of the New York Times was less fully sold on the production, agreeing more with critics following the 1966 premiere who were not comfortable declaring this one of Albee’s best works. Furthermore, Terry Teachout of the Wall Street Journal felt that the show is at best thought provoking but is ultimately a bit slow going, and therefore is not one of Albee’s most praiseworthy pieces. Nevertheless, the show did win the Pulitzer Prize following its 1966 production, showing that newspaper critics are not always on exactly the same page as other notable minds in the field.

A Financial Success

In the seven weeks that A Delicate Balance has been running in full eight performance weeks, is has done exceedingly well at the box office. In its first week of previews, the show was more than sold out, bringing in 102.25% of its gross potential with a gross of $884,596. Though it hasn’t done quite as well since, it has never dipped below 83.43% of the gross potential, and generally has been squarely in the 90% range. In the last recorded week – the week ending December 7, 2014 – the show brought in $873,152, representing 94.59% of its gross potential, with a top ticket price of $323.00 and an average paid admission of $143.33. This shows little to no discounting, as theatergoers are flocking to this treat of a play starring some of their favorite actors. In particular, Glenn Close must be a major draw, as she hasn’t performed live on Broadway for two decades. John Lithgow, on the other hand, was seen as recently as 2012 when he starred in The Columnist, which didn’t do quite as well financially.

“Side Show” Opens on Broadway

Daisy and Violet Hilton Take Center Stage

side showOn November 17, 2014, Side Show opened at the St. James Theatre, following 21 preview performances that began on October 28, 2014. This musical with book and lyrics by Bill Russell and music by Henry Krieger (Dreamgirls) was first produced on Broadway in 1997. At the time, the show was not a big success; in fact, it closed after only 91 performances. Though this 2014 revival has not yet made it to 91, chances are that it will last at least until then. A few things are different about this production than the original. First of all, the marketing campaign is much more elegant and flashy, whereas the earlier production utilized a kitschy circus design. Secondly, the actual book of the musical was revised along with the director Bill Condon for this new production, which began at the La Jolla Playhouse in late 2013 prior to the Broadway transfer. The new book takes a darker approach, going more into the details of the real-life Siamese twins Daisy and Violet Hilton, on whom the musical is based. Finally, several new songs were incorporated such as “Cut Them Apart” sung by a group of English doctors in a flashback, as well as “All in the Mind” which is a lesson taught to the girls by Harry Houdini. In addition, the ladies’ big performance number is a new song entitled “Ready to Play.”

The Reviews are In, and Critics are Mixed

Whereas most reviewers commended this “revisal” for its improvement on the original, still many critics were not sold on the piece. side show erin davie emily padgettMelissa Rose Bernardo of Entertainment Weekly found this production to be leaden and only occasionally moving, claiming it is highly dissimilar from the original. Joe Dziemianowicz of the New York Daily News praised the show for its delightfully off-beat topic, commendable lead performances, and evocative design, but still criticized it for its thin characters and inconsistent plot. David Cote of Time Out New York found the production to be excellent, praising director Bill Condon and lead actresses Erin Davie and Emily Padgett, but still could not get over the feeling that the show itself is second rate. Still, Charles Isherwood of The New York Times was astounded by the show as well as the production, believing it to be a timely revival in this era welcoming to freaks, and feeling moved by the complexity of the storyline. David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter was equally impressed, calling the show fresh and exotic.

Box Office Unfazed by Reviews

It appears that those interested in buying tickets to Side Show are not very interested in reading reviews, or at least they are not judging their decision to attend this show based on reviews. Since the show began previews, both before and after the reviews came out, the numbers have barely fluctuated at all. In the most recent reported week, the week ending December 7, 2014, the show brought in $483,252, only slightly higher from the figures in the first full eight performance week ending November 16, 2014, which brought in $449,747. In the week immediately after reviews came out, the week ending November 23, 2014, the show actually experienced its first slight decline in sales from the week prior, which must have been a significant disappointment to the producers, who are always eagerly awaiting the post-opening box office report. That week, the show brought in $419,203, representing 40.59% of the gross potential. The goes to show that the musical is only holding a mild attraction for theatregoers, who are not affected by the critical response.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 12/07/2014

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

“Love Letters” to Candice Bergen and Alan Alda

Love Letters has had a degree of difficulty at the box office since it began previews on September 13, 2014. One element that was difficult to navigate in terms of predicting sales trends was the unusual casting method of replacing one or both of the two characters in the play with a rotating cast of major stars. Though this is how the play has been done traditionally, it is difficult to predict how much more one star will attract ticketbuyers than the next. It appears that the duo of Candice Bergen and Alan Alda was a winner. Though it took some time for word of mouth to spread, their last week saw a surefire increase in ticket sales. In the week ending December 7, 2014, Love Letters demonstrated the highest increase in ticket sales from the week before of any show, bringing in $100,682 more than last week’s gross of $309,103. Though this gross of $409,785 was still only 52.48% of the gross potential, this is the highest week yet, almost tied with the week ending November 23, 2014 in which the same two actors played. The early pair of Mia Farrow and Brian Dennehy seemed to stir the least interest, although it is also possible that the show in general, independent of its stars, took time to gain some traction.

“This Is Our Youth” Struggling to Stay Alive

The Kenneth Lonergan scribed, Anna D. Shapiro helmed, revival of This Is Our Youth starring Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin, and Tavi Gevinson is having a lot of trouble at the box office. In the week ending December 7, 2014, the show brought in its lowest gross yet: $262,663 across eight performances. Since the show began previews on August 18, 2014, it has never made more than $421,840 in a week, which represents 54.34% of its gross potential. It has basically fluctuated around a mean gross of $300 to $350,000 per week, which is pretty dismal given the stature of the stars involved. However, though this play certainly has a boatload of indie cred, it has very little of the star power necessary to sell tickets on Broadway: that is, stars whose names resonate with the average Broadway ticket buyer, a 55 year-old woman. These young actors, as well as the material they are acting, is more suited for the youth of New York City, not tourists or middle aged adults. Unfortunately, these individuals do not generally consider Broadway in their purview or their price range, and the show is suffering for it. The show is slated to run until January 4, 2015; it will probably survive until then, but not in great financial shape.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending December 7, 2014:

Broadway Show Ticket Analysis w/e 12-07-2014


Show Name GrossGross TotalAttn %Capacity AvgPdAdm
A DELICATE BALANCE $873,152 6,092 94.95% $143.33
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $892,158 6,882 94.22% $129.64
ALADDIN $1,516,840 13,553 98.32% $111.92
BEAUTIFUL $1,324,837 8,202 99.93% $161.53
CABARET $894,223 7,084 99.16% $126.23
CHICAGO $466,607 5,762 66.69% $80.98
CINDERELLA $805,921 9,995 71.35% $80.63
DISGRACED $410,321 4,883 66.49% $84.03
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $610,431 6,002 85.15% $101.70
HONEYMOON IN VEGAS $410,775 7,784 84.10% $52.77
IF/THEN $546,374 6,552 62.47% $83.39
IT’S ONLY A PLAY $1,424,039 8,483 99.19% $167.87
JERSEY BOYS $913,846 7,836 79.76% $116.62
KINKY BOOTS $1,321,866 10,325 90.63% $128.03
LES MISÉRABLES $771,307 8,154 72.34% $94.59
LOVE LETTERS $409,785 4,966 66.43% $82.52
MAMMA MIA! $547,087 6,290 67.43% $86.98
MATILDA $928,149 9,285 81.05% $99.96
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL $1,065,120 9,474 78.58% $112.43
ON THE TOWN $779,021 9,116 60.81% $85.46
ONCE $554,966 6,127 72.32% $90.58
PIPPIN $464,138 5,675 71.65% $81.79
ROCK OF AGES $373,834 4,010 85.98% $93.23
SIDE SHOW $483,252 6,438 61.76% $75.06
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,734,478 8,752 102.63% $198.18
THE ELEPHANT MAN $755,087 6,208 100.26% $121.63
THE ILLUSIONISTS – WITNESS THE IMPOSSIBLE $878,416 10,702 83.77% $82.08
THE LAST SHIP $491,910 6,338 58.73% $77.61
THE LION KING $1,919,765 12,360 90.88% $155.32
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $785,441 9,112 70.97% $86.20
THE REAL THING $458,860 5,392 91.08% $85.10
THE RIVER $873,863 5,612 100.79% $155.71
THIS IS OUR YOUTH $262,663 5,247 61.82% $50.06
WICKED $1,814,918 13,954 96.42% $130.06
YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU $519,282 5,451 63.50% $95.26
Totals: $30,147,627 275,732 81.26% $106.16

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

Broadway Holiday Schedule Xmas 2014

Broadway is operating on adjusted Holiday Schedules. No show is playing an evening performance on Christmas Eve, and many will be dark for the matinee on December 24th as well.  On Christmas Day, which is a Thursday, some shows are playing evening performances, but no show is playing a matinee on the 25th. To make up for the dark performances over the Christmas holiday, many shows are playing two performances on Friday, December 26th.  Then, many shows play two shows on Saturday, December 27th and/or Sunday, December 28th.

The evening shows on December 25th include Beautiful: The Carole King Musical at 8pm, Chicago at 8pm, Cinderella at 7pm, Disgraced at 7pm, The Elephant Man at 8pm, Honeymoon in Vegas at 7pm, Jersey Boys at 7pm, Kinky Boots at 7pm, Les Miserables at 7pm, Mamma Mia! at 8pm, Matilda at 8pm, Motown: the Musical at 7:30pm, On the Town at 8pm, Phantom of the Opera at 8pm, Pippin at 8pm, Rock of Ages at 8pm, Side Show at 7pm, and Wicked at 8pm.

Below are the times for the Christmas period, and the Thanksgiving calendar follows below that.

Christmas Week Schedule 2014

Show Title Mon.
Dec. 22
Dec. 23
Dec. 24
Dec. 25
Dec. 26
Dec. 27
Dec. 28
A Delicate Balance 7pm 7pm 2pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm
Aladdin 7pm 2pm, 7pm 2pm DARK 8pm 2pm, 8pm 1pm, 6:30pm
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical 7pm 7pm DARK 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 7pm
Book of Mormon, The 7pm 2pm, 7pm DARK DARK 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 7pm
Cabaret 7pm 7pm 2pm DARK 8pm 2:00pm, 8pm 2pm, 7:30pm
Chicago 8pm 8pm DARK 8pm 8pm 2:30pm, 8pm 3pm, 7:30pm
Cinderella DARK 7pm DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Constellations 7pm 7pm DARK DARK 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 7pm
Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, The 8pm 7pm 2PM DARK 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 7pm
Disgraced 8pm 7pm DARK 7pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm
Elephant Man, The 8pm 7pm DARK 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, A 7pm 7pm 2pm DARK 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 7:30pm
Hedwig and the Angry Inch 8pm 8pm DARK DARK 8pm 7pm, 10pm 3pm, 7pm
Honeymoon in Vegas 8pm 7pm DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
If/Then 8pm 8pm 2pm DARK 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 7:30pm
It’s Only A Play 7pm 7pm 2pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Jersey Boys DARK 7pm DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 7pm
Kinky Boots 8pm 7pm DARK 7pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 7:30pm
Last Ship, The 8pm 7pm 2pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Les Miserables 8pm 7pm DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Lion King, The 7pm 2pm, 7pm 2pm DARK 8pm 2pm, 8pm 1pm, 6:30pm
Love Letters 7pm 7pm 2pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Mamma Mia! 8pm 8pm DARK 8pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 7pm
Matilda DARK 7pm DARK 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm
Motown: The Musical 7:30pm 7:30pm DARK 7:30pm 2pm, 7:30pm 2pm, 7:30pm 3pm
On the Town 8pm 7pm DARK 7pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 7:30pm
Once 7pm 7pm 2pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Phantom of the Opera, The 8pm 7pm DARK 8pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm
Pippin 8pm 8pm DARK 8pm 2:30pm, 8pm 2:30pm, 8pm 3pm
Real Thing, The 7pm 7pm 2pm DARK 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 7:30pm
River, The 7pm 7pm 2pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Rock of Ages 8pm 7pm DARK 8pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm, 7:30pm
Side Show 8pm 7pm DARK 7pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 7:30pm
This Is Our Youth DARK 7pm 2pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm
Wicked 7pm 2pm, 7pm DARK 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
You Can’t Take It With You 7pm 7pm 2pm DARK 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 7:30pm


Thanksgiving Week Schedule 2014

Show Title Mon.
Nov. 24
Nov. 25
Nov. 26
Nov. 27
Nov. 28
Nov. 29
Nov. 30
A Delicate Balance 8pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm DARK
Aladdin DARK 7:00 2pm, 8pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical DARK 7pm 2pm, 7pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Book of Mormon, The 7pm 7pm 7pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm
Cabaret 7pm 7pm 2pm, 8pm DARK 8pm 2:00pm, 8pm 2pm
Chicago 8pm 8pm DARK 8pm 2:30pm, 8pm 2:30pm, 8pm 7pm
Cinderella DARK 7pm 2pm, 7:30pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, The 8pm 7pm 2pm, 8pm DARK 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Disgraced DARK 7pm 2pm, 7pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Elephant Man, The 8pm 8pm 8pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, A 7pm 7pm 2pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Hedwig and the Angry Inch DARK 8pm 8pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Honeymoon in Vegas DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
If/Then 7pm 7pm 7pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
It’s Only A Play DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Jersey Boys DARK 7pm 2pm, 7pm DARK 2pm8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Kinky Boots DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Last Ship, The 8pm 7pm 8pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Les Miserables DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Lion King, The DARK 7pm 2pm, 8pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Love Letters DARK 7pm 2pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Mamma Mia! 8pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm DARK 8pm 2pm, 8pm 7pm
Matilda 7pm 7pm 2pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Motown: The Musical 7:30pm 7:30pm 2pm DARK 2pm, 7:30pm 2pm, 7:30pm 3pm
On the Town DARK 7pm 2pm,8pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Once 7pm 7pm 8pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Phantom of the Opera, The 8pm 7pm 2pm, 8pm 8pm 8pm 2pm, 8pm DARK
Pippin DARK 8pm 2:30pm, 8pm 8pm 8pm 2:30pm, 8pm 3pm
Real Thing, The 7pm 7pm 2pm, 7pm DARK 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm
River, The DARK 7pm 2pm, 7pm DARK 2pm, 7pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Rock of Ages 8pm 7pm 8pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
Side Show 8pm 7pm 2pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
This Is Our Youth 7pm 7pm 8pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 2pm
Wicked 7pm 7pm 2pm, 7pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm
You Can’t Take It With You 7pm 7pm 2pm DARK 2pm, 8pm 2pm, 8pm 3pm

“Peter Pan Live” Airs on NBC

Allison Williams and Christopher Walken Star

Peter Pan Live!On December 4, 2014, NBC continued its now annual tradition of airing a theatrical production filmed exclusively for television. Last year, NBC had a stupendous success with their airing of a live production of The Sound of Music, amassing 22 million viewers for the special, which was produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (the producers of the Oscars as well as many musical films such as Chicago and Hairspray). This year, the same producing team mounted a production of Peter Pan, adapting the version first produced in 1954. Following in a tradition led by Mary Martin and Cathy Rigby of a female portraying the young boy, Allison Williams (Girls) was cast as Peter Pan. In addition, Christopher Walken (A Behanding in Spokane, Hurlyburly) portrayed Captain Hook, Christian Borle (Peter and the Starcatcher) played Smee, Kelli O’Hara (The Bridges of Madison County) played Mrs. Darling, and Minnie Driver played the adult Wendy and the narrator. The broadcast, though not as successful as last year’s The Sound of Music, brought in 9.129 million viewers.

Sometimes Growing Up Is Not So Bad photo

Allison Williams is a star who has recently skyrocketed to national recognition, and this performance certainly took her notoriety one step further than the already immense fame she has garnered for her supporting role on Lena Dunham’s Girls on HBO. It’s not an accident that her father is Brian Williams, managing editor and anchor of NBC nightly news for over 20 years. Still, it’s hard to resent the nepotism involved here, because both father and daughter are so sweetly earnest. This photo is a screen shot of a recent facebook post Allison Williams made on her personal profile, showing how she has yearned to play this role since the age of 2 and a half. And her father was the first to announce the casting on his news show, adorably citing how this is a role she has always longed to play, and he should know, as he’s her father. This was an interesting way for Williams to foray into professional stage performance, as the broadcast had elements of both stage and screen performance. Whereas the musical was written and principally staged for the full-scale live stage performance, there were also elements that were only possible due to the filmed format, such as a larger set and cast and more diverse camera angles. Walken was cited to express ambivalence about this duality of performance methods, as he wasn’t thrilled about having a stage show broadcast to millions without the usual weeks of rehearsals and previews given to a Broadway show, and also that he’s never quite sure when the camera was even on him.

Firmly Mixed Reviews

peter panEven prior to the airing on Thursday evening, Williams conducted several interviews in which she predicted that many people would “hate-watch” the special, but also expecting that once they sat down to view it, it would be difficult to realize the “hate” part of the equation. Perhaps her self-aware semi-cynicism stems from her friendship with fellow millennial stars such as Lena Dunham and Jemima Kirke, who would never be caught dead performing in such a classically un-ironical role such as this one (though Dunham probably wishes she could be a musical star, but she cannot sing and her comedy stems from a very different place; Kirke honestly would never wish this upon herself). Anyway, Williams was thrust amongst these fellow girls, and does offer a nice juxtaposition to their sentiment on the HBO show, but in this case, she proves herself to be paving the way to a very different career. As for actual reviews, some people loved it, and some people genuinely despised it, but most were somewhere in between. Alessandra Stanley in The New York Times said that Allison “ruined hate-watching,” because she convincingly pulled off the role after all. The Hollywood Reporter lauded Williams’ performance, and considered the entire special a success. Still, musical theatre lover Adam Feldman in Time Out New York came out with perhaps the most objectively accurate response, critiquing the entire show of Peter Pan for not being a first-rate show in the first place, but also critiquing Zadan and Meron for minimizing the inherent theatricality of the piece. Still, he expressed a sincere wish that NBC try again with the live television musical theatre concept next year, which the network has already expressed their intent to do.

“Honeymoon in Vegas” Begins Previews on Broadway

A Jason Robert Brown Tuner, Derived from a Movie

honeymoon in vegasOn November 18, 2014, Honeymoon in Vegas began previews at the Nederlander Theatre. With music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown (Parade, The Bridges of Madison County), a book by Andrew Bergman (who wrote and directed the film), and based on the 1992 film of the same name starring Nicolas Cage, James Caan, and Sarah Jessica Parker, the Broadway production of Honeymoon in Vegas is directed by Gary Griffin (The Apple Tree, The Color Purple) and choreographed by Denis Jones (Legally Blonde, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels). The musical premiered at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey in September 2013, where it received positive reviews and ran for just over a month before transferring to Broadway just over a year later. The lead role of Tommy Korman is played by Tony Danza, and the other principal roles are played by Rob McClure (title role in Chaplin), Brynn O’Malley (Annie, Sunday in the Park with George), Nancy Opel (Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Memphis), and Matthew Saldivar (Act One, Peter and the Starcatcher).

A Tale of Wrought Love

Tony Danza

Tony Danza

Honeymoon in Vegas follows a young protagonist named Jack Singer (McClure), who is dating a young lady named Betsy (O’Malley), and although he has an established fear of marriage going back to a promise he made to her mother on her deathbed, Betsy has other plans. Meanwhile, a mafia man named Tommy Korman (Danza) takes notice of Betsy, and finds a strong resemblance between her and his recently passed wife. This makes him a renewed believer in the power of love, so he begins to form a plot of his own. Conveniently, Jack ends up in major debt to Korman during a poker game, and so he demands that in order to erase the debt, he will need to spend a weekend with Jack’s beloved Betsy – he agrees when they promise not to sleep together. Korman pulls out all the stops, taking Betsy to his vacation home in Hawaii. When Jack catches word that Korman plans to marry Betsy back in Vegas, he desperately tries to get there to stop it, only to get waylaid in a series of airports. Finally, however, Betsy escapes from Korman, and she and Jack end up happily ever after, married in a small chapel in Vegas with flying Elvises as their wedding guests.

Off to a Slow Start at the Box Office

You’d think that producers would realize theatregoers are getting tired of straight movie to musical adaptations, choosing a cheesy comedy and staging it with some song and dance. Though that combination can sometimes work, in recent years it has begun to show a serious decline in interest from the ticket-buying public. In the two weeks of reported box office figures thus far (one with only seven performances and one with the full eight), the musical has only managed to bring in $366,136 and $351,277 respectively. That means that with an entire extra performance the second week, the show still managed to lose $14,859 between the two weeks. With a top ticket price of $223.00, the average ticket price stayed fairly constant at around $69.00 each week. Therefore, despite a heavy amount of discounting, the show is still having difficult gaining any traction. The producers seemed to anticipate a difficult exit out of the gates, because it has allotted an entire eight weeks of previews, with its opening night scheduled for January 15, 2015. Perhaps they know the reviews will not be great, and they are trying to score some holiday tourist ticket-buyers before they can be dissuaded by the critics.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 11/30/2014

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

“The Illusionists” Launching Onto The Scene

In the week ending November 23, 2014, The Illusionists – Witness the Impossible began previews. With only seven performances since the first preview on November 26, 2014, the show brought in a first weekly gross of $1,048,858. Though this only represents 76.07% of the show’s gross capacity, that is still a huge amount out of the gates. With a top ticket price of $175.00, the show’s average paid ticket was $107.44, which represents little to no discounting. This magic spectacle show is different from the average Broadway fare. Opening over Thanksgiving weekend, the show was a major draw for tourists who were looking for something a little less intellectual and a little more spectacular. It will wait to be seen whether the show’s grosses continue to pick up as word of mouth spreads and reviews come out, but for now this show appears to be doing very well on the Great White Way.

An Overall High Week on Broadway

This past week, of the 36 shows presently running on Broadway, all but five saw an increase in ticket sales from the week before. Those five that saw a decline were Love Letters (went down by $102,662), The Last Ship (went down by $38,645), The Real Thing (went down by $24,509), Disgraced (went down by $20,904), and Honeymoon in Vegas (went down by $14,859). All the rest of the shows saw an increase in sales. Other than The Illusionists – Witness the Impossible, which began previews this week and therefore saw a huge increase from zero the week before, the highest increase was seen by Wicked, which increased by $979,623. Following next was The Lion King with an increase of $711,252, Matilda with an increase of $690,490, and The Phantom of the Opera with an increase of $454,438. Overall, this increase can be explained by the fact that it was Thanksgiving weekend, so tourists were crawling all over the city in great numbers, comparably to over the summer season. They therefore flocked to the more tourist-friendly fare, such as these big blockbuster musicals.

“It’s Only a Play” Playing in the Musical Leagues

Since it began previews, It’s Only a Play has made over one million dollars in every full performance week. It is squarely amidst a slew of musical in this range of numbers. It could not be more clear that it is only a play, not a musical, and still tourists and locals alike are flocking to it. This is clearly due to the A-list cast, as the reviews were only mild.


The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending November 30, 2014:Broadway-Show-Ticket-Analysis-11-30-14

Show GrossGross Total Attn %Cap AvgPdAdm
A DELICATE BALANCE $807,472 5,650 88.06% $142.92
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $974,924 7,046 96.47% $138.37
ALADDIN $1,759,955 13,784 100.00% $127.68
BEAUTIFUL $1,405,434 8,026 97.78% $175.11
CABARET $948,085 7,101 99.40% $133.51
CHICAGO $583,103 6,614 76.55% $88.16
CINDERELLA $1,115,935 13,197 94.21% $84.56
DISGRACED $412,694 5,009 68.21% $82.39
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $653,674 6,135 87.03% $106.55
HONEYMOON IN VEGAS $351,277 5,078 54.86% $69.18
IF/THEN $615,096 6,452 61.52% $95.33
IT’S ONLY A PLAY $1,354,791 8,002 93.57% $169.31
JERSEY BOYS $920,735 7,913 80.55% $116.36
KINKY BOOTS $1,314,521 10,293 90.35% $127.71
LES MISÉRABLES $992,609 9,806 86.99% $101.22
LOVE LETTERS $309,103 3,978 53.21% $77.70
MAMMA MIA! $662,155 7,334 78.62% $90.29
MATILDA $1,454,493 11,463 100.06% $126.89
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL $1,011,459 9,200 76.31% $109.94
ON THE TOWN $885,138 8,975 59.87% $98.62
ONCE $563,704 6,362 75.09% $88.60
PIPPIN $670,217 6,847 86.45% $97.88
ROCK OF AGES $360,759 3,664 78.56% $98.46
SIDE SHOW $466,970 5,800 55.64% $80.51
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,875,135 8,751 102.61% $214.28
THE ELEPHANT MAN $958,970 6,219 100.44% $154.20
THE ILLUSIONISTS – WITNESS THE IMPOSSIBLE $1,048,858 9,762 89.11% $107.44
THE LAST SHIP $458,563 6,418 59.47% $71.45
THE LION KING $2,422,719 13,602 100.01% $178.11
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $1,131,137 11,319 88.15% $99.93
THE REAL THING $451,370 5,220 88.18% $86.47
THE RIVER $906,275 5,629 101.10% $161.00
THIS IS OUR YOUTH $341,572 4,977 58.64% $68.63
WICKED $2,432,132 15,714 96.52% $154.77
YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU $548,572 5,479 63.83% $100.12
Totals: $34,121,642 284,569 82.85% $115.18

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

Disney Announces Unprecedented Ticket Exchange Policy

Ticketholders for “Aladdin” and “The Lion King” Can Swap Dates

The Lion King Broadway Musical, logoTwo of Disney’s most popular animated films have become two of their most exciting stage musicals. For the Broadway productions of both Aladdin and The Lion King, Disney Theatrical Productions has announced that ticketholders can exchange their tickets for another performance time, up until 2 hours before curtain. There will be a $12 ticket exchange fee for each change transaction, excepting cases in which the change happens less than 24 hours after the purchase was made. Also, the exchange must happen in the same way that the purchase was originally transacted: either at the box office, the Disney on Broadway hotline, or online via Ticketmaster. Though this announcement applies to both Aladdin and The Lion King, theatregoers must stick with the production they originally chose; there is no exchange allowed between tickets for the two shows. Still, this flexibility is sure to please audience members for both shows alike, thereby perhaps encouraging seeing both to take advantage of the scheme.

An Unprecedented Move, So Why Now?

Generally, purchasing tickets to a Broadway show is seen as a non-refundable commitment, requiring all other scheduling to Aladdin on Broadwayaccommodate the unchanging requirements of the time as originally selected. Therefore, this decision by Disney completely changes the nature of the Broadway ticket-buying marketplace. It’s possible that if this proves to be a successful incentive for choosing these shows over other offerings, that other producers may follow suit. The disincentive for this flexibility is that producers and managers need to keep careful track of each performance, understanding when they need to discount, offer complimentary tickets, or implement dynamic pricing to suit the availability of each performance. Disney has the unusual flexibility to engage this policy because both shows are such consistent hits, so even if theatregoers change their minds last minute, Disney is confident they can fill up those seats either at the TDF booth, box office, or online, still continuing with a steady stream of profits. And furthermore, Disney may benefit quite strongly from this $12 change fee, which may seem slight at the time of change, but could definitely add up to another significant revenue stream for the organization.

“The Lion King” and “Aladdin”

The Lion King is undoubtedly one of Broadway’s biggest hits, having run at the Minskoff Theatre at top box office grosses since it began performances on October 15, 1997. It has now played for over 7000 performances, generally with weekly grosses between $1.5 million and $2.5 million. With music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice, the production was directed by Julie Taymor and choreographed by Garth Fagan, famously utilizing giant puppets to simulate the animals of the kingdom with human dancers inside them. Aladdin is a much newer production, having only begun previews on February 26, 2014 at the New Amsterdam Theatre. Still, it quickly rose to the top of the box office charts, consistently earning grosses between $1.2 million and $1.6 million. Perhaps Disney is attempting to get Aladdin up to the league of The Lion King, incentivizing ticketbuyers by grouping the two shows together with this flexible policy. In any case, the brand power from the animated films of both of these shows will certainly live on.

“The Real Thing” Opens on Broadway

A Stoppard Play with an All-Star Cast

the-real-thing-pink-and-blackOn October 30, 2014, The Real Thing opened at the American Airlines Theatre, one of the Roundabout Theatre Company’s three Broadway venues. The play, a classic by Tom Stoppard (Arcadia, Rock n Roll, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead) originally produced in 1982, was directed by Sam Gold, a relative newcomer who has taken New York theatre by storm with such productions as The Realistic Joneses, Seminar, and many Off-Broadway hits. With such a creative team behind it, the production was able to a number of Hollywood stars. Two are making their Broadway debuts: Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Dark Knight, Donnie Darko, White House Down) and Ewan McGregor (Trainspotting, Big Fish, Star Wars). Furthermore, the show stars Cynthia Nixon (Sex and the City, Broadway productions including Wit, Rabbit Hole, Angels in America) as well as Josh Hamilton (Dead Accounts, The Coast of Utopia, Proof). With all of these powerhouse names behind it, the show was destined to be a critical hit. However, something the perfect ingredients do not make the perfect stew, and in this case, the result was sadly underwhelming.

Mixed Reviews from Critics

The most influential of New York theatre critics, Ben Brantley of The New York Times, gave The Real Thing a review that was all but playwright Tom Stoppard event gray whitedisdainful. He called the revival “tinny,” and claimed that the production lacked any real evidence of chemistry between the performers, or any sort of deep feelings in general. The beauty of Stoppard’s work often lies in the fact that his words may be highly complex and intellectual, but there is a deep humanity bubbling beneath the surface. Brantley’s view is that this production (due to a mixture of casting and directing) lacked that crucial underlayer. Other reviewers were less critical, falling prey to the combination of writing and fame onstage that can persuade the audience they are enjoying a well-done production. Mark Kennedy of the Associated Press, for example, thought the revival was thoroughly excellent, and enjoyed the interspersed tunes that Sam Gold opted to include between scenes, often hummed along by the actors. Thom Geier of Entertainment Weekly also praised the production, perhaps delighted merely to see his Hollywood favorites onstage. He claimed Gyllenhaal’s performance oozed poise and sophistication, which may be true, but the argument could also be made that the softness beneath was missing. David Rooney from the Hollywood Reporter was more on the fence, correctly praising Ewan McGregor’s Broadway debut for the professional excellence of his performance, but also calling Gold’s direction “hollow.”

Struggling at the Box Office

It is always interesting to follow how the combination of recognizable playwright, famous actors, and critical response has on the box office. In this case, audiences were not moved by the result, certainly not enough to make this show stand out financially. The show has never reached more than 77.56% of its gross potential in any given week, and the weekly numbers have been squarely in the $400,000 range for each week. With stars such as McGregor, Gyllenhaal, and Nixon onstage, this is almost an insult. And for the true theatre aficionados, the fact that a Stoppard play would be given this treatment is just a shame. However, given that the revival is produced by Roundabout, a not-for-profit theatre institution with an endowment and a subscriber base to keep it afloat, the show will likely be able to play out its intended limited run. The show is scheduled to close on January 4, 2015.