“The King and I” Begins Previews on Broadway

A Lincoln Center Production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein Hit

the king and iOn March 12, 2015, the 2015 revival of The King and I will play its first performance at the Vivian Beaumont Lincoln Center. Opening night is scheduled for April 16, 2015. This is the fifth time this musical will have played on Broadway, the original having premiered on March 29, 1951. With music by Richard Rodgers, and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, the show is based on a novel called Anna and The King of Siam by Margaret Landon. At the time of its premiere, the musical was a huge hit and won the Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Actress (Gertrude Lawrence in the role of Anna Leonowens) and Best Featured Actor (Yul Brynner as the King of Siam). It was then revived in 1977, 1985, and 1996. The 2015 production therefore marks the fourth Broadway revival. This production is produced by Lincoln Center Theatre at their Vivian Beaumont Broadway venue. It is directed by Bartlett Sher (The Bridges of Madison County, Golden Boy, South Pacific), and the choreography is the original by Jerome Robbins, with the revival’s musical staging by Christopher Gattelli (Newsies, Godspell, South Pacific). The production stars Kelli O’Hara (Nice Work if You Can Get It, South Pacific, The Bridges of Madison County) as Anna, and Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai, Memoirs of a Geisha) making his Broadway debut as the King of Siam.

A Classic Story for a Modern Audienceken watanabe kelli o'hara

The timeless tale of Anna and the King revolves around a British schoolteacher in 1862, who is hired by the King of Siam (now Thailand) to come to Bangkok and tutor his children. The King has many wives and has other traditional customs, but he has hired Anna to help modernize his country. Still, he is very resistant to this effort, and at first there is great tension between the two. Nevertheless, Anna is persistent, and she not only succeeds in introducing some Western customs to Siam, but she and the King ultimately also fall in love. The show includes many timeless and beautiful songs such as “I Whistle a Happy Tune,” “Hello, Young Lovers,” “A Puzzlement,” “Getting to Know You,” “Something Wonderful,” and “Shall We Dance?”. This Lincoln Center production is sure to let its audiences relive the original magic of this gorgeous show, complete with the original choreography and elaborate traditional costumes.

A Déjà Vu of “South Pacific” at the Vivian Beaumont

In spring 2008, Lincoln Center mounted another Rodgers and Hammerstein classic musical at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre: South Pacific. This production shares much more than the composer and librettist in common with this revival of The King and I. First of all, the director is the same: Bartlett Sher. Secondly, the same leading lady will take center stage: Kelli O’Hara. What’s more, Sher has reunited his entire creative team from that production: set designer Michael Yeargan, musical director Ted Sperling, lighting designer Donald Holder, costume designer Catherine Zuber, and sound designer Scott Lehrer. Fortunately, South Pacific was such an enormous hit that this bodes well for The King and I. In 2008, South Pacific brought home a phenomenal seven Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical, Best Director (Bartlett Sher), Best Actor, and all four design categories: costume, set, sound, and lighting. Therefore, The King and I is sure to be a delightful and magical production, reuniting a team who know each other well. There won’t be too much “Getting to Know You” necessary at the first rehearsal.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 3/8/2015

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

A Stable Week on Broadway

In the week ending March 8, 2015, no new shows began previews. Furthermore, the overall weekly gross for all shows on Broadway stayed almost exactly the same. In the previous week, the entire industry brought in $18,260,267, and this week it brought in $18,202,017. Overall, that is an increase of only $58,250. Of the 25 shows that had performances this past week, 17 saw an increase in sales, though generally this increase was very slight. The biggest increase was seen by Wicked, which brought in $1,352,213, demonstrating an increase of $147,746 from the week prior. Overall, Wicked was the third highest grossing show this week, only beat out by The Book of Mormon with a weekly gross of $1,450,723 and The Lion King with a gross of $1,450,034. Other than Wicked, every other show that increased this week did so by no more than 5 digits. The closest gross between this and last week was brought in by A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, which went down by only $649. Strangely, almost all of the shows performed within $50,000 of their gross the week before, demonstrating a very stable, if not lucrative, week on Broadway.

Two Top Grossing Plays Showed a Decrease in Sales

The two straight plays that have been demonstrating the most promise so far this early spring season are The Audience starring Helen Mirren, and Fish in the Dark written by and starring Larry David. Both of these shows recently opened to relatively mixed reviews, The Audience leaning toward the positive and Fish in the Dark leaning toward the negative. Perhaps the silence being broken about the quality of the shows brought down some of the allure that had made ticketbuyers go crazy for these shows, because both saw a fairly significant decrease in sales this previous week. The Audience brought in a weekly gross of $861,884, which was a decrease of $228,595 from the week before. Fish in the Dark, which is still performing excellently, brought in a weekly gross of $1,006,832, although this is a decrease of $152,705 from the week before. Nevertheless, another reason why this week was a bit low for these two shows could be accounted for by the fact that one of the week’s performances was the opening night, for which tickets are mostly complimentary for guests of the production. Therefore, the overall gross would show a decline due to one performance of lost ticket sales.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending March 8, 2015:Broadway-Show-Ticket-Analysis-3-08-15-1

Show Name GrossGross Total Attn %Capacity AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $543,966 5,830 80.35% $93.30
ALADDIN $1,148,004 13,689 99.31% $83.86
BEAUTIFUL $1,049,875 7,516 91.57% $139.69
CABARET $708,067 6,125 85.74% $115.60
CHICAGO $508,909 6,386 73.91% $79.69
CONSTELLATIONS $689,238 5,837 99.78% $118.08
FISH IN THE DARK $1,006,832 8,703 101.39% $115.69
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $537,064 5,152 73.09% $104.24
HONEYMOON IN VEGAS $310,450 4,492 48.83% $69.11
IF/THEN $519,720 7,096 67.66% $73.24
IT’S ONLY A PLAY $480,381 5,070 58.84% $94.75
JERSEY BOYS $592,549 6,348 64.62% $93.34
KINKY BOOTS $814,313 8,228 72.23% $98.97
LES MISÉRABLES $624,346 8,493 75.35% $73.51
MAMMA MIA! $417,314 5,732 61.45% $72.80
MATILDA $714,894 8,992 78.49% $79.50
ON THE TOWN $474,989 7,266 48.47% $65.37
ON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY $364,904 5,082 87.98% $71.80
THE AUDIENCE $861,884 7,532 100.65% $114.43
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,450,723 8,750 102.60% $165.80
THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME $670,953 6,695 82.21% $100.22
THE HEIDI CHRONICLES $316,904 5,642 70.45% $56.17
THE LION KING $1,450,034 13,051 95.96% $111.11
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $651,741 8,427 65.63% $77.34
WICKED $1,352,213 12,457 86.08% $108.55
Totals $18,260,267 188,591 78.91% $95.05

Broadway ticket sales raw data are provided courtesy of The Broadway League All other data, text, opinion, charts and commentary are copyright © 2015 nytix.com

“The Audience” Opens on Broadway

Excellent Reviews to Match Excellent Box Office

the audienceOn March 8, 2015, The Audience opened at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre on Broadway. Written by Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon) and directed by Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot: the Musical, Skylight), The Audience stars Helen Mirren in the role of Queen Elizabeth II. One of the main reasons this show has been garnering so much excitement is that Mirren played this same role on screen in the 2006 British historical drama, which was also written by Peter Morgan, and for which she won the Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role. The film was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score, and Best Costume Design. It also won the BAFTA Award for Best Film, while Mirren also took home the BAFTA Award for Actress in a Leading Role. For all of these reasons, the show has been accumulating much buzz since even before it began previews on February 14, 2015. Particularly noteworthy were the first few weeks of box office reports, which showed that the production brought in over 100% of the show’s gross potential in each of the three first weeks.

Review Round Uphelen mirren the audience

Overall, theatre critics found the show to be quite excellent. Nevertheless, Ben Brantley of The New York Times was more on the fence, praising Mirren’s performance but determining that the play was more a parade of statesman than a dramatic masterpiece. He also remarked that Mirren is performing her lines a bit differently than she did in London, emphasizing different aspects of the phrases in order to spice up the comedy for American audiences. David Cote from Time Out New York, on the other hand, was fully positive in his response to the play. Instead of calling the series of prime ministers a “parade” as Brantley does, Cote calls it a “pageant,” evoking more majesty and grandeur. Like Brantley, however, Cote agrees that Mirren’s transformations across the different eras were magnificent. David Rooney in The Hollywood Reporter acknowledges that the writing’s episodic nature is not its strongest point, and yet he deems the vignettes to be linked in an elegant fashion. Robert Kahn from NBC New York calls the show “exquisite,” pondering over the Queen’s “grace” and Mirren’s excellent performance. Matt Windman of AM New York gave it three stars out of four, finding the play a bit choppy but fascinating.

Excellent Box Office that May Show Signs of Tapering Off

In the first three weeks of performances, The Audience brought in over 100% of its gross potential. In the first incomplete week of two performances, that percentage was 111.21%, and the following two weeks of seven performances each brought in 102.63% and 106.74% of the gross potential, the last of these showing a weekly gross of $1,090,479. However, in the last reported week of performances, the week ending March 8, 2015, The Audience saw a decline in weekly grosses of $228,595, bringing in $861,884 which represents 84.37% of its gross potential. The most likely explanation for this is that the last of these performances was the show’s opening night, for which most tickets are complimentary for guests of the production. Therefore, it is too early to say whether the show’s box office is tapering off, or whether it has just taken a slight dip to regain its footing the following week. Presumably, the generally positive reviews can only help stimulate the box office in a positive direction. The show is presently scheduled to run until June 28, 2015.

“Fish in the Dark” Opens on Broadway

Mixed to Negative Reviews Despite Record Box Office

poster fishEven before it began previews on February 2, 2015, Fish in the Dark has been performing extraordinarily at the box office. This new play written by and starring Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm, co-creator of Seinfeld) broke the advance box office record for a straight play by bringing in $13 million prior to the first performance. Ticket buyers were therefore buying blind, as the show was not reviewed until this morning, following last night’s opening on March 5, 2015. Unfortunately for those who have already invested an average of $300 per ticket, the show was received somewhat poorly by professional critics. The most notorious and respected theatre critic, Ben Brantley of The New York Times, gave it a complete flop, and even those that responded positively to the play did so with the caveat that it was Curb Your Enthusiasm extended and for the stage, primarily interesting for pre-existing fans of David’s television accomplishments. Directed by Anna D. Shapiro (This is Our Youth, Motherf**ker with the Hat), the play stars David along with Jayne Houdyshell, Rosie Perez, Rita Wilson, Ben Shenkman, Jerry Adler, and many others in the large ensemble cast.

Rounding Up the Criticsfish in the dark

Ben Brantley of The New York Times claims to have laughed fully only one time in the entire play, faulting the show for being a glorified live witnessing of a celebrity in the flesh. Robert Kahn of NBC New York was slightly more forgiving, but still admitted the stage play felt like an overextended sitcom, mostly appropriate for diehard Larry David aficionados. Nevertheless, the charm that has earned David so many adoring fans seems to affect even high profile critics, as others gave the show positive remarks even while discussing similar opinions to Brantley. David Cote of Time Out New York grandiosely compared Fish in the Dark to an ancient Greek tragedy, praising the offensive honesty of the Seinfeld creator. David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter observed a slightly more recent ancestor to David’s stage creation, comparing him to Neil Simon and the fluffy comedy surrounding the Jewish American family. Rooney also discerned the “pure sitcom” nature of the play, but did not criticize it for this cross-genre flavor, instead proclaiming that this show is a bona fide hit no matter how the reviewers respond. As a reviewer, therefore, Rooney is basically foregoing his responsibility to remark on the quality of the show, instead kowtowing to the established record-breaking box office as indicator of “hit” status.

Well Above 100% of Gross Potential

In the four weeks that box office has been reported thus far, Fish in the Dark has performed remarkably. Furthermore, the rest of the run is reportedly almost sold out, so the reviews were truly moot, whether future committed audience members like it or not. In the most recent reported week, the week ending March 1, 2015, the show brought in $1,159,537 over the course of eight performances, which represents 115.27% of its gross potential. Over the course of previews, the show never made less than 113.39% of its gross potential. With a top ticket price of $423.00, the average paid admission thus far has been around $133.00. This shows that no discounting has taken place, and instead diehard fans are paying premium and inflated prices for the chance to witness David’s Broadway debut.

John Cameron Mitchell Returned After Injury, Next Hedwig Announced

The Original Hedwig Playing His Creation on Broadway

john cameron mitchellHedwig and the Angry Inch, created by John Cameron Mitchell, premiered on Broadway on March 29, 2014. The show originally opened Off-Broadway in 1998, starring Mitchell in the title role of the gender-bending East German rock performer. He also wrote and starred in the 2001 film version. When Hedwig came to Broadway for the first time, however, the producers and Mitchell felt that he was no longer in his prime, and thus the lead role was given to Neil Patrick Harris, who won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical. After Harris departed, the role was played by Andrew Rannells (The Book of Mormon, Girls), followed by Michael C. Hall (Dexter). However, to the delight of diehard Hedwig fans, it was announced that John Cameron Mitchell himself would be stepping in to play the role after all, with his first performance on January 21, 2015. Originally, he was slated to perform for just six weeks until March 14, 2015, as a trial run to see if he had enough stamina to play the intensive part at this point in his career. Fortunately, he was brilliant as always, and fans flocked to see him, and thus he announced that he would extend his run until April 26, 2015.

Mitchell Sustained Knee Injury, Michael C. Hall Stepped Inhedwig lena hall

Unfortunately, on February 7, 2015, Mitchell injured his knee during the performance. He continued on until the end of the 7pm show, but the later 10pm show that night was cancelled. At the time, the show’s representatives tweeted that he planned to return for the next scheduled performance on the following Tuesday, and that doctors were examining him. However, they then announced that one week later, Michael C. Hall would return to the role to allow Mitchell time for his injury to heal. From February 17 to 21, therefore, Hall donned the wig once again. In the week where Mitchell performed with a knee brace, he made the best of the humorous situation. One joke, for instance, was “You’re seeing the original cast!” Furthermore, he played on the dominating relationship Hedwig has with his co-star Yitzhak by making her attend to his injury, demanding that she place a crate underneath his propped foot, while he sat on an elevated chair so that he could still be visible while seated. As planned, after a week of performances by Michael C. Hall, Mitchell returned to the stage on February 24, 2015, and he plans to continue as announced until April 26, 2015.

The Next Hedwig: Darren Criss

GQ Celebrates The Grammys With Giorgio Armani - ArrivalsFollowing Mitchell’s departure, Darren Criss (Glee) will step into the spotlight on April 29, 2015 for a run of 12 weeks through summer. Criss’ huge fanbase was evidenced by his brief turn on Broadway in 2012, when he replaced Daniel Radcliffe in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. At the time, he significantly boosted ticket sales for the three weeks he played the part. Therefore, this appears to be a good move for the show’s producers, who hope to keep it running as long as possible by bringing in a string of stars who appeal to a variety of audience members. Furthermore, the second and only other main character in the musical, Yitzhak, has been played by Lena Hall since the start of the revival. Hall wonrebecca naomi jones the Tony Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical, and has been the Yitzhak to all four Hedwigs so far: Harris, Rannells, Hall, and Mitchell. However, she has recently announced that her last performance in the role will be April 4, 2015. The new Yitzhak will be played by Rebecca Naomi Jones (American Idiot, Passing Strange), who will step in on April 14, 2015. In the interim week, the role will be played by understudy Shannon Conley. Therefore, Jones will play opposite John Cameron Mitchell for less than two weeks, before partnering with Darren Criss to continue the tradition of Hedwig on Broadway.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 3/1/2015

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

“The Heidi Chronicles” Not An Immediate Hit

In its first week of previews, the new revival of The Heidi Chronicles brought in a weekly gross of $305,345, which represents only 34.26% of its gross potential. The show began previews on February 23, 2015, and therefore this first week was a full week of eight performances. With a top ticket price of $223.00, the average paid admission was only $51.05, and despite this heavy amount of discounting, the audience capacity was only on average 74.7% full. This comes as a slight surprise due to the high profile stars on the marquee such as Elisabeth Moss, Jason Biggs, and Bryce Pinkham, in addition to the acclaim of the playwright Wendy Wasserstein, as well as the fact that the play is a Pulitzer Prize winning drama. Directed by Pam MacKinnon (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?), the play is set to open on March 19, 2015. Perhaps when the reviews hit the presses, more audience members will become aware of this new production. The fact that New York still feels like it is in the midst of winter may have been a dissuading factor for ticket buyers, and hopefully sales will pick up as the run proceeds.

An Overall Slow Week on Broadway

In the week ending March 1, 2015, Broadway was in a bit of a slump. Despite the month of March having arrived, the city is still steeped in winter and more snow is expected this week. This may be one of the main reasons that the overall demand on Broadway is not particularly high. This past week, of all the shows running on Broadway, only six experienced an increase in ticket sales. One of these was The Heidi Chronicles, which, as just discussed, was a new show that performed fairly poorly in its first week. Another one was Constellations, which did experience an increase in weekly gross of $61,504, but that is due to that fact that the show played nine performances that week, up from the usual eight. With that in mind, the show is still not doing excellently, as it only reached 80.59% of its gross potential across the nine performances. In its last week of performances, Disgraced saw an increase of $82,172, bringing its final weekly gross to $415,237, which is only 53.39% of its gross potential. Besides the usual suspects, the only plays that are performing extraordinarily are Larry David’s Fish in the Dark, which had a weekly gross of $1,159,537, and The Audience starring Helen Mirren, which brought in a weekly gross of $1,090,479.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending March 1, 2015:Broadway-Show-Ticket-Analysis-3-1-15

Show Name GrossGross Total Attn %Capacity AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $544,615 5,571 76.78% $97.76
ALADDIN $1,198,904 13,452 97.59% $89.12
BEAUTIFUL $1,019,934 7,577 92.31% $134.61
CABARET $674,524 6,043 84.59% $111.62
CHICAGO $474,672 6,031 69.80% $78.71
CONSTELLATIONS $661,547 5,753 98.34% $114.99
DISGRACED $415,237 5,316 72.39% $78.11
FISH IN THE DARK $1,159,537 8,720 101.58% $132.97
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $585,799 5,374 76.24% $109.01
HONEYMOON IN VEGAS $284,648 4,450 48.37% $63.97
IF/THEN $503,433 7,111 67.80% $70.80
IT’S ONLY A PLAY $493,244 5,432 63.05% $90.80
JERSEY BOYS $579,183 6,230 63.42% $92.97
KINKY BOOTS $804,924 8,442 74.10% $95.35
LES MISÉRABLES $571,871 7,705 68.36% $74.22
MAMMA MIA! $413,270 5,633 60.39% $73.37
MATILDA $701,215 8,783 76.67% $79.84
ON THE TOWN $407,366 6,089 40.61% $66.90
ON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY $377,072 5,098 88.26% $73.96
THE AUDIENCE $1,090,479 7,512 100.39% $145.16
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,433,408 8,741 102.50% $163.99
THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME $660,205 6,398 78.56% $103.19
THE HEIDI CHRONICLES $305,345 5,981 74.69% $51.05
THE LION KING $1,490,989 13,036 95.85% $114.37
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $561,366 7,269 56.61% $77.23
WICKED $1,204,467 11,905 82.26% $101.17
Totals $18,617,251 189,652 77.37% $95.59

Broadway ticket sales raw data are provided courtesy of The Broadway League All other data, text, opinion, charts and commentary are copyright © 2015 nytix.com

Broadway Stars Debuting New TV Pilots

Pilot Season for the Major Broadcast Networks

Every year, the major television networks such as CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, and the CW go through a specific course of development to determine which new shows to add to their dockets. Referred to as Pilot Season, this is an intensive process that involves the submissions of thousands of elevator pitches, followed by calls for scripts, after which some are selected, and then actors flock from all over the country and world to audition for the parts. Due to the simultaneity of the process across networks, actors generally need to choose one show to ride out, which can be a gamble as the majority of shows do not get picked up, and therefore they would be sacrificing other opportunities for this one shot. However, the payoff can be great as television can be a great career boost for actors, including those who are already big stars in the theatre. Presently, though some shows are just beginning to premiere this season, networks are already entering the early stages of next year’s process, and some exciting Broadway names are headlining.

Already Picked Up: Sutton Foster Stars in “Younger” on TV Land

younger sutton fosterA new television show by the maker of Sex and the City, Darren Star, will premiere on TV Land on March 31, 2015. The show, Younger, stars Sutton Foster who came to fame through her Broadway performances in such musicals as Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Drowsy Chaperone, Anything Goes, and most recently, Violet. Her first leading role on television took place in 2012, when she starred in the ABC Family series Bunheads about a former Las Vegas showgirl turned small town ballet dance teacher. That show only lasted for one season of 18 episodes. Fortunately, Foster is getting another go at a TV leading gig this spring on TV Land. Younger, which also stars Hilary Duff (Lizzie McGuire), Debi Mazar (Entourage, Living with Fran), and Miriam Shor (Hedwig and the Angry Inch). The show is a single-camera, 30 minutes series about a 40 year-old mother having difficulty finding a job, so she gets a makeover and pretends she is in her 20s.

Idina Menzel in “Happy Time” and Megan Hilty in Untitled Judah Miller Projectidina menzel

Looking forward toward the upcoming pilot season, Ellen DeGeneres is producing a new series called Happy Time which stars Idina Menzel (Rent, Wicked, If/Then, Frozen). This half hour comedy series is written by Randi Barnes (Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return), and produced by DeGeneres’ company A Very Good Production. The show will most likely be shopped around this upcoming summer. Details about the show are not widely disclosed, but Happy Time revolves around a woman who is ready megan hiltyto stop pretending she is happy all of the time. Furthermore, Megan Hilty, who is best known for her starring role on the TV show Smash, and also for her Broadway performances in 9 to 5 and Wicked, is cast in an upcoming pilot to be written and produced by Judah Miller (American Dad, King of the Hill, The Tracy Morgan Show). In this presently untitled single-camera comedy, Hilty plays a Tony Award winning Broadway star who is still adjusting to her new role as a suburban mom. Along with her husband, an intellectual, she is thrust into a new world of competitive sports, as their son is a natural born athlete.

“Disgraced” Concludes Its Run

Last Performance March 1st at the Lyceum

disgraced posterWhen Disgraced began performances on Broadway on September 27, 2014, the production did not announce its closing date. After it opened on October 23, 2014, critics received it with warm praise. It was a New York Times Critics Pick, and Christopher Isherwood began his review with “Bon appetit!” However, despite these laudatory remarks, it never was a sell out at the box office. In January, it was announced that the last performance would be March 1, 2015. The play, written by Ayad Akhtar, won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, as well as the Obie Award and the Joseph Jefferson Award. The play had its New York premiere at Lincoln Center’s Claire Tow Theatre, through their LCT3 program to support new writing. Prior to that, it premiered in Chicago at American Theatre Company directed by Kimberley Senior, who has steered the production all the way to Broadway, thereby making her Broadway directorial debut.

A Mixed Cast of Originals and TV Starsdisgraced

The cast stars Gretchen Mol (the smoldering Madame of a brothel on Boardwalk Empire) in the role of Emily, an artist specializing in Middle Eastern imagery. She is married to a successful Pakistani-American lawyer, played by Hari Dhillon, a British actor, who made his Broadway debut in this role. Josh Radnor (from the TV show How I Met Your Mother) plays Isaac, the Whitney curator who is supporting Emily’s work. Karen Pittman plays his wife Jory; she made her Broadway non-understudy debut in this role, after having premiered the part at LCT3. Jory and Isaac are a mixed race couple who come over to dine with the protagonists, and the dinner conversation gets personal, dealing with concepts of race and identity. The fifth and final cast member is also making his Broadway debut: Danny Ashok plays Abe, Amir’s nephew. Unlike the very Western justice-based viewpoint of Amir, Abe is a bit more radical. He urges his uncle to help defend an imam who is under accusation of supporting Hamas.

Mediocre Box Office Performance

Despite accolades, praise, and acknowledgment that this was a truly great play and production, it still struggled to become a financial success. At the height of its weekly grosses, Disgraced brought in $512,646, which represents 65.92% of its gross potential. With a top ticket price of $198.00, the average paid admission was never over $85.87. And yet, in its highest earning week, the average paid admission was $78.87, so clearly discounting paid off to some degree for this production. At the Lyceum Theatre, Disgraced had a weekly gross potential of about $778,000. A straight play without Hollywood A-list stars or a recognizable film or brand name, Disgraced just couldn’t compete with all the other attractive fare on Broadway. The big blockbuster musicals or hot star on the marquee would surely beat out in mass the diehard locals and intellectuals who visit Broadway in order to see a Pulitzer Prize winning play on topics of interest regarding racial, religious, and national dynamics. And for those who haven’t read the literary press, that title isn’t very encouraging. Still, though this play may not have made profits, it did make history.

“The Heidi Chronicles” Begins Previews on Broadway

Starring Elisabeth Moss of “Mad Men” Fame

elisabeth mossOn February 23, 2015, The Heidi Chronicles by Wendy Wasserstein began previews in its first Broadway revival. The show originally played on Broadway from 1988 to 1989, when it won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama as well as the Tony Award for Best Play. This production is directed by Pam MacKinnon (A Delicate Balance, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?), and will officially open on March 19, 2015 at the Music Box Theatre. Elisabeth Moss, who is best known for playing Peggy Olson on AMC’s Mad Men, will star as the titular character Heidi Holland. This will be Moss’ second Broadway appearance, following her 2008 debut as Karen in David Mamet’s Speed-the-Plow. She also starred in the 2011 West End production of Lillian Hellman’s The Children’s Hour opposite Keira Knightley. Starring alongside Moss in The Heidi Chronicles is Jason Biggs (The Play What I Wrote, The Graduate, the American Pie movie franchise) as Scoop Rosenbaum, as well as Bryce Pinkham (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson) as Peter Patrone. The play is lead produced by Jeffrey Richards and Jerry Frankel, and it is currently scheduled for a limited engagement to conclude on August 9, 2015.

A Feminist Manifesto, with Comedy and Heartheidi chronicles

The play is unique in the way it travels through time from Heidi’s high school years, up until her later adult years. Interestingly, the same male characters recur at different stages of her life, although she does not end up marrying any of them. Perhaps the most important to her is Scoop Rosenbaum (Jason Biggs), whom she first meets as a teenager, but any sense of budding romance is squashed as Scoop goes on to marry another woman, and then proceeds to cheat on her with many women. The other male closest to Heidi throughout her life is Peter Patrone (Bryce Pinkham), a gay pediatrician who acts as a best friend to Heidi throughout her trials and tribulations. While building a career as an art historian, Heidi tackles the issues of what it means to be a woman in the modern age, including the idea of having children. Ultimately, she realizes that she does not need to rely on a man in order to be a mother, and ends up taking the matter into her own hands through adoption. Though this play was originally written in the late 1980s, it is certainly still relevant today, and in fact it will be interesting to see how subtle aspects of the work play differently to a 21st century audience.

Paying Respect to Wasserstein Through Reviving Her Works

Throughout her lifetime, Wendy Wasserstein was considered one of the best playwrights of her generation, as well as a groundbreaking writer in terms of women being viewed on equal ground to men in the creative fields. Unfortunately, she died in 2006 at the age of 55 due to lymphoma. The night following her passing, Broadway dimmed the lights in her honor as is tradition for beloved Broadway figures. In addition to her seminal body of work, Wasserstein lived what she preached. In 1999, when Wasserstein was 48 years old, she gave birth to her first and only child, Lucy Jane Wasserstein. She raised her daughter on her own until the day she died, and she never revealed who the child’s father was. As illustrated in The Heidi Chronicles, Wasserstein’s life was testament to the fact that a woman can make her own life, even in the case of having children.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 2/22/2015

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

New Top Earning Shows: “The Audience” and “Fish in the Dark”

In the week ending February 22, 2015, two shows that have recently begun previews performed excellently at the box office. The Audience, which stars Helen Mirren in the role of Queen Elizabeth II, for which she won an Academy Award for also portraying in the film The Queen, brought in an impressive $1,048,473 this past week. Furthermore, it accomplished this feat in a week of only 7 performances. The previous week, it began previews but played only two performances; even then the figures seemed extremely promising. Still, this past week has proven that this show is a surefire hit with audiences, who are lining up to see this brilliant performance in the flesh. In addition, Larry David’s play Fish in the Dark, which David wrote and also performs in, brought in a weekly gross of $1,177,593. This is the first week in which the play had eight performances, and therefore it increased its weekly gross by $161,950. In the first two weeks of seven performances each, the play also performed very well at the box office, but now it has reached new heights. In any event, this proves that Larry David is a very exciting name on Broadway, and that audience members are thrilled to see him and his work.

An Overall Mixed Week on Broadway

This past week, about half of the running shows demonstrated an increase in sales, whereas the other half showed a decrease in sales. Across the board, there was therefore mixed movement on Broadway this week. Whereas The Lion King saw an increase of $214,415, bringing in a weekly gross of $1,940,457, the other usual mega hit Wicked barely increased at all, going up only $59,939 for a weekly gross of $1,646,631. On the other hand, another big earner, The Book of Mormon, saw a decrease of $99,705, bringing its weekly gross to $1,548,797. Other musicals that saw a decline in ticket sales were Honeymoon in Vegas, which is struggling to compete with a weekly gross of $799,136, representing 78.45% of its gross capacity. In addition, Cabaret declined by $154,143, bringing in a gross of only $337,003. It is doubtful how long that musical revival will last in such a competitive environment, especially as the new spring season is just gearing up. Surprisingly, the three shows that concluded performances in this past week all saw a decrease in sales. The Elephant Man, which ended performances on Saturday, February 21, 2015, went down by $90,713 for a final weekly gross of $1,022,479. That decline, however, is due to the fact that the week only included seven performances, so that Bradley Cooper could attend the Oscars. Furthermore, A Delicate Balance and You Can’t Take It With You, which both concluded their runs on Sunday, February 22, 2015, saw a decrease in sales in their final week.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending February 22, 2015:Broadway-Show-Ticket-Analysis-2-22-15-1

Show Name GrossGross TotalAttn %Capacity AvgPdAdm
A DELICATE BALANCE $432,887 4,327 67.44% $100.04
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $635,905 6,442 88.78% $98.71
ALADDIN $1,546,267 13,785 100.01% $112.17
BEAUTIFUL $1,076,794 7,860 95.76% $137.00
CABARET $799,136 6,616 92.61% $120.79
CHICAGO $547,833 6,401 74.09% $85.59
CONSTELLATIONS $600,043 5,159 99.21% $116.31
DISGRACED $333,065 4,586 62.45% $72.63
FISH IN THE DARK $1,177,593 8,720 101.58% $135.05
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $541,166 5,403 76.65% $100.16
HONEYMOON IN VEGAS $337,003 4,476 47.66% $75.29
IF/THEN $603,920 7,788 74.26% $77.54
IT’S ONLY A PLAY $499,442 5,216 60.54% $95.75
JERSEY BOYS $734,939 7,709 78.47% $95.34
KINKY BOOTS $939,884 9,392 82.44% $100.07
LES MISÉRABLES $710,992 8,819 78.24% $80.62
MAMMA MIA! $578,257 7,157 76.73% $80.80
MATILDA $1,037,118 11,482 100.23% $90.33
ON THE TOWN $536,545 7,760 51.76% $69.14
ON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY $293,584 4,233 97.71% $69.36
THE AUDIENCE $1,048,473 7,411 99.04% $141.48
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,548,797 8,745 102.54% $177.11
THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME $791,055 7,648 93.91% $103.43
THE ELEPHANT MAN $1,022,479 5,548 102.40% $184.30
THE LION KING $1,940,457 13,569 99.77% $143.01
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $829,721 10,114 78.77% $82.04
WICKED $1,646,631 14,771 96.52% $111.48
YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU $403,767 5,574 64.93% $72.44
Total $23,193,752 216,711 83.73% $104.57

Broadway ticket sales raw data are provided courtesy of The Broadway League. All other data, text, opinion, charts and commentary are copyright © 2015 nytix.com