“If/Then” Concludes Its Run

Idina Menzel Led this Musical for One Year

Idina Menzel in if/then on BroadwayOn March 22, 2015, If/Then concluded its run on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theatre. Starring Idina Menzel as a woman named Elizabeth, the musical had been running since its first preview on March 5, 2014. It officially opened on March 30, 2014, and closes having played 401 performances on top of 29 preview performances. The major draw for this musical with book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey and music by Tom Kitt (co-writers of the Pulitzer Prize winning musical Next to Normal) was the star, Idina Menzel. It was therefore fortunate that Menzel stayed for the whole run. Menzel is very well known among Broadway diehards for her star turns as Maureen in Rent, Elphaba in Wicked, and more recently the Ice Queen in the Disney animated film Frozen. For the latter, she sang the Academy Award winning song “Let It Go,” and when she performed the song live at the awards ceremony, John Travolta memorably flubbed the pronunciation of her name, calling her “Adele Dazeem.” More than an embarrassment, this was actually beneficial for her career, enhancing her renown beyond the community of Broadway fans. It is therefore possible that this occurrence augmented interest in the musical she was starring in at the time, If/Then.

Mixed Reviews and Mixed Box Officeif/then

After the show opened in March 2014, it received mixed reviews. To make matters worse, the Tony committee failed to recognize the musical in a significant capacity, snubbing it for the nomination for Best Musical. Therefore, although the show received some early buzz and great box office weeks early on, it is understood that the show closes having failed to recoup its initial investment. The show was capitalized at $10 million, which is a mid level amount for a musical of this size. The initial box office was looking promising, partly due to the timing of the Oscar name flub right at the beginning of the run. From the first week through the week ending May 11, 2014, the musical made over $1 million in its weekly box office a total of 5 times, and the addition 5 weeks had a weekly gross in the $900,000 range. However, starting mid-May, the musical began to bring in weekly grosses in the $800,000 range, by July it was averaging $700,000, and ever since August 2014, the show has been fluctuating in weekly grosses between $500,000 and $600,000. In early November 2014, the show brought in its record low weekly gross of $404,308. Therefore, it was difficult for the musical to keep up the audience interest, especially after the mixed reviews and the Tony nomination snub.

Nevertheless, Reuniting Great Artists for a Fulfilling Experience

The creative team of If/Then was a reunion of many great shows from the past. First of all, Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt are the musical writing duo who won a Pulitzer Prize for Next to Normal, which also won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Lead Performance in a Musical. In addition, If/Then was produced by David Stone, and directed by Michael Greif, both of whom served those same roles on Next to Normal. On top of this, David Stone is also the wickedly successful producer of Wicked, which brought Idina Menzel great fame and acclaim. Furthermore, Michael Greif was the director of Rent, which was Menzel’s first big breakout role. Therefore, though If/Then may not have been financially successful, it was a reunion of great artists who had a very fulfilling experience playing a show for a year with great love and devotion.

“Wolf Hall: Parts One and Two” Begin Previews on Broadway

An Epic Adaptation in Repertory

wolf hallOn March 20, 2015, Wolf Hall Part One and Wolf Hall Part Two began previews in repertory at the Winter Garden Theatre. This two-part epic play comes to New York following a successful run first at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s home theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon, followed by a slam dunk engagement in London’s West End. These two plays are based on two novels written by Hilary Mantel, entitled Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, respectively. In the United Kingdom, the plays went by the same name as the books, but in New York, the producers decided it would be more accessible to American audiences to make obvious that this was a double bill. Therefore, they renamed the shows Wolf Hall Part One and Wolf Hall Part Two, thereby avoiding any ambiguity about which order they come in. The novels, both of which were selected as winners of the Man Booker Prize, were adapted for the stage by Mike Poulton. In addition to these theatrical renditions, Wolf Hall was recently also made into a TV mini series on the BBC, then broadcast in the United States on PBS, starring Mark Rylance (Jerusalem) as Thomas Cromwell.

Prize-Winning Historical Fiction about King Henry VIIIwolf hall

Wolf Hall Part One spans the period from 1500 to 1535, and Wolf Hall Part Two starts where the previous play finishes. Hilary Mantel plans to publish a third novel in what will be a trilogy, which will be entitled The Mirror and the Light. However, there was so much praise for these two novels that both stage and screen adaptations were made before the third novel has even been written. The novels (and their adaptations) deal with the period of English history in which Thomas Cromwell rapidly rises to power during the reign of Henry VIII. The stories are historical fiction, as some dramatic liberties were taken with the biography. In Wolf Hall Part One, Cromwell becomes the right-hand man of the advisor to King Henry VIII, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey. This characterization of Cromwell depicts him as a talented and practical man who really aims to serve the country amidst the difficult political climate. The first play ends with the death of Sir Thomas More, a councillor to King Henry VIII as well as a lawyer, statesman, and philosopher. In Wolf Hall Part Two, Thomas Cromwell and the King are the guests of the Seymour family. When the King falls in love with Jane Seymour, Cromwell is tasked with negotiating a separation from the King’s present wife, Anne Boleyn, who has failed to give birth to a male heir.

Cast and Creative Team

Mike Poulton’s adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s novels are directed by Jeremy Herrin, an accomplished British director who is making his Broadway directorial debut. The role of Thomas Cromwell is played by Ben Miles (The Norman Conquests trilogy), Lydia Leonard plays Anne Boleyn, and Nathaniel Parker (The Merchant of Venice) plays King Henry VIII. All three of these stars are reprising their roles from the London production. In addition, the cast of over 20 actors play approximately 70 diverse roles. Because of the marathon nature of these productions, they can both be seen in one day, amounting to 5 and a half hours of theatre with a dinner break, or they can be seen on different days.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 4/05/2015

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

New Shows: “Living on Love” and “Airline Highway”

In the week ending April 5, 2015, two new shows began previews on Broadway. First of all, Living on Love began previews on April 1, 2015 at the Longacre Theatre. Written by Joe DiPietro (Nice Work if You Can Get It) based on a play called Peccadillo by Garson Kanin, Living on Love is directed by Kathleen Marshall (Anything Goes) and stars opera singer Renee Fleming in her Broadway debut. Over the course of its first five performances, it brought in $126,172, which represents only 26.13% of its gross potential. With a top ticket price of $275.00, the average paid admission was $31.73, which represents very heavy discounting. Furthermore, the show filled up 74.1% of its audience capacity, so many of these tickets must have been complimentary in addition to discounted. In addition, Airline Highway began previews on April 1, 2015 at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre in a Manhattan Theatre Club production. Written by Lisa D’Amour (Detroit) and directed by Joe Mantello (An Act of God), Airline Highway is one of the rare MTC productions on Broadway to be written by a woman in recent years. In its first six performances, the show only brought in $90,799, which represents 20.54% of its gross potential. The average paid admission was $34.67, and average audience capacity was at 69.6%. Fortunately, an MTC production can afford these low wraps more than a commercial work such as Living on Love, as the not-for-profit’s endowment should help make up for some of these losses.

Big Leaps in a Nine-Show Week

This past week, three of the top-grossing musicals on Broadway made the choice to play for nine performances, up from the usual eight. It is unclear why all three of these shows made this decision for the same reason, although two of them – Aladdin and The Lion King – are both Disney Theatricals productions and therefore probably made this choice in tandem. The third show is Wicked, which along with those two is generally at the top of the box office charts. In the week ending April 5, 2015, therefore, each of these shows saw a major increase in ticket sales. The Lion King went up by $569,329, which is accounted for not just by the extra performance, as the gross potential also went up to 100.78% from 99.2% the week before. Wicked saw an increase of $486,223, and Aladdin went up by $454,855. One of the reasons that these three musicals chose to add a performance may have been due to the timing of spring break, as these three shows are all major fare for tourists and families alike.


The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending April 5, 2015:Broadway-Show-Ticket-Analysis-4-05-15

Show Name GrossGross Total Attn %Capacity AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $617,753 6,475 89.24% $95.41
AIRLINE HIGHWAY $90,799 2,619 69.62% $34.67
ALADDIN $2,024,667 15,508 100.01% $130.56
AN AMERICAN IN PARIS $967,151 12,114 92.28% $79.84
BEAUTIFUL $835,957 7,312 89.08% $114.33
CHICAGO $669,411 7,463 86.38% $89.70
DOCTOR ZHIVAGO $368,018 7,480 72.30% $49.20
FINDING NEVERLAND $1,153,212 11,804 99.76% $97.70
FISH IN THE DARK $1,196,788 8,720 101.58% $137.25
FUN HOME $310,222 4,221 90.54% $73.49
GIGI $585,448 8,619 90.80% $67.93
HAND TO GOD $213,302 4,848 77.49% $44.00
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $493,136 5,454 77.37% $90.42
HONEYMOON IN VEGAS $368,966 5,371 58.38% $68.70
IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU $310,872 5,473 69.95% $56.80
IT’S ONLY A PLAY $514,337 6,093 70.72% $84.41
JERSEY BOYS $710,080 7,466 76.00% $95.11
KINKY BOOTS $937,627 9,165 80.45% $102.31
LES MISÉRABLES $981,252 10,848 96.24% $90.45
LIVING ON LOVE $126,172 3,977 74.13% $31.73
MAMMA MIA! $813,160 8,884 95.24% $91.53
MATILDA $1,416,637 11,493 100.32% $123.26
ON THE TOWN $563,746 9,468 63.15% $59.54
ON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY $509,348 5,398 93.46% $94.36
SKYLIGHT $625,494 6,201 96.65% $100.87
SOMETHING ROTTEN! $507,102 10,257 95.33% $49.44
THE AUDIENCE $1,142,590 7,505 100.29% $152.24
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,517,640 8,751 102.61% $173.42
THE HEIDI CHRONICLES $275,393 3,994 49.88% $68.95
THE KING AND I $828,367 8,376 100.00% $98.90
THE LION KING $2,633,531 15,295 99.97% $172.18
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $1,230,960 11,142 86.78% $110.48
THE VISIT $214,803 5,155 71.52% $41.67
WICKED $2,358,372 15,857 91.48% $148.73
WOLF HALL PARTS ONE & TWO $689,541 8,127 73.45% $84.85
Totals $29,551,639 294,345 85.37% $91.82

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 Heidi Chronicles” Opens on Broadway

Elisabeth Moss Shines at the Music Box Theatre

heidi chroniclesOn March 19, 2015, The Heidi Chronicles opened on Broadway at the Music Box Theatre. This play, originally produced in 1988, won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1989. Written by Wendy Wasserstein (The Sisters Rosenweig, An American Daughter), this production is directed by Pam MacKinnon (A Delicate Balance, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Clybourne Park). Wendy Wasserstein, who passed away in 2006 due to lymphoma, is highly regarded as one of the great contemporary feminist playwrights of our time. This production has done justice to her legacy, with Elisabeth Moss (“Mad Men,” Speed-the-Plow, London’s The Children’s Hour) playing the title role of Heidi Holland, a character who is semi autobiographical. Additional roles are played by Jason Biggs (“American Pie” franchise, The Play What I Wrote, The Graduate) and Bryce Pinkham (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Ghost the Musical). It tells the story of a young woman named Heidi, spanning her life from childhood through more than 20 years of her life, dealing with themes of a woman’s independence, raising children, settling with a man, and building a career. The play is scheduled to run for a limited engagement until August 9, 2015.

Overall Positive Reviews from Criticsheidi chronicles

In sum, the reviews were positive for The Heidi Chronicles. Charles Isherwood of The New York Times found the play resonant today despite being written 27 years ago. He praised Elisabeth Moss, calling her “superb” and remarking on her ability to portray innocence at the same time as cunning. Robert Kahn of NBC New York also loved the show, commenting that it did not seem dated as the issues at the heart of the play are definitely still important today, and the answers are just as uncomfortable, as our culture as a whole has not fully figured out the dilemma of women’s place in society. Furthermore, Linda Winer of Newsday was overwhelmed with sentiment following this revival, not only because it is the first major production of Wendy Wasserstein’s work following her death, but also because the play definitely stands up to its legacy. Adam Feldman of Time Out New York was less sold on the production, finding the heartbeat of the play to be less resounding than it was when first performed, although acknowledging that the play has always been historical in its perspective. In addition, David Rooney of the Hollywood Reporter found the best thing about the play to be Ms. Moss’ performance, but he did not fully enjoy the construction of the narrative.

A Difficult Sell at the Box Office

Elisabeth Moss may be a hot name in Hollywood due to her fame from “Mad Men,” but perhaps she has not yet reached the heights of a star who can sell a Broadway show from her name alone. Furthermore, the play and the playwright have a serious pedigree among theatre circles, but in the wider community, and especially the tourist market, they may have little resonance. Therefore, the box office figures have not been outstanding thus far in the run, and even following the mostly positive reviews, the numbers have budged just barely upward. In the most recent week of reported box office, the week ending March 29, 2015, The Heidi Chronicles brought in $335,976, which represents 37.7% of its gross potential. In the five weeks of the run thus far, the show has been on a steady incline, although very slight. For instance, this past week it only went up by $6,974 from the week before, when it had increased by $7,025 from the week before that. Therefore, it may be difficult for this show to come close to breaking even, unless something dramatically different happens in these financial patterns.

“Gigi” Begins Performances on Broadway

Vanessa Hudgens Makes Her Broadway Debut

gigi vanessa hudgensOn March 19, 2015, a new revival of the musical Gigi began previews at the Neil Simon Theatre. This musical with book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, and music by Frederick Loewe, first premiered on Broadway in 1973, when it won the Tony Award for Best Original Score, and was nominated for three other Tony Awards including Best Actor, Best Scenic Design, and Best Costume Design. However, that production was disappointingly short lived, running for only 103 performances. Nevertheless, the play premiered in the West End in 1985, where it ran for seven months. This revival is a new adaptation of the musical, written by the British screenwriter and playwright Heidi Thomas. Directed by Eric Schaeffer (Follies, Million Dollar Quartet), and choreographed by Joshua Bergasse (On the Town), this production of Gigi premiered at Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center prior to arriving on Broadway. The role of Gigi is played by Vanessa Hudgens, the High School Musical star who is making her Broadway debut. Additional roles are played by Victoria Clark (Sister Act, Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella), Corey Cott (Newsies), Dee Hoty (Bye Bye Birdie, Mamma Mia!, Footloose), Steffanie Leigh (Mary Poppins), and Howard McGillin (Sunday in the Park with George, She Loves Me).

A Rookie Producer Gets Creative

Gigi is produced by Jenna Segal, who formerly worked in television at MTV and Nickelodeon, but who has gigi vanessa hudgensnever been involved in the production of a Broadway show before. However, she has known this story since she was a little girl, and it was her passion for the material that drove her to secure the rights and develop this revival. She faced certain challenges in adapting this show to the modern age. The story is about a young courtesan who decides to leave her training to marry for love. The original tale involved lovers with a wide age difference, 15 and 33, so this revival tightens that gap, making Gigi 18, and her beloved only a bit older. Furthermore, one of the most famous songs, “Thank Heaven for Little Girls,” was sung by an older uncle, which could leave a strange impression on contemporary audiences. To respond to this issue, the rewrites reattributed this song to a different pair of singers, the grandmother and aunt played by Victoria Clark and Dee Hoty. Furthermore, Segal took an inventive approach in partnering with luxury brands to make the show more glamorous and appeal to a range of audiences in the wealthy Broadway demographic. For instance, Swarovski provided over 250,000 crystals for the production, and Veuve Cliquot is a sponsor of the show, which includes such songs as “The Night They Invented Champagne.”

A Dream Come True for Vanessa Hudgens

At age 26, Vanessa Hudgens has had a fair share of success. She has ventured into high profile television, film, and pop music endeavors, but this is her first time shining on the Broadway stage. She told The New York Times that this experience has really changed her work ethic and perspective on her career goals. Returning to the stage for the first time since she was a little girl, this opportunity allows her to feel stardom in the visceral live reality that only theatre can offer. In terms of the role of Gigi, Hudgens has had a lot of experience with both wholesome and racy roles, and Gigi can be considered both of these. Her first breakout role was a supporting part in the film Thirteen, but then she was restored to honesty with a much less morally troubling part in “High School Musical.” On the flipside, her part in the Harmony Korine film Spring Breakers involved a scandalous sex scene with James Franco. In any case, Hudgens can leverage this experience to bring a well-rounded sense of character to Gigi, and her 6.7 million Instagram followers will eagerly await the reviews.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 3/29/2015

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

“Something Rotten!” and “Doctor Zhivago” Begin Previews

In the week ending March 29, 2015, Something Rotten! was one of four new shows that began previews. Over the course of seven performances at the St. James Theatre, the new musical directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon) brought in $363,874, which represents 68.51% of its gross capacity. That is not bad for a new show without previous brand name recognition. Furthermore, it has Broadway stars but not Hollywood stars, including Christian Borle, Brian D’Arcy James, Brooks Ashmanskas, and Peter Bartlett. With a top ticket price of $197.00, the average paid ticket was only $35.30. Therefore, though the average audience capacity was 99.1%, the ticket buyers mostly paid highly discounted rates. This is a good tactic for a new show to gain popularity through word of mouth in its early days. Furthermore, Doctor Zhivago began previews at the Broadway Theatre on March 27, 2015, playing three performances over this first week. With a weekly gross of $291,270, the show brought in 60.39% of its gross potential, with an average paid admission of $74.02.

“Fun Home” and “The Visit” Also Join the Broadway Ranks

After a wildly successful run at the Public Theatre, Fun Home began previews on March 27, 2015, playing 4 performances in this first week. The show brought in a weekly gross of $218,509, representing 58.56% of its gross potential. With a top ticket price of $200.00, the average paid admission was $77.43, representing a moderate amount of discounting to reach the audience capacity of 100.5%. This is another new musical that hopes to spread word of mouth through early discounting in the run, but will hope to maintain full audiences at higher priced tickets after opening. Finally, The Visit began previews on March 26, 2015 at the Lyceum Theatre. Starring Chita Rivera and Roger Rees, this musical has a book by Terrence McNally, and a score by John Kander and Fred Ebb. Over its first five performances, the show only brought in $167,410 despite its high pedigree of cast and creative team. This represents 35.12% of the show’s gross potential. With a top ticket price of $225.00, the average paid admission was $46.74, reaching an average audience capacity of 79.5%.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending March 29, 2015:Broadway-Show-Ticket-Analysis-3-29-15

Show Name GrossGross TotalAttn %Capacity AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $642,467 6,469 89.15% $99.31
ALADDIN $1,569,812 13,785 100.01% $113.88
AN AMERICAN IN PARIS $859,762 10,620 92.45% $80.96
BEAUTIFUL $979,932 7,279 88.68% $134.62
CABARET $935,989 7,042 98.57% $132.92
CHICAGO $694,655 8,032 92.96% $86.49
DOCTOR ZHIVAGO $291,270 3,935 88.75% $74.02
FINDING NEVERLAND $1,046,994 11,211 94.75% $93.39
FISH IN THE DARK $1,200,038 8,720 101.58% $137.62
FUN HOME $218,509 2,822 100.50% $77.43
GIGI $483,908 7,407 78.03% $65.33
HAND TO GOD $235,413 5,379 85.98% $43.77
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $506,395 5,908 83.81% $85.71
HONEYMOON IN VEGAS $371,576 5,020 54.57% $74.02
IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU $335,706 6,144 78.53% $54.64
IT’S ONLY A PLAY $612,583 6,130 71.15% $99.93
JERSEY BOYS $738,877 8,053 81.97% $91.75
KINKY BOOTS $1,004,700 9,875 86.68% $101.74
LES MISÉRABLES $800,286 9,568 84.88% $83.64
MAMMA MIA! $699,086 8,483 90.94% $82.41
MATILDA $1,137,135 11,486 100.26% $99.00
ON THE TOWN $573,548 9,032 60.25% $63.50
ON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY $486,398 5,664 98.06% $85.88
SKYLIGHT $618,692 6,215 96.87% $99.55
SOMETHING ROTTEN! $363,874 10,307 99.11% $35.30
THE AUDIENCE $1,164,962 7,584 101.35% $153.61
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,529,584 8,751 102.61% $174.79
THE HEIDI CHRONICLES $335,976 4,981 62.20% $67.45
THE KING AND I $776,946 8,377 100.01% $92.75
THE LION KING $2,064,202 13,494 99.22% $152.97
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $964,013 11,422 88.96% $84.40
THE VISIT $167,410 3,582 79.51% $46.74
WICKED $1,872,149 14,604 94.78% $128.19
WOLF HALL PARTS ONE & TWO $886,920 8,877 80.23% $99.91
Totals $27,962,546 284,016 88.65% $94.28

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

“It Shoulda Been You” Begins Previews

David Hyde Pierce Directs, Tyne Daly Stars

it shoulda been youOn March 17, 2015, It Shoulda Been You began previews at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. The musical comes to Broadway after a critically acclaimed run at the George Street Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey. The show marks David Hyde Pierce’s Broadway directorial debut. As an actor Pierce has appeared on Broadway in many shows including Spamalot, La Bête, and Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. This is in addition to his numerous screen credits, most notably TV’s “Frasier.” The musical has book and lyrics by Brian Hargrove (who happens to be David Hyde Pierce’s husband) and a score by Barbara Anselmi. This marks the Broadway debuts of both Hargrove and Anselmi. This wedding musical comedy stars Tyne Daly (Mothers and Sons, Master Class, Gypsy) as the mother of the bride, Sierra Boggess (Master Class, The Little Mermaid) as the bride, Harriet Harris (Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Present Laughter) as the mother of the groom, and David Burtka (Gypsy, husband of Neil Patrick Harris) as the groom.

Further Cast and Creative Teamit shoulda been you

Additional roles are played by Montego Glover (Memphis, The Color Purple) as the bride’s maid of honor, Lisa Howard (Priscilla Queen of the Desert, 9 to 5) as the sister of the bride, and Edward Hibbert (Mrs. Warren’s Profession, The Drowsy Chaperone) as the wedding planner. The show is choreographed by Josh Rhodes (Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, First Date), and the musical director is Lawrence Yurman (On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, Grey Gardens). In addition, the scenic design is by Anna Louizos (Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella), the costume design is by William Ivey Long (On the Twentieth Century), the lighting design is by Ken Billington (Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway), and sound design is by Nevin Steinberg (Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella), who happens to share the same last name as the bride’s family in this musical comedy.

A Wedding Comedy Gone Awry

In It Shoulda Been You, two families of different backgrounds come together for the wedding of their son and daughter. Rebecca Steinberg, the bride, comes from a very Jewish family, whereas Brian Howard, the groom, comes from a WASPier clan. The groom’s mother loves to drink, and the bridge’s mother loves to kvetch. Not only do the parents clash immediately, but there are other tensions brewing beneath the surface. Ultimately, the bride’s sister needs to come to the rescue, as she realizes her sister has gone too far and the secrets need to be revealed. The show is scheduled to open on April 14, 2015, and it is presently set for an open-ended run.

“On the Twentieth Century” Opens

A Revival of a Screwball Musical Comedy

on the twentieth centuryOn March 15, 2015, On the Twentieth Century played its opening night performance at the American Airlines Theatre. Produced by the Roundabout Theatre Company, this musical is a revival of the original produced in 1978, which in turn was based off a play from 1932 by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, which was based off an unpublished by Charles Bruce Millholland. Furthermore, a film entitled Twentieth Century was released in 1934 based off the Hecht and MacArthur play. This musical has book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green (Singin’ in the Rain, Bells are Ringing, Wonderful Town), and a score by Cy Coleman (Sweet Charity, City of Angels, The Will Rogers Follies, Barnum). Following its 1978 Broadway run, the show won the Tony Award for Best Book as well as the Tony Award for Best Original Score, and then transferred to the West End in 1980. With the exception of a smaller London production in 2010, this is the first major revival. Directed by Scott Ellis and choreographed by Warren Carlyle, the musical stars Kristin Chenoweth, Peter Gallagher, Mary-Louise Wilson, Michael McGrath, Andy Karl, and Mark Linn-Baker.

Overall Positive ReviewsON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

The reviews are in, and critics are generally laudatory of this production. Ben Brantley wore none of his sometime cynicism in writing that he was on cloud nine following this performance, praising the “over-the-moon” acting which is a level above over-acting. In this case, he believes the extravagant performances by Chenoweth and Gallagher, among others, served the material brilliantly, and furthermore he was delighted to see a musical revival that isn’t revived very often, in this case for the first time. Joe Dziemianowicz calls the show Broadway musical bliss, delighting in everything from David Rockwell’s art deco set of the locomotive train, to Chenoweth’s dynamite comedy and voice. Frank Scheck from the New York Post delights in the fact that they don’t make musicals, or write dialogue, like this anymore, and likewise calls the show theatrical bliss. Jesse Green in Vulture calls the revival delicious, acknowledging that there are a million reasons why the show shouldn’t work today, but that Chenoweth above all makes those reasons fall to the wayside, as the role of Lily Garland is perfectly suited to her natural gifts. David Rooney of The Hollywood Report was more on the fence, deeming that Scott Ellis is off his game and that the mock operetta style becomes tedious to watch.

Mediocre Box Office Performance

Despite these largely positive reviews, the show is still struggling at the box office. This is not surprising, because most of these critical responses were extravagantly positive especially because they did not expect to like it. The show’s title, description, and appearance seem to make it very dated, and this makes it a difficult sell at the box office. It doesn’t matter that the show defies expectations, because you have to buy a ticket to find that out. In the full week of performances following the release of these reviews, the show’s weekly gross went up by only $75,479, bringing it to a gross of $466,078 across eight performances. This is only 56.69% of the week’s gross potential. Still, the Roundabout is managing to fill many of its seats, as the show did average over 100% of audience capacity in the last two weeks. However, with a top ticket price of $229.00, the average paid admission was $80.30, showing a heavy amount of discounting. Fortunately, the Roundabout is equipped to handle these numbers as a not-for-profit theatre company.

Harvey Weinstein’s “Finding Neverland” Begins Previews

Inspired by the 2004 Film of the Same Name

finding neverlandOn March 15, 2015, Finding Neverland began previews at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. The musical is the first venture for Weinstein Live Entertainment, which is the stage producing entity of Harvey Weinstein, the film producing powerhouse whose many credits include Shakespeare in Love, August: Osage County, The Artist, Inglourious Basterds, and The King’s Speech. Whereas Weinstein has served as a limited partner in assisting the production of stage plays in the past, such as The Producers, Billy Elliot the Musical, and August: Osage County, this is the first his company has developed a show from scratch and served as lead producer. Always taking precautions for perfection, Weinstein hired a seasoned executive producer to make sure the show was running smoothly: Barry and Fran Weissler, whose many credits include Chicago, Pippin, La Cage aux Folles, and The Scottsboro Boys. The musical Finding Neverland is based on the 2004 film, which starred Johnny Depp as J.M. Barrie, the writer of Peter Pan; the film also won the 2004 Academy Award for Best Musical Score. That film was also a major commercial hit, bringing in over $118 million at the box office, with a budget of $25 million. The film was distributed by Miramax, a Weinstein Company, which evolved into Weinstein’s interest in the stage adaptation.

A Superb Creative Team

The show is directed by Diane Paulus, who is renowned for her original interpretation of musicals including Hair, Pippin, and The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess. She is also the artistic director of American Repertory Theatre in Boston. Finding Neverland is choreographed by Mia Michaels who is best known for being a judge and choreographer on the TV Show So You Think You Can Dance; this is her first venture into Broadway choreography. Weinstein, ever the perfectionist, did not find this creative team on his first attempt. Finding Neverland premiered in Leicester, England in an out of the way run to work out its kinks. Whereas it is not unusual for producers to try their shows out of town before bringing them to Broadway, they usually don’t go as far as rural England, and furthermore they usually stick with their team in working on the issues. However, in this case, Weinstein got such mixed feedback from the Leicester run that he decided to scrap his creative team and start from the beginning, and this is when he brought in Diane Paulus, and decided to have a pre-Broadway run in Cambridge at American Repertory Theatre. In this revised version, the book is by James Graham, and the music and lyrics are by Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy.

Original Broadway Castkelsey grammer matthew morrison

For the Broadway production, many new cast members were brought in from previous incarnations. At the Lunt-Fontanne, the role of J. M. Barrie is played by Matthew Morrison (Hairspray, The Light in the Piazza, “Glee”). The role of Sylvia Llewelyn Davies remains the same as from ART; she is played by Laura Michelle Kelly (Mary Poppins). The part of Charles Frohman and Captain Hook is played by Kelsey Grammer (“Frasier”, “Cheers”, La Cage aux Folles), and Mary Barrie is played by Teal Wicks (Wicked, Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical). Additional roles are played by Carolee Carmello, Courtney Balan, Dana Costello, Melanie Moore, and Rory Donovan. This is in addition to the roles played by children, which have rotating casts. The show will have its official opening on April 15, 2015, and it presently scheduled for an open-ended run.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 3/22/2015

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

“It Shoulda Been You” and “Gigi” Start Previews

In the week ending March 22, 2015, three new shows began previews on Broadway. None of them appear to be immediate hits. On March 17, 2015, It Shoulda Been You began previews at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. Starring Tyne Daly and directed by David Hyde Pierce, this new musical transferred from the George Street Playhouse is having difficulty in its opening performances. In the first week of six performances, the show brought in $293,768, which amounts to 41.16% of the show’s gross potential. With a top ticket price of $197.00, the average paid admission was only $57.49, showing a heavy amount of discounting. Nevertheless, it only filled up 87.1% of seats. On March 19, 2015, Gigi began previews at the Neil Simon Theatre. Over the course of four performances, Gigi brought in $331,484, which is 47.99% of gross potential. Starring Vanessa Hudgens, the musical revival may not have enough star attraction for the Broadway ticket buying demographic. With a top ticket price of $198.00, the average paid admission was $77.25, and the average audience capacity was 79.1%. Therefore, in comparison to It Shoulda Been You, ticket buyers for Gigi are paying slightly more but fewer of them are buying.

“Wolf Hall: Parts 1 and 2” Begin Performances in Repertory

On March 20, 2015, Wolf Hall: Parts 1 and 2 began playing in repertory at the Winter Garden Theatre. Following a successful run in London, this two-play series based on the novels by Hilary Mantel may have difficulty gaining traction in the U.S. Though British transfers often do well, the hefty nature of the two plays may dissuade ticket buyers who are looking for lighter fare. On the other hand, perhaps it will just take time for word of mouth and positive reviews to catch hold at the box office. In its first week of 4 performances, the two-play production brought in $419,780, which represents 58.73% of its gross potential. With a top ticket price of $293.50, the average paid admission was $99.66, and the average audience capacity was 76.1%. Therefore, similar to Gigi, Wolf Hall: Parts 1 and 2 is not discounting quite as much as it might be able to, but as a result fewer seats are filled across the week’s performances. It will be interesting to view how this evolves as even more shows begin performances in this bursting spring season.


The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending March 22, 2015:Broadway-Show-Ticket-Analysis-3-22-15

Show Name GrossGross TotalAttn %Capacity AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $688,806 6,907 95.19% $99.73
ALADDIN $1,445,641 13,786 100.01% $104.86
AN AMERICAN IN PARIS $737,241 9,050 91.92% $81.46
BEAUTIFUL $992,794 7,512 91.52% $132.16
CABARET $856,644 6,953 97.33% $123.20
CHICAGO $675,431 7,926 91.74% $85.22
FINDING NEVERLAND $1,004,171 10,460 101.03% $96.00
FISH IN THE DARK $1,192,234 8,720 101.58% $136.72
GIGI $331,484 4,291 79.11% $77.25
HAND TO GOD $217,974 5,137 82.11% $42.43
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $421,691 4,631 65.70% $91.06
HONEYMOON IN VEGAS $386,247 5,188 56.39% $74.45
IF/THEN $857,730 8,837 84.26% $97.06
IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU $293,768 5,110 87.08% $57.49
IT’S ONLY A PLAY $420,606 4,700 54.55% $89.49
JERSEY BOYS $783,181 8,390 85.40% $93.35
KINKY BOOTS $1,056,517 10,381 91.13% $101.77
LES MISÉRABLES $834,837 10,313 91.49% $80.95
MAMMA MIA! $634,709 7,881 84.49% $80.54
MATILDA $1,049,234 11,514 100.51% $91.13
ON THE TOWN $575,425 8,583 57.25% $67.04
ON THE TWENTIETH CENTURY $466,078 5,804 100.48% $80.30
SKYLIGHT $581,494 5,372 95.69% $108.25
THE AUDIENCE $1,173,331 7,602 101.59% $154.35
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,547,575 8,752 102.63% $176.83
THE HEIDI CHRONICLES $329,002 5,869 73.29% $56.06
THE KING AND I $814,492 8,316 99.28% $97.94
THE LION KING $1,901,829 13,499 99.26% $140.89
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $974,043 11,372 88.57% $85.65
WICKED $1,855,247 15,214 98.74% $121.94
WOLF HALL PARTS ONE & TWO $419,780 4,212 76.14% $99.66
Totals $26,316,782 260,094 88.17% $97.73

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