“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” Opens

A Unanimous Hit, Now Let the Numbers Roll In

curious incidentOn October 5, 2014, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on Broadway. A transfer from the National Theatre in London, this clever and heartfelt play won over critics in the U.S. as much as it did in Britain. Unanimous raves began to pour in following the show’s official opening, which occurred after 23 preview performances. Marilyn Stasio of Variety alerted readers to “believe the buzz,” as the show is spectacular. Ben Brantley of The New York Times was so rhapsodized by the play’s immersive effect that he declared it a Critic’s Pick. Extremely positive reviews also came in from Time Out New York, the Associated Press, the Hollywood Reporter, NY Daily News, and NPR. As for box office performance, the last reported numbers are from the week ending October 5, 2014, which does not take into account any performances since the reviews all came out. Therefore, the next few weeks will be crucial to determine whether this play’s positive notices will translate into dollars, in a way only British plays seem to be particularly adept at.

The Route to Broadway

Simon Stephens’ adaptation of Mark Haddon’s 2003 award-winning novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time premiered in the Cottesloe Theatre in London’s National Theatre on August 2, 2012, and ran there until October 2012. A month prior to closing, the National Theatre Live programme screened a taping of the play, live to movie theaters around the world. In March of the following year, the production transferred to the West End (the commercial sector of London theatre), with the intent to run for years. However, just over a year later, part of the Apollo Theatre’s roof collapsed and performances had to be suspended until after the winter holidays. In the new year, it was announced the balcony would need to undergo thorough restoration, rendering the continuation of performances impossible. Over the course of months, the cast kept fresh by giving free performances in schools. In June, the play finally re-opened at another West End venue, the Gielgud Theatre. Fortunately, it had already won acclaim in the spring 2013 awards season; it earned the most Olivier Award nominations with eight, and it won seven of them: Best New Play, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Sound, Lighting, and Set.

Creative Team and Cast

alex sharp

Alex Sharp

The play is directed by Marianne Elliot, whose production travelled from London to New York where it found a new cast. The lead role of Christopher Boone is played by Alex Sharp, a Juilliard grad making his Broadway debut. The set is a black box with three sides, and a network of lines break up into smaller boxes lined in white. Whenever anyone intrudes into Christopher’s world, the perfectly orderly arrangement goes berserk with light and sound and video. The scenic designer is Bunny Christie, who collaborated with Paule Constable on lights, Finn Ross on video, and Ian Dickinson for Autograph on sound. The story involves a 15 year-old boy, unspokenly with Asperger’s disease, who goes off to search for the murderer of his neighbor’s dog. In the meanwhile, he encounters facts about his family that lead him on an altogether unexpected journey. His mother Judy is played by Enid Graham, and his father is played by Ian Barford. His teacher Siobhan is played radiantly by Francesca Faridany. The show is slated for an open-ended run.

“Lady Day” Plays Final Performance

Extensions Upon Extensions, and Wins for Audra McDonald

microphoneOn October 5, 2014, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill played it final performance at the Circle in the Square Theatre. It began performances on March 25, 2014, with its official opening night on April 13, 2014. Originally intending to play for only a limited 10-week engagement, the show continually extended until it ending up running for 193 performances in all. The play with music starred Audra McDonald as Billie Holiday, and was essentially a bio-play in which McDonald recounted the highs and the lows of Billie Holiday’s life and career. The play received two 2014 Tony Award nominations, winning them both – McDonald took home the award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play, and Steve Canyon Kennedy won for Best Sound Design of a Play. This event actually let Audra McDonald make Tony Award history, as she became the first woman to win the awards for all four acting categories: Best Lead Actress in a Musical, Best Lead Actress in a Play, Best Supporting Actress in a Musical, and Best Supporting Actress in a Play. Furthermore, McDonald now holds the most Tony Award wins for any actor in the competitive categories.

Breaking the House Box Office Record

In the week ending September 21, 2014, the show grossed $696,922 for the eight performances, which broke the Circle in the Square Theatre’s box office record for weekly gross. That means it brought in more ticket sales than any production in the theatre’s history in one week. The show recouped its capitalization of $2.6 million in early August, so these continually high sales helped the producers to reap in a significant profit. In the show’s final week ending October 5, 2014, that record got broken for a second time, as fans flocked to catch the show in its last performances. That week, the show grossed $762,599, which represented 105.49% of its gross potential. That was also the first week that the show broke 100% gross potential. Before the Tony Awards, the show was bringing in around 60 to 75 percent of its gross potential, but as the awards season began gearing up, those numbers rose to the 80 percent range. However it wasn’t until the last weeks of the run that the show began to hit record-breaking figures. Nevertheless, recoupment was certain for this show by the end of summer, as its modest budget or $2.6 million allowed for quickly entering profit-making territory.

Creative Team and Storyline

The show was directed by Lonny Price, who was behind such shows as 110 in the Shade, Master Harold and the Boys, and Urban Cowboy.Actress singer Audra McDonald red carpet event black dress It was written by Lanie Robertson, for whom this is the first Broadway credit. In addition to Tony Award winning sound design by Steve Canyon Kennedy, the show had lighting design by Robert Wierzel, costume design by ESosa, scenic design by James Noone, and music arrangements and orchestrations by Tim Weil. The story is set in 1959 as Billie Holiday sings one of her final public appearances at the Emerson’s Bar & Grill. Audra McDonald performs alongside pianist Shelton Becton playing Holiday’s accompanist Jimmy Powers, along with a dog named Roxie who plays Holiday’s dog Pepi. She sings some of Holiday’s beloved tunes including “When a Woman Loves a Man,” “Baby Doll,” “Foolin’ Myself,” “God Bless the Child,” and “What a Little Moonlight Can Do.” Overall, she goes into the sadder elements of Holiday’s life, while doing justice to her magnificent voice.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 10/05/2014

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

“You Can’t Take It With You” Showing Some Improvement

In the week ending October 5, 2014, the recently opened Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman 1937 comedy You Can’t Take It With You grossed $571,079. This is an increase of $189,751 from the week before, although that week was a $150,889 decrease from the week before that. This past week’s gross represents 57.91% of the gross potential. The reason these numbers are interesting to analyze is because the show opened at the beginning of this past week of recorded figures, on September 28, 2014. It received magnificent reviews, though the financial data is still bordering on mediocre. In particular, during the last week of previews, the numbers were particularly dire, reaching only 39.18% of the gross potential. This is partly because critics received complimentary tickets to review the show, along with the largely comp’ed opening night performance. Nevertheless, it appears the rave reviews were barely enough to get the box office back up to speed for the numbers it was doing in previews. Time will tell if word of mouth spread enough to make this a hit.

New Shows: “The Real Thing” and “The Last Ship”

The Roundabout Theatre Company production of The Real Thing began previews on October 2, 2014, running for just 5 performances in its first performance week. In that time, it grossed $264,607, which represents just 66.49% of its gross potential. Meanwhile, it filled 90.9% of the seats across the five performances, who represents a heavy degree of discounting and papering (giving out complimentary tickets). This Tom Stoppard classic stars Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ewan McGregor, Cynthia Nixon, and Josh Hamilton, and is sure to pick up at least somewhat as performances are underway. Meanwhile, Sting’s musical The Last Ship began performances on September 29, 2014, playing 7 performances in its first week. Over that time, it grossed $533,382, which represents 49.39% of its gross potential. It filled only 72.1% of the seats over those seven performances. The discrepancy between The Last Ship and The Real Thing, in addition to the number of performances, is that the former is a musical and therefore plays in a larger theatre, with a higher gross potential. In any case, it will be interesting to see whether critics and audiences alike will take to this somber musical set in rural England with a score by a Grammy winning Broadway newbie.


The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending October 5, 2014:

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis 10-05-14


Show GrossGross Total Attn %Cap AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $849,170 7,053 97.20% $120.40
ALADDIN $1,318,128 13,582 98.53% $97.05
BEAUTIFUL $1,279,354 8,271 100.77% $154.68
CABARET $537,342 4,632 64.84% $116.01
CHICAGO $479,306 5,935 68.69% $80.76
CINDERELLA $487,724 7,706 55.01% $63.29
DISGRACED $292,989 4,674 72.74% $62.68
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $528,099 5,639 80.00% $93.65
IF/THEN $456,099 7,946 75.76% $57.40
IT’S ONLY A PLAY $1,248,660 8,637 100.99% $144.57
JERSEY BOYS $844,166 8,256 84.04% $102.25
KINKY BOOTS $1,157,229 10,219 89.70% $113.24
LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR & GRILL $762,599 5,651 103.57% $134.95
LES MISÉRABLES $666,437 7,589 67.33% $87.82
LOVE LETTERS $214,065 3,956 46.30% $54.11
MAMMA MIA! $659,381 7,874 84.41% $83.74
MATILDA $713,487 8,205 71.62% $86.96
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL $981,415 10,300 85.43% $95.28
ON THE TOWN $565,544 11,625 77.54% $48.65
ONCE $358,134 5,617 66.30% $63.76
PIPPIN $402,674 5,148 65.00% $78.22
ROCK OF AGES $332,574 3,868 82.93% $85.98
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,611,038 8,739 102.47% $184.35
THE COUNTRY HOUSE $196,922 4,773 91.79% $41.26
THE LAST SHIP $533,382 6,779 72.06% $78.68
THE LION KING $1,853,776 13,456 98.94% $137.77
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $818,490 9,955 77.53% $82.22
THE REAL THING $264,607 3,362 90.86% $78.71
THIS IS OUR YOUTH $358,375 5,472 64.47% $65.49
WICKED $1,406,222 13,235 91.45% $106.25
YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU $571,079 7,048 82.11% $81.03
Totals: $23,249,657 242,265 81.55% $92.25

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

“You Can’t Take It With You” Opens on Broadway

A Critical Hit With Financial Difficulties

you can't take it with youOn September 28, 2014, You Can’t Take It With You opened at Broadway’s Longacre Theatre after 39 preview performances. Starring James Earl Jones as the patriarch of the quirky Sycamore family, this classic 1937 comedy by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart received generally rave reviews from critics. However, despite appreciation and even celebration by some of New York City’s most dependable reviewers, the show is struggling to attract ticketbuyers at the box office. In the five full or partial weeks that the show has been open so far, the audience capacity has ranged between a weekly average of 80 to 90 percent; however the potential reached of the weekly gross fluctuated between 40 and 55%. This demonstrates that the producers are offering heavy discounts to ticketbuyers, who are happily taking advantage of the offers. However, the show will only be able to stay open so long with numbers like these. Nevertheless, it should be noted that these figures represent the pre-opening data, and that it is possible word will quickly spread now that the reviews are in. However, Broadway audiences have been decreasingly swayed by critical response in most cases, and are more generally made aware of shows through marketing campaigns, and thus the positive reviews are by no means a certain bet to improve the box office figures.

The Reviews Are In

Ben Brantley, the most significant theatre critic at New York’s most significant newspaper, The New York Times, loved You Can’t Take It With You. He opened his laudatory review by saying the only part of the show that he could complain about is the ache in his cheeks from smiling so much throughout the entire two and a half hour show. Even though the show won the 1937 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, he did not expect to enjoy this revival so much. Apparently the show has stood the test of time, rather than becoming dated, so much that Brantley refers to this family comedy as the Platonic ideal of family dysfunction. And Brantley was not alone in his praise. David Rooney at the Hollywood Reporter, representing the West Coast perspective on the situation, stated that the play remains irresistible after all these years. He calls the director Scott Ellis a comedy pro, and he gives Jones his due respect by calling him a theater lion with natural gravitas. The Huffington Post, representing the younger urban viewpoint, also gave the play a thumbs up, stating that the audience leaves in a state of euphoria.

Fran Kranz Taking on a Leading Part

you can't take it with you

Fran Kranz, Rose Bryne, and James Earl Jones

The young comedic actor Fran Kranz made his Broadway debut in the 2012 revival of Death of a Salesman starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, and received great notices for his memorable supporting role. You Can’t Take It With You marks his second Broadway performance. He has also received recognition for his roles in television shows such as Joss Whedon’s “Dollhouse” and films such as Cabin in the Woods and Much Ado About Nothing. This is the first time, however, that he has been given a proper leading part as the romantic lead. He told Variety that this is an honor he does not take lightly, and he jumped at the chance to lead the show alongside James Earl Jones and Rose Byrne, the latter of whom made her Broadway debut. This appears to be the second of many Broadway outings for the up-and-coming actor, who is likely to become a name more people know in coming years. You Can’t Take It With You is scheduled to run until January 4, 2015.

Tom Stoppard’s “The Real Thing” Begins Performances

A Legendary Playwright and an A-List Cast

the real thingOn Oct 2, 2014, the second revival of Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing began previews at the Roundabout Theatre Company’s Broadway venue, the American Airlines Theatre. The official opening will take place on October 30, 2014. Arguably the world’s greatest living playwright, Tom Stoppard has written countless works for the stage including the Lincoln Center produced trilogy The Coast of Utopia, as well as Arcadia, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Rock ‘n’ Roll, and Indian Ink, which is simultaneously being produced by Roundabout in their Off-Broadway venue, The Laura Pels Theatre. Of the seven actors in the cast, four are household names, and five are making their Broadway debuts. Maggie Gyllenhaal, who is known for such films as The Dark Knight, Donnie Darko, Secretary, and White House Down, is making her Broadway debut in the role of Annie. Meanwhile, Ewan McGregor, celebrated for his roles in such films as Trainspotting, Big Fish, and Star Wars: Episodes I, II, and III, is making his Broadway debut in the role of Henry. Cynthia Nixon, the beloved “Sex and the City” star whose stage credits are numerous, plays Charlotte, and Josh Hamilton, known for The Bourne Identity, J. Edgar, and Ice Age, plays Max. The remaining three actors – Alex Breaux, Ronan Raftery, and Madeline Weinstein – are all making their Broadway debuts as well.

Cynthia Nixon Returning to Her Groundbreaking Roots

In the original Broadway production of The Real Thing in 1984, Cynthia Nixon was cast as the witty young Debbie. This was her second Broadway role, following The Philadelphia Story in 1980. That production of Stoppard’s play was directed by Mike Nichols, who was so impressed with Nixon’s performance that he suggested she play a role in David Rabe’s Hurlyburly, when The Real Thing had only just opened. She took the opportunity and traveled to Chicago to premiere Hurlyburly, leaving the role of Debbie to her understudy. When she returned to New York for Hurlyburly’s Broadway transfer, she was informed that her replacement in The Real Thing was not doing very well, so she did an unprecedented thing. She made Broadway history by being the first and only person ever to play two non-repertory Broadway roles simultaneously. This was possible because her role in Hurlyburly only appeared in two scenes – the first and one near the end – and her role in The Real Thing only came on for one scene-stealing performance at the beginning of the second act. It also helped that her character in Hurlyburly had undergone a significant transformation – from innocent to depraved – between her two scenes. Now, decades later, Nixon returns for this revival to play the more principal role of Charlotte.

Sam Gold Continuing His Young Success Story

sam gold director

Sam Gold

The director of this production of The Real Thing is Sam Gold, who directed his first Broadway show in fall 2011, and this marks his fifth Broadway credit. This is in addition to numerous high-profile Off-Broadway directing credits. A graduate of the Juilliard directing program, Sam Gold stormed onto the scene and immediately was credited with a new type of directing: one defined by a certain stilted awkwardness. Though this does not necessarily imbue all of his work, it does connect him to the millennial generation and let him stand out as an original artist. His five Broadway credits to date are Seminar (2011-2) by Theresa Rebeck starring Alan Rickman, Picnic (2013) by William Inge starring Ellen Burstyn, The Realistic Joneses (2014) by Will Eno starring Toni Collette, Michael C. Hall, Tracy Letts, and Marisa Tomei, The Real Thing (2014), and the upcoming Broadway transfer of Fun Home (2015). It is rare for such a young director to be given so many early opportunities to showcase his talents, and this pairing with Tom Stoppard is a whole new level of achievement in his career.

“The Last Ship” Begins Previews on Broadway

Sting’s Debut as a Musical Theatre Composer

the last shipThe 16-time Grammy Award winning musician Sting has written his first musical: The Last Ship. Set in an English seafaring town called Wallsend, Tyne and Wear, the musical is based off some of Sting’s own childhood experiences. The protagonist is a young man named Gideon Fletcher, who grew up in this shipping town but dreams of a different life for himself. Though he is expected to follow in his father’s footsteps, he decides to leave home and take a trip around the world. 14 years later, he returns home to discover that the industry is in dire straits, and meanwhile that his childhood sweetheart has found another man to be her fiancé. Gideon, along with the men of the town, endeavors to build one last ship, proving to themselves and to the world that they have power within them.

The Show’s Pre-Broadway Life

The first recorded instance of the show being performed was an early try-out in Newcastle, England at the Live Theatre. More recently, the show was given a pre-Broadway run at Chicago’s Bank of America Theatre from June 10, 2014 until July 13, 2014. Previews have now begun at Broadway’s Neil Simon Theatre, with the first performance having taken place on September 29, 2014. Opening night is scheduled for October 26, 2014. Reviews in Chicago were less than ecstatic. The book was written by John Logan (Red, I’ll Eat You Last: A Chat with Sue Mengers) and Brian Yorkey (Next to Normal, If/Then), but despite the pedigree of these writers, many found the libretto to be implausible, and the story to be dreary. Fans have come to expect that a musical will be somewhat upbeat, and perhaps the story of this struggling English shipping town is not America’s cup of tea.

Cast and Creative Team



In addition to the book by John Logan and Brian Yorkey, and the music and lyrics by Sting, the show is directed by Joe Mantello (Casa Valentina, Other Desert Cities, Glengarry Glen Ross) and choreographed by Steven Hoggett (Once, Rocky, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time). Though this is Sting’s first musical, he has previously ventured out of traditional songwriting territory when co-writing the score for the 2000 Disney animated film The Emperor’s New Groove. Furthermore, Sting released a musical album in 2013 entitled The Last Ship, which features music from the musical, or originally intended for it. He had not released an album prior to that since 2003 with Sacred Love, and credits the show for motivating him to craft a new slew of songs. The cast features Broadway favorites including Michael Esper (The Lyons, American Idiot) and Aaron Lazar (A Little Night Music, The Light in the Piazza), as well as West End star Rachel Tucker making her Broadway debut. Further cast members include Jimmy Nail, Fred Applegate, Sally Ann Triplett, and Collin Kelly-Sordelet.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 9/28/2014

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

“On The Town” Demonstrating Limited Promise

Last week, On The Town began its run with just one performance, so it was too early to tell whether this ambitious old-fashioned revival would perform well out of the gate. Unfortunately, in its first full week of eight performances, On The Town still only grossed 29.19% of its gross potential. In the week ending September 28, 2014, the show brought in $518,116. Still, it managed to fill 70.0% of the 14,992 seats across the eight performances, which is testament to heavy discounting. Nevertheless, On The Town does have the apparent victory of increasing its gross the most from last week out of any show: it increased by $414,530, which was higher than all the other shows in terms of increase. However this number is artificially inflated because the show only played one performance last week.

New Show This Week: “Disgraced”

The Pulitzer Prize winning played Disgraced has begun performances this past week. Ayad Akhtar’s drama about Islamophobia and race in contemporary society transferred to the Lyceum after a successful run at Lincoln Center’s Off-Broadway Claire Tow Theatre through the LCT3 program for new writing. In its first week of only two performances, the show grossed $100,824, which represents 50.33% of its gross potential. Time will tell whether audiences take to this unusually themed play on the Great White Way.

“Love Letters” Struggling Despite Star Cast

A.R. Gurney’s two-hander Love Letters began its revival at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre last week, but even in its first full week of eight performances, it was the lowest performing show on Broadway in terms of percentage of gross potential. With a weekly gross of $178,812, it only brought in 20.15% of its potential, filling only 39.3% of the seats across the eight performances. This must have been quite disappointing for the two stars – Brian Dennehy and Mia Farrow – who are used to attracting a lot of attention. Dennehy in particular is a huge Broadway star, whose most famous success was his lead performance in Death of a Salesman. Fortunately, the duo will not need to withstand the empty audiences for long, as first Farrow and then Dennehy will switch out to be replaced with a rotating cast of stars. Hopefully word of mouth will pick up as the run progresses.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending September 27, 2014:

Broadway Show Ticket Analysis w/e 9/27/14

Show GrossGross Total Attn %Cap AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $807,444 7,093 97.75% $113.84
ALADDIN $1,293,112 13,504 97.97% $95.76
BEAUTIFUL $1,278,681 8,250 100.51% $154.99
CABARET $566,136 5,117 71.63% $110.64
CHICAGO $498,324 6,185 75.38% $80.57
CINDERELLA $568,115 8,438 60.24% $67.33
DISGRACED $100,824 1,583 86.22% $63.69
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $498,220 5,271 74.78% $94.52
IF/THEN $590,185 8,493 80.98% $69.49
IT’S ONLY A PLAY $1,261,025 8,554 100.02% $147.42
JERSEY BOYS $817,139 7,770 79.09% $105.17
KINKY BOOTS $1,230,190 10,522 92.36% $116.92
LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR & GRILL $630,847 5,151 94.41% $122.47
LES MISÉRABLES $665,663 7,670 68.04% $86.79
LOVE LETTERS $178,812 3,360 39.33% $53.22
MAMMA MIA! $649,855 7,804 83.66% $83.27
MATILDA $776,248 8,761 76.48% $88.60
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL $972,330 10,063 83.47% $96.62
ON THE TOWN $518,116 10,494 70.00% $49.37
ONCE $355,062 4,887 57.68% $72.65
PIPPIN $444,549 5,728 72.32% $77.61
ROCK OF AGES $315,948 3,720 79.76% $84.93
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,596,473 8,752 102.63% $182.41
THE COUNTRY HOUSE $225,325 4,927 94.75% $45.73
THE LION KING $1,754,196 13,446 98.87% $130.46
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $834,859 9,996 77.85% $83.52
THIS IS OUR YOUTH $395,194 5,140 60.56% $76.89
WICKED $1,386,090 12,923 89.30% $107.26
YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU $381,328 7,384 86.02% $51.64
Totals: $22,181,013 228,051 81.58% $93.25

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

“Disgraced” Graces the Broadway Stage

Pulitzer Prize Winning Play Transfers to Broadway

disgraced posterOn September 27, 2014, Disgraced plays its first preview at the Lyceum Theatre on Broadway. This play by Ayad Akhtar is a success story, transferring to Broadway after a successful run in fall 2012 Lincoln Center’s smallest venue, the Claire Tow Theatre, as part of their LCT3 program for new writing. The play went on to win the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, as well as the 2013 Obie Award for Playwriting. It also ran in the Off-West End venue The Bush Theatre in spring 2013. Ayad Akhtar is a Pakistani American, whose career has spanned acting as well as writing for film and television, but Disgraced was his first play. Akhtar was born in Staten Island, New York City, and attend Brown University for theater, followed by his MA in directing from Columbia School of the Arts. He has also published his first novel, American Dervish, which received positive reviews on its publication in 2012.

A Study on Islamophobia

The play centers on a Muslim-American lawyer named Amir Kapoor, and his Caucasian wife named Emily who is an artist focusing ondisgraced cast Islamic imagery. The 90-minute play is performed without an intermission, and is set on an evening when the couple has invited another couple over for dinner. Jory is Amir’s colleague from work, and her husband Issac is Emily’s art dealer, who happens to be Jewish. The conversation at dinner centers on a case involving Amir’s nephew Abe, an assimilated Muslim who is concerned with the arrest of a local imam, believing it to be religious persecution. The play is powerful because of the themes discussed at dinner – where the four conversants happen to be a Muslim, a Jew, an African American, and a WASP – touching on topics including September 11th, Islamic tradition, the Taliban, and racial profiling.

The Broadway Cast and Creative Team

The production at the Lyceum is directed by Kimberly Senior, who was behind the LCT3 production as well as the Chicago production earlier in 2012. This is her first Broadway directing credit. The cast includes Hari Dillion as Amir, who played the role in the London production and received rave reviews; this is his Broadway debut. This is also the Broadway debut for Danny Ashok, who plays his nephew Abe. The role of his wife Emily is played by Gretchen Mol, best known for her performance on Boardwalk Empire, but also for her stage credits including Neil LaBute’s The Shape of Things in both London and New York. Josh Radnor plays Isaac; he has been on Broadway once before – in 2002’s The Graduate – but is also known for his screen roles such as television’s How I Met Your Mother. Finally, the role of Jory is played by Karen Pittman, who was recently seen in Bruce Norris’ Domesticated at Lincoln Center, and whose previous Broadway credits include understudy roles in Good People and Passing Strange.

“On The Town” Begins Previews

An Ambitious Production in the Lyric Theatre

on the town posterOn September 20, 2014, the 2014 revival of On the Town began previews at the presently named Lyric Theatre. This venue has undergone many transitions in its storied history, and was most recently home to the infamous Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark, when the theatre was named the Foxwoods. Newly purchased by the London based theatre impresario Ambassador Theatre Group, the now minted Lyric Theatre has welcomed On the Town onto its stage. This musical, with a score by Leonard Bernstein and book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, originally premiered on Broadway in 1944. This will be its third revival, with previous Broadway productions taking place in 1971 and 1988, in addition to the 1949 film version and several British productions. In bringing On the Town to the Lyric, the producers Howard and Janet Kagan were taking an enormous risk. If the $60 million Spiderman, with its brand name recognition and notoriously spectacular flying acts could not fill the 1,938 seats of the huge venue, then a little known old-fashioned musical revival may have a tough time indeed. In fact, On the Town was a last minute booking, when the previously intended tenant – the much more spectacle filled King Kong – had to drop out.

A Good Old-Fashioned New York Story

Set in 1934, On the Town is the story of three sailors who have 24 hours of shore leave in New York City. In addition to seeing the sites, Ozzie, Chip, and Gabey have their intentions set on finding three special ladies to spend the time with. One of the early numbers in the show is the well known number New York, New York, with lyrics including “New York, New York, it’s a helluva town, the Bronx is up but the Battery’s down, the people ride in a hole in the ground…” It is not long before Chip find his lady, a tough talking cab driver named Hildy, who brags in an upbeat number that she “can cook, too” (I Can Cook, Too). Meanwhile, Ozzie finds himself at the Modern Museum of Science, where he meets his beloved Claire de Loone. However, Claire is engaged to be married to a famous judge. Gabey is having more difficulty finding a lady friend, until he stumbles upon Ivy Smith taking singing lessons at Carnegie Hall. Needless to say, the three couples encounter many twists and turns, but ultimately end up happily ever after, or at least with the firm possibility of it.

A Cast of Broadway Performers, But Not Stars

The 2014 production is directed by John Rando, who most recently helmed A Christmas Story The Musical and The Wedding Singer on On the town castBroadway. This is the first choreography credit on Broadway for Joshua Bergasse, but he appeared onstage in Hairspray and The Life. Respectively, Ozzie, Chip, and Gabey are played by Clyde Alves (Bullets Over Broadway, Nice Work If You Can Get It), Jay Armstrong Johnson (Hands on a Hardbody, Catch Me If You Can), and Tony Yazbeck (Gypsy, A Chorus Line).   Their female counterparts Claire, Hildy, and Ivy are played, respectively by Elizabeth Stanley Million Dollar Quartet, Cry Baby), Alysha Umphress (Bring It On The Musical, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever), and Megan Fairchild, making her Broadway debut. Though these six lead performers have spanned the spectrum of Broadway musicals in the last few years, none of them are what you could fairly call household names. Therefore, this production certainly has a tough road ahead of it in terms of attracting enough ticketbuyers to make the show last more than a month or two. On The Town officially opens on October 16, 2014, when the reviews will help determine its fate. Unfortunately, even the most laudatory reviews may not be enough to keep this show on its feet.

“Love Letters” Opens on Broadway

Just Six Preview Performances

love letters posterOn September 13, 2014, A.R. Gurney’s play Love Letters had its first preview at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. After just six previews, on September 18, 2014, the show had its official opening. Whereas most shows usually run for three or four weeks of previews before inviting the press to review the show, denoting its official opening, Love Letters took a different approach. The reason is that the show is cast with a rotating selection of actors, all who are at the top of their trades. As the show is read rather than memorized, which they can get away with due to the conceit of letters, there is less left to chance than with most shows, so fewer preparatory performances were needed. Moreover, as this preliminary cast – Mia Farrow and Brian Dennehy – is only slated to appear until October 10th (with Dennehy continuing on until November 8th), it was necessary for the press to be invited early on, so theatregoers would have a chance to see the cast represented in the reviews for a few weeks after the reviews came out.

A Rotating Cast of Stars

This is the second time Gurney’s epistolary play has been seen on Broadway – the first time was in 1989. The 2014 revival is directed mia farrow brian dennehy love lettersby Gregory Mosher, who is presently the artistic director of Lincoln Center Theatre, and who has directed such Broadway shows as That Championship Season, A View From The Bridge, and James Joyce’s The Dead. Like in the first production of Gurney’s play, the show is performed with a rotating cast of stars, taking turns in the two-hander. As mentioned, the first duo is Mia Farrow and Brian Dennehy, and on October 11th Carol Burnett will step in to read with Dennehy. Brian Dennehy is a Broadway star best known for his portrayal of Willie Loman in Death of a Salesman. Farrow, on the other hand, hasn’t been seen on Broadway since 1996, but she is renowned for film performances in such movies as Rosemary’s Baby. On November 8th, the pair will be replaced by Alan Alda and Candice Bergen, and on December 6th the duo will be played by Stacy Keach and Diana Rigg. Finally, from January 10th to February 1st, the run will conclude with the roles played by Anjelica Huston and Martin Sheen.

Mixed Reviews, Tending Toward the Positive

The reviews spanned the spectrum, with critics either praising the durability of the revival along with the star performances, or panning the show for being glorified staged reading. It is true that the actors have not memorized their lines, which is why the producers were able to woo such esteemed actors, and so many of them, to do the parts. Furthermore, as these actors have busy film schedules, the short stints allowed many of them to take on the roles when they would have normally been unable to commit to a Broadway show. Therefore, the balance works out, as long as the audience doesn’t mind seeing the actors with their glasses donned and reading the parts from the pages of the letters. Fortunately, it is all about the letters, and the story was commended for its tribute to a now old-fashioned form of communication in this age of email and text messaging. The play was reported as being quietly moving and deceptively simple, while the performances were lauded for the depths they managed to reach.