“Bullets Over Broadway” Opens at the St. James Theatre

Bullets over Broadway, the new musical based off the 1994 film of the same name, opened on April 10, 2014 at Broadway’s St. James Theatre.  With a book by Woody Allen based on the screenplay he wrote along with Douglas McGrath, the musical is directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman.  The story is a fitting one for Broadway, as it tells of a young playwright in 1929 named David Shayne who is desperately trying to get his first Broadway production.  In order to secure financing for the play, he agrees to hire the girlfriend of a gangster, in exchange for that gangster backing the production.  The actress’ gangster escort turns out to be a genius contributor to revising the play, but soon David is pretending that those ideas are his own.  Bad turns to worse, as David begins cheating on his girlfriend with the alcoholic leading lady, and the leading man, who is also a compulsive eater, begins to eye the gangster’s girlfriend.

The cast is led by actor-writer Zach Braff (Garden State, Scrubs) as David Shayne.  Though this is Braff’s Broadway debut, he is a familiar face on the Off-Broadway scene, not only as an actor but also as playwright; his play All New People played at New York’s Second Stage Theatre in 2011.  The cast bullets over broadway the musicalof Bullets over Broadway also includes Marin Mazzie as the leading lady Helen Sinclair, Helene Yorke as the gangster’s girlfriend Olive, and Nick Cordero as her escort Cheech.  Of all these actors, however, only Nick Cordero received a Tony nomination, for the category of Best Featured Actor in a Musical.

In total, the musical received six Tony Award nominations, also including those for Best Book of a Musical for Woody Allen, Best Scenic Design for Santo Loquasto, Best Costume Design for William Ivey Long, Best Choreography for Susan Stroman, and Best Orchestrations for Doug Besterman.  This may be considered a disappointment compared to what some theatre industry watchers were expecting, as the musical failed to be nominated in any of the major categories, such as Best New Musical, Best Director, or Best Score.  Furthermore, it is interesting to note that Woody Allen, for his first ever Tony nomination, will be competing against Douglas McGrath, who wrote the book for Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, and who also co-wrote the screenplay for the film Bullets over Broadway.

However, the biggest disappointment is that the musical received fairly negative reviews.  Ben Brantley of The New York Times called it “occasionally funny but mostly just loud.”  Ending his review on a perhaps prophetic note, Brantley then suggested that the authenticity-seeking Cheech take over direction of the musical, and the Tony nominating committee seemed to agrbullets over broadway dance numberee that this performance was one of the best things going for the show.  Furthermore, Marilyn Stasio of Variety remarked how the script was surprisingly few on laughs, and that several of the big dance numbers fall flat, most notably “The Hot Dog Song.”  The Hollywood Reporter also disliked the show, comparing it to a “watered-down champagne cocktail.”  Only NBC New York seemed to like it, even going so far as to call it the best new musical on Broadway this season.  Too bad the Tony committee did not agree.

Financially, the show has been staying afloat, if not exceedingly well.  In the week ending April 27, 2014, it grossed $956,227, and it did even a little bit better in the week preceding that.  In the first few weeks of performances, it did numbers in the 700 to 800,000 dollar range, which is still fairly decent.  Its audience capacity has been flitting between 86 to 92 percent, with an average ticket price around 70 or 80 dollars, which shows a normal amount of discounting for a show still trying to hit its stride.  All in all, the name value of this title will certainly help it find its audience, and the star power of Zach Braff shouldn’t hurt.  Still, with mediocre reviews and minimal Tony recognition, this musical may not ever become the hit that its producers hoped it would.

“The Velocity of Autumn” Closes Early

After only 22 previews and 16 regular performances, The Velocity of Autumn has shuttered its doors at the Booth Theatre.  A new play by Eric Coble and directed by Molly Smith, this two-hander starred Oscar winner Estelle Parsons and Tony winner Stephen Spinella.  It is the story of an elderly woman who threatens to blow herself up in her apartment when her children consider moving her out to a nursing home.  Though the play received mixed reviews and a Tony nomination for Estelle Parsons in the category of Best Actress in a Play, this was not enough to lure ticket buyers to the box office.

With a budget of $2.5 million, this play will surely incur a financial loss for its investors.  In its less than five weeks of performances, the highest it grosThe velocity of autumn on Broadwaysed was in its first week, with a total of $135,307 for seven performances.  Following that first week of previews, the show’s numbers dwindled at three consecutive weeks of $100,056, $94,400, and $84,521, respectively.  In its final week of eight performances, the show saw a slight increase in sales, grossing $130,333 after announcing closing.  The production struggled to spread word of mouth through offering complimentary tickets on various ticket sites, which only brought down the average ticket price to an extraordinary low.  In the five weeks of its run, this average ticket price was $39.96, $32.55, $23.54, $20.77, and $27.43, respectively.

This goes to show that it is increasingly difficult to make a straight play on Broadway profitable, especially without name recognition for the show’s title and without A-list Hollywood stars in the cast.  Although Estelle Parsons is a well-known actress whose long career includes such films as 1967’s Bonnie and Clyde (for which she received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress), as well as a role on television’s Roseanne, she is not a star for whom the public would flock to the box office.  Stephen Spinella, though a Tony winner, is hardly a household name.  Though producers would be more inclined to take a risk on a low-cost show with a small cast such as this one, it was still capitalized at $2.5 million, which is no chump change.

This is the first Broadway credit for the lead producers, Larry Kaye and HOP Theatricals.  Though its producing team also includes Broadway regulars such as Van Dean of The Broadway Consortium, their lack of experience is palpable from the fate of this attempt.  Furthermore, though Van Dean has raised money for several shows in the last handful of years, many have incurred financial losses and closed early, including Big Fish, Bonnie and Clyde, Chinglish, and Catch Me If You Can.  In order to keep the loyalty of their investors, these producers will need to find a hit among the risks they take.  Unfortunately, The Velocity of Autumn has proved to be another loss.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 5/04/2014

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:


This past week was a slow one on Broadway overall; however, shows that received Tony Award nominations – especially for Best Musical – saw a jump in sales.  Because it is not always the case that nominations spur sales, it is not clear exactly what caused this year’s jump for nominated shows.  In addition to news coverage and press announcements about the nominations, it is likely that ticket buyers were persuaded by the advertising efforts of producers who touted the nominations online and in print ads.  Furthermore, many individuals may have not been aware that certain shows were even running until the high volume of publicity picked up around the nominations.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder led the list of Tony nominated shows, with nominations in 10 categories including Best Musical.  Theatregoers responded to this announcement, as last week’s sales increased to $580,279, a 23% jump from the previous week, and the highest weekly gross yet in the show’s six and a half month run.  Furthermore, a spokesperson for the show said that they also grossed $1.3 million in advance sales following the nominations announcement.  Another show that received a nomination for Best Musical – After Midnight – saw a jump of 7% and reached a weekly gross of $523,053.  A third nominee for that category – Beautiful: The Carole King Musical – set a box office record at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre with a weekly gross of $1,036,646.  Though the fourth nominee, Aladdin, was down slightly from the prior week, it still grossed an impressive $1,176,765.

Furthermore, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which received the second highest number of nominations including one for Best Revival of a Musical, grossed $993,474, which is a 30% increase from the previous week and a box office record at the Belasco Theatre.  In addition, after being nominated for Best Play, Casa Valentina also saw a 30% jump to the still modest gross of $275,997.  However, the reverse also held true, as shows on their last legs who failed to receive key nominations were only hurt further by the lack of appreciation from the Tony nominating committee.  The Bridges of Madison County, for instance, saw a decrease of $64,998 after failing to be nominated for Best Musical, even after they announced they will be closing on May 18, 2014.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending May 4, 2014:

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 5-04-14

Show GrossGross Total Attn %Cap AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $580,279 6,770 93.30% $85.71
A RAISIN IN THE SUN $1,190,876 8,368 100.00% $142.31
ACT ONE $398,834 5,695 65.67% $70.03
AFTER MIDNIGHT $523,053 6,510 78.55% $80.35
ALADDIN $1,176,765 13,782 99.99% $85.38
ALL THE WAY $1,014,071 9,177 80.67% $110.50
BEAUTIFUL $1,036,646 8,130 99.05% $127.51
BULLETS OVER BROADWAY $950,052 10,246 78.57% $92.72
CABARET $628,491 7,007 98.75% $89.69
CASA VALENTINA $275,997 4,429 85.97% $62.32
CHICAGO $605,077 7,204 83.38% $83.99
CINDERELLA $635,716 8,406 60.01% $75.63
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $993,474 7,215 102.35% $137.70
IF/THEN $927,814 8,928 85.13% $103.92
JERSEY BOYS $699,790 7,189 73.18% $97.34
KINKY BOOTS $1,477,550 10,914 95.80% $135.38
LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR & GRILL $490,737 4,496 94.18% $109.15
LES MISÉRABLES $1,080,994 10,148 90.03% $106.52
MAMMA MIA! $763,046 8,502 91.14% $89.75
MATILDA $924,624 10,186 88.91% $90.77
MOTHERS AND SONS $172,916 2,743 42.75% $63.04
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL $1,123,937 10,710 88.84% $104.94
NEWSIES $576,874 8,038 84.79% $71.77
OF MICE AND MEN $864,014 8,303 96.73% $104.06
ONCE $439,851 5,179 61.13% $84.93
PIPPIN $538,721 5,698 71.94% $94.55
ROCK OF AGES $334,369 4,046 86.75% $82.64
ROCKY $707,891 8,051 66.38% $87.93
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,631,761 8,747 102.57% $186.55
THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY $286,948 4,729 58.01% $60.68
THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN $493,595 5,682 66.19% $86.87
THE LION KING $1,940,102 13,602 100.01% $142.63
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $988,317 11,739 91.43% $84.19
THE REALISTIC JONESES $605,288 6,256 89.68% $96.75
THE VELOCITY OF AUTUMN $130,333 4,752 78.26% $27.43
VIOLET $303,237 4,020 68.46% $75.43
WICKED $1,732,110 14,910 97.43% $116.17
Totals: $29,244,147 290,507 83.68% $95.87

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

“Violet” Opens at the American Airlines Theatre

Sutton Foster has long been considered to have the potential to become one of the great musical theatre performers of our time.  Her big break occurred in 2002, when she was cast as the last minute replacement star of Thoroughly Modern Millie.  When the show transferred to Broadway, the consistently laudatory reviews and 2002 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical proved that she had begun to pave her way to theatrical stardom.  Her most recent Broadway star turn was in the Roundabout Theatre Company’s 2011 revival of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes, where Sutton played Reno Sweeney and took home her second Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.  Despite this success, however, Sutton had yet not proven her invincibility as a surefire star – until now, with the recently opened Roundabout Theatre Company production of Violet.

Violet CD ImageViolet
is the story of a young disfigured woman who travels from North Carolina to Oklahoma in search of healing treatment.  Based on the short story “The Ugliest Pilgrim” by Doris Betts, it has music by Jeanine Tesori (Thoroughly Modern Millie, Caroline or Change) and libretto by Brian Crawley (A Little Princess).  Violet first premiered Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons in 1997, receiving seven Drama Desk nominations and winning the Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Musical.  On July 17, 2013, the Encores! Off-Center Series at New York City Center mounted a one-night production of Violet, this time starring Sutton Foster in the title role.  The creative team at Roundabout must have been impressed by her performance, for they decided to bring the show to one of their Broadway houses, the American Airlines Theatre, for a run this spring to summer 2014.  The production is directed by Leigh Silverman (Chinglish, Well) and choreographed by Jeffrey Page (Fela!).

When the musical opened on April 20, 2014, it received unanimously positive reviews.  Charles Isherwood at The New York Times remarked that this was a “career-redefining performance.”  Whereas Sutton has often appeared in light-hearted musicals such as Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Drowsy Chaperone, and Anything Goes, here she takes a darker turn and embraces issues of self-delusion and in security.



Similarly, Time Out New York stated that this was the “darkest and richest” part that Sutton has ever played, congratulating her on her seamless ability to portray both the optimistic and bitterly anguished elements of her character.  NBC New York also observed that this performance of Sutton’s is “a star being reborn.”  Despite the low-key sets and less than elaborate spectacles involved with the production, critics far and wide praised the ambition and the seriousness of the storyline.

The musical is slated to run until August 10, 2014.  Although this is the first time the show has appeared on Broadway, it is still considered a “revival” for the purposes of Tony Award consideration.  This is not the only show this season to premiere on Broadway after having had an Off-Broadway production years ago; Hedwig and the Angry Inch is similarly considered a “revival” though this is the first time it has been on Broadway.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 4/27/2014

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

In the week ending April 27, 2014, the vast majority of shows saw a decrease in ticket sales from the previous week.  Even the heavy hitters went down significantly.  For instance, though Wicked and The Lion King still both grossed over two million dollars, Wicked earned $694,805 less and The Lion King earned $399,631 less than the week before.  Other big drops include Matilda, which went down $324,076, Cinderella, which decreased by $293,539, Newsies, which slowed down by $256,702, Rocky, which decreased by $238,855, and The Phantom of the Opera, which went down by $399,865.  Even the mega-hit The Book of Mormon decreased by $15,835.  As this list includes some of the top tourist picks, this goes to show that Broadway was hit hard by the last week of April, presumably because spring break has now ended.  Certain shows showed a slight increase that may appeal less to tourists, including Violet, The Realistic Joneses, The Bridges of Madison County, Mothers and Sons, and Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill.  Though these grosses are still significantly lower than the tourist shows mentioned above, this is further evidence that the overall decrease is due to the slower numbers of tourists flocking to the city this past week.

Casa Valentina, Harvey Fierstein’s new play about transvestites in the 1960s, is one of the more notable shows in terms of discounting, as evidenced by these figures.  Though the play grossed only $210,585 this past week, it still played to an average 91.3% capacity, with an average ticket price of only $44.78.  This shows that the play does attract a certain degree of interest from theatregoers, but they are not willing to pay full price.  Furthermore, The Velocity of Autumn had by far the lowest average paid ticket price at $20.77, still only managing to fill up 67.0% average capacity.  With a horrendous weekly gross of $84,521, this show looks to be on its very last legs.  With those numbers, it has definitely been dispersing complementary tickets in an effort to spread word of mouth, but it won’t be able to last long if sales don’t pick up soon.

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

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 4-27-14

Show GrossGross Total Attn %Cap AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $470,784 5,702 78.58% $82.56
A RAISIN IN THE SUN $1,183,783 8,368 100.00% $141.47
ACT ONE $373,915 5,308 61.21% $70.44
AFTER MIDNIGHT $488,203 6,142 74.11% $79.49
ALADDIN $1,194,264 13,790 100.04% $86.60
ALL THE WAY $994,085 9,118 80.15% $109.02
BEAUTIFUL $1,015,673 8,164 99.46% $124.41
BULLETS OVER BROADWAY $956,227 10,783 82.69% $88.68
CABARET $624,575 7,108 100.17% $87.87
CASA VALENTINA $210,585 4,703 91.28% $44.78
CHICAGO $667,125 7,618 88.17% $87.57
CINDERELLA $1,119,405 13,362 95.39% $83.78
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $725,517 7,200 102.14% $100.77
IF/THEN $1,004,383 9,750 92.96% $103.01
JERSEY BOYS $800,204 8,253 84.01% $96.96
KINKY BOOTS $1,519,830 11,300 99.19% $134.50
LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR & GRILL $489,022 4,504 94.34% $108.58
LES MISÉRABLES $1,258,537 11,099 98.47% $113.39
MAMMA MIA! $842,376 9,103 97.59% $92.54
MATILDA $1,253,017 11,517 100.53% $108.80
MOTHERS AND SONS $192,942 3,210 50.03% $60.11
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL $1,203,398 11,487 95.28% $104.76
NEWSIES $812,665 9,232 97.38% $88.03
OF MICE AND MEN $897,852 8,555 99.66% $104.95
ONCE $569,833 6,749 79.66% $84.43
PIPPIN $682,229 7,063 89.18% $96.59
ROCK OF AGES $359,970 4,278 91.72% $84.14
ROCKY $783,892 8,805 72.60% $89.03
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,674,070 8,752 102.63% $191.28
THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY $351,946 4,922 60.38% $71.50
THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN $579,630 7,535 87.78% $76.93
THE LION KING $2,143,746 13,602 100.01% $157.61
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $1,117,440 10,679 83.17% $104.64
THE REALISTIC JONESES $619,507 6,458 92.57% $95.93
THE VELOCITY OF AUTUMN $84,521 4,070 67.03% $20.77
VIOLET $360,849 5,022 85.52% $71.85
WICKED $2,074,749 14,320 98.95% $144.88
Totals: $31,700,745 307,631 88.49% $97.10

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

“Hedwig and the Angry Inch” Opens on Broadway

Hedwig and the Angry Inch first hit the Off-Broadway stage in 1998, and it has taken 16 years for this gender-bending rock musical to find the Great White Way.  In this time, its book-writer and original star John Cameron Mitchell, though forever ageless in the mind of his fans, has sadly aged beyond the prime energy levels required to sustain this magnificently vibrant performance, which requires the lead to carry the entire show on his shoulders.  Fortunately, however, Neil Patrick Harris has stepped up to the post at the Belasco Theatre, and according to the unanimous response from critics, he does so to stupendous success.  Directed by Michael Mayer and choreographed by Spencer Liff, Hedwig and the Angry Inch has music and lyrics by Stephen Trask, along with the book by John Cameron Mitchell.

With its style rooted in thedwig and the angry inch neil patrick harris titlehe androgynous glam rock of the 1970s, Hedwig and the Angry Inch is the story of a struggling East German rock star named Hansel during the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Hedwig is homosexual turned accidental transsexual, so to speak, as his tragic story originates with his desire to marry another man, and in so doing escape the communist East for the capitalist West.  However, his sex change operation gets botched, and instead of a makeshift vagina, Hansel a.k.a. Hedwig ends up with a one-inch mound of flesh.  After Hedwig moves to Kansas with her new husband, he leaves her for a man and she forms a rock band called Hedwig and the Angry Inch.  The story, divulged by means of a spectacular rock concert, continues as Hedwig tells of her encounter with a lonely Christian teenager, who becomes a famous rock star named Tommy Gnosis and leaves her in the wake of his success.

For purposes of Tony consideration, this musical is considered a revival, although this is its first time on Broadway.  (The same thing happened with this season’s production of Violet.)  This is because many productions have been done of the show since its Off-Broadway premiere.  Still, it has earned a remarkable eight Tony Award nominations, including those for Best Revival of a Musical and Best Actor in a Musical.  (Coincidentally, Harris has hosted the Tony Awards four times.)  In addition, a well-known film version was released in 2001, immortalizing John Cameron Mitchell as the anti-hero he created.  Though that film may not have been a financial success, having grossed just over half of its $6 million budget, it is widely regarded as a beautiful and unique masterpiece of the screen.  With this history, many doubted if Neil Patrick Harris could hold a candle to his fellow three named predecessor.  Fortunately, with the opening of the Broadway production on April 22, 2014, the results are in, and Harris is a winner.neil patrick harris in performance as hedwig in hedwig and the angry inch

Neil Patrick Harris has appeared on Broadway three times prior to this: as Hal in Proof in 2002, as the Emcee in Cabaret in 2003, and as Lee Harvey Oswald in the 2004 production of Assassins.  However, he is best known for his television roles, specifically for starring in How I Met Your Mother as well as Doogie Howser, M.D.  If the magnificent reviews and the eager cult following were not enough to make this a sell-out hit, then Harris’ star power will convince the less daring theatregoers to give this risqué piece a try.  Fortunately, the box office is holding up to its potential.  Bringing in over $700,000 per week, Hedwig has maintained sell-out capacity as well as an average ticket price of well over $100.  This may be no The Book of Mormon, but this small-scale edgy rock show seems to have found its audience.  Hedwig and the Angry Inch is presently scheduled to have an open-ended run.

The 2014 Tony Nominations Are Announced

2014 tony awards

It is always a time of great anticipation.  The Tony Awards, the most prestigious awards ceremony for Broadway, mean a great deal to the fate of plays and musicals, often dictating tourist picks throughout the summer and certainly adding a measure of prestige for the award recipients.  This year, the Tony Awards ceremony will be held on June 8, 2014 at Radio City Music Hall.  The nominations were just announced.

The Nominations
Leading the list of shows with the highest number of nominations is the new musical A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, which received 10 nominations.  Hedwig and the Angry Inch followed with a respectable 8, and four shows tied next with 7 nominations: After Midnight, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Twelfth Night, and The Glass Menagerie.  The Tony Nominating Committee adopted a new rule this winter, which allows each category to select up to five contenders, if deemed appropriate due to the votes being close enough in the final tally.  Despite this fact, several categories still have only four or three nominees, even when those supposed to be serious contenders were left out of the running.  For instance, the category of Best Musical includes only four nominees – After Midnight, Aladdin, Beautiful, and A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder – even while Bullets Over Broadway, If/Then, The Bridges of Madison County, and Rocky were all left out.

2014 tony awardsThe Snubs
You cannot make everyone happy all the time, but perhaps the most notable snub was Will Eno’s new play The Realistic Joneses, which did not receive any nominations.  Critics have hypothesized that this is because the nominating committee was turned off by the show’s unusual structure and provocative subject matter, while the plays that were selected were all more conventional, if significantly less moving or original.  These nominees for Best Play are Act One, All the Way, Casa Valentina, Mothers and Sons, and Outside Mullingar, most of which received moderate to mixed reviews.  The category for Best Revival of a Musical includes only three titles – Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Les Misérables, and Violet – though the only other contender, Cabaret, was blatantly left off the list.  The four titles chosen for Best Revival of a Play are The Cripple of Inishmaan, The Glass Menagerie, A Raisin in the Sun, and the all-male production of Twelfth Night.

Other Surprises
Not appearing on the Tony nomination list includes Daniel Radcliffe, who did not receive a nomination for Best Actor for his role in The Cripple of Inishmaan, despite having received magnificent reviews.  This marks the third time he has starred on Broadway yet failed to be nominated for a Tony Award, it seems that he cannot shake his Harry Potter persona, albeit in the eyes of the Tony Award committee.  Other actors who were astonishingly left out of the running include Denzel Washington for A Raisin in the Sun, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart who co-starred in the repertory productions of No Man’s Land and Waiting for Godot, as well as Zachary Quinto who was the only star of The Glass Menagerie to be left off.  Other shows that did not receive any nominations – some to great surprise – are the box-office smash Betrayal, the big-budget musical Big Fish, and the musicals Soul Doctor, First Date, and the revival of Cabaret.

Interestingly, all the nominees for Best Director of a Play were for revivals, rather than new plays.  These are John Tiffanytony awards statue for The Glass Menagerie, Kenny Leon for A Raisin in the Sun, Tim Carroll for Twelfth Night, and Michael Grandage for The Cripple of Inishmaan.  Perhaps the nominating committee prefers to acknowledge the work of directors who revive older works, rather than those who create the first Broadway production of a new play.  They failed to recognize Bill Rauch for All the Way and James Lapine for Act One, both of whom worked magic with large casts.

Furthermore, it is notable that no women were nominated for play directing awards, and only one woman was nominated for directing a musical: Leigh Silverman for Violet.  What’s more, none of the ten new plays this season were written by women.  In fact, women were notably few amongst the nominees overall – with the clear exceptions of the Best Actress categories.  Patrick Healy of The New York Times postulated that this is because men in power often choose those with whom they have a friendly relationship for high-up positions in the theatre, so it often turns out that men serve these roles.

“Act One” Opens on Broadway

The Vivian Beaumont Theatre is the 1,105 seat Broadway house run by Lincoln Center, which also operates two smaller houses in their beautiful West 65th Street complex.  This revolving stage is presently occupied by the set of Act One, a play written and directed by James Lapine, based off the memoir of the same name by Moss Hart.  As the set by Beowulf Boritt revolves, the audience is able to glimpse the past, present, and future scenes of Hart’s life at once, which sets the tone for the multi-generational time-hopping play.  Though many critics gave positive reviews to this story catering to the theatrical die-hards, other reviewers found it lacking drama, despite being a recounting of the ultimate drama success story.

Without fail, critics praised the performances of the two main actors.  Santino Fontana, who has increasingly come into the Broadway consciousness of late due to his star turns as the Prince in Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella as well as the lead in the Off-Broadway play Sons of the Prophet, plays Moss Hart as a young man.  Tony Shalhoub, well-known to the public through the television show Monk,and a Lincoln Center favorite recently seen in Golden Boy, has multiple parts to play: Moss Hart as an older man, his father Barnett, and also his great collaborator, George S. Kaufman.  Throughout most of the first act, Shalhoub juggles the first two of these roles, generally serving as narrator when playing Hart as an older man, while Fontana simultaneously serves as a second narrator.  Finally at the end of Act I, Shalhoub re-enters, this time as Kaufman, who joins forces with Hart to create some of the great musical collaborations of Broadway history, such as You Can’t Take it With You, The Man Who Came to Dinner, and the play Merrily We Roll Along, which later served as the source for the musical of the same name whose score was written by Stephen Sondheim.

James Lapine knows a thing or two about collaboration himself, as he is best known for his musical theatre collaborations with Behind the Curtain of Act One! Chart Theater Legend Moss Hart’s Extraordinary Journey to Broadwaythe Stephen Sondheim.  Their work together includes Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, Assassins, and Passion.  It therefore must have been very close to Lapine’s heart to tell this rags-to-riches story of a young theatre artist looking for his big break, only to find a collaborator in a more experienced individual.  For the most part, Lapine manages to adapt Hart’s memoir with a significant degree of wit and a great deal of humor.  However, it is extremely difficult to adapt an entire book into a play of manageable length, and this play does trail on the long side.  Whereas the first act was critiqued as being a bit cliché, for which any story of a struggling artist could have filled in, the second act suffers from the lack of dramatic tension and over-exposition.

The play also features excellent supporting performances by Matthew Saldivar (Peter and the Starcatcher), Will Brill (Tribes), and Will LeBow as both Jed Harris and Augustus Pitou.  Despite fabulous work from the cast, however, the production is overblown and the storytelling at times flavorless.  Though it makes perfect sense that this biography of a modern theatre icon would find its home on the Vivian Beaumont stage, the theatrical adaptation of this theatre master’s life story does not quite match up to his legacy.

Book of Mormon Touring Show Criss-Crosses the U.S.

When a musical is doing well on Broadway, its producers will generally opt to take the show on a U.S. National Tour, as they will have optioned this right along with their original Broadway rights agreement.  As such, a tour is often the mark of a successful show, sometimes taking place after a show has earned a number of Tony Awards that can be touted as the show travels from state to state.  There are also cases in which a tour can be launched after a show has flopped on Broadway, in an effort to recoup some of the lost funds in cities other than New York.  For instance Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark, which concluded its Broadway run on January 4, 2014, will soon open a Las Vegas production and is also considering an arena tour around the country, though its large-scale special effects may make that difficult.  While it sold many tickets over its 3-year run, becoming the sixteenth-highest grossing show of all time, it still failed to recoup its enormous capitalization, estimated at $75 million.  More investment would need to be raised, and yet a tour could potentially earn back some of Spiderman’s lost capital.

Book Of Mormon Broadway - USA Map
The Book of Mormon
, on the other hand, is far from a flop.  Between extremely high demand and clever dynamic pricing strategies, the satirical musical managed to recoup its $11.4 million investment after only nine months of performances.  The show has been playing at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre since March 2011, where it looks to remain for many years to come.  After making a huge splash at the 2011 Tony Awards, receiving 14 nominations and 9 wins, the show ran for another year before the producers decided to launch a national tour.  On August 14, 2012, the first national tour began at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, then proceeding to the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles where it played for the fall season, before continuing on a tour around the country that is still underway.  Meanwhile, a replica production ran at Chicago’s Bank of America Theatre from December 11, 2012 to October 6, 2013, after which it also began a tour around the country, thereby allowing The Book of Mormon to enjoy two tours simultaneously.  This is in addition to the West End production, which has been running in London’s Prince of Wales Theatre since February 2013.


The Book Of Mormon
This is not the only show that has made the choice to launch two simultaneous tours.  Wicked presently has two tours running, and Elf the Musical launched two simultaneous tours during the holiday season of 2013.  Still, The Book of Mormon is covering a lot of ground between its two touring companies.  While the first national tour is presently playing in Boston, the second national tour is enjoying a run at Los Angeles’ Pantages Theatre, where the first tour played a year and a half ago.  Next, the first tour will play Providence, Rhode Island; Columbus, Ohio; Louisville, Kentucky; East Lansing, Michigan; Indianapolis, Indiana; Memphis, Tennessee; and the list goes on.  Meanwhile, after the second tour finishes in Los Angeles, it will proceed to Costa Mesa, California; San Diego, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Washington; and many more.  As such, the show is effectively criss-crossing the United States, allowing theatregoers all over the country to catch a performance at a theatre near them, and exponentially boosting profits for the producers.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 4/20/2014

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

Two heavy hitting shows, Wicked and The Lion King, both managed to cross the threshold into the two million dollar gross mark this past week.  Whereas grossing over one million dollars is already a significant achievement for any show, even a musical, these two crowd-pleasing musicals continue to show incredible success at the box office.  The reason is that each show played nine performances this past week, which is one higher than the usual 8.  The producers of both shows must have been aiming to capitalize on the higher tourist traffic due to spring break, as well as the finally balmy weather.  Wicked, which has now been running for over 10 years, holds the record for the highest weekly gross of all time, which was $3.2 million over nine performances in the last week of 2013. The Lion King, which has been running since fall 1997, was the highest grossing show of 2013, pulling in $97 million throughout the year.
This past week, Wicked grossed a whomping $2,769,554, which was an increase of $839,192 from the previous week.  With a top ticket price of $300, this show has not resorted to price gauging for premium tickets as much as, say, The Book of Mormon, which charges as much as $477 for premium seats, granted in a smaller theatre.  Filling its 17,352 seats to 100% capacity, Wicked earned 146.44% of its gross potential due to premium ticket pricing.  The Lion King, on the other hand, also made it into the two million dollar club, grossing $2,543,377 this past week over its nine performances, which was an increase of $628,440 from the previous week.  The Lion King had a top ticket price of only $197.50, which demonstrates restraint of the part of the show’s producers, and with an average ticket price of $166.19, the show grossed $102.54% of its gross potential.

With few exceptions, every show experienced an increase in gross ticket sales in the week ending April 20, 2014.  The four shows that went down did so only slightly, all losing under $100,000 from the previous week. Hedwig and the Angry Inch grossed $68,797 less than last week, presumably due to complimentary press tickets given out in anticipation of its wildly successful opening.  Mothers and Sons, Of Mice and Men, and The Velocity of Autumn all went down a relatively small amount as well.  Overall, however, this was a hugely successful week on Broadway.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending April 20, 2014:

Broadway Show Ticket Analysis 4-20-14

Show GrossGross Total Attn %Cap AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $507,224 6,201 85.46% $81.80
A RAISIN IN THE SUN $1,212,665 8,368 100.00% $144.92
ACT ONE $340,604 6,344 73.15% $53.69
AFTER MIDNIGHT $542,801 7,112 85.81% $76.32
ALADDIN $1,225,128 13,797 100.09% $88.80
ALL THE WAY $1,067,173 9,729 85.52% $109.69
BEAUTIFUL $1,027,244 8,147 99.26% $126.09
BULLETS OVER BROADWAY $974,076 11,730 89.95% $83.04
CABARET $692,319 7,094 100.42% $97.59
CASA VALENTINA $212,097 4,796 93.09% $44.22
CHICAGO $845,382 8,275 95.78% $102.16
CINDERELLA $1,412,944 13,529 96.58% $104.44
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $815,295 7,116 100.95% $114.57
IF/THEN $1,104,188 10,372 98.89% $106.46
JERSEY BOYS $854,430 8,556 87.09% $99.86
KINKY BOOTS $1,629,283 11,341 99.55% $143.66
LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR & GRILL $459,071 4,640 97.19% $98.94
LES MISÉRABLES $1,396,410 11,258 99.88% $124.04
MAMMA MIA! $950,480 9,472 101.54% $100.35
MATILDA $1,577,093 11,542 100.75% $136.64
MOTHERS AND SONS $187,192 3,355 52.29% $55.79
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL $1,179,643 11,533 95.66% $102.28
NEWSIES $1,069,367 10,756 100.85% $99.42
OF MICE AND MEN $755,158 7,508 99.96% $100.58
ONCE $681,763 7,732 91.27% $88.17
PIPPIN $882,705 7,843 99.03% $112.55
ROCK OF AGES $421,341 4,477 95.99% $94.11
ROCKY $1,022,747 10,654 87.85% $96.00
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,689,905 8,752 102.63% $193.09
THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY $345,270 5,243 64.32% $65.85
THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN $463,064 8,212 95.67% $56.39
THE LION KING $2,543,377 15,304 100.03% $166.19
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $1,517,305 12,759 99.37% $118.92
THE REALISTIC JONESES $613,441 6,532 93.64% $93.91
THE VELOCITY OF AUTUMN $94,400 4,011 75.49% $23.54
VIOLET $283,182 5,879 100.12% $48.17
WICKED $2,769,554 17,352 100.00% $159.61
Totals: $35,365,319 327,321 93.11% $100.32

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