Forthcoming Broadway Musical Rebecca Offers Prizes to Fans

Rebecca, the new Broadway musical set to begin preview performances on October 30, is creating advance buzz by way of an interactive online “journey” for fans dubbed The Manderley Experience (Manderley is the name of the mansion estate where Rebecca, based on the Daphne du Maurier novel, takes place). From July through October, fans will have the chance to win one-of-a-kind, show-related experiences each month, leading up to the biggest of all, an Opening Night package for Rebecca‘s Broadway opening night on November 18.

The Manderley Experience is run primarily through Rebecca‘s Facebook page. Each time fans interact with the world of Rebecca there, they earn ShowPoints that can be redeemed for rewards and automatically enter them into the running for each month’s prize.

The monthly Rebecca prizes include a master class with the show’s own make-up artist and a make-up kit to take home, a backstage tour of the Rebecca costume closet and a signed memento, the chance to shadow the stage manager before a performance and a prop to take home, and a vocal warm-up with one of the cast members. All of the prizes also include tickets to see a performance of Rebecca on Broadway.

The grand prize is for opening night, which gets the winner a trip to New York City, a stay at the W Hotel, designer clothes for the occasion, and a limousine-chauffeured trip to see the show. More details are available at www.rebeccathemusical.com.

If Rebecca the musical finds this unique marketing strategy effective, more Broadway shows might follow suit. It is a good way to get potential fans engaged in the world of the musical early on and to get the show buzzing on Facebook. What’s more, the cost to the show’s producers is probably relatively cheap when one considers that most of the prizes are about providing a backstage experience with a staff member rather than giving away an expensive item.

Chicago Goes Country

From pop icons to has-been TV stars, the Broadway production of Chicago has featured just about everyone imaginable in the role of Billy Flynn. John Schneider, Alan Thicke, Billy Zane, George Hamilton, Huey Lewis, Joey Lawrence, Patrick Swayze, and Usher are just a sampling of the performers who have played the slick, charming lawyer who sings the signature Kander and Ebb tunes “All I Care About Is Love” and “Razzle Dazzle”. Now Chicago is going a little bit country by welcoming former chart topper Billy Ray Cyrus into the role.

Better known to younger generations as Miley Cyrus’s dad, Billy Ray Cyrus created a sensation in the ’90s with his breakout hit “Achy Breaky Heart,” going on to find further success with “Some Gave All”. Cyrus is not new to acting, having played the lead on the PAX TV series Doc and playing a version of himself on the Disney hit show Hannah Montana.

Seeing John O’Hurley (known to TV audiences as J. Peterman on Seinfeld) play Billy Flynn inspired Billy Ray Cyrus to try his hand at the part. Making his Broadway debut, the country singer is scheduled to play Billy Flynn from November 5 to December 23.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales* w/e 6/24/2012

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers from the week ending June 24, 2012:

Show Name GrossGross TotalAttn %Cap AvgPdAdm
A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE $334,210 5,025 53.78% $66.51
ANYTHING GOES $463,275 6,688 81.48% $69.27
CHICAGO $524,782 6,558 75.90% $80.02
CLYBOURNE PARK $440,462 5,644 74.19% $78.04
END OF THE RAINBOW $318,238 4,029 50.87% $78.99
EVITA $1,219,699 10,222 79.26% $119.32
GHOST $560,022 6,983 58.00% $80.20
GODSPELL $305,616 4,546 77.31% $67.23
GORE VIDAL’S THE BEST MAN $720,259 6,645 78.14% $108.39
HARVEY $584,597 8,050 100.22% $72.62
JERSEY BOYS $947,229 9,099 92.62% $104.10
JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR $505,796 6,359 55.82% $79.54
MAMMA MIA! $682,931 8,521 71.10% $80.15
MARY POPPINS $902,417 11,461 79.72% $78.74
MEMPHIS $541,602 8,054 68.49% $67.25
NEWSIES $1,034,393 9,686 101.32% $106.79
NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT $998,578 9,515 82.65% $104.95
ONCE $1,008,136 8,509 100.53% $118.48
ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS $656,610 6,532 83.74% $100.52
PETER AND THE STARCATCHER $661,701 7,779 92.61% $85.06
PORGY AND BESS $529,027 6,140 57.49% $86.16
PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT $727,110 9,302 68.84% $78.17
ROCK OF AGES $506,578 4,623 99.12% $109.58
SISTER ACT $681,039 9,074 64.63% $75.05
SPIDER-MAN TURN OFF THE DARK $1,609,734 14,088 91.24% $114.26
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,602,661 8,752 102.63% $183.12
THE COLUMNIST $212,086 4,030 77.50% $52.63
THE LION KING $1,953,376 13,417 100.01% $145.59
THE LYONS $247,348 4,442 51.46% $55.68
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $890,564 11,272 87.79% $79.01
WAR HORSE $579,302 5,805 67.88% $99.79
WICKED $2,038,405 14,091 97.37% $144.66
TOTAL $24,987,781 254,941 78.87% $92.81

*Broadway Grosses provided courtesy of The Broadway League.

More Broadway and Musical Theater Stars Join TV’s Smash

From the beginning, Smash, the NBC TV show about the creation of a Broadway musical, has employed many real-life Broadway stars. Christian Borle (a recent Tony Award winner for his role in Peter and the Starcatcher), Brian d’Arcy James (the man behind the big green costume in Broadway’s Shrek), Will Chase (Rent, Billy Elliot), and Meg Hilty (Wicked) are among the Broadway regulars that have populated the world of Smash, giving it a special air of authenticity for musical theater fans. The recent news that d’Arcy James and Chase won’t be series regular next year, though, made it seem that the show might be chipping away at the genuine Broadway babies.

Theater fans can relax — for now — though, since it appears that Smash is continuing its policy of hiring actual musical theater performers. One of the most recent cast additions in Jeremy Jordan, the break-out star of the 2011-2012 season for his roles in Bonnie & Clyde and Newsies. On Smash, Jordan is set to play a Brooklyn-born singer (perhaps borrowing some of the tough-guy, New York attitude that he is currently showing Broadway audiences in Newsies?).

And now there is news that Jennifer Hudson will be joining Smash. The former American Idol contestant wowed musical theater lovers in 2006 when she played Effie White in the film version of the Broadway hit Dreamgirls. Although Hudson has not actually starred in a Broadway production (her appearances on the Great White Way have been limited to a couple special benefit concerts), she will be playing a Broadway star named Veronica Moore in a multi-episode arc.

With any luck, Smash will be employing even more Broadway and musical theater talents in the future. Given that the TV show films in New York City, it creates the possibility for working Broadway performers to do both theater and television. Of course the extent to which they can do both may depend on how demanding their roles are and what the show’s shooting schedule is like. Jeremy Jordan, for instance, plans to continue playing his part in Newsies while also filming Smash. But Christian Borle, who has a starring role on Smash as a composer, will soon be departing Broadway’s Peter and the Starcatcher to begin filming.

Broadway Composer Richard Adler Dies at Age 90

Richard Adler, one of the great composer/lyricists of Broadway’s Golden Age, has passed away at the age of 90. Adler is best known for two of his collaborations with Jerry Ross, The Pajama Game and Damn Yankees.

Originally produced on Broadway in 1954, The Pajama Game became a Broadway hit again in 2006 when Harry Connick, Jr. and Kelli O’Hara starred in a Roundabout Theatre Company revival of the musical comedy.  The tuneful score written by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross (the two men shared both composing and lyric-writing duties in their collaborations) resulted in at least two well-known musical theater songs, “Hernando’s Hideaway” and “Steam Heat”.

Perhaps even more famous than The Pajama Game is the duo’s follow-up musical, the baseball-themed Damn Yankees, which first appeared on Broadway in 1955 and enjoyed a successful revival (starring Bebe Neuwirth and Victor Garber) in 1994.  The Damn Yankees score is stuffed with many memorable tunes, including “(You Gotta Have) Heart,” “Near To You,” “Those Were the Good Old Days,” and “Two Lost Souls”.  Recently the show’s seductive ballad “Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets” has received even more popular attention by way of a national Pepsi commercial featuring Modern Family‘s Sofia Vergara and soccer star David Beckham.

Richard Adler is survived by his wife Susan Ivory, three children, and three grandchildren.

Shakespeare in the Park Starts With As You Like It

One of New York City theater’s most beloved traditions, the Public Theater’s annual Shakespeare in the Park, has kicked off with the opening of the season’s first production, Shakespeare’s comedy As You Like It. The play concerns lots of romantic hijinks unfolding in the forest, making Central Park’s outdoor Delacorte Theater the perfect setting on a warm summer night.

As You Like It stars several Broadway stalwarts (many of whom have been featured in previous Shakespeare in the Park productions), including Lily Rabe, Andre Braugher, Oliver Platt, and Stephen Spinella. A particularly notable element of this production, which is set in the mid-19th century American South, is that it features an original bluegrass score by Steve Martin.

The most amazing thing about the Public’s Shakespeare in the Park is that it essentially provides Broadway-level talent at the lowest possible ticket price: Free. The free tickets are distributed at the Delacorte in Central Park at 1pm on show days, and early arrival is recommended (it’s often wise to go as early as 6 or 7am, so bring a book and blanket).  Up to two tickets are available per person.

You can also try the cancellation line (arriving as early as 4 or 5pm doesn’t hurt for that), or the Virtual Ticketing online lottery at shakespeareinthepark.org.  The latter is far more convenient that waiting in line for hours, but remember that it is a lottery, so your chances of winning are pretty slim.  Whichever ticket option you choose, see it soon, because As You Like It only runs through June 30.

Godspell To Hold Garage Sale

The Broadway revival of Godspell, closing this Sunday, June 24, will be offering fans one final treat in the form of a special Tag Sale.  Set pieces, props from the show, promotional items, and theater displays are among the items that will be on sale.  Part of the proceeds of the Godspell sale will go to the charity Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS (BC/EFA).

The Godspell tag sale will be held from 12pm to 6pm on June 24 at Davenport Studios, located at 250 West 49th Street (3rd Floor), just a block away from the Circle in the Square Theatre where Godspell performs.  It is a great chance to obtain the sort of unique Broadway sets, props, and promo pieces that can usually only be found at the annual Broadway Flea Market.

If you can’t make it in person to Godspell‘s tag sale on Sunday, you will still have the opportunity to buy additional items online starting on June 25.  Visit www.godspell.com/tagsale to find out more.

 

Mike Tyson To Knock Out Broadway

Former heavyweight champion, frequent controversy stirrer, and occasional actor Mike Tyson is now making his Broadway debut. Tyson will star on Broadway in a one-man show, Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth, during a very limited run at the Longacre Theatre. Also making his Broadway debut is Spike Lee, who will serve as the show’s director.

“It’s about me being on stage and being pretty raw. Not necessarily raw in a vulgar sense … I’m just naked and vulnerable,” said Mike Tyson in a press conference about the show, which will cover everything from his boxing career to his financial woes and time in prison. Tyson already debuted the show in Las Vegas this past April during a week-long stint at the MGM Grand.

Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth is scheduled to play just six nights, from July 31 to August 5.  Tickets range from $74.50 for balcony seats to $198.50 for orchestra center.  Big Mike Tyson fans may want to splurge on the VIP Tyson Meet & Greet Package, which, for $299.50, gets you an in-person meeting and photo with the boxing champ.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales* w/e 6/17/2012

The following are the Broadway ticket sales number from the week ending June 17, 2012:

Show Name GrossGross TotalAttn %Cap AvgPdAdm
A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE $324,585 5,018 53.70% $64.68
ANYTHING GOES $479,201 6,548 79.78% $73.18
CHICAGO $505,596 6,216 71.94% $81.34
CLYBOURNE PARK $451,082 5,770 75.84% $78.18
DON’T DRESS FOR DINNER $213,004 4,177 71.72% $50.99
END OF THE RAINBOW $318,488 4,138 52.25% $76.97
EVITA $1,238,442 10,262 79.58% $120.68
GHOST $562,010 7,401 61.47% $75.94
GODSPELL $194,322 3,437 58.45% $56.54
GORE VIDAL’S THE BEST MAN $750,312 7,169 84.30% $104.66
HARVEY $558,530 9,042 100.07% $61.77
JERSEY BOYS $898,832 9,057 92.19% $99.24
JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR $476,383 6,251 54.87% $76.21
MAMMA MIA! $687,045 8,693 72.54% $79.03
MARY POPPINS $851,507 11,555 80.38% $73.69
MEMPHIS $539,217 7,735 65.77% $69.71
NEWSIES $1,049,581 9,691 101.37% $108.30
NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT $930,679 9,099 79.04% $102.28
ONCE $955,362 8,543 100.93% $111.83
ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS $648,505 6,466 82.90% $100.29
OTHER DESERT CITIES $424,313 5,324 87.45% $79.70
PETER AND THE STARCATCHER $573,367 6,701 79.77% $85.56
PORGY AND BESS $655,364 7,975 74.67% $82.18
PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT $502,013 6,929 51.28% $72.45
ROCK OF AGES $476,967 4,590 98.41% $103.91
SISTER ACT $665,744 9,261 65.96% $71.89
SPIDER-MAN TURN OFF THE DARK $1,584,513 14,328 92.80% $110.59
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,596,688 8,752 102.63% $182.44
THE COLUMNIST $238,792 4,018 77.27% $59.43
THE LION KING $1,878,450 13,419 100.02% $139.98
THE LYONS $217,732 4,050 46.92% $53.76
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $870,975 11,335 88.28% $76.84
VENUS IN FUR $635,622 5,994 82.70% $106.04
WAR HORSE $602,558 6,079 71.08% $99.12
WICKED $1,980,203 14,146 97.75% $139.98
TOTAL $25,535,981 269,169 78.17% $89.41

*Broadway Grosses provided courtesy of The Broadway League.

A Broadway Show Has Got Have a Gimmick

Displaying a keen sense of humor, the infamous Broadway musical Spider-man Turn Off the Dark celebrated the Tony Awards last week by giving away free tickets to anyone named Tony (or with similar names such as Toni and Antonio). As a result, Spider-man was able to claim — with tongue firmly in cheek — that it had broken the record for most Tonys on Tony Sunday. It was a clever way for the musical, which only received nominations for Set and Costume design (it didn’t win in either category), to turn its general snubbing into a funny, press release-worthy news item.

Advertising and marketing gimmicks like this have a long history on Broadway, with producer David Merrick being one of the most notorious practitioners. Today, many of the gimmicks are internet-driven, such as the Instagram meet-up hosted by End of the Rainbow or Next To Normal‘s special live-tweet performance. The current Jesus Christ Superstar revival held a secret concert for fans, spreading the word through social media.

Some gimmicks, like Bonnie & Clyde‘s posting of “Wanted” posters around town, are designed to intrigue potential Broadway ticket buyers. Other gimmicks, like Dirty Rotten Scoundrels handing out free cast recording CDs to entire audiences, are done with the hopes of creating positive word-of-mouth and repeat business.

Gimmicky Broadway merchandise can be a great way to get people talking about a new Broadway show.  This season saw such buzzworthy promotional items as Evita tissues (“Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina”) and Stick Fly fly swatters.  Promo items are often passed out at events like “Broadway on Broadway” and the Broadway Flea Market, where superfans receive them and then pass on the word to their friends.  And in the age of Facebook and Twitter, this kind of marketing is even more effective, since people can instantly upload photos to show their friends.  In this way, the fans themselves are transformed into advertisers, proving that it pays to have a good gimmick.