Kathie Lee Gifford To Host Broadway on Broadway Concert

Kathie Lee Gifford

The annual “Broadway on Broadway” concert will be back in Times Square on Sunday, September 9 at 11:30AM.  This free event, beloved by Broadway fans, literally fills Times Square with people as Broadway performers ascend a specially constructed platform to sing out to the masses.

Kathie Lee Gifford has been tapped to serve as host this year.  In addition to her hosting experience on the morning talk show Live with Regis & Kathie Lee, as well as her current stint on the fourth hour of The Today Show, Gifford actually has a direct involvement in Broadway this season.  The upcoming musical Scandalous: The Life and Trials of Aimee Semple McPherson features a book and lyrics by Kathie Lee Gifford.

The complete list of “Broadway on Broadway” participants this year hasn’t been announced yet, but traditionally nearly every musical contributes a song, and stars of the upcoming season’s plays often come up to introduce songs.

“Broadway on Broadway” gives fans an excellent opportunity to get a ‘sneak peek’ of upcoming shows by seeing a musical number performed here for free.  Many shows also pass out branded merchandise to the crowd.  But to get a spot near the stage, it is advisable to arrive a few hours early.

Peter and the Starcatcher Celebrates Pirate Day With Free Ticket Offer

“International Talk Like a Pirate Day,” founded by humor columnist Dave Barry, is coming up on September 19, and the Peter Pan-themed show Peter and the Starcatcher has come up with a unique way to celebrate it.  In tribute to the play’s own pirate, Black Stache, Peter and the Starcatcher will have a special “Stache Day” on that date.

In honor of “Stache Day,” Peter and the Starcatcher will give out free tickets for that night’s performance to the first 100 people wearing mustaches (they can be real or fake) who line up at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre (located at 256 West 47th Street) on the morning of September 19.  The tickets will be distributed at 10:00AM, and only one ticket can be claimed per person.

To encourage fans to come bearing their most impressive mustaches, Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson (the authors of the book on which Peter and the Starcatcher is based), as well as the actor who plays Black Stache, Matthew Saldivar, will choose the three best mustaches.  Those people will each be given a pair of tickets, plus a backstage tour at the performance that evening.

Broadway Cabaret Festival To Take Town Hall in October

Linda Eder

Broadway and cabaret have always had an intimate relationship, given that many of New York City’s most talented singers often travel between both worlds.  The Broadway Cabaret Festival will give many of these fine performers a chance to shine in a series of events scheduled in mid-to-late October at The Town Hall in midtown.

With a new Jekyll & Hyde (starring Constantine Maroulis) soon on its way to Broadway, it is interesting to see that there will be a reunion of sorts of the original Jekyll & Hyde cast on October 13, when Linda Eder presents her concert “A New Life” as a part of the festival.  Her former Jekyll & Hyde co-stars Robert Cuccioli and Christiane Noll will both be making guest appearances in the show.

The centerpiece of the Broadway Cabaret Festival will be “Broadway Originals”, a concert that will be held on October 21.  “Broadway Originals” will give the audience a chance to see Broadway stars sing songs that they introduced in the original productions or revivals of Broadway musicals.  Currently Alice Ripley, Chad Kimball, Tovah Feldshuh, Bob Martin, Matt Cavenaugh, Karen Ziemba, and Mandy Gonzalez are scheduled to participate.

The Broadway Cabaret Festival will conclude on October 26 with the concert “The Best of Broadway By the Year,” which will showcase the talents of many Broadway and cabaret performers, including Noah Racey, Christine Andreas, Beth Leavel, Kerry O’Malley, Karen Akers, and many more.

You can get tickets for Broadway Cabaret Festival events here.

New Jekyll & Hyde Tour Will Land on Broadway in 2013

Constantine Maroulis

It used to be that Broadway productions launched tours, but now the Great White Way is serving as a landing pad as well.  Recent examples include Hair and Fela!, which had successful Broadway productions, went out on tour, and then returned to Broadway for limited engagements.  Bring It On, now playing at the St. James Theatre, toured before landing on Broadway in a production that has already extended due to ticket demand.

The latest to follow this trend is Jekyll & Hyde, which is currently mounting a national tour starring former American Idol contestant Constantine Maroulis (Rock of Ages).  The tour begins previews in La Mirada, California in September before going on to stops all across the country.  Jekyll & Hyde will finally make its way to Broadway’s Richard Rodgers Theatre in April 2013.

This production will be a Broadway revival for Jekyll & Hyde, which was originally produced on Broadway — with Robert Cuccioli in the title role(s) — in 1997 and ran until 2001.  Based on the Robert Louis Stevenson story, the musical has a book and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and music by Frank Wildhorn, and features one of modern musical theater’s most well-known songs, “This Is the Moment”.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales* w/e 8/26/2012

Book Of Mormon - Andrew Rannelles as Elder PriceThis week saw some interesting changes in Broadway ticket sales with the total ticket sales revenue dipping below the $20 Million mark in quite some time.

Newsies continues to drive ahead with phenomenal ticket sales growth; Sister Act finds its “last chance” audiences before closing on Sunday, boosting its sagging popularity; and Once continued its hot streak since its Tony wins with another entry in the exclusive million dollar club (where a show’s ticket gross is above $1 Million in a week).

Newsies sold every seat they could muster this week by hard selling the week beforehand through multiple marketing outlets and then operating the new strategy of short-term discounting to sell the small excess inventory – anticipate them to take this strategy forward over the coming weeks. The ticket discounting took a toll on the show’s average paid admission, dragging it down to $101.77, but they filled every seat in theater (as well as the standing room spots). This speaks volumes to the whole spirit of Newsies as the Broadway upstart that gains more fans the more people actually see it, much like the original movie that was panned by critics and was lackluster in the movie theaters. With apologies to Shawshank, can anyone say Newsies Redemption?

Wicked ticket sales cooled a little this week with its tickets sold dropping below 90% inventory for the first time ever. The show remains second only to the Lion King in terms of total attendance and the Gershwin Theatre is a big theatre to fill – so unless ticket sales turn around for Wicked, anticipate the introduction of incentives to boost ticket sales in September, even perhaps Newsies-style, with short vertical discount offers that sell the unsold ticket inventory laid bare by too much inventory and not enough buyers, especially in the back-to-school season.

The Book of Mormon continues to lead with a stellar ticket sales records in capacity and an astounding average price paid of $186.41, which indicates their continued ability to wrestle the profits for this show away from ticket brokers and into the hands of the producers, where they rightfully belong. The “long in the tooth” Chicago managed to eek out a surprising 85.96% capacity, by combining big online and TDF TKTS ticket discounts and pushing big group discounts.The Lion King remains the top dog in sales due to the popular summer vacation, but is anticipated to falter as school starts in September.

Although it has an open ended run, Nice Work If You Can Get It looks like it’s heading to the chopping block with a dismal 50% of tickets sold, the very worst performing show on Broadway.  Their average paid admission also took a dive to $86, from previous weeks at $100, which seemed oddly high compared to the percentage of unsold ticket inventory –  although their management team have been surprisingly reluctant to pursue all available marketing avenues, so they could yet turn their sagging ticket sales around.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers from the week ending August 26, 2012:

Show Name GrossGross TotalAttn %Cap AvgPaidAdm
BRING IT ON THE MUSICAL $492,212 7,770 72.81% $63.35
CHAPLIN $356,882 5,996 71.72% $59.52
CHICAGO $595,470 7,427 85.96% $80.18
CLYBOURNE PARK $420,369 6,098 80.15% $68.94
EVITA $1,012,152 9,834 76.26% $102.92
GORE VIDAL’S THE BEST MAN $575,811 6,453 75.88% $89.23
JERSEY BOYS $899,124 9,008 91.69% $99.81
MAMMA MIA! $784,701 9,133 76.21% $85.92
MARY POPPINS $836,240 11,823 82.24% $70.73
NEWSIES $985,639 9,685 101.31% $101.77
NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT $502,446 5,837 50.70% $86.08
ONCE $1,025,288 8,253 97.51% $124.23
ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS $746,407 7,482 95.92% $99.76
PETER AND THE STARCATCHER $368,042 5,151 62.03% $71.45
PORGY AND BESS $508,069 6,321 59.19% $80.38
ROCK OF AGES $485,487 4,588 98.37% $105.82
SISTER ACT $814,822 10,377 73.91% $78.52
SPIDER-MAN TURN OFF THE DARK $1,396,354 12,466 80.74% $112.01
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,631,432 8,752 102.63% $186.41
THE LION KING $1,753,380 13,418 100.01% $130.67
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $884,788 11,133 86.71% $79.47
WAR HORSE $537,676 7,218 84.40% $74.49
WICKED $1,690,150 12,774 88.27% $132.31
Total: $19,302,941 196,997 82.37% $94.96

*Broadway Grosses provided courtesy of The Broadway League

Perez Hilton To Star Off-Broadway in NEWSical the Musical

Perez Hilton

Notorious internet gossip writer Perez Hilton will be putting himself in the celebrity spotlight soon, when he makes his New York City stage debut in the topical Off-Broadway show NEWSical the Musical.  Hilton will co-star in the revue for a limited time, beginning performances on September 8 and remaining with NEWSical for approximately four weeks.

The brainchild of writer/composer Rick Crom, NEWSical the Musical is a satirical news show set to music, periodically updated and lampooning everything from politics to pop culture.  The latest version will include a number about the Chick-fil-A controversy, as well as song written specifically for and about Perez Hilton.

Though primarily famed as a blogger, Perez Hilton has never shied from attention, so taking a stage role seems a natural choice for the celebrity gossip columnist.  Hilton will join the NEWSical cast that already includes master impressionists and singers like Christine Pedi, Christina Bianco, Michael West, Amy Griffen, and Tommy Walker.

To get tickets to see Perez Hilton in NEWSical the Musical, click here.

Going Into the Woods in Central Park

Into the Woods (Photo by Joan Marcus)

Into the Woods, which premiered on Broadway in 1987 and was revived on Broadway in 2002, is now going into its last week of a popular run at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park.  Part of the Public Theater’s annual Shakespeare in the Park series, Into the Woods is of course not Shakespeare.  But the Public has been known to sneak a contemporary musical into its summer season every now and then, often with great results (the Shakespeare in the Park production of Hair a few years back transferred to Broadway for a respectable run).

With a score by revered composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim, Into the Woods has carried more buzz than any Shakespeare in the Park production in recent years.  It doesn’t hurt that Oscar-nominated film actress Amy Adams (Enchanted, Julie & Julia, Doubt) is co-starring.  She plays the role of the Baker’s Wife, one half of a childless couple who must collect a series of objects in order to reverse a Witch’s curse.  They interact with numerous characters from legend in this fairy tale mash-up that features beloved characters like Cinderella, Jack (of Beanstalk fame), Little Red Ridinghood, and the Big Bad Wolf.  The big twist in Into the Woods is that, after bringing us to a happy conclusion at the end of the first act, the musical becomes quite dark in the second act as it explores the consequences of the actions each character took to achieve a “happy ending”.

This production, based on an outdoor English production from a couple years ago, is very good overall.  The set design, coupled with the naturally picturesque Central Park location, makes for an enchanting background for the musical.  A new frame story, which has a young boy serving as narrator, is a nice touch that reminds us of the power that fairy tales hold, especially for the young.

Chip Zien and Denis O’Hare (Photo by Joan Marcus)

The cast is uniformly good, with stand-outs being Jessie Mueller as Cinderella and Sarah Stiles as a hilarious Little Red.  Denis O’Hare is solid in the crucial role of the Baker, though his singing is unfortunately lacking, notably in the beautiful second-act ballad “No One Is Alone”.

A particular treat for longtime Sondheim fans is the presence of Chip Zien in the role of the Mysterious Man, who takes part in the moving duet “No More” with the Baker.  In the original Broadway production of Into the Woods, Zien played the Baker, so it is a joy to see him “graduating” to the Mysterious Man, a role that he plays with great humor and pathos.  Sondheim fans can also appreciate seeing Broadway stalwart Donna Murphy (who first made her mark in the original Broadway production of the Sondheim-scored musical Passion) in the role of the Witch, one of the musical’s most showy parts, which she plays with relish.

Due to Into the Woods‘s immense popularity, the Public Theater has already extended the run until September 1, which means you still have a week to catch it.  Tickets are absolutely free, and they are handed out at 1pm on performance days.  People have been lining up very early for this production, and we have heard that, in general, you need to arrive at Central Park before 6 or 7am if you want to actually get tickets.

There is also an online lottery that opens up each night at midnight, but, as with any lottery, there are always many more losers than winners.  Another option is to join the standby line, which generally starts forming immediately after the tickets have been handed out at 1pm.  There is no way to guarantee that you will get in via standby, but for the best chance of securing tickets that way, we would recommend arriving by 4pm.

For more information on Shakespeare in the Park, visit shakespeareinthepark.org.

The Holidays Will Be Bright at Madison Square Garden

Madison Square Garden, one of New York City’s most famed and popular venues, will be especially busy during the holiday season this year, from just before Thanksgiving and on towards the New Year.  During that time, the MSG arena will host such major acts as Justin Bieber (November 28-29), boy band sensation One Direction (December 3), and classic rockers The Who (December 5).

Meanwhile, the Theater at Madison Square Garden, MSG’s more intimate space, will feature several theatrical productions, most of them family-friendly for the holidays.

Tyler Perry’s Madea Gets a Job (November 16-17) – See one of the richest and most influential men in the entertainment world live onstage when writer, director, and actor Tyler Perry once again takes on his best-known role, the sharp-tongued old woman Madea, in a stage show in which Madea has to take on a job and ends up working at a nursing home.

The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses (November 28) – One of the original Nintendo gaming system’s signature games, Zelda has amassed a devoted following over the last 25 years.  This show allows fans to experience the video game in a unique way that offers dynamic visuals accompanied by a symphony orchestra.  The concert showcases the music of Nintendo composer / sound director Koji Kondo.

Yo Gabba Gabba! Live! Get the Sillies Out (November 30 – December 2) – The wildly popular children’s TV series Yo Gabba Gabba! brings its colorful and unique characters to the stage.  Along with DJ Lance Rock, they will help the young audience to jump, shimmy, and shake the sillies out in this fun, kid-friendly show.

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical (December 13-30) – Mr. Grinch may be a mean one, but he remains beloved by both kids and their parents, and he takes the stage at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in this live-action musical version of the famed Dr. Seuss tale.

Get a Taste of Broadway Today at a Free Broadway Concert

taste of broadway 2012 at the World Financial Center New York City

Stars of Broadway’s Mamma Mia Perform at Taste of Broadway 2012 at the World Financial Center New York City

United Airlines is sponsoring a free outdoor Broadway concert today, August 23, from 12:30-1:15pm in downtown Manhattan.  Hosted by Tony Award winners Judy Kaye and Michael McGrath, the concert will be held at the World Financial Center Plaza, located at 220 Vesey Street (between North End Avenue and West Street).

Designed to be a sort of “sneak peek” of the upcoming annual “Broadway on Broadway” concert, a free event held right in Times Square each September, this Taste of Broadway is scheduled to feature performances from five different Broadway musicals.  Though the schedule is subject to change, the shows currently on the docket are Chicago, Mamma Mia!, Nice Work If You Can Get It, Rock of Ages, and The Phantom of the Opera.

The show is being done in a bare bones format, so gone are all the great costumes and impressive sets, but what remains is the superb singing from these great Broadway actors that bring their characters to life on stage eight times a week.

Given the variety of participating Broadway shows, there will be a little something for everyone at Taste of Broadway, so it is an ideal opportunity for the downtown lunchtime crowd to enjoy a bit of music with their lunch.

Broadway Week: Get 1/2 Price Broadway Tickets September 4-16

Broadway Week has returned, and it’s offering Broadway theater lovers an opportunity to see plays and musicals at a significant 50% discount.  From September 4 through September 16, most currently-running Broadway shows will be offering special 2-for-1 ticket deals, allowing two or more people to enjoy a Broadway production at a deep discount.

Virtually all Broadway shows are participating in Broadway Week, among them:  Chicago, Porgy and Bess, Mamma Mia!, Mary Poppins, Nice Work If You Can Get It, Peter and the Starcatcher, The Phantom of the Opera, Rock of Ages, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, and War Horse.

Broadway Week also offers an opportunity to catch brand-new Broadway shows such as the competitive cheerleading-themed Bring It On: The Musical, the new bio-musical Chaplin, and the drama An Enemy of the People.

Even several popular Broadway shows that rarely discount are participating, such as The Lion King, Jersey Boys, Evita, Once, and Newsies.  However, these shows often have greater restrictions and the inventory frequently sells out quickly, so buy your tickets fast if you are interested in them (as of this writing, Wicked has already sold out of the tickets allocated for the special Broadway Week deal).

Broadway Week is produced by NYC & Company in partnership with The Broadway League.  To find out how to take advantage of these two-for-one ticket deals, visit the Broadway Week website here.