Broadway Show Ticket Sales* w/e 8/19/2012

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers from the week ending August 19, 2012:

Show Name GrossGross TotalAttn %Cap AvgPaidAdm
BRING IT ON THE MUSICAL $508,052 8,209 76.92% $61.89
CHICAGO $600,661 7,517 87.00% $79.91
CLYBOURNE PARK $380,155 5,461 71.78% $69.61
END OF THE RAINBOW $325,001 4,953 62.54% $65.62
EVITA $1,039,196 10,102 78.33% $102.87
GHOST $634,581 8,627 71.65% $73.56
GORE VIDAL’S THE BEST MAN $557,268 5,942 69.87% $93.78
JERSEY BOYS $896,346 9,096 92.59% $98.54
MAMMA MIA! $846,506 9,687 80.83% $87.39
MARY POPPINS $953,751 13,048 90.76% $73.10
NEWSIES $1,003,363 9,702 101.49% $103.42
NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT $744,376 7,483 65.00% $99.48
ONCE $1,030,434 8,310 98.18% $124.00
ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS $659,289 6,761 86.68% $97.51
PETER AND THE STARCATCHER $429,784 5,678 68.38% $75.69
PORGY AND BESS $524,067 5,989 56.08% $87.50
ROCK OF AGES $480,779 4,540 97.34% $105.90
SISTER ACT $804,261 9,981 71.09% $80.58
SPIDER-MAN TURN OFF THE DARK $1,542,699 13,319 86.26% $115.83
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,651,064 8,752 102.63% $188.65
THE LION KING $1,958,780 13,418 100.01% $145.98
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $925,633 11,499 89.56% $80.50
WAR HORSE $540,524 7,277 85.09% $74.28
WICKED $1,818,537 13,148 90.85% $138.31
Total: $20,855,104 208,499 82.54% $96.83

*Broadway Grosses provided courtesy of The Broadway League

Buying Broadway Tickets on Telecharge.com Just Got A Little Easier With Their Graphical Search Tool

It’s been five years in the making, but searching for Broadway show tickets on Telecharge.com just got a little easier as they just launched their Beta version of their re-designed site, which we reviewed in a previous post on this blog.  The new version looks different, but more importantly, it works differently.  With the site’s new capabilities, particularly regarding ticket searches, Telecharge.com is finally catching up to Ticketmaster.com.  But they are still not there yet, as they lack functionality and utilize an awkward design that doesn’t appear to have been through adequate user testing yet.

Telecharge.com now utilizes a graphical map, a feature vastly preferred by users as a method for choosing seats when ordering Broadway tickets.  Telecharge’s new theater maps make it easier for customers to view seat availability for a performance, seeing exactly one the theater’s seating chart which seats are still available and enabling them to directly choose available seats from the map.

However, not all Broadway shows have opted to allow this feature.  Presumably stuck in the old way of doing things, they ask Telecharge to turn off the map selection feature, so that ticket buyers have to struggle through the traditional method of slogging through whatever ‘best available’ choices the computer offers them.  Although this ticket search offers detailed parameters for searching, you have to enter the captcha code each time you look at the next best set of seats, which can be time-consuming at best and aggravating at worst.

Even for the Broadway shows that do allow users to select seats via map, it can be difficult to actually notice the feature, since it is relatively hidden down at the bottom of the Find Tickets page and the user must deliberately select it (the default option is for Telecharge to “recommend” seats).  And if the Broadway show in question does not offer the feature, Telecharge simply eliminates the choice from the page rather than showing it as a “greyed out” option, confusing the user by making it seem as though the feature is never available at all.

Example of the Telecharge.com pesky default choice set to "Recommended"

Example of the Telecharge.com pesky default choice set to “Recommended”

Fortunately the majority of Broadway shows that sell tickets on Telecharge.com do actually choose to offer users the option of selecting seats from the theater map.  A current review of Broadway shows on Telecharge showed that the following plays and musicals support the graphical search:  The Anarchist, The Best Man, Chaplin, Chicago, Dead Accounts, An Enemy of the People, Glengarry Glen Ross, Grace, Mamma Mia, Nice Work If You Can Get It, Once, One Man Two Guvnors, The Performers, The Phantom of the Opera, Rebecca, Rock of Ages, Sister Act, War Horse, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
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Broadway shows that do not currently support the graphical search function include:

The Book of Mormon, Bring It On: The Musical, Clybourne Park, The Heiress, and Jersey Boys.

Its unclear why these shows are hold-outs, but it could be that they are concerned that ticket brokers will use the new feature to game the system (a theory supported by the fact that two of Broadway’s most popular shows, The Book of Mormon and Jersey Boys, are among the few that don’t use the map search).There may also be a concern among Broadway producers that, because the map allows users to get a good sense of how ticket sales are going, potential ticket buyers may be less inclined to buy tickets for a show that has a lot of availability and therefore seems “unpopular”.  Broadway producers have always been rather cagey about declaring sales numbers, and the seat availability map lays bare the reality of sales numbers at a real-time pace.

It is anticipated that the Shuberts will fine tune the telecharge.com beta website over the next few weeks, with an apparent full launch date in the Fall of this year.

Broadway Shows “Ghost the Musical” and “End of the Rainbow” Close This Weekend

As the summer starts moving to a close, two more Broadway shows — one a romantic musical, and the other a dramatic play — are concluding their runs, Ghost the Musical and End of the Rainbow.

A hit in London (particularly with groups of women, or “hen parties,” who like to go as a ladies’ night out), Ghost the Musical did not find similar success on Broadway.  Possibly because there was not enough time for buzz to build up, or because of lackluster reviews, the musical based on the popular 1990 Patrick Swayze-Demi Moore film did not find a steady audience the way that its London counterpart has.  Ghost the Musical did, however, receive accolades for its stunning stage illusions (provided by Paul Kieve), which made its hero seem to walk through doors and disappear into thin air.

Another London import, Peter Quilter’s End of the Rainbow stars British performer Tracie Bennett as musical theater and film legend Judy Garland.  Billed as a play with music, End of the Rainbow featured Bennett singing many of Garland’s best-known and best-loved songs, including “The Trolley Song,” “Get Happy,” “The Man That Got Away,” and of course “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”.  The play explores some of the Wizard of Oz star’s notorious struggles with pills and alcohol.  The dramatic aspects of End of the Rainbow were largely considered to be the piece’s weak point, while the Olivier Award-winning Tracie Bennett herself was roundly praised for evoking the spirit and voice of Judy Garland.

Last Chance! Tony Award Winning Broadway Shows To See Before They Close In Coming Weeks

As the 2012-2013 season gets in gear, several currently running Broadway musicals and plays are readying to close to make way for the new crop.  Here are four that you should see while you still have the chance.

Sister Act (closing August 26) – Raven-Symone (The Cosby Show) is currently starring in this stage version of the popular Whoopi Goldberg movie about a club singer who disguises herself as a nun after witnessing a murder.  One of the best of Broadway’s fluffy musicals, Sister Act is full of funny characters and toe-tapping ’70s soul numbers courtesy of composer Alan Menken.

One Man, Two Guvnors (closing September 2) – This British import has had Broadway audiences rolling in the aisles all summer.  A manic farce set in the 1960s, One Man, Two Guvnors includes wild slapstick, hilarious gags involving the audience, and musical interludes featuring a fantastic band playing original rock ‘n’ roll tunes reminscent of the play’s time period.

The Best Man Starring Candice Bergen Kerry Butler James Earl Jones Angela Lansbury Johm Larroquette Jefferson Mays Eric McCormackThe Best Man (closing September 9) – Timely for a presidential election year, this 1960 comedy by the late Gore Vidal stands up surprisingly well over 50 years after it was written.  The play itself is admittedly good, not great, but its starry cast makes it worth a visit.  James Earl Jones is giving the production’s most enjoyable performance as a former president, and his impressive list of co-stars includes John Stamos, Elizabeth Ashley, Cybill Shepherd, John Larroquette, and Kristin Davis.

Porgy and Bess (closing September 23) – Though controversial in theatrical circles because of the many changes made from the original version, this Broadway production of the Gershwin folk opera has been largely well-received by audiences and with good reason.  A powerful story, strong performances (Norm Lewis and multiple Tony winner Audra McDonald play the leads), and unforgettable music make this a great evening in the theater.

Kinky Boots, With Music By Cyndi Lauper, Coming to Broadway

Cyndi Lauper

Having already starred on Broadway as a performer, in the 2006 Roundabout Theatre Company revival of The Threepenny Opera, ’80s pop icon Cyndi Lauper now comes to Broadway as a songwriter.  Lauper has composed the score for a new musical version of the independent British film Kinky Boots, which is scheduled to open this Spring at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre.

Inspired by a true story, Kinky Boots tells the tale of a struggling shoemaker whose business is reinvigorated when it stops producing traditional men’s shoes and begins making flashy footwear aimed at the drag community.  The show’s book is written by Harvey Fierstein, who also penned the script for the current Broadway hit, NewsiesHairspray‘s Jerry Mitchell will provide both direction and choreography for the tuner.

Stark Sands (American Idiot) has been cast to star as Charlie Price, the young man who has taken on the difficult task of saving his family’s shoe factory.  Billy Porter (Miss Saigon) co-stars as Lola, the drag performer who helps Charlie to the realization that he can breathe new life into the business by fashioning shoes aimed at far more flaboyant buyers.

Kinky Boots will make its premiere at an out-of-town tryout in Chicago this autumn, before beginning preview performances at the Al Hirschfeld on Broadway on March 5.  The show’s official opening date is April 4.

Public Is Invited to Gore Vidal Memorial on Broadway

Gore Vidal

Writer Gore Vidal’s life and work will be celebrated on Thursday, August 23rd at a memorial being held, appropriately, at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, where the current revival of his play The Best Man is now playing.  The memorial, which will take place from noon to 1pm, will feature loved ones sharing anecdotes and fond remembrances of Vidal.  There will also be readings from some of the author’s best-known works, courtesy of both fans and friends from the worlds of TV, film, and theater.

Gore Vidal, the famed author, public figure, and occasional performer, passed away on July 31.  He was 86 years old.  Vidal’s death has a particular resonance for the Broadway community given the success of The Best Man revival, which opened with a starry cast including James Earl Jones and Angela Lansbury.  This is the third Broadway production of Vidal’s political comedy about warring presidential candidates, which debuted in 1960 and had a previous revival in 2000.

Though perhaps best known for his novels (Burr, Lincoln, Myra Breckinridge) and screenplays (Ben Hur, Suddenly, Last Summer), Gore Vidal was no stranger to Broadway, having written the Broadway-produced plays Weekend, A Visit to a Small Planet, and An Evening with Richard Nixon and …, all comedies.

The general public is invited to attend the special memorial gathering for Gore Vidal.  Seating at the theater, which has a capacity of over 1,000, will be first come first served, so early arrival is recommended.

Broadway and TV Star Sean Hayes to Join Cast of Smash

Sean Hayes

It will be a Will & Grace reunion on NBC’s primetime Broadway soap Smash this coming season when Sean Hayes (who played Will & Grace‘s flamboyant scene-stealer Jack McFarland on the successful sitcom) joins the much-buzzed-about television show featuring Debra Messing (Grace herself) for a multi-episode arc.

Hayes, who recently impressed Broadway in the revival of Promises, Promises as office drone Chuck Baxter, will play a character not unlike himself, a comic television star who is making his Broadway debut.  Though unlike Hayes, who wisely chose a musical comedy to show off his Broadway chops, his Smash counterpart will be starring in a musical version of the seductive drama Les Liaisons Dangereuses.

It has been reported that Sean Hayes’ character, named Terrence Falls, will cause difficulty’s for Smash‘s talented-but-overshadowed Broadway trouper Ivy (Megan Hilty).  But it’s not yet known how much screen time he will share with his old TV castmate Debra Messing, who plays Broadway show scribe Julia.

Bring It On: The Musical Broadway Show Review

Bring It On

Bring It On, now playing at the St. James Theatre, didn’t come to Broadway with much fanfare.  Loosely based on the 2000 movie of the same name, Bring It On: The Musical began by playing touring engagements on the road, then sneaked onto Broadway in the middle of the summer (usually a dead time for Broadway), scheduled for only a limited engagement.  Given its somewhat sheepish approach onto Broadway, most people didn’t expect much for this competitive cheerleading-themed musical.  However, Bring It On has managed to be a pleasant surprise, kicking off the 2012-2013 Broadway season with flair.

The thing that first catches your eye in Bring It On: The Musical is the acrobatics.  Many real-life competitive cheerleaders are in the show’s cast, and they pull off some incredible moves onstage, flipping, somersaulting, and being flung far up into the air.  Bring It On has more going for it, though, than the “special effects” provided by these talented young people.  It also has a smart, silly, and often hilarious book by Jeff Whitty (Avenue Q), who creates a cast of well-drawn characters that each have their individual quirks (kudos also to the youthful cast, who bring these colorful characters to life).

One of Bring It On‘s innovations is employing two songwriting teams.  The show centers on two very different high schools that ultimately compete against each other, so it seems appropriate to have multiple songwriters.  In the Heights‘ Lin-Manuel Miranda, along with Tom Kitt (Next To Normal) and Amanda Green, provide the songs, utilizing very different styles to highlight the differences between the worlds of these two schools.  A few songs are a bit bland, but on the whole it is a strong score.  (The incredibly catchy number “Do Your Own Thing” deserves to be a Top 40 radio hit right now.)

Originally scheduled to play into October, enthusiastic audience reaction and ticket sales has already encouraged Bring It On: The Musical to extend through January 20, so you have plenty of time to catch this high-flying cheerleading crowd-pleaser.

Another Show Entry Into The 2012 Holiday Broadway Schedule

As we mentioned previously, the holiday season will be featuring a few special Christmas shows on Broadway. Now another seasonal show has been added to the list: Elf the Musical. A holiday success when it debuted on Broadway two years ago, Elf is now back for a limited run at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, where it will play from November 9 to January 6.

Based on the 2003 family film starring Will Ferrell, Elf is about a human who is raised at the North Pole among Santa’s elves and then goes off to New York City to find his birth family. With a charmingly funny book by Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone) and Thomas Meehan (The Producers, Hairspray, Annie), and a tuneful score by Chad Beguelin and Matthew Sklar, Elf the Musical did well on Broadway when it first debuted in 2010 for a limited engagement.

Unlike the other Christmas shows (e.g. Radio City Christmas Spectacular), which conclude at the end of December, Elf the Musical will actually be playing into the New Year. This can be a gamble on the part of a Broadway show. On one hand, it can be a smart choice since some families are still assembled for the New Year and will be looking for Broadway entertainment in early January. On the other hand, it can backfire since January is a notoriously slow month on Broadway and most people are focusing on work after the holiday. Since Elf will be the only holiday show still running, though, the gamble might pay off.

Shubert Organization Makes Big Changes To Their Online Broadway Ticket Website Telecharge.com

Telecharge.com, the Shubert Organization ticketing site that is the official Broadway show ticket vendor for over half of the shows on Broadway, has recently re-worked its website.  Currently in Beta testing, the new version of the Telecharge website is seen by 1 out of 5 people who visit Telecharge.com (or you can click the Beta test button).  Besides an overall re-branding (the primary color is now blue rather than white, for example), there are some key changes in terms of functionality and information offered.

The new Telecharge.com layout features more information on each Broadway show, from cast details to handicapped accessibility information.  This includes a schedule of upcoming show dates and times (and a “View Full Calendar” option) that is a much-needed improvement, making it easier for ticket buyers to see at a glance what show time will be best for them.  The comprehensive pricing breakdowns are shown by performance, enabling customers to more easily see which seats are available at what cost.

Shubert launches new telecharge website

The most significant improvement on the new Telecharge.com site is that it now allows users to search and select seats on a map.  This is helpful to Broadway ticket buyers because they are able to easily see where available seats are located in the theater and to choose their preferred seats accordingly.  Telecharge’s 3-D seat map gives you the option of looking at the theater from overhead or from a stage view — if you already have your tickets, you can even enter your section, row, and seat numbers to see exactly where the seats are located, although Microsoft Silverlight must be installed for this functionality to work. Telecharge has also included functionality to see a view of the stage from your seat before buying.  Not all the theatre data and photos have yet been loaded, but this function promises to be quite valuable to ticket buyers.

Overall, Telecharge’s seat finder is not as good as the one used on Ticketmaster.com, which handles the ticketing for most of the rest of the shows on Broadway. Though it will likely improve in time, at the moment Telecharge’s map has an unfinished look, is often slow to load, is not nearly as intuitive as Ticketmaster’s map, and in some cases lacks the flexibility of being able to see all the available seats on one screen.

The new website still does not allow the use of discount codes, they must be used on Telecharge’s other website, BroadwayOffers.com. The new site also requires Microsoft Silverlight to be installed, further limiting the penetration of their latest development, as Microsoft Silverlight has very limited user adoption and many documented problems with Google Chrome and Safari on the Mac. Similarly this functionality will not work on Apple’s iPad or iPhone.

On the whole, the new Telecharge website is an improvement because it presents Broadway ticket buyers with more detailed information on schedules, pricing and seating, along with a more complex search function. Nonetheless, it needs work in terms of smoothness of appearance, ease of use, and functionality.