Broadway bound Rebecca has been plagued by difficulties. The new musical, which is based on the Daphne du Maurier novel of the same name, was originally scheduled to debut during the 2011-2012 Broadway season, but had to postpone due to a failure to secure needed funds. As a result of the delay, the show lost its originally announced stars, Sierra Boggess and Tam Mutu.
Rebecca eventually overcame its financial troubles and was set to start rehearsals today with Jill Paice and Ryan Silverman in the lead roles. However, a new bump in the road has appeared due to the unfortunate death of a key investor.
Rebecca‘s producers have released a statement saying they are working tirelessly with the investor’s estate to ensure that the money will still be released to the production, but so far the issue has not been resolved. As a result, Rebecca is delaying its rehearsal and production schedule by two weeks.
As of right now, Rebecca is scheduled to begin rehearsals on September 24, but dates for previews and opening night have not been set.
The New York City Mayor’s Office is shining a “Spotlight on Broadway” with a brand new website designed to highlight the Broadway theater district. Currently SpotlightonBroadway.com, which launched today, September 9, features informative videos on five Broadway theaters (Al Hirschfeld Theatre, August Wilson Theatre, Booth Theatre, Majestic Theatre, and the Richard Rodgers Theatre). Videos on the rest of Broadway’s theaters are expected to appear in 2013, when the site has its full launch.
The videos are designed to be more than simple promotional videos. Incorporating interviews, photos, and historical information, the videos are much like short documentaries that create an archive of Broadway’s past and present.
The Spotlight on Broadway website has been unveiled in conjunction with the announcement of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment’s Spotlight Awards, which honor people who have contributed to the Broadway theater for 10 or more years in the following areas: Industry Support, Actors, Behind-the-Scenes Talent, and Producers.
The recipients of this year’s Spotlight Awards, which were announced at the Times Square “Broadway on Broadway” concert today, include musical theater legend Chita Rivera; composer Charles Strouse; actress Arlene Dahl; actor-director-choreographer Tommy Tune; actor and Actor’s Equity Assocation president Nick Wyman; International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees president Matthew D. Loeb; Nederlander Organization chairman James M. Nederlander; and general manager Nina Lannan.
The London hit Matilda the Musical is arriving on Broadway this spring, but it has yet to cast the young ladies who will be playing the title part. Like Billy Elliot, Matilda will cast multiple young actors in its main role, so more than one pint-sized talent has a chance of landing the Broadway gig.
To find their stars, Matilda is holding an open casting call at Pearl Studios (519 Eighth Avenue, 12th floor, Studio C) on September 30 starting at 10am. Girls aged 8 to 10 years old, with a height of 4 foot 4 inches or under, are invited to audition (no experience necessary). The character is described as “bright, fearless, and focused”.
Girls auditioning should bring a recent picture with a resume that includes birthdate, height, parent/guardian contact information, and an explanation of any performing experience. They should be prepared to recite a poem or very short story (preferably in the style of author Roald Dahl, who wrote Matilda), and also have a short song to sing (bring sheet music).
For more information on the Matilda the Musical open casting call, phone 212-719-9393, ext. 360.
Tourists arriving at JFK’s Terminal 8 today, September 7, will be able to get a little preview of Broadway before even leaving the airport. Cast members from Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark will be performing as a part of an American Airlines sponsored concert series that takes place two or three times each month at center stage in Terminal 8 at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
The series is intended as a way of providing some entertainment for people arriving and waiting to depart for flights, and so far musicians from a variety of genres have been featured. The Tony Award winning Broadway musical Once is slated to be featured later in September, and another Broadway show to-be-named will be featured in October.
American Airlines is the official airline of the Broadway production of Spider-Man, so the superhero musical is a natural choice for the JFK concert series. The show was previously featured on the Terminal 8 stage last month, so the Spider-Man cast have already had a warm-up for this performance.
The September 7 performance of selections from Spider-Man will be held from 2:30pm to 3:15pm.
Broadway Cares Grand Auction
The 26th Annual Broadway Flea Market and Grand Auction is coming up on Sunday, September 23, but pre-bidding is already open for the many unique theater packages that will be auctioned off that afternoon. These “big ticket” items, which include walk-ons during Broadway shows, give theater fans unusual opportunities — but at a price. Since the Flea Market and Grand Auction is a fundraiser for Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS, the packages tend to go for many thousands of dollars during the auction.
The items going on the auction block include:
- Both walk-on roles and backstage experiences for a number of Broadway musicals, including The Book of Mormon, Newsies, Wicked, Spider-Man, Rock of Ages, Chicago, Mamma Mia!, and Once
- Signed shirts worn by Ricky Martin and Hugh Jackman in their Broadway shows
- Unique Broadway show memorabilia autographed by Daniel Radcliffe, Julia Roberts, Nick Jonas, Bradley Cooper, Neil Patrick Harris, and others
- Lunch with Tony Award-winning legend Angela Lansbury
- Music phrases written and autographed by Stephen Schwartz, Stephen Sondheim, Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, Alan Menken and Jack Feldman, Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio, and more
- VIP tickets and party passes to the opening nights of upcoming Broadway productions Dead Accounts (starring Katie Holmes), The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Matilda, Kinky Boots, The Anarchist, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and more
- Set visits to TV shows such as the theater drama Smash and Emmy-winning Modern Family
You can pre-bid on these items at the Broadway Cares website. Online pre-bidding is open until 10am on September 22. The actual live auction will begin at 4:30pm on September 23 at the event, which is held in Shubert Alley (West 44th Street, between Broadway and 8th Avenue).
If the auction is a little rich for your blood, then never fear. The flea market portion of the event, which begins and 10am and goes late into the afternoon, features far more affordable items, from old Playbills and theater posters to props and costumes. Arrive early to have your pick of the best items (but bear in mind that the prices plummet as the day wears on).
Lincoln Center Theater has announced that its long-running hit War Horse will be shuttering on January 6, 2013. The epic play with music will have played for nearly two years on Broadway when it closes.
Touching audiences with its sweeping and story of a young man searching for his beloved horse in the midst of World War I, and also impressing them with its incredible life-size puppets, War Horse enjoyed both critical and commercial success. But ticket sales gradually started to decrease this year, with capacity getting as low as 60% mid-summer.
Though War Horse ticket sales have improved recently, the massive production is too costly to survive such dips in sales in the long term. A January end date gives the show an opportunity to reap the financial benefits of the lucrative Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons (when War Horse is likely to do particularly good business with family audiences), closing just as the winter doldrums set in.
With War Horse concluding its run at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre, Lincoln Center Theater will now be able to resume using the space for its regular seasonal programming. Ever since War Horse premiered and proved to be a lasting hit, LCT has had to use other Broadway houses for its productions.
The original West End production of War Horse continues to play in London, and the U.S. tour is also still out on the road. Upcoming productions in Australia and Berlin are also being planned, so War Horse will soldier on even after it leaves Broadway.
Summer went out with a whimper on Broadway, as the final week of August had the lowest total ticket sales for the Great White Way all summer season. Presumably most people preferred to spend the Labor Day weekend barbecuing or buying school supplies rather than seeing a Broadway show.
New kid on the block Chaplin saw a modest but encouraging increase in attendance and average paid admission this week. But this wonderful musical about a silent film star may be a hard sell in coming weeks, this new show may need to see some really positive reviews from the critics when it opens next week, especially if it hopes to survive the season.
The closing show Clybourne Park ended its Broadway run with solid numbers, filling to over 86% capacity over the course of the week. But this week’s other closer, One Man, Two Guvnors, really went out with a bang at almost 98% capacity and an average ticket price of $111 (which is impressive for a play with no major Hollywood stars in it) – which is a masterclass in how to close a show.
Wicked recovered the ground that it lost last week, and Nice Work turned around its slump with a nice rally. Porgy and Bess dropped to last place, with its closure scheduled for Sept 23, it is hoped that it can remain viable until then.
All bets are off heading into the “back to school” season, where this summer’s Broadway successes may have trouble selling to the Broadway audience demographic shift that happens around this time of year.
The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers from the week ending September 2, 2012:
|BRING IT ON THE MUSICAL
|GORE VIDAL’S THE BEST MAN
|NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT
|ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS
|PETER AND THE STARCATCHER
|PORGY AND BESS
|ROCK OF AGES
|SPIDER-MAN TURN OFF THE DARK
|THE BOOK OF MORMON
|THE LION KING
|THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
*Broadway Grosses provided courtesy of The Broadway League
This autumn, the dreams of Glee-like musical theater loving teens will become a reality in the three-hour PBS documentary Broadway or Bust. The competitive reality show, which will air Sunday nights on PBS from September 9-23 at 8pm, tells the true stories of top musical theater performers at high schools across America. From a countrywide casting call of some 50,000 ambitious teenagers, the 60 most promising are plucked to travel to New York City for a week-long musical theater boot camp.
The camp is held annually, but this is the first time that its behind-the-scenes drama is captured on tape and broadcast nationwide. It all leads up to the National High School Musical Theater Awards, an event that puts the students on an actual Broadway stage, performing for a full audience and top industry names serving as judges. In addition to the opportunity to be seen by important people in the Broadway industry, the event also gives the students a chance to compete for scholarships.
Broadway or Bust will be broadcast in three one-hour segments. The first focuses on the casting call, the second zeroes in on the intense boot camp experience, and the third installment is about the awards show, which will be held at Broadway’s Minskoff Theatre (current home of The Lion King). Each episode will feature not only the competitive aspect, but also showcase the inspiring individual stories of many of these young would-be Broadway stars.
Learn more about Broadway or Bust by visiting PBS’s dedicated website for it.
Two of Broadway’s most critically successful plays this summer are both ending their runs today, Clybourne Park and One Man, Two Guvnors.
A scathing comedy that tackled issues like race and gentrification, Bruce Norris’s acclaimed Clybourne Park opened at Broadway’s Walter Kerr Theatre in April. Although the play went on to win the Tony Award for Best Play, and its ticket sales were respectable, it never quite became a hit with audiences. Given the play’s awards, though, it is likely to do well in regional theater.
One Man, Two Guvnors, which also opened on Broadway in April, arrived in New York City having already been a big hit in London’s West End. The 1960s-set breakneck farce with music enjoyed equally positive word-of-mouth from locals, rave reviews from the critics, and good box office sales. In fact, unlike most Broadway productions, One Man, Two Guvnors managed to recoup its investment, even though it played less than 200 performances during its limited engagement at the Music Box Theatre.
Film star Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain, Donnie Darko) is currently making his debut on the New York stage, but not on Broadway, as would be expected for a star of his fame. Instead, Gyllenhaal has taken a role in the new Off-Broadway play If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet, produced by the non-profit Roundabout Theatre Company and playing at the Laura Pels Theatre.
Written by British playwright Nick Payne, If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet is about an overweight teen who is struggling with both school bullies and her family’s unsuccessful attempts to help her. Jake Gyllenhaal plays the teen’s drifter uncle, with whom she develops an unexpected bond.
Also starring Brian F. O’Byrne, Michelle Gomez, and Annie Funke, If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet officially opens Off-Broadway on September 20 for a run that is scheduled through November 25. For tickets, click here.