‘The Book of Mormon’ Inks Deal with StubHub.com

The Book of Mormon now officially sells tickets on StubHub.com.

Since its opening in 2011, the Broadway production of The Book of Mormon has been selling out its houses at the 1,006 seat Eugene O’Neill Theatre.  With rampant demand for the satirical musical written by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, along with Avenue Q writer Bobby Lopez, the show has regularly seen premium ticket prices as high as $477.  The show’s lead producers Scott Rudin and Anne Garefino have often been at the cutting edge of strategies to maximum their ticket revenue, utilizing dynamic pricing to vary ticket prices throughout the house in line with demand.  As of just week ago, they have announced a new partnership that changes the game for the Broadway ticket marketplace: they will now sell tickets on StubHub.com.

Book of Mormon and Stubhub join forces

Book of Mormon and StubHub.com  join forces

StubHub.com, an online ticket marketplace owned by eBay, has grown from America’s largest secondary-market ticket marketplace to the world’s largest ticket marketplace.  The secondary market for tickets refers to when tickets are re-sold, often at a higher amount than their original price, especially when the primary ticket sellers have sold out their inventory.  Another example of a secondary-market ticket site is TicketsNow.com, which is an acquired subsidiary of Ticketmaster.  Ticketmaster often redirects its customers to TicketsNow.com when the original inventory is sold out, which is effectively the same thing as selling tickets at a higher price through the same outlet.  Critics of secondary market ticket sites consider them to be just another form of scalping, and thus the legality of such sites is often questioned.

In an unprecedented move for Broadway, The Book of Mormon has decided to utilize StubHub.com as another outlet to sell their higher priced premium tickets.  In this way, StubHub will not be functioning as a secondary ticket marketplace, but rather a primary ticketing outlet.  Presently, the primary ticketing outlet for Broadway shows is more often than not Telecharge.com, which is owned by the Shubert Organization, one of the major Broadway landlords.  Therefore, this decision will present StubHub as a direct competitor to Telecharge.

It is common for producers to turn to additional outlets to help move their inventory, yet this is generally done in the form of discount ticket sales.  When sales are slow for a certain show, producers will often offer lower priced tickets either by direct mail to potential ticket buyers’ homes, or through online promotions by email or on websites.  However, the decision to sell premium seats for this hot-ticket show specifically through StubHub is an interesting maneuver, especially as the StubHub customer base may not be accustomed to seeing theatre options on the site.  StubHub’s biggest business comes from the music and sports industries, and this will present a Broadway option to this largely untapped audience.  On the other hand, the advantage from StubHub’s point of view is that it will help shift their reputation from that of a glorified online scalper to a more legitimate ticket sales outlet.

In any case, this novel approach presents an interesting dilemma for the Shuberts, who own Telecharge.com.  If premium tickets can be sold directly though secondary outlets commonly known for scalping tickets, there is a grey area between the primary and secondary market ticket outlets that had not previously existed for the Broadway marketplace.  If they neglect the opportunity to invest in secondary outlets, like Ticketmaster did with TicketsNow, then they might very well be losing profits in the long run.  Still, for now, The Book of Mormon’s new partnership will be a noteworthy case study to see if the StubHub customer base opens up new avenues for premium Broadway ticket sales.

Celebrity Apprentice Returns to NYC with Season 7

donald trumpAlthough the cast list is yet to be confirmed, filming of Celebrity Apprentice season 7 (also know as Apprentice 14) officially kicked off yesterday in New York City, March 25, at a popular Australian-born bakery franchise, Pie Face, in Manhattan’s Union Square.

Fans spotted outspoken drama mama-of-eight, Kate Gosselin, actress Vivica A. Fox, once upon a time Cosby Show cutie-pie, Keshia Knight Pulliam, TV and radio personality Leeza Gibbons, former Jonas Brother pop star Kevin Jonas, Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson and two Real Housewives, Brandi Glanville and Kenya Moore, of Beverly Hills and Atlanta fame, baking pies, taking orders, working the door and schmoozing on the floor and sidewalk with customers, fans and celebrity friends during the three hour charity event. This event was shot by NBC staff, but it is not planned to use any of the footage in the actual TV show. The event was a warm up for the main show.

Some other unconfirmed names still swirling around social media sites and celebrity gossip mills are Grammy Award-winning rap star Ludacris, soap opera hottie Lorenzo Lamas, volleyball great and fashion model Gabrielle Reece, maverick journalist Geraldo Rivera and the funny man with a funny voice, Gilbert Gottfried. Megan Hauserman, from the ill-fated Megan Wants A Millionaire, was also slated to be on the show. Ms Hauserman’s show was cancelled mid-run through its season in 2009 due to the murder-suicide perpetrated by Ryan Jenkins, one of the contestants on the show. Mr Jenkins reportedly came in third position in that show.

Despite occasional chirpings of a take-over by his daughter, Ivanka, the imposing figurehead of this charity-driven reality based game show will remain none other than real-estate mogul, Donald Trump himself.  But even The Donald cannot do it alone and seeks trusted advisement from his heavy-hitting board members including sons Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric F. Trump, daughter Ivanka Trump, and long-time business and legal counsel, George Ross.  Past advisors have also featured previous show winners such as soon- to-be former CNN host, Piers Morgan, who made an appearance at yesterday’s event.

Celebrity Apprentice is a successful 2008 series offshoot of The Apprentice, created to re-energize the original show concept and spark new viewer interest.  Celebrity Apprentice features proven business-savvy celebrity contestants — many, but not all of whom have been out of the limelight for some years — as they engage in a cutthroat fight to the finish, gunning hard to be the last person standing in the boardroom, and procuring the grand prize of a bonus $250,000 to be awarded to their cherished charity.Piers Morgan has been quoted that contestants are paid around $16,000 for three weeks of shooting on the show.

‘Les Miserables’ Opens At NJCU at $15, Confusing Broadway Patrons

les-miserables-njcu

Les Miserables has become A Tale of Two Cities with two very different productions of Les Miserables running at the same time. One on Broadway in New York City and the other at NJCU New Jersey City University in Jersey City, NJ.

Music Theatre International who licenses the rights to Les Miserables describes the production as having won over 100 international awards and seen by over 65 million people worldwide. So it is not surprising that there are multiple productions playing simultaneously. What is surprising is to have a major Broadway revival opening of the show concurrently with another college production in Jersey City, New Jersey – just a short train ride away.

Also what may appear surprising is that the logos are identical. In obtaining rights from Musical Theatre International producers can also secure a logo kit which allows them to use the copy written logos on posters, fliers and postcards. So New Jersey City University has been sending out postcards, like ones sent for theatre discounts, over the last few weeks.

Generally rights to major productions have a statute of limitation on radius. However, in this case the rights had been granted prior to the decision to bring the show to Broadway and outstanding licenses were allowed to be monitored and produced according to a Music Theatre International representative.

There have been multiple National Tours and hundreds of licenses that had gone out prior to the decision to reopen the show on Broadway. They will run out in 2015 but it is unlikely one will be seeing local productions granted from this point while the show is on Broadway.

waving red flag at Les Miserables 2014 on Broadway

The Broadway Version of Les Miserables

The Broadway show opened on March 23rd, 2014 and the New Jersey University show opened on March 21st. The New Jersey City University Production will run only through March 30th . A short period when there might be some patrons buying tickets for New Jersey thinking it was for Broadway.

The Productions both have large casts and in fact the college production boasts 8 more musicians than the Broadway show. The director of the New Jersey University Les Miserables is quoted that ” it is the biggest undertaking in years”. It features students from voice and theatre departments, musicians from the music department as well as faculty and five children related to students and staff.  The admission for this production is $12.

The Broadway production is currently at the Imperial Theatre and features Ramin Karimoo who has starred in many Andrew Lloyd Webber productions. It has video projections and a large cast of Equity actors, and is produced by the shows original producer Cameron Macintosh.

So, if you saw the traditional Les Miserable logo and thought only “what a great promotion- a $12 Broadway ticket.”  If you take that ticket to the Imperial Theatre. Undoubtedly you will be re-directed to the nearest path train.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 3/23/2014

This weeks notable movements on Broadway are:

NEW SHOWS THIS WEEK
Three shows began previews on Broadway this week.  Act One played 4 performances at Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theatre, with an average paid admission of $57.67 per ticket, and an average audience capacity of 61.07%.  Another not-for-profit theatre company was significantly more successful with their Broadway debut this week: the Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of Cabaret had an average paid admission of $94.96 and an average capacity of 101.7%, more than selling out their house due to premium sales in its three first performances.  The third premiere this week is also off to a strong start: Of Mice and Men, benefitting from a star studded cast including James Franco, Chris O’Dowd, and Leighton Meester, attracted an average paid admission of $111.95, and filled its house to an average 95.6% capacity over the six performances of its first week.  Overall, these figures exemplify how household name actors and familiar show titles can succeed in attracting a full audience even before reviews are published.

A RAISIN IN THE SUN
A Raisin in the Sun made it into the millionaire’s club this week, a real accomplishment for a straight play on Broadway, especially so early on in its run.  With an average paid admission of $132.31 and a clean 100.00% audience capacity, this revival of the Lorraine Hansberry classic profited from the megastar status of its lead, Denzel Washington.  This is the third week in which this production has been running, but it is the first 8-performance week.  As such, it has done equally well this week compared to the prior week, which only had 7 performances.

THE REALISTIC JONESES
Another straight play in previews is The Realistic Joneses, which transferred to Broadway after an acclaimed run last year at the Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut.  Though Will Eno’s play features famous actors including Toni Collette, Michael C. Hall, Tracy Letts, and Marisa Tomei, their star power is significantly lower than that of Denzel Washington.  As such, in its first 8-performance week, the show played to only 81.38% average capacity, with an average ticket price of $76.34.


The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending March 23, 2014:

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis 3-23-14

Show GrossGross Total Attn %Cap AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $453,663 5,880 81.04% $77.15
A RAISIN IN THE SUN $1,107,163 8,368 100.00% $132.31
ACT ONE $152,704 2,648 61.07% $57.67
AFTER MIDNIGHT $714,663 7,555 91.16% $94.59
ALADDIN $937,099 13,782 100.16% $67.99
ALL THE WAY $881,336 8,646 76.00% $101.94
BEAUTIFUL $832,504 6,973 84.95% $119.39
BULLETS OVER BROADWAY $782,289 10,508 92.09% $74.45
CABARET $255,813 2,694 101.70% $94.96
CHICAGO $541,652 6,944 80.37% $78.00
CINDERELLA $902,579 11,245 80.28% $80.26
IF/THEN $1,008,303 9,854 96.61% $102.32
JERSEY BOYS $669,085 7,169 72.97% $93.33
KINKY BOOTS $1,451,463 11,101 97.45% $130.75
LES MISÉRABLES $1,031,869 10,931 97.11% $94.40
MAMMA MIA! $573,443 6,915 74.13% $82.93
MATILDA $1,163,417 11,519 100.55% $101.00
MOTHERS AND SONS $248,821 4,909 76.51% $50.69
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL $1,078,097 10,359 85.92% $104.07
NEWSIES $795,046 9,384 98.99% $84.72
NO MAN’S LAND/WAITING FOR GODOT $647,289 7,389 86.08% $87.60
OF MICE AND MEN $688,832 6,153 95.57% $111.95
ONCE $563,021 6,201 73.19% $90.80
PIPPIN $730,892 7,342 92.70% $99.55
ROCK OF AGES $366,648 4,415 94.66% $83.05
ROCKY $799,879 9,746 79.52% $82.07
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,639,847 8,752 102.63% $187.37
THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY $385,394 5,329 65.37% $72.32
THE LION KING $1,828,835 13,575 99.82% $134.72
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $954,196 11,368 88.54% $83.94
THE REALISTIC JONESES $433,391 5,677 81.38% $76.34
WICKED $1,874,352 15,318 99.31% $122.36
Totals: $26,493,581 268,649 87.74% $95.47

The New Revival of Kander and Ebb’s ‘Cabaret’ Begins Previews

Willkommen. Bienvenue. Welcome.
These three words – or rather, this one word in these three languages – is deliciously familiar to Broadway fans far and wide.

cabaret Roundabout Theatre on Broadway It is therefore with great anticipation that audiences welcome the new revival of Cabaret to Broadway, which begins performances tonight: March, 21, 2014.  These are the lyrics that begin the opening number of John Kander and Fred Ebb’s musical masterpiece, sung by the ultimate provocateur, the Master of Ceremonies.  This role, in a turn of events generally unusual for Broadway but not for this show, is revived along with the musical itself.  Alan Cumming, the beloved Scottish actor most recently seen on Broadway in his one-man adaption of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, will reprise the Emcee role, which he also played in 1998 when the musical last appeared on Broadway.

The 2014 revival is produced by the Roundabout Theatre Company at one of their two Broadway houses: Studio 54 on West 54th Street.  This marks the show’s third Broadway revival.  It originally premiered in 1966, when it ran for 1,186 performances (including previews) and was nominated for 11 Tony Awards, winning 8 (including Best Musical, Best Original Score, Best Performance by a Featured Actor – Joel Grey as the Master of Ceremonies, and Best Director – Harold Prince).  Cabaret’s first Broadway revival took place in 1987, with Harold Prince once again directing and with Joel Grey reprising his role as the Emcee.  The second revival played 2,377 performances, becoming the third-longest running Broadway revival in history, and featured Alan Cumming as the Emcee, a role he had debuted in the 1993 London revival.

When Alan Cumming first played the Emcee, he significantly altered the interpretation from that portrayed by Joel Grey.  Grey had embodied the consummate asexual entertainer, but Cumming took on the role in a highly sexualized fashion.  Still, both interpretations were so inimitable that each actor was asked to reprise his role for the following revival.  Furthermore, following in Harold Prince’s tradition of the director reprising his position for this show, Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall, who co-directed the last revival, will also direct the 2014 production.

Starring alongside Cumming in this revival is Michelle Williams in her Broadway debut, playing the role of Sally Bowles: the 19 year-old English cabaret performer who falls in love with a young American writer.  Williams rose to fame in the late 90s on the WB’s teen television drama Dawson’s Creek.  She was then nominated for an Academy Award for her role in Brokeback Mountain, and also garnered acclaim for her performances in I’m Not There, Synecdoche New York, Shutter Island, and Blue Valentine.  The musical also features Tony Award nominees Linda Emond (Death of a Salesman, Life x 3) as Fraulein Schneider, and Danny Burstein (Follies, Golden Boy, South Pacific, The Drowsy Chaperone) as Herr Schultz.

The musical officially opens on April 24, 2014.  Though the last revival ran for 6 years, this is slated to be a 24-week limited engagement, with the closing date scheduled for August 31, 2014.

The Rockettes’ ‘Heart and Lights’ Postpones Its Run

Heart and Lights, the new Rockettes show that was slated to begin performances on March 27, 2014 at Radio City Music Hall, has cancelled its run less than week before its first scheduled show.  The producer, MSG Entertainment, part of the Madison Square Garden Company, cited narrative issues as the reason for postponement until 2015.

heart and lights

Though traditionally successful with their Rockettes Christmas extravaganza in the winter season, MSG Entertainment has often struggled in attracting tourists during the spring and early summer season. They were attempting to turn that trend around with Heart and Lights, a love affair to New York City in which two cousins explore the city of their grandmother’s youth.  With choreography by Rockettes artistic director Linda Haberman, Heart and Lights has a story written by Doug Wright, the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning writer of the 2004 Broadway play I Am My Own Wife.

While narrative problems were the officially stated reason for the delay, the musical must not have been doing stupendously in terms of advance ticket sales.  Though MSG Entertainment claimed 100,000 tickets were sold out of the 350,000 tickets available, the show did show up on discount sites such as Groupon a week ago.  In any case, because of back-to-back booking at Radio City Music Hall following the scheduled 5-week run, Heart and Lights has needed to delay until 2015.  This decision left the 40 Rockette performers, not to mention the entire crew, jobless at the last minute.  It was reported that several of the dancers broke out in tears in hearing the news.  Furthermore, the producers were estimated to have incurred a loss of at least $5 million from foregone ticket sales alone.

For the final dress rehearsal of Heart and Lights, MSG executive James Dolan invited film impresario Harvey Weinstein, as well as producers Jane Rosenthal and Daryl Roth, to pipe in.  Though these individuals’ opinions have not been stated publically, it is clear that their advice was one of the final straws in Dolan’s decision to cancel the show.  Doug Wright commented only that Linda Haberman is a pleasure to work with, and that the rest of the heartbreaking tale of the deferment would be saved for his memoirs.  While the story was not ready, the intensive special effects and expert Rockettes dancing were said to be in top shape.  Fortunately, the groundbreaking 3-D technology and innovative puppetry will only be put on hold, as audiences will be able to witness their delights when the book has been revamped.

The postponed performances dates have not yet been determined, but MSG will make an announcement when they have reached a decision.  All purchased tickets will be refunded at point of purchase, except Ticketmaster purchases which will be refunded automatically.

‘Mothers and Sons’ starring Tyne Daly opens on Broadway.

A Moving Tribute – Manhattan style

In Terrence McNally’s Mothers and Sons, Tyne Daly masterfully plays the lead as Katharine Gerard, a recently widowed woman who lost her only son Andre to AIDS 20 years ago.  In the opening scene, Katharine unexpectedly turns up at the Central Park West apartment of Andre’s former life partner, Cal Porter (played by Frederick Weller) .  Now alone in the world and still very much in denial about her son’s lifestyle choices, Katharine seeks solace from the one person closest to Andre prior to his untimely death.

Mothers and Sons Broadway Show tyne daly

It’s been nearly two decades since Katharine and Cal have last seen each other – at Andre’s funeral  – and the tension between them is palpable.  Katharine is resentful at Cal for taking her son away and living a lifestyle that she disapproves.  Cal is resentful at Katharine for shunning him at the funeral and refusing to acknowledge the pain he was suffering from losing Andre.

Secretly hoping that Cal has not moved on, Katharine instead finds that this once poor bohemian has become a successful money manager with a new husband (Bobby Steggert) and young son (Grayson Taylor).  Katharine cannot fathom why Cal’s life has improved so much since Andre’s death and hers has been in a steady decline.  She is angry and jealous.  They exchange bitter words.

And just when it appears these two couldn’t be further apart, secrets are revealed that not only highlight their similarities, but also brings them closer together.

The play pays tribute to the legions of gay men that were lost to the AIDS crisis in the late 20th century and shines a light on the pain of those who lived through this horrible epidemic.  When Katharine asks “When is someone going to write the next great American novel?”, Cal’s response is “It could have been Andre.”  It leaves you wondering what the world might have been like had this generation of bright and talented individuals survived.  This show is an obvious draw for gay couples from Chelsea, but should really seen by everyone because it’s a remembrance of a period in modern American history that has been largely overlooked.

Tyne Daly is believable in the role, at times you simultaneously want to hug her, shake some sense into her, and tell her she is not alone.  The subtle references to current New York City life and locations is a real treat and makes the story line even that much more enjoyable and believable.

Mothers and Sons is now playing at the Golden Theatre, located at 252 W. 45th Street in the heart of Manhattan’s theater district.

James Lapine’s ‘Act One’ Begins Previews

Last night, a new play began previews at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre, Lincoln Center’s Broadway house.  Written and directed by James Lapine, Act One is a stage adaptation of the 1954 memoir of the same name by Broadway playwright, director, and lyricist Moss Hart.

act one

James Lapine brings to this project his own vast experience as a director and librettist, having won three Tony Awards for Best Book of a Musical (Into the Woods, Falsettos, Passion), as well as the Pulitzer Prize for Drama (Sunday in the Park with George).  Lapine is a frequent collaborator with the renowned composer Stephen Sondheim, having written the libretto for many of his scores and having served as director for many of his productions.

Act One tells the story of Moss Hart’s life, from his early years in the Bronx to his ascent to Broadway royalty, detailing his collaborations with the theatre multi-hyphenate George S. Kaufman.  When the memoir was published in 1954, it remained on The New York Times Bestseller List for 41 weeks, and the celebrated theatre journalist Frank Rich has called it “the greatest showbiz book ever written.”  In this new stage adaptation, Tony Shalhoub (Golden Boy, Lend Me a Tenor) plays both Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman in their later years, and Santino Fontana (Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Sunday in the Park with George) plays Hart as a younger man.  The cast is rounded out by Andrea Martin, Chuck Cooper, Matthew Saldivar, Bob Stillman, Amy Warren, Bill Army, Will Brill, Laurel Casillo, Steven Kaplan, Will LeBow, Mimi Lieber, Charlotte Maier, Deborah Offner, and Matthew Schechter.

Several individuals in the cast and creative team are frequent faces at Lincoln Center.  James Lapine returns to LCT after having written the book for the musical A New Brain, with music composed by William Finn, which played in 1998 at LCT’s Off-Broadway house, the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theatre.  Furthermore, LCT produced a revival of Lapine’s play Twelve Dreams, which he also directed, at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theatre in 1995.  Tony Shalhoub returns to LCT after his acclaimed performance last year as Mr. Bonaparte in Clifford Odets’ Golden Boy.  Though this is Santino Fontana’s first time performing at Lincoln Center, he is a quickly rising Broadway star, having been nominated for a Tony Award for his originating starring role as Prince Topher in the still-running Broadway production of Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella.

For Lincoln Center to premiere a new play at their Broadway house, they must have confidence that it is of superb quality.  Their website coverage is certainly enthusiastic, detailing how wildly popular the memoir has been for the last half century, and explaining how Moss Hart’s tale is the classic New York story – not only because he ended up making it big, but also because he truly struggled in his early years.  After the play officially opens on April 17, 2014, it will be discernible whether James Lapine’s production succeeds in matching up to the stupendous career of the man it profiles.

America’s Got Talent Returns to Film in the NYC Area

America’s Got Talent, NBC’s #1 summertime smash hit, broke big news and new ground yesterday, announcing that the show’s exciting second round of competition will film in front of a live TV audience at The Theatre at Madison Square Garden from April 3 through April 6, 2014.

America's Got Talent with Howard Stern, Nick Cannon, Heidi Klum, Mel B. ,Howie Mandell

Complimentary VIP and regular tickets are still available in limited quantities to the general public via NBC’s website.  These tickets are expected to go pretty quickly, however, as metro area AGT fans are eager to bear historical witness as the remaining contestants audition live, right before their very eyes and those of the make-or-break ‘em celebrity judges, in order to secure the highly-coveted final spots in the upcoming season.

The ninth summer incarnation of this blockbuster variety show is expected to be even more riveting than ever before.  From October last through February, our great country was crisscrossed and fine-tooth combed for dynamic personalities and wholly unique skill sets.  Contestants were talent-scouted during open call auditions in 11 U.S. cities as big, small and diverse as Atlanta, Baltimore, Denver, Greensboro, Houston, Indianapolis, L.A. Miami, Nashville, New York and Providence, which only strengthens the stance that AGT truly is an equal-opportunity opportunity-provider, open to anyone of “any age” with “any talent” and “any dream” from anywhere.

This democratic philosophy prophetically proved true in 2012, when AGT co-creator, the nefarious Simon Cowell of American Idol notoriety, in conjunction with top NBC execs, made the big, bold decision to relocate his six-year-old show from its left coast locale in Burbank, CA to the greater NY metropolitan area.  The big wigs believed that in addition to doing season seven’s newly acquired judge and shock jock extraordinaire, Howard Stern, a large logistical favor, the move would favor the show, as well, infusing it with an inevitably edgy New York feel and attitude, and rewarding its long-standing East Coast fans with their rightful piece of the live action.

And they were correct on all accounts.  Last summer’s broadcast from New York’s Radio City Music Hall proved a rousing ratings success.  And Howard Stern, who has since vocalized his appreciation for the geographical accommodations, decided in an on-air radio announcement last November, to return to the show for “one more season” and keep the fab five, which includes handsome host Nick Cannon, ever-affable Howie Mandell of Deal or No Deal fame, supermodel Heidi Klum of Victoria’s Secret reverence, and newest cool kid in the clubhouse, former Spice Girl, Mel B., alive for another round of spectacular theatricality.

The two-hour season premiere of NBC’s America’s Got Talent is scheduled for Tuesday, May 27, 2014 at 8/7c and will feature scenes from the shows shot at the show dates listed above.

James Franco in ‘Of Mice and Men’ Begins Previews

Of Mice and Men with James Franco and Chris O'DowdFor the first time in 40 years, John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men will hit the Broadway stage this evening: Wednesday, March 19, 2014.  Adapted by Steinbeck from his novella of the same name, this play first premiered on Broadway in 1937, after which it was chosen as Best Play by the New York Drama Critics’ Circle.  In addition to a short-lived run from 1974 to 1975, this is the play’s second Broadway revival.  The new production, directed by Anna D. Shapiro (The Motherf**ker with the Hat, August: Osage County), is playing at the Longacre Theatre on West 48th Street.

This production is unique in that the cast is led by three young Hollywood stars making their Broadway debuts.  James Franco, the multi-talented actor, director, screenwriter, producer, teacher, and author (Freaks and Geeks, James Dean, Oz the Great and Powerful, Spring Breakers), stars as George, and Chris O’Dowd, known for the film Bridesmaids as well as the HBO / BBC series Family Tree, plays opposite Franco as his friend Lennie.  Furthermore, Leighton Meester, who rose to fame by starring as Blair Waldorf on the CW’s Gossip Girl, plays Curley’s wife. The cast is rounded out by Tony Award winner Jim Norton as Candy, Ron Cephas Jones as Crooks, Alex Morf as Curley, Joel Marsh Garland as Carlson, James McMenamin as Whit, Jim Ortlieb as the Boss, and Jim Parrack as Slim.

Of Mice and Men is the story of two migrant field workers in California during the Great Depression, holding onto their dream of becoming landowners one day.  However, they encounter a menacing situation, confronted by the Boss’ small-statured son Curley and his flirtatious wife.  When Candy, an older one-armed ranch hand, offers to pitch in for the land in exchange for living on it, they think their future is set, but the tragic bonds of friendship interfere, and they fail to achieve the elusive American dream.

Though the novella is often featured as required reading in many school curricula, it has also been the frequent target of censorship due to accusations of vulgarity.  The book has also been adapted to the screen several times, in 1939, 1981, and 1992.  The first film was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Original Score, Best Musical Score, and Best Sound Recording.

The present production is lead produced by David Binder, with scenic design by Tony Award winner Todd Rosenthal (August: Osage County), costume design by Suttirat Larlarb, sound design by Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen, and lighting design by Japhy Weideman.