A Rise in Thursday Matinees On Broadway

The traditional Broadway show week includes eight performances, typically with evening shows on Tuesday through Saturday, and matinees on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday.  For actors and crew, this means Monday off and a double show day on Wednesdays, or in cases with a Sunday evening show, this requires them to play for a five performance weekend.  However, Wednesday matinees have traditionally slow sales, and five performances over one weekend can be a lot for actors.  Therefore, producers have begun experimenting with changes to this performance calendar.  The most extreme change that several shows have begun instigating is a matinee on Thursday afternoon.Broadway thursday matinee show

In recent weeks, three musicals have begun to offer shows on Thursday afternoons: Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Mamma Mia!, and The Phantom of the OperaMatilda the Musical is reportedly also considering such a change.  In order to stick to Actor’s Equity rules of no more than an eight performance week (although sometimes they make exception for holiday periods, allowing nine performances in a week), the producers of each show have needed to alter the overall weekly schedule, and each show has done so differently.

Cinderella has opted to keep their Wednesday matinee in adding on a Thursday matinee, instead removing Tuesday evening performances.  As this musical caters to children, especially young girls, it makes sense that weekdays would be preferable to weekday evenings, as tourists on week-long vacations will be able to take advantage during the daytimes.  Mamma Mia!, on the other hand, has opted to remove their Wednesday matinee in adding on a Thursday matinee, and furthermore they offer a Monday 8:00pm performance in place of a Sunday matinee.  More of a date night fare, this show therefore offers 8:00pm showings every night except Sunday, with matinees on Thursdays and Saturdays.  Phantom of the Opera has chosen to do something very similar, with matinees on Thursdays and Saturdays, except that on Tuesdays their curtain is at 7:00pm.

A 7:00pm curtain has also begun to appear more and more frequently in recent years, which allows theatregoers to attend a late dinner after shorter shows, or instead to eat a very early dinner and get home earlier.  This decision to vary evening curtain times allows for the fact that theatregoers have differing schedules, avoiding the chance that someone will decide not to attend a show just because the hour at which it begins or ends does not work with their work or home schedules.

This addition of a Thursday matinee will be an interesting trend to watch.  It will allow theatre-loving tourists to cram more shows into a week if they happen to be in town for just a few weekdays.  Furthermore, if it is more successful than the Wednesday matinee has been, then it will show that people tend to have more flexible schedules later in the week.  In any case, this demonstrates that producers are trying to keep on top of changing trends and stay relevant to their audience community.

MTV and MLB hope for a home run with Off the Bat from the MLB Fan Cave

As part of their 2014 spring lineup, MTV2 introduced a brand new baseball meets pop culture TV series, Off the Bat from the MLB Fan Cave, which enjoyed its season one opener on Tuesday, April 1 at 11:00 PM EST.  The premiere perfectly coincided with the start of Major League Baseball season, which got into full swing the day before.  This pitch-perfect timing is no mere coincidence.  The show is the first-born creative brainchild of the MLB and MTV, who announced their multi-year multi-platform partnership last November.

mlb-fan-cave - Off the bat TV Show

The weekly, 30-minute show is filmed in-studio from the popular MLB Fan Cave nestled on East 4th Street near NYU in New York City and on location throughout the country.  Four dynamic MTV personalities signed up to play host, and ball, including rapper and news reporter, Sway, hip-hop artist, Fat Joe, and two stars of MTV’s Guy Code, model and actress, Melanie Iglesias, and her high-energy comedic cohort, Chris Distefano.

This latest addition to the burgeoning genre of “sports culture” programming moves away from talking head over-analysis and stat streams per usual, and affords viewers a more off the cuff, off the field, sneak peek into the hearts, minds and personal lives of up-and-coming baseball greats and veteran heroes.  Players will engage in banterous in-studio interviews with the emcees, pal around with visiting celebrities, host in-house contests and musical guests, interact on social media with fans, film on location at their favorite hometown haunts and act as the instigators, participants and butts of practical jokes and locker room pranks.

mlb-fan-cave - Off the bat TV Show

Bryce Harper, the young, handsome and sometimes divisively aggressive Washington Nationals outfielder, christened the show’s debut with an in-studio appearance and trivia contest in which he had fans sit in barbers chairs and either correctly answer questions about his career or get their heads shaven.  In another segment, petite beauty, Melanie Iglesias, invited hunky Miami Marlins power hitter, Giancarlo Stanton, to an old car junkyard for an unconventional windshield-shattering batting practice.  A third bit had comedian Distefano visiting retirees in order to glean pearls of wisdom about retirement for Derek Jeter, who just began his last ever season as revered Yankees shortstop.

The MLB is optimistic that this good-natured and slightly goofy show will serve to recruit a new generation of baseball fans from MTV2’s mostly male viewing demographic, aged 12 to 34, who are devotedly loyal to the network’s smash hit, Guy Code, the very show from which two of Off the Bats hosts were procured.

Guy Code broke network records in 2013 with its season three premiere garnering an impressive .6 Nielsen rating and earning the title of “most-watched original series” in MTV2’s 18 years on air.  MLB and MTV are hoping that Off the Bat, which copies some of the Codes successful formula of uniting ordinary guys with pop culture icons and pro athletes, will enjoy the same measure of success.

MTV2, part of the MTV Networks under the care of parent company, Viacom, is currently available in more than 80 million U.S. homes.

The show, executive produced by three-time World Series champion and Red Sox designated slugger extraordinaire, David Ortiz, is on pre-order for 30 episodes, which are all scheduled to air in the same Tuesday night 11 PM Eastern standard time slot on MTV2.

“The Velocity of Autumn” Begins Previews

On April 1, 2014, previews began for The Velocity of Autumn, a new play by Eric Coble that also played in the fall of 2013 at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.  The Broadway transfer was originally announced for last spring, but a lack of theatre availability necessitated the delay.  The play has now found a home at the intimate 780 seat Booth Theatre, one of the smallest houses on Broadway, which will allow the subtle performances to resonate with the audience.  The two-hander stars Estelle Parsons and Stephen Spinella, who both received strong notices from the Washington D.C. production.  Molly Smith, the artistic director of Arena Stage, serves as the director for the play.

Estelle Parsons, lively and witty at age 86, plays 79 year-old Alexandra, who barricades herself in her Brooklyn brownstone with explosives in response to her children’s plea that she leave her home.  When her estranged yet beloved son Christopher (Stephen Spinella) climbs a tree and hops in her window, they are forced to confront the issues at the heart of their family dilemma, as well as what it means to get older.  According to reviews from the Arena Stage production, the play is not as strong as the performances, but the slightly contrived set-up evolves into a touching story as the two actors brilliantly portray their characters.

Stephen Spinella won an Obie Award last year for his moving performance in the New York Theatre Workshop production of An Iliad, and he also appeared in the Public Theater’s 2011 production of Tony Kushner’s The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to the Scriptures.  In addition, Spinella has won two Tony Awards for his role in Kushner’s Angels in America.  Estelle Parsons has been nominated for four Tony Awards, stemming back to her first nomination in 1968 for The Seven Descents of Myrtle, and she has recently appeared on Broadway in Nice Work if You Can Get It, August: Osage County, and Good People.  Furthermore, she won an Academy Award in 1967 for her role as Blanche in Bonnie and Clyde.

The Velocity of Autumn is produced by Larry Kaye of Hop Theatricals, in addition to Van Dean of the Broadway Consortium.  As for the creative team, scenic design is by Eugene Lee, costume design is by Linda Cho, lighting design is by Howell Binkley, and sound design is by Darron L. West.  The play has had several pre-Broadway runs, with its premiere at the Boise Contemporary Theater in Idaho in April 2011, and then a follow-up April 2012 production at Cleveland’s Beck Center for the Arts in Ohio, prior to the Washington D.C. run.  The capitalization amount of the Broadway production is reported to be $2.5 million, which is fairly low for a play due to its small cast.  Though this play may still have a tough time earning profits without top Hollywood names or a recognizable title, the producers may be gearing for Tony Award nominations for its actors, both of whom are awards favorites and were praised by critics for the Arena Stage production.

David Letterman Announces Retirement in 2015

During the April 3, 2014 taping of CBS’ Late Show with David Letterman, the beloved television host announced that he will officially retire in 2015.  Letterman has held this position on CBS since 1993, preceded by his role hosting NBC’s Late Night with David Letterman from 1982 to 1993.

His rise to fame began in his hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana as an anchor and weatherman for the AM radio station WNTS.  After moving to Los Angeles in 1975, Letterman began his career as a comedy writer.  He became a regular contributor to the summer series The Starland Vocal Band Show, co-starred in a comedy special Peeping Times produced by Barry Levinson, and appeared on shows including Mary Tyler Moore’s variety show Mary, Mork & Mindy, and various game shows.  Through all this, he became a regular on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and soon was hosting his own morning show on NBC: The David Letterman Show.  Though the show was a critical success and earned two Emmys, it was cancelled in 1980 due to poor ratings.

NBC then decided to try Letterman in a different time slot, and thus began Late Night with David Letterman, filming in NBC Studios in New York at 12:30am Monday through Friday.  Its first guest was Bill Murray, and soon developed a cult following for being edgy and unpredictable.  In 1992, Johnny Carson retired, NBC gave the job of hosting The Tonight Show to Jay Leno instead of Letterman as many expected, and as Carson intended.  In response, Letterman left NBC for CBS, and the Late Show with David Letterman was born, taping at 11:30pm at the historic Ed Sullivan Theater.  That marked the beginning of a kind of “Talk Show War” between Leno and Letterman fighting for ratings.  Letterman rebranded himself as a bit more formal, both in terms of his wardrobe and the mood of the program.  He has held this job ever since, also appearing as the host of the Academy Awards in 1995, and re-signing his contract with CBS several times until 2014.  Yet his tenure was not without conflicts.

In October 2009, Letterman revealed on his show that he had been the victim of an attempted extortion of $2 million, threatening to reveal that he had had sexual affairs with several of his female employees.  After Letterman cooperated with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office to conduct a sting operation involving a phony check, Robert J. “Joe” Halderman was arrested with the charge of attempted grand larceny, and served a 6-month jail sentence.  Following the event, several prominent women including the co-host of NBC’s The Today Show Kathie Lee Gifford questioned whether Letterman had created an unfair working environment.  Letterman issued a public apology to his wife and staff on October 5, 2009. Through all of this, it is amazing that he kept his position, but CBS time and again renewed his contract.

With Letterman’s retirement, almost all of the remaining late-night hosts will have come from the post-Johnny Carson era.  It is possible that the old style of comedy is no longer relevant, or perhaps Letterman, at age 67, was just ready to step down and enjoy his remaining years.  Just seven years after Johnny Carson retired from The Tonight Show, he suffered from a severe heart attack and underwent quadruple-bypass surgery.  He became somewhat of a recluse, and died six years later.  Carson was a heavy smoker, and of course we hope that Letterman will not endure a similar fate.  Still, it must not be easy to give up the mantle.

The future of Late Show is presently uncertain.  One potential successor is Craig Ferguson, who has hosted The Late Late Show following Letterman since 2005.  His contract, which expires at the end of the year, calls for either him to replace Letterman or to receive a payout.  Other options include Jon Stewart, who has a huge following, and whose present network Comedy Central is owned by the same company as CBS.  Furthermore, many people are interested in the idea of Chelsea Handler, who has just announced she will be leaving E! where she has hosted Chelsea Lately since 2007.  Other names in the mix are Amy Schumer of Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer, Chris Rock, Conan O’Brien, Ellen Degeneres, and Neil Patrick Harris.  There is also talk that the show may move to Los Angeles.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 4/06/2014

This weeks notable movements on Broadway are:

NEW SHOWS THIS WEEK
There were two plays that started previews this past week, both of which did relatively poorly at the box office.  Casa Valentina, Harvey Fierstein’s world premiere play directed by Joe Mantello, only grossed $155,775 over the course of 7 performances.  Though the show filled up to the moderate average capacity of 75.74%, these performances were highly discounted, as the average paid admission was only $45.20.  Even with many Broadway stalwarts leading the cast such as Patrick Page, Reed Birney, John Cullum, and Patrick Page, there were no A-list Hollywood names to attract pre-sales, and only miraculous post-opening reviews will make this a hit.
Furthermore, The Velocity of Autumn did even less well, grossing $135,307 also over 7 performances.  With an average paid of admission of only $39.96 and an average capacity of 62.2%, this play earned only 20.2% of its gross potential, as the Booth Theatre is larger than the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, where Casa Valentina plays.  Fortunately for the latter, Casa Valentina is a Manhattan Theater Club production, which takes off some financial pressure for its producers due to being underwritten by a non-profit organization.

LONG-RUNNING MUSICALS ON THEIR LAST LEGS
Several musicals that have done very well over the course of their run are looking to be in their final months.  Jersey Boys, which has been running since 2005 with frequent ventures into the millionaires club, only grossed $647,306 this past week, down $90,078 from the previous week.  Furthermore, Rock of Ages, which has succeeded in wooing the traditionally elusive heterosexual male market since its Broadway premiere in 2009, only grossed $340,194 this past week, down $36,100 from the previous week.  In addition, Mamma Mia!, which recently transferred to the Imperial Theatre from its home since 2001, the prominently placed Winter Garden Theatre, only took in $551,065 this week, down $122,902 from the week before.  Of course, many factors go into a show’s decision to close after a lengthy run, and it is possible that the producers of these shows will decide to float through weeks of losses in hopes that their shows will resuscitate in the warmer summer season.  Interestingly, all of these musicals have been adapted to film versions, including Jersey Boys which will be released in June 2014.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending April 6, 2014:

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 4-06-14

Show GrossGross Total Attn %Cap  AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $415,509 5,332 73.48% $77.93
A RAISIN IN THE SUN $929,151 8,368 100.00% $111.04
ACT ONE $316,124 5,513 63.57% $57.34
AFTER MIDNIGHT $377,050 5,511 66.49% $68.42
ALADDIN $1,170,038 13,779 99.96% $84.91
ALL THE WAY $917,842 8,761 77.01% $104.76
BEAUTIFUL $868,034 7,298 88.91% $118.94
BULLETS OVER BROADWAY $765,755 11,210 85.97% $68.31
CABARET $594,765 6,257 101.23% $95.06
CASA VALENTINA $155,775 3,446 75.74% $45.20
CHICAGO $486,529 6,213 71.91% $78.31
CINDERELLA $857,341 10,502 74.97% $81.64
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $772,606 5,968 99.27% $129.46
IF/THEN $931,268 9,419 89.81% $98.87
JERSEY BOYS $647,306 6,458 65.74% $100.23
KINKY BOOTS $1,351,725 10,380 91.12% $130.22
LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR & GRILL $363,460 3,958 82.91% $91.83
LES MISÉRABLES $1,153,829 10,377 92.06% $111.19
MAMMA MIA! $551,065 6,856 73.50% $80.38
MATILDA $1,096,734 11,243 98.14% $97.55
MOTHERS AND SONS $221,430 3,214 50.09% $68.90
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL $1,016,236 10,318 85.58% $98.49
NEWSIES $743,632 8,795 92.77% $84.55
OF MICE AND MEN $823,309 8,366 97.46% $98.41
ONCE $500,434 5,607 66.18% $89.25
PIPPIN $615,583 6,429 81.17% $95.75
ROCK OF AGES $340,194 4,223 90.54% $80.56
ROCKY $753,365 8,485 69.96% $88.79
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,598,000 8,750 102.60% $182.63
THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY $341,175 4,707 57.74% $72.48
THE LION KING $1,683,062 13,362 98.25% $125.96
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $884,496 10,966 85.40% $80.66
THE REALISTIC JONESES $410,334 6,045 86.65% $67.88
THE VELOCITY OF AUTUMN $135,307 3,386 62.17% $39.96
VIOLET $278,904 4,963 84.52% $56.20
WICKED $1,806,067 14,901 98.14% $121.20
Totals: $26,873,431 279,366 82.81% $91.20

Broadway ticket sales raw data are provided courtesy of The Broadway League All other data, text, opinion, charts and commentary are copyright © 2013 nytix.com

“A Raisin in the Sun” Opens on Broadway

On April 3, 2014, a new revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s groundbreaking 1959 play A Raisin in the Sun opened at Broadway’s Ethel Barrymore Theatre, the same house where the play ran in its first production.  Directed by Kenny Leon, who has become the go-to theatre director for African American content, the play received largely unqualified rave reviews from critics far and wide.  With a superb cast led by mega movie star Denzel Washington as Walter Lee Younger, the production succeeded in proving the timelessness of Hansberry’s masterwork.

A Raisin in the Sun with Denzel Washington on BroadwayThis is the play’s second revival on Broadway, following the original 1959 production.  In 2004, Kenny Leon also served as director for the show.  According to The New York Times theatre critic Ben Brantley, Leon made new choices in the 2014 revival, justifying his return to directing the same play only a decade later.  He stated that this production “feels far more of a whole” than the 2004 revival, as the relaxed approach he takes in the new revival is emotionally very compelling.  Furthermore, in 2012, Bruce Norris’ clever riff off of this play, Clybourne Park, played on Broadway to great acclaim, winning the Pulitzer Prize for Drama as well as the Tony Award for Best Play.

The 2004 production of A Raisin in the Sun was the Broadway directing debut for Kenny Leon, who served as the artistic director of Atlanta’s True Colors Theatre Company from 1988 to 2000.  Since his first Broadway credit, Leon has directed numerous Broadway shows featuring a primarily African American cast, including three plays by August Wilson: Gem of the Ocean in 2004-5, Radio Golf in 2007, and Fences in 2010, the last of which also starred Denzel Washington in a sold-out hit run.  Furthermore, he helmed The Mountaintop starring Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett as well as Stick Fly, both in the 2011-2 fall season.  Following A Raisin in the Sun, Leon will direct a second show also in this spring season, the musical inspired by the songs of Tupac Shakur, Holler If Ya Hear Me.

When Lorraine Hansberry wrote A Raisin in the Sun, she was the first African American woman to have a play produced on Broadway.  The play was nominated for four 1960 Tony Awards, including Best Play, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Direction.  It was also named the Best Play of 1959 by the New York Drama Critics’ Circle.  This new revival holds promise to match up to the success of the play’s premiere.  In addition to receiving laudatory notices from a slew of major publications, the play is well on its way to entering financial profits.  The play has reached 100% capacity for every week thus far, crossing the million dollar mark for its past two weeks of grosses, which is a serious feat for a straight play.  After all, Mr. Washington is not your average Hollywood star.  He has consistently garnered well-deserved respect due to his extreme talent along with his humility, a rare combination at his level of fame.

Broadway’s Anna Kendrick to Host SNL on April 5

Anna Kendrick, the multi-talented actress and singer, has been tapped to host Saturday Night Live on April 5, 2014.  This will be her SNL hosting debut.  The telecast will also feature Pharrell, the seven-time Grammy Award winner known for his recent hit “Happy” from the animated film Despicable Me 2.  Created and executive produced by Lorne Michaels, SNL is filmed in front of a live studio audience at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City.

anna kendrick on SNL Saturday Night LiveAnna Kendrick made her Broadway debut at the age of 12, when she played Dinah Lord in the 1998 production of High Society.  She was nominated for a Tony Award for this performance, but she has not appeared on Broadway since.  Subsequently, her career has mostly been focused on film, yet she has not forgotten her musical roots.  Her screen debut was 2003’s Camp, where she played nerd turned surprise diva Fritzi Wagner.  More recently, her fame skyrocketed due to her role in the a cappella themed film Pitch Perfect, as her performance of the song “Cups (When I’m Gone)” became the number 2 hit on Billboard’s Adult Pop Song Chart.  Furthermore, she has just finishing filming two musical screen roles: Cathy Hyatt in The Last Five Years and Cinderella in Into the Woods, both of which will be released later this year.

anna kendrick on SNL on 04/05/14 on NBC Saturday Night LiveSince its original airing in 1975, NBC’s weekly late night variety and sketch comedy show has often been a place for celebrities to let loose and stretch their versatility.  As such, there has often been an overlap between Broadway actors and SNL hosts.  The record for having hosted SNL the most number of times is held by Alec Baldwin (he hosted 16 times since 1990), who has been on Broadway 5 times.  His Broadway debut was Loot in 1986, and he was recently seen on stage in the 2013 production of Orphans.  Furthermore, many individuals who have hosted the Tony Awards over the years have also served as SNL hosts.  These include Hugh Jackman, Neil Patrick Harris, Sean Hayes, Bernadette Peters, and Rosie O’Donnell, to name a few.  Even Seth MacFarlane, who hosted last year’s musical themed Academy Awards show, has also hosted SNL.

Anna Kendrick at the Toy Awards Red Carpet 2013

The list of Broadway performers who have hosted SNL does not end there.  Many A-list actors have been featured both in Broadway shows and also as the host of SNL.  For example, the stars of The Producers, Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, have both served as SNL hosts.  So have Martin Short and Jason Alexander, who played those same roles in the Los Angeles production and US National Tour.  The stars of the film version of Chicago, Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones, have both hosted SNL.  Furthermore, there are several famous Hollywood actors who are presently appearing on Broadway, who have also served as SNL hosts.  These include James Franco, Alan Cumming, Daniel Radcliffe, and Bryan Cranston, among many more in recent years.

Anna Kendrick may not have been on Broadway since she was 12 years old, but she is nonetheless a beloved star of stage and screen, whose singing chops make her memorable as a musical theatre star.  After she makes her SNL hosting debut, and then appears back-to-back in two major musical film releases, we may see her on the Great White Way once again before too long.

“Casa Valentina” Begins Previews on Broadway

Tonight at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, previews will commence for the Manhattan Theatre Club production of Casa Valentina, a world premiere play written by four-time Tony Award winner Harvey Fierstein.  Directed by two-time Tony Award winner Joe Mantello, the play will run for a limited engagement between April 1, 2014 and June 15, 2014, with the official opening night taking place on April 23, 2014.  Fierstein, who has seen enormous success in penning the book for musicals including Kinky Boots, Newsies, and La Cage aux Folles, has not had a straight play produced in almost thirty years.  Well, none of Harvey Fierstein’s content is ever “straight,” per say.

casa-susanna is the basis for the Casa Valentina Broadway Show

casa-susanna is the basis for the Casa Valentina Broadway Show

Casa Valentina is based on the true story of a group of New York men in the 1960s – white collar professionals with families – who vacationed in the Catskill Mountains during the summers.  Unlike most vacationers in that period, however, these men had a particular quirk: they dressed up as women.  Beyond assuming female wardrobe to a meticulous degree of detail, they also adopted the personalities of their female counterparts during the vacation.  While transvestitism has proliferated in our culture in many forms since that time, these men were truly transgressive, and yet they were still firmly embedded in conventional heterosexual culture in the course of their everyday lives.  The play introduces us to these unique individuals, and then follows them as they are confronted with a difficult choice: the opportunity to become an official organization, effectively outing their precious secret.

casa-susanna is the basis for the Casa Valentina Broadway Show

Just as interesting as the plot of the play, however, is the background of how this true story became uncovered.  Some time ago, a pair of antique collectors discovered a large collection of old photographs at a New York flea market.  When they realized that the gorgeous women depicted in the photographs were in fact men, which was not immediately obvious, they decided to publish them in a book entitled Casa Susanna.  The pictures alone tell the heartbreaking story of these conflicted souls.  However, what is exceedingly interesting is that none of the press releases about this new Broadway play refer to the original source material.

After purchasing the rights to this book of photographs, the producers Colin Callender, Robert Cole, and Frederick Zollo commissioned Harvey Fierstein to write a play based on the images.  To mitigate their risk in bringing an untried play directly to Broadway, they partnered with the Manhattan Theatre Club, and agreed to be credited as granting the production “by special arrangement.”  It is curious that the producers decided not only to change the name of the play to Casa Valentina from the original title of Casa Susanna, but also to neglect to mention the book of photographs in any press release.  Perhaps the reason was to protect the appearance of originality for Harvey Fierstein, and calling this a “world premiere” by Fierstein certainly implies that it was his idea in the first place, which it was not.

casa-susanna is the basis for the Casa Valentina Broadway Show

Of course, none of this background information would affect the quality of the play itself, which is to be seen in the coming weeks as previews unfold.  What does bode well is the extraordinary cast of Broadway stalwarts and up-and-comers, including Reed Birney, John Cullum, Gabriel Ebert, Larry Pine, and Patrick Page.  Under the skilled direction of Joe Mantello, and surely featuring Harvey Fierstein’s signature wit, this play could be a very exciting addition to the Broadway season.  Indeed, it would be a true achievement if Fierstein’s concocted narrative comes close to representing the understated yet superb beauty of the mysterious found photographs, which the producers of this play clearly do not want the audience to discover.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 3/30/2014

This weeks notable movements on Broadway are:

HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH
This past week saw the start of previews for the highly anticipated Broadway production of John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch.  This glam rock musical, which tells the story of an East German transsexual who underwent a botched sex-change operation, has stirred hearts and minds since its original Off-Broadway production in 1998.  Its audience of fans has expanded through the 2001 movie version and further productions worldwide, yet this is the first time the show has come to Broadway.  Starring Neil Patrick Harris, who has proven his charm to the Broadway community through hosting the Tony Awards on several occasions, this production is sure to be an audience favorite – and the numbers show it.  With only one performance in this first week, the show grossed $144,194, which amounted to an audience capacity of 101.40%, reaching 120.35% of its gross potential.  Collecting an average paid admission of $141.92, Hedwig was the top ticket price, with only The Book of Mormon charging a higher average admission.  In starting off with a bang, this bodes well for a profitable run.

OTHER NEW SHOWS
In the same week, two other shows began previews, but to a much less profitable start.  Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, which stars Audra McDonald as Billie Holiday, only grossed $337,951 over its 7 performances, representing an audience capacity of 83.91%.  The show must have discounted significantly, as average paid admission was only $84.36.  Even less profitably, the Roundabout Theatre Company production of Violet ran for four performances at the American Airlines Theatre, grossing only $169,792 with an average paid admission of $60.53.  Still, they filled up 96.46% of their audience capacity, with the lower gross deriving from discounted and subscription tickets.

NEW MUSICAL SUCCESSES
A musical that saw a steep increase in ticket grosses this past week was the new revival of Les Misérables, which grossed $1,223,317, up $191,448 from last week.  In addition, the new Disney production of Aladdin took in $1,104,798, which was an increase of $167,699 from the previous week.  Both of these are new productions that are proving to be strong contenders for long healthy runs.

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

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis

Show GrossGross Total Attn %Cap AvgPdAdm
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $472,344 5,879 81.02% $80.34
A RAISIN IN THE SUN $1,045,534 8,368 100.00% $124.94
ACT ONE $318,292 5,491 63.32% $57.97
AFTER MIDNIGHT $702,074 7,378 89.02% $95.16
ALADDIN $1,104,798 13,783 100.17% $80.16
ALL THE WAY $949,056 9,283 81.60% $102.24
BEAUTIFUL $749,305 6,610 80.53% $113.36
BULLETS OVER BROADWAY $886,469 11,806 90.54% $75.09
CABARET $494,440 5,069 95.68% $97.54
CHICAGO $595,765 7,559 87.49% $78.82
CINDERELLA $1,012,922 11,953 85.33% $84.74
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $144,194 1,016 101.40% $141.92
IF/THEN $1,002,321 9,897 97.03% $101.28
JERSEY BOYS $737,384 7,700 78.38% $95.76
KINKY BOOTS $1,489,070 10,995 96.52% $135.43
LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR & GRILL $337,951 4,006 83.91% $84.36
LES MISÉRABLES $1,223,317 10,736 95.24% $113.95
MAMMA MIA! $673,967 8,032 86.11% $83.91
MATILDA $1,212,014 11,524 100.59% $105.17
MOTHERS AND SONS $228,669 4,518 70.42% $50.61
MOTOWN THE MUSICAL $1,171,326 11,075 91.86% $105.76
NEWSIES $798,338 9,333 98.45% $85.54
NO MAN’S LAND/WAITING FOR GODOT $782,396 8,286 96.53% $94.42
OF MICE AND MEN $868,728 8,390 97.74% $103.54
ONCE $595,070 6,320 74.60% $94.16
PIPPIN $774,699 7,384 93.23% $104.92
ROCK OF AGES $376,294 4,496 96.40% $83.70
ROCKY $828,848 9,178 75.68% $90.31
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,638,380 8,752 102.63% $187.20
THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY $352,896 4,920 60.35% $71.73
THE LION KING $1,885,162 13,603 100.02% $138.58
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $1,057,502 12,439 96.88% $85.02
THE REALISTIC JONESES $462,236 5,595 80.20% $82.62
VIOLET $169,792 2,805 96.46% $60.53
WICKED $1,946,536 15,423 99.99% $126.21
Totals: $29,088,086 289,602 89.29% $97.63

Broadway ticket sales raw data are provided courtesy of The Broadway League All other data, text, opinion, charts and commentary are copyright © 2013 nytix.com

NBC Execs Bully Celebrities To Not Appear On Competing NYC Shows

FALLON’S RATINGS SUCCESS PROMPTS NBC TO STRONG HOLD STARS

There is good news and bad news in the talk show arena.  The good news is for Jimmy Fallon.  His successful ratings have breathed new life into The Tonight Show, so much so, that NBC has begun demanding exclusivity in order for A list guests to appear on the late night program.  The bad news is that other talk shows are going to have a difficult time getting these guests to appear on their lineups.  This moratorium on appearing on other shows doesn’t only include the late night circuit but also the morning talk shows.

jimmy-fallon-jimmy-kimmel wrestle onstage at the Academy Awards 2014For Press Agents this is also bad news. Whenever a star releases a film, a book or is featured on a new television series it is typical to do a press junket.  This allows the star to be seen on as many talk shows as possible to promote their newest venture.  NBC’s proposal will alter the entire method used by press agents to get their stars media attention.  It is interesting to note that by having The Tonight Show relocated to New York City the ability for stars to appear on multiple talk shows in a short period of time increased.  When Jay Leno and Johnny Carson hosted in Los Angeles it required a cross country flight to be seen on Late Night with David Letterman.  The unusual focus of NBC’s move was not to have first rights to a star appearance but to have all rights to a star appearance.

In August a foreshadowing of this type of exclusivity was evident on The Colbert Report when Daft Punk pulled out from the show due to an appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards.  Stephen Colbert deftly skewered this type of move, noting that “once you see a band play a song you like, you obviously never want to see them again.”  The sarcasm  can be applied to  the situation with NBC.  It seems likely if you are a fan of George Clooney and he is on Jimmy Fallon you will still turn in if he is on The View.  The fact is that these shows have different demographics, which is the reason public relations personnel are keen to promote on both programs.  People who are watching at midnight are not often the people watching at 8 AM.  Therefore, NBC demand seems to be an unreasonable reach of a non-compete for artists to adhere to.

The other unknown aspect of this new exclusive demand is that no one knows what will happen to an artist if they choose to ignore the exclusivity.  Will Kim Kardashian never appear on The Tonight Show again if she goes on Late Night or The View after visiting Jimmy Fallon?  As no one knows it will land on the artist and agents to decide this issue.  Daft Punk chose not to appear on The Colbert Report but other artists may not adhere to such pressure.  Only time and the ratings will tell.