“The River” Concludes Its Run

An Unqualified Success Both Critically and Commercially

hugh jackmanOn February 8, 2015, The River concludes its run at the Circle in the Square Theatre on Broadway. It has been running since its first preview on October 31, 2014, with its official opening night taking place on November 16, 2014. The small-scale play starred Hugh Jackman along with Laura Donnelly and Cush Jumbo, the latter two who are British actresses making their Broadway debuts. Hugh Jackman, on the other hand, is a huge Broadway name, as well as a magnificent actor commended for his work on both stage and screen, musical and dramatic. It is no question that Jackman’s stature contributed to the vast success of this show at the box office, but the unmatchable quality of the production precedes him. The play is written by Jez Butterworth, an English writer whose previous Broadway production, Jerusalem, starred Mark Rylance and received rave reviews in both London and New York. Like Jerusalem, The River is also directed by Ian Rickson, and also produced by Sonia Friedman Productions, both of whom have a secure reputation for producing only works of the finest quality.

A Profitable Production, Plus a T-Shirt Auction for Charityhugh jackman laura donnelly

After just seven weeks of performances, The River recouped its $3.2 million capitalization and entered profitmaking territory. This is especially impressive given the intimate size of the Circle in the Square Theatre, which seats just 776 audience members, by far smaller than most all other houses on Broadway. With just three actors and one set staged “in the thrust,” the show still had a moderately high budget for a play, presumably due to the star salary required by Jackman’s representation. However, this was no challenge for this dramatically compelling and intellectually provocative work of art, as it attracted as much money as it did praise. In addition, the creative team decided to incorporate an innovative strategy into their efforts to raise money for Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS. Whereas most shows in this season raise money merely with a post-show speech and some plastic buckets held by supporting cast members, Jackman took center stage once again following his bow to conduct a crowd-pleasing auction. The item for sale was none other than the t-shirt he wore each night. The winner also earned the chance to go backstage with him briefly to receive it. Of the $5.2 million record-breaking amount that this organization earned from the totality of Broadway shows, The River contributed a miraculous $550,000. In one high profile example, Taylor Swift attended the show with her family on Christmas Eve, and purchased his t-shirt for $6,000. Jackman matched that amount himself, and another audience member bought his belt for $2,000.

Proof that Quality-Driven Productions Can Thrive on Broadway

It is to the credit of the marvelous Sonia Friedman Productions that plays like The River can even come to Broadway in the first place, not to mention earn vast profits and critical praise. This is an example of expert producing, which is an underappreciated artform perfectly illustrated in this case. Sonia is an advocate of the artist, and that is why Jez Butterworth’s play and works directed by Ian Rickson time and again are produced by her company. It is not only a matter of seducing the perfect star, in this case Hugh Jackman, but it is also demonstrating a true appreciation for good art that allows these artistic relationships to thrive. It is certainly not an easy balance to strike, but The River has proved that this recipe does exist; it just takes experience, dedication, and excellent taste.

“Live with Kelly and Michael” to Air “After Oscar® Show”

live with kelly and michaelKelly Ripa and Michael Strahan Bring the Show to Hollywood

On the morning after the Academy Awards, Monday, February 23, 2015, Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan will air their fourth annual special segment of Live with Kelly and Michael: their After Oscar® Show. The show will film from Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre, where the episode will include interviews from the red carpet and backstage, as well as live on the show. Both winners and presenters will be featured as special guests, interviewed by Kelly and Michael with their renowned style. Presumably, the show will return to New York the following morning for their regularly scheduled programming, where it is filmed at ABC Studios at 7 Lincoln Square, on the corner of West 67th St and Columbus Avenue. The show airs on WABC-TV and is syndicated throughout the country. It normally tapes live at 9:00am Eastern Standard Time, and then is tape-delayed to play at the same time in the rest of the country.

Will It Really Be “Live”?live kelly michael oscars

It has long been apparent that Live with Kelly and Michael, as well as the franchise’s predecessors Live with Regis and Kelly and other couples, actually incorporate a limited amount of live content. Some attendees of the live studio audience have complained that their experience is made less enjoyable due to the fact that Kelly and Michael appear in the same clothes as they were wearing on previously taped segments, wherein they actually interviewed celebrity guests. Studio audience members, therefore, are often asked to sit through pre-recorded interviews played on a large monitor, awaiting the less interesting live segments wherein Kelly and Michael introduce the guests. This After Oscar® special will most likely have a similar structure, particularly because the show will surely include many pre-taped segments from the night before at the Academy Awards, both on the red carpet and backstage. However, some of these guests will hopefully also visit the live studio taping the following morning, as that is the reason that the show will relocate to Hollywood in the first place.

The History of the Franchise

Michael Strahan has been Kelly Ripa’s co-host on Live with Kelly and Michael since 2012, when Kelly was in search of a replacement following the departure of Regis Philbin. The concept of pairing Regis with a female co-host dates back to 1988, when his co-host was Kathie Lee Gifford, and the show was called Live with Regis and Kathie Lee from 1988 to 2000. It took a year for Regis to find a suitable replacement for Kathie Lee, and thus the show was called only Live with Regis from 2000 to 2001. Kelly Ripa, at the time a successful soap opera star, was paired with Regis in 2001, and Live with Regis and Kelly was born, which lasted until 2011 when Regis finally retired. Similar to when Regis was left alone, Kelly hosted the show with a series of rotating cohosts for a year from 2011 to 2012, until Michael Strahan joined her. Strahan had already hosted the show 16 times, so it was a natural fit although not as highly rated as other trial co-hosts such as Seth Meyers, who soon got his own late night show. However, ever since Strahan joined Kelly, the show has been on a whole new level with renewed, healthy ratings.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 2/1/2015

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

The Winter Continues to Take Its Toll

In the week ending February 1, 2015, New York was cold and the Broadway wraps show this clearly. Of all the shows running on Broadway, only two experienced a slight upturn in ticket sales, and both only by small amounts. The biggest increase was seen by It’s Only a Play, making up for a large dip it took last week, increasing its weekly gross by $51,381 for a weekly box office of $513,389. This only represents 44.21% of that show’s gross potential, whereas it was playing in the millionaire’s club only a month ago. In addition, a new addition to the Broadway slate Constellations saw an even smaller upturn of $8,907, which brought it to a weekly gross of $508,352. This Jake Gyllenhaal starrer only made 64.99% of its gross potential this past week, which is around the median range that the show has been achieving since it began previews 5 weeks ago. Other than these two shows, every single play and musical experienced a decrease in sales from the week before. The Lion King saw the biggest decrease of $303,224, followed by Aladdin with a decrease of $228,422, and then Wicked with a decrease of $209,690. The highest earning shows may be able to afford to take the biggest toll, but that still does not represent a healthy week on Broadway.

“The Elephant Man” and “The Book of Mormon” Lead the Way

This past week, only two shows made more than 100% of their gross potential, which is the marker these days for a successful week due to the overabundance of premium tickets sold on Broadway. The greatest percentage of gross potential was achieved by The Elephant Man starring Bradley Cooper, which brought in 104.28% of its gross potential with a weekly gross of $976,936. Still it saw a slight decrease of $58,883 from the week before. This revival of a classic play has announced that it will take its success with it to London, where Cooper will continue with the transfer production. The other show that earned more than 100% of its gross potential was The Book of Mormon, which is still an unbeatable earner on Broadway. This past week, it brought in $1,423,750, which represents 102.36% of its gross potential. It was also the highest earning show of the whole week, beating out even The Lion King and Wicked, both of which have much larger audience capacities.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending February 1, 2015:Broadway-Show-Ticket-Analysis-2-1-15

Show Name GrossGross TotalAttn %Capacity AvgPdAdm
A DELICATE BALANCE $462,985 4,289 66.85% $107.95
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $610,647 6,228 85.83% $98.05
ALADDIN $1,119,398 11,343 94.05% $98.69
BEAUTIFUL $964,098 7,222 87.99% $133.49
CABARET $896,478 6,756 94.57% $132.69
CHICAGO $365,600 4,948 65.45% $73.89
CONSTELLATIONS $508,352 5,060 97.31% $100.46
DISGRACED $348,413 4,911 66.87% $70.95
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $604,410 5,704 80.92% $105.96
HONEYMOON IN VEGAS $369,342 5,088 54.17% $72.59
IT’S ONLY A PLAY $513,389 5,681 65.94% $90.37
JERSEY BOYS $624,100 6,953 70.78% $89.76
KINKY BOOTS $839,718 8,762 76.91% $95.84
LES MISÉRABLES $565,551 7,730 68.58% $73.16
MAMMA MIA! $357,539 5,297 64.90% $67.50
MATILDA $682,942 9,085 79.30% $75.17
ON THE TOWN $491,489 7,272 48.51% $67.59
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,423,750 8,676 101.74% $164.10
THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME $756,733 7,396 90.82% $102.32
THE ELEPHANT MAN $976,936 5,913 95.49% $165.22
THE LION KING $1,337,983 11,847 99.55% $112.94
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $555,046 7,607 67.71% $72.97
THE RIVER $484,695 5,575 100.13% $86.94
WICKED $1,291,035 12,829 88.65% $100.63
YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU $354,139 4,986 58.08% $71.03
Totals $17,504,766 177,158 78.84% $97.21

Broadway ticket sales raw data are provided courtesy of The Broadway League All other data, text, opinion, charts and commentary are copyright © 2015 nytix.com

“The Heart of Robin Hood” Delays Broadway Run

heart of robin hoodProducers Extend Toronto Run for Four Weeks

The Heart of Robin Hood is a new play by David Farr, directed by Gisli Örn Gardarsson, and featuring music by the bluegrass roots band Parsonsfield, based in Connecticut. It was scheduled to begin previews on Broadway on March 11, 2015, but producers recently announced that the show would not play as planned. The reasoning is principally due to low ticket sales. The group sales box office reported slower interest than anticipated, and meanwhile the Toronto run was selling very well. Therefore, the producers opted to extend the run at Toronto’s Royal Alexandra Theatre for four weeks until March 29, 2015. Another reason that this decision may have been made is that the producers had only arranged for a limited run of 5 weeks at the Marquis Theatre, due to theatre availability. However, it would be significantly more preferable to have a theatre that allowed for the potential of an open-ended run, as this show could be a long running hit if it found the right traction. Therefore, the next time the show finds a theatre, it may be able to arrange for a longer availability. It is not clear if the producers needed to pay a fee for the last-minute cancellation, but Broadway theatres are always in high demand, so chances are it will be snatched up quickly.

Not a Musical, Not a Spectacle, Not a Spoofheart of robin hood

Though Toronto audiences are finding The Heart of Robin Hood to be a very appealing show, a prominent Toronto critic expressed ambivalence about whether the show would fare well on Broadway. Though its themes, classic story, and fun staging are all certainly appealing for children and adults alike, it is not a musical, which could make it a less interesting choice with all of the musical options on Broadway at the moment. Furthermore, it is not purely a spectacle such as Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark, so it will not be able to ride exclusively on that. Nevertheless, it does contain a fair amount of acrobatics, comedy, aerial choreography, swashbuckling, and dramatic tension. Still, it is not a spoof either, as the show is a fairly serious rendition of the classic Robin Hood tale, although with a unique take. Therefore, it may be tricky for the play to find its audience enough to sustain it through the difficult opening weeks. The play stars Tony Award winner Gabriel Ebert (Matilda the Musical) as the title character Robin Hood, as well as Tony Award nominee Euan Morton (Taboo) as his nemesis Prince John, in addition to Izzie Steele as his love interest Marion, and Christian Lloyd as the character Pierre.

Indefinitely Postponed

It is not clear when the show will come to Broadway. The Toronto run is extended for another four weeks, and it could potentially extend further. There is always a lot of demand for theatres on Broadway, and it will be a matter of reconciling schedules – with the landlords, cast members, and other key team members – in order to find the perfect slot to bring this show to Broadway. The play succeeded earlier this year in Winnipeg, and played to rave reviews in Ashland, Oregon at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Time will tell whether the more cutthroat environment of Broadway will welcome this unique play when it finally does come to town. However, the press agent Boneau Bryan Brown removed the show from their website, indicating it will not be coming any time particularly soon. Coincidentally, the account representative from BBB, Christine Olver, left the organization at around the same time as the show announced its delay, relinquishing her shows including The Heart of Robin HoodThe Book of MormonThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-timeThe Elephant Man, and Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS to other BBB staff members. Therefore, it will be up to another press contact to liaise with reviewers and press personnel when The Heart of Robin Hood does eventually come back to Broadway.

Jimmy Fallon Heads West for the Super Bowl

jimmy fallonFirst Stop Phoenix for a Post Super Bowl “Tonight Show”

Jimmy Fallon is bringing his Tonight Show westward for the first week in February. Tonight, after the Super Bowl XLIX telecast where the Seattle Seahawks battle the New England Patriots, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon will be broadcasting from Phoenix’s Orpheum Theatre. Tickets were released for a free giveaway at 9:30am on Wednesday, January 14, 2015, and a reportedly 42,000 people signed on for the opportunity. All tickets were gone by 9:34am. Since Fallon commenced his role in succession to Jay Leon, he has been the bona fide king of late night, maintaining high ratings and a beloved status among celebrities and fans alike. He is sure to attract a lot of stars on his show tonight, as they are all in town for the big event. It has been announced that his guests will include Will Ferrell, Kevin Hart, and Ariana Grande. The latter will perform her recent single “One Last Time,” giving her first live television performance of the song.

Second Stop Los Angeles for a Week-Long Stayariana grande

After the post-game show, Fallon will head to Los Angeles for the week from February 2 through 5, 2015, where the show will tape from Universal Studios Hollywood. This marks the first time The Tonight Show will be hosted from Los Angeles since the show moved from Burbank to New York City for Fallon’s takeover. The show’s origins date back to 1954 when the debut took place in New York City, but since 1972 it has been filmed primarily in Los Angeles County, except for a brief stint in Chicago in 1957. Still, Fallon and his team chose to take a little vacation from the cold winter in New York City, taking advantage of the Super Bowl timing in order to visit some friends out West. The guests appearing in the L.A. week include Vin Diesel, Carl Reiner, Gwen Stefani, Michael Keaton, Will Smith, Rosamund Pike, Ellen DeGeneres, and Jack White. This is a great opportunity for Fallon to invite some exciting guests who may not live in New York or who are hard to pin down to appear on the show when they are visiting the East coast.

The Super Bowl Special

Following Super Bowl XLIX, NBC will air one episode of The Blacklist, after which the local late news will air, followed by the live airing of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Most of the show’s secrets are undisclosed, but it is revealed that a famous lip sync battle will take place between Jimmy Fallon, Kevin Hart, and Will Ferrell. Furthemore, Ariana Grande will make her live TV debut with her new single from her second album, performing with the house band The Roots. The show is also sure to include some hilarious games such as the “box of lies” shtick, as well as a number of jokes about football. The evening will feature some other stars as well: for the Super Bowl’s pre-game festivities, Idina Menzel will sing the national anthem, and John Legend will sing “America the Beautiful.” Furthermore, the Super Bowl halftime show will feature performances by Katy Perry and Lenny Kravitz.

Larry David’s “Fish in the Dark” Breaks Advance Records

fish in the darkThe “Curb Your Enthusiasm” Star Conquers Broadway

Larry David, best known for creating and starring in the television show Curb Your Enthusiasm, as well as for co-creating and lead writing the series Seinfeld, is coming to Broadway as both lead actor and writer. Fish in the Dark, billed as a dark comedy that involves the death of the patriarch of the family, has released little other information about the show. However, the pedigree of Larry David’s name alone has allowed the show to break advance box office records. Additional cast includes Rita Wilson, Rosie Perez, and Jayne Houdyshell. The show is directed by Anna D. Shapiro (Motherf**ker with the Hat) and produced by Scott Rudin. Previews begin this upcoming Monday, February 2, 2015, and the play is already selling out. Opening night is scheduled for March 5, 2015, and the run is intended to be a limited engagement of 18 weeks.

A Record Breaking $13.5 Million Advancelarry david

It has taken in a remarkable $13.5 million, which breaks the advance box office records for a straight play. The previous record for a straight play’s advance was $13.05 million, earned by Betrayal starring Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz. That play was produced by Scott Rudin, who is also the producer of Fish in the Dark. The budget for this play has not been reported, but it is surely in the low millions, probably not over $3 million. It is therefore a surefire hit before it even begins. Other plays this season are also doing well, but not quite as well as Fish in the Dark. It’s Only a Play starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick was performing alongside top musicals this whole season, but its opening advance was only $10 million. The Bradley Cooper led revival of The Elephant Man also performed very well at the box office, as did Hugh Jackman in The River, but neither could compete with Fish in the Dark in terms of advance sales. Other starry plays opening this spring include Helen Mirren in The Audience, as well as Bill Nighy in Skylight by David Hare.

Larry David, the Broadway Newbie

Larry David is a novice in the theatre. He told the press that he has not been in a play since the eighth grade. In a memorable episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, David plans to star in The Producers alongside fellow performers David Schwimmer and Cady Huffman. Though the audience is wowed, Mel Brooks is not impressed, and he ends up failing to make the cut. Of course the entire scenario was played for comedic effect, but he certainly demonstrated that he was not intending to pursue a career in musical theatre. Nevertheless, theatre itself is not outside his domain, as he is making quite a debut on Broadway this week. The critical response will become clear in March after the opening night, but there is no going back now; audiences are already committed to loving this show.

“The Curious Incident” Recoups on Broadway

A Financial Coup for a Straight Play

curious incidentThis week, it was announced that the Broadway production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time has recouped its capitalization. The budget was reported to be $4.75 million, which is high for a straight play, though low compared to most musicals. This is therefore an extraordinary achievement, not only because it is a financial success with a high capitalization for its genre, but also because it is difficult and statistically unlikely for straight plays to recoup on Broadway in general. Whereas audiences generally flock to uplifting musicals with glitzy spectacle and catchy scores, it is more difficult for a play to gain traction and for positive word of mouth to spread enough for ticket sales to reach the level of profits. It is even more unusual for this to happen when there are no Hollywood stars leading the cast. The star of The Curious Incident is Alex Sharp, a recent Juilliard graduate who plays a 15 year-old boy with Asperger’s syndrome (although this diagnosis is never specifically mentioned in the play).

A Transatlantic Success Storyalex sharp

However, this play does have one thing going for it that can be considered a predictable factor: that is transferred from London. It is more likely due to the fact that London breeds theatre of such immense quality due to a strong theatrical tradition, than that ticket buyers have a bias towards British content, that this is a trend. However, time and again, if a show transfers from London and gets good reviews, people take notice more than they might have with a homegrown production. For instance, One Man, Two Guv’nors was a critical and commercial hit that made its lead actor a talk show star in America. Like One Man, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time also transferred from the National Theatre via the West End. This play is based on a novel of the same name by Mark Haddon, which may have also contributed to its recognition, but most importantly the show has built up strong word of mouth due solely to excellent reviews from critics and audience members alike.

An Open Ended Run

Whereas most straight plays will announce limited engagements of 12, 16, or 20 weeks, and then perhaps announce an extension if the play is doing well, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time has not yet said when it will close. The open-ended run began with the first preview on September 10, 2014, and its official opening night was on October 5, 2014. It has since run for over 130 performances in addition to the 23 preview performances, and it may not be stopping anytime soon. Whereas only a quarter of shows ever enter profits, this play managed to do so after only 4 and a half months. This quirky play is said to be spectacular in design, brilliantly clever in construction, and flawless in execution, which overcomes its less than commercial subject matter and cast. The play is written by Simon Stephens and directed by Marianne Elliott, who won the Tony Award for her direction of War Horse, another excellent example of a British transfer that won over America while still proving a great success at home.

Broadway Show Ticket Sales Analysis w/e 1/25/2015

This week’s notable movements on Broadway are:

An Overall Slow Week

In the week ending January 25, 2015, only three shows demonstrated an increase in ticket sales from the week before. Those were The Elephant Man, Constellations, and The Last Ship. The Elephant Man went up by $357,369, which is an inflated figure due to the fact that the production played only five performances last week. In terms of percentage reached of potential gross, the performance actually went down from 111.75% to 110.23%, which is of course still extraordinary. The weekly gross for Constellations went up by $67,046, which is attributable to the recent opening and the ripple effect of positive word of mouth. Finally, The Last Ship went up as well, but only by $5,171, which may be due to the fact that Sting has entered the cast. Otherwise, the entire Broadway industry performed quite poorly this past week, with the remaining 24 shows decreasing in their weekly grosses.

A Dip For the Heavy Hitters

The biggest decrease was seen by It’s Only a Play, which went down from $693,963 last week to $462,008 this week. However, that is also a misleading figure as the play only had five performances this week. The next biggest decrease was seen by Wicked, often in the top two grossing shows each week. In the week ending January 25, 2015, however, Wicked brought in $1,500,725, which was a decrease of $183,939 from the week before. Still, it came in third in terms of weekly gross, behind only The Lion King and The Book of Mormon. Matilda also went down by $182,198, bringing in $805,176 which is only 63.16% of its gross potential. Aladdin, though still a top earner at $1,347,820, went down by $139,296 from the week before. Still, that brought it to earning 110.48% of its gross potential. Les Miserables also went down by $115,379, bringing it to a weekly gross of $609,270. Finally, the last show to exhibit a six figure decrease in weekly gross from the week before was The River, which went down by $106,452, bringing it to a weekly gross of $616,535.

The following are the Broadway ticket sales numbers for the week ending January 25, 2015:Broadway-Show-Ticket-Analysis-1-25-15

Show Name GrossGross TotalAttn %Capacity AvgPdAdm
A DELICATE BALANCE $562,850 4,941 77.01% $113.91
A GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO LOVE AND MURDER $667,767 6,547 90.23% $102.00
ALADDIN $1,347,820 13,747 99.73% $98.04
BEAUTIFUL $1,047,501 7,637 93.04% $137.16
CABARET $911,305 7,004 98.04% $130.11
CHICAGO $427,273 5,787 66.98% $73.83
CONSTELLATIONS $499,445 5,155 99.13% $96.89
DISGRACED $360,932 4,928 67.10% $73.24
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH $609,617 5,268 87.19% $115.72
HONEYMOON IN VEGAS $425,029 6,699 71.33% $63.45
IF/THEN $635,189 7,992 76.20% $79.48
IT’S ONLY A PLAY $462,008 4,722 87.69% $97.84
JERSEY BOYS $710,588 7,798 79.38% $91.12
KINKY BOOTS $1,001,877 9,890 86.82% $101.30
LES MISÉRABLES $609,270 8,391 74.44% $72.61
MAMMA MIA! $463,090 6,563 70.36% $70.56
MATILDA $805,176 10,110 88.25% $79.64
ON THE TOWN $624,882 9,035 60.27% $69.16
THE BOOK OF MORMON $1,575,262 8,750 102.60% $180.03
THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME $820,145 7,890 96.88% $103.95
THE ELEPHANT MAN $1,035,819 6,304 101.81% $164.31
THE LAST SHIP $843,445 9,459 87.65% $89.17
THE LION KING $1,641,207 13,056 96.00% $125.71
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA $689,571 9,235 71.92% $74.67
THE RIVER $616,535 5,531 99.34% $111.47
WICKED $1,500,725 14,236 98.37% $105.42
YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU $441,995 5,613 65.39% $78.74
Totals: $21,336,320 212,288 84.93% $99.98

Broadway ticket sales raw data are provided courtesy of The Broadway League All other data, text, opinion, charts and commentary are copyright © 2015 nytix.com

“Honeymoon in Vegas” Opens on Broadway

Based Off the 1992 Film of the Same Name

Honeymoon in vegasOn January 15, 2015, Honeymoon in Vegas had its opening night at Broadway’s Nederlander Theatre. It had been running in previews since November 18, 2014, which is an unusually long preview period of 66 performances. This fact would normally imply a lack of confidence about the quality of the material, allowing the creative team and cast an extra month to develop the show in front of live audiences prior to the critical reviews hitting the presses. However, the reviews are in, and they are largely positive. Most notably, Ben Brantley of The New York Times, who is known as the toughest and most important critic of the most important paper in this one-paper town, loved the show. This musical is based off the 1992 film of the same name, which wasn’t exactly a hit nor was it exactly a cult success. In any case, someone sometime ago decided it would make a good musical, and they got top theatrical composer Jason Robert Brown (Parade, The Last Five Years, The Bridges of Madison County) to sign on to the job. With a book by Andrew Bergman (who wrote and directed the film), the musical starred Tony Danza (who received raves for his leading performance), as well as Rob McClure (Chaplin) opposite Brynn O’Malley (Annie).

The Reviews Are In, and Critics are Impressedrob mcclure tony danza

When the musical played its pre-Broadway tryout run at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey in the fall of 2013, New York critics gave it positive reviews which encouraged the producers to make the leap over the Hudson river to the cut-throat Broadway turf. Fortunately, the most important critic – Ben Brantley of The New York Times – stood behind his praise. When the same critic voices in on a pre-Broadway run and then the Broadway run, it can go either way, but usually they are tempted to stick to their guns, and in this case that benefitted Honeymoon in Vegas wildly. Other critics followed suit – both David Cote from Time Out New York and Robert Kahn from NBC New York loved the show as well. Cote harked to the unbeatable position of Jason Robert Brown in Broadway composing royalty, and was equally a fan of the concept of seedy Las Vegas being represented with so much glitz on Broadway. Kahn was a huge fan of Tony Danza’s performance as the tough talking gangster Tommy Korman, and calls Brown’s score jackpot-winning. However, other reviewers were less laudatory. Marilyn Stasio from Variety was on the fence, enjoying the catchy songs and witty lyrics along with the savvy visuals, but ultimately could not get over the mindlessness of it. Similarly, David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter felt that the show was ultimately slight, though he granted that the musical was better than he was expecting.

Will the Box Office Turn Around?

tony danzaIt’s difficult to say whether the financial figures will respond to these positive reviews, especially as the show has already been running for two months with lackluster box office performance. In the last reported week – the week ending January 18, 2015, the show saw a slight upturn but still only brought in a weekly gross of $440,476, which represents only 43.11% of the gross potential. With an average paid ticket of $57.51, the producers are clearly heavily discounting, which may have already damaged the brand value of the show such that it cannot recover, even with such positive reviews. However, there is hope with this renewed burst of lifeblood for the show, and optimism is riding high that it might stick around for a while on Broadway, adding a burst of hot Las Vegas silliness to the cold New York winter.

Jimmy Fallon’s “Lip Sync Battle” Becomes Spin-Off TV Show

Jimmy Fallon and the History of the Lip Sync Battle

jimmy fallonJimmy Fallon has been the host of NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon since he took over the post from Jay Leno in February 2014. He had earned his beloved stature through his tenure hosting Late Night with Jimmy Fallon also on NBC from March 2009, when he took over from talk show legend Conan O’Brien. Prior to that, he gained acclaim from his tenure as a cast member on Saturday Night Live, which occurred from 1999 to 2004, when he left to pursue a film career. He appeared in a quite a few movies including Fever Pitch, Almost Famous, Factory Girl, and The Year of Getting to Know Us, but ultimately his home was the talk show circuit, and he was roped back in by NBC. Since seamlessly taking over from Leno almost a year ago, Fallon has proved his insurmountable stature by remaining a huge success with fans and celebrities alike. One of his most beloved shticks in The Tonight Show has been a “Lip Sync Battle,” whereby he competes against his guests, who are often huge stars such as Emma Stone and Paul Rudd, to see who is better at lip syncing. In addition to being hilarious and entertaining, this battle is said to prove the winner in terms of charisma, talent, individuality, and guts.

The Pilot Will Be Shot This Month; Premieres On TV April 2nd, 2015

While Fallon continues on as the successful host of The Tonight Show, he will also serve as a producer of a new spin-off show on Spike TV. Two other producers include John Krasinski and Stephen Merchant, who were the creators of this segment on Fallon’s show, along with Krasinski’s wife Emily Blunt. Krasinski and Merchant are also sometime performers in the lip sync battles. Memorable episodes include performances by Emma Stone and Paul Rudd, as well as a three-way battle between Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Merchant, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Now, this new pilot will be shot in January in front of a live studio audience. It is set to premiere on Spike TV on April 2, 2015. It is unclear how this mini-segment will be able to expand into an entire episode, not to mention a 10 episode series. Still, the show has a lot to work with, given the allure for celebrity guests. Thus time can inevitably be spent in celebrity banter if not interviews, although the set-up will ultimately need to differentiate itself from the usual talk show format and focus in on the lip sync battle first and foremost.

LL Cool J Announced to Serve as the Show’s Host ll cool j

The rapper-musician LL Cool J has signed on to host this new show on Spike TV, as announced this month. He will also join as a producer on the show. He has expressed great excitement about being involved with the show. This will be his second recurring gig on television, in addition to his role as a regular cast member on the hit show NCIS: Los Angeles. He announced that this show was going to bring the concept of the lip sync battle to a whole new level – as it must in order to fill in the longer timeslot. Still, hopes are high that the combination of a winning battle concept, celebrity guests, and LL Cool J as host will allow the new show to thrive on Spike TV.

Click here for Tickets to the show Lip Sync Battle Tickets