Tony Awards TV Viewership Down 10 Percent Despite Record Breaking Broadway Season

Broadway Grosses and Attendance Up By Over 7 Percent

tony awardIn the 2014 to 2015 Broadway season, 37 new productions opened. These included 15 musicals, 10 of which were new and 5 of which were revivals, as well as 20 plays, 11 of which were new and 9 of which were revivals. This is in addition to two special engagements. Across the board, the industry yielded $1.37 billion dollars, which is a 7.6% increase from last year’s gross of $1.27 billion dollars. On top of that, total attendance reached 13.1 million people, up 7.3% from last year’s total attendance of 12.2 million people. Though the number of shows was down to 37 from 44 the year before, that is actually a positive sign, as it shows that the shows that did go up stayed up more successfully, leading to less turnover. With regards to the sheer number of shows running on a weekly basis, the number of total playing weeks increased by 8.7% from the previous season. Despite these record breaking figures, the greatest theatre event of the season on broadcast television – the Tony Awards on CBS – had remarkably low TV viewership. According to Nielsen, the event pulled 6.35 million viewers, which is down by 10% from the year before. In comparison, the Golden Globes, often considered the Oscar’s poor cousin, brings in about 20 million viewers.

NBA Conflict Overstated in the Press

When Variety reported on this strange contradiction, its headline proclaimed that the Tony Awards “flirted” with record lows “opposite big NBA finals,” which were shown on rival station NBC. However, this is simplifying the facts. First of all, this was only Game 2 of the NBA Finals. If it were nearing the end of the finals, this may be more of an explanation for the low Tony viewership. Furthermore, the core demographic for theatre awards ceremonies and NBA basketball games couldn’t be less overlapping. The only justification for this could be households where there were conflicting interests, such as wives wanting to watch the Tony Awards and husbands wanting to watch the sports game. In addition, the Tony Awards began at 8:00pm, and the basketball game didn’t begin until 9:00pm. That first hour also includes the opening number, traditionally one of the more exciting elements to watch, as well as some of the major awards. Therefore, the real reason may have more to do with other factors.

Less Interesting Hosts? Less Interest in Awards?alan cumming and kristin chenoweth

One major difference between the 2015 Tony Awards ceremony and the 2014 Tony Awards ceremony is that this year, the hosts were Alan Cumming and Kristin Chenoweth, whereas last year the host was Hugh Jackman. From the Broadway box office reports, it is clear that Hugh Jackman is a major attraction, as both The River and Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway performed excellently in terms of ticket sales. This year’s hosts, though certainly big names on Broadway and with lists of screen credits that are nothing to scoff at, are arguably less big stars. Also, it is possible that having two hosts diluted the interest in the hosting position. Whereas the decision to have two co-hosts may have been an effort to make up for each individual not being a big enough star, the result may have been the opposite: that two hosts are inherently less interesting than one. The Broadway League could be tempted to bring in someone more mainstream who is also funny, but it is doubtful that Ricky Gervais, Amy Poehler or Tina Fey would be expected to host any time soon. Furthermore, the contradiction between an excellent Broadway season and low Tony Award viewership may be explained by the fact that there has been an increased interest in seeing live theatre, but the fan aspect of watching the awards ceremony may have not increased in kind. There were also complaints about this year’s broadcast, such as the Dramatists Guild’s statement that they were increasingly dismayed that key awards, such as Best Book and Best Score, were not shown live on the telecast. In any case, it is excellent for Broadway that more people went to the theatre this past season, and perhaps next year more will tune in for the awards.

“Fun Home” and “Curious Incident” Win Big at the Tony Awards

Alan Cumming and Kristin Chenoweth Host at Radio City Music Hall

alan cumming and kristin chenowethLast night, the 69th Annual Tony Awards took place at Radio City Music Hall, hosted by Alan Cumming and Kristin Chenoweth. After much excitement, the winners were revealed, amidst many gorgeous musical numbers performed by shows that were nominated, as well as by shows that received no nominations. At the end of the night, the final and most anticipated award was announced: Fun Home took home the Tony Award for Best Musical. Arguably the most prestigious and meaningful award among a list of huge honors, this award will ensure that Fun Home continues to run for at least another year if not many more. After transferring from the Off-Broadway Public Theater, Fun Home has been playing at the small Circle in the Square Theatre since March 27, 2015. Though it has been playing to sold out houses, it has not been reaching the top of its money earning potential. This past week, the week ending June 7, 2015, it made only 87.60% of its gross potential. That is sure to change immediately, as the tiny venue can only accommodate 776 people, by far the smallest house on Broadway. Time will tell whether the show will need to transfer to a larger venue to meet demand, or whether it will just become an extremely tough ticket.

Best Play, Best Revivals, Best Actors, and Best Directorscurious incident

The other very prestigious honor at the Tony Awards is that for Best Play, which was earned by The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. Having transferred to Broadway from the National Theatre in London, this show took home 5 of the 6 awards for which it was nominated. In addition to Best Play, it won the awards for Best Direction of a Play for Marianne Elliott, Best Actor in a Leading Performance in a Play for Alex Sharp, Best Lighting Design of a Play for Paule Constable, and Best Scenic Design of a Play for Bunny Christie and Finn Ross. As for revivals, the award for Best Revival of a Play was earned by Skylight, which did not earn any of the other awards for which it was nominated. These include three acting awards, for Carey Mulligan, Bill Nighy, and Matthew Beard, none of whom took home an award for their performances, as well as the award for Best Direction, which Stephen Daldry lost to Marianne Elliott. The award for Best Revival of a Musical was given to The King and I. That show also earned the award for Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical, given to Kelli O’Hara. This is the sixth time this wonderful actress has been nominated for a Tony Award, and the first time that she won. The award for Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Play was given to Helen Mirren for The Audience, and the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical was given to Michael Cerveris for Fun Home. Finally, Sam Gold took home the award for Best Direction of a Musical, also for Fun Home.

Writing and Composing Awards

fun homeWhereas the creators of straight plays are honored through the awards for Best Play and Best Revival of a Play, separate awards are given to the book writers, as well as the composers and lyricists, of musicals. These awards are in addition to the awards for Best Musical and Best Revival of a Musical, which are generally accepted by the producers. The award for Best Original Score was given to Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron, who wrote the music and lyrics respectively for Fun Home. The award for Best Book of a Musical was also given to Lisa Kron for Fun Home. Whereas this year the award for Best Musical served basically the same purpose as these two awards, sometimes the recipients do differ. In this case, the three separate honors proved irrefutably that Fun Home is the most exciting new musical of the year. Something Rotten!, which was the only show nominated for Best Musical not based on a previous work, was only recognized once, when Christian Borle took home the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical. Still, that show was nominated for a total of ten awards, which is certainly no small honor. As for An American in Paris, which was considered to be the next most likely show to win Best Musical, it only took home the awards for Best Choreography for Christopher Wheeldon, as well as Best Orchestrations, Best Scenic Design, and Best Lighting Design, showing that the Tony voters ultimately considered it to be a beautiful ballet show, but not dramatically substantial enough to win the highest honor of the event.

Alan Cumming and Kristin Chenoweth to Host Tony Awards

Two Tony Winners Emcee on June 7th

alan cumming kristin chenowethOn June 7, 2015, the 69th Annual Tony Awards will be broadcast live from Radio City Music Hall. The hosts have been announced: Alan Cumming and Kristin Chenoweth. These two beloved stars are both Tony winners themselves, and they also both starred in musicals that played this season. Alan Cumming revived his magnificent role as the Emcee of Cabaret in this past year’s revival, a role that he played opposite first Michelle Williams, then Emma Stone, and finally Sienna Miller. As that production was an exact revival of an earlier revival production, with the same directors Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall, as well as the same star Alan Cumming playing the Emcee, it was not eligible for the Best Revival award category. As such, Cabaret did not receive any nominations this year. However, Alan Cumming did receive the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical for playing that role in the 1998 production of Cabaret. As an award-winning emcee, therefore, he is the perfect emcee for this awards event. Furthermore, Kristin Chenoweth starred in On the Twentieth Century, a revival of a musical comedy by Betty Comden, Adolph Green, and Cy Coleman. That production has received five Tony Award nominations, including one for Kristin for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical. Its other nominations are those for Best Revival of a Musical, Best Featured Actor in a Musical for Andy Karl, Best Scenic Design, and Best Costume Design.

A Broadway History of Alan Cummingalan cumming

On top of the two productions of Cabaret, Alan Cumming has been on Broadway an additional three times. In 2001, he played Otto in a production of Noel Coward’s Design for Living. In 2006, he played Macheath in a production of The Three Penny Opera. And very notoriously, in 2013, he played Macbeth in a one-man production of that Shakespeare classic, first at Lincoln Center and then at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. In addition to his Tony Award for the earlier revival of Cabaret, Cumming has received four Olivier Awards: the British equivalent of the Tonys. He received an analogous award for his role in Cabaret in 1994. He also received an Olivier Award for the Comedy Performance of the Year for La Bete in 1993. Before that, he received the same comedy award for his performance in Accidental Death of an Anarchist, and he was commended as Best Newcomer in a Play by the Oliviers in 1988 for Conquest of the South Pole.

A Broadway History of Kristin Chenoweth

kristin chenowethAs for Kristin, she has been nominated for Tony Awards twice before, winning one. She won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical in 1999 for You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. In 2004, she was nominated for her role as Glinda in Wicked for the award for Best Actress in a Musical, although she did not win (instead, Idina Menzel won the same award for the same production for her role as Elphaba). This is now her third Tony Award nomination. Furthermore, she starred as Fran Kubelik in Promises, Promises in 2010, and she played Eve among other roles in the 2006-2007 production of The Apple Tree. Before Wicked, she also played Louise Goldman in the 1999 production of Epic Proportions as well as a series of roles in the 1997 production of Steel Pier, as well as her star turn in You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

“Cabaret” Concludes Its Run

Last Performance March 29 at Studio 54

cabaret Roundabout Theatre on BroadwayOn March 29, 2015, the Roundabout revival of Cabaret shuttered its doors at Studio 54, one of Roundabout Theatre Company’s Broadway venues. The revival has been playing since it began previews on March 21, 2014, ensuring that the show stayed on just past the one year mark. This production of Cabaret was based off an earlier production from 1993, also directed by Sam Mendes and co-directed by Rob Marshall, with choreography by Rob Marshall. Furthermore, Alan Cumming reprised his renowned role as the Emcee from that production, and he stayed with this revival for the entire run. It therefore makes sense that the production would choose to close upon the end of his contract, rather than rehearsing a replacement who would probably not fare as well as the box office. Instead, the focus has been on ensuring that his co-star, the leading lady playing Sally Bowles, would attract enough ticket buying attention. When the show began last year, Michelle Williams played the role of Sally. She received mixed reviews, and was able to attract some but not wildly outstanding box office attention. Michelle played that role until November 9, 2014. Throughout her stint, the highest weekly gross was $839,690, which took place in the week ending August 3, 2014.

Emma Stone as Sally Bowlesemma stone cabaret

Beginning November 11, 2014, Emma Stone stepped into the role of Sally Bowles, which she continued in until February 15, 2015. She ended up extended her run two weeks longer than originally planned. Emma Stone received excellent notices, and furthermore she brought the box office higher than it had been ever before in the run. The weekly gross box office record while she was in the lead was $1,051,850, which took place in the week ending January 4, 2015. That was one of two weeks in which the show made it into the millionaire’s club, the other being the week ending December 28, 2014. The combination of the high tourist Christmas season, along with Emma Stone, was a winning mix. Emma Stone was riding high off of her excellent reviews in the movie Birdman, where she played the daughter of a Broadway actor, with the movie primarily taking place backstage in a Broadway theatre. It was therefore fitting when she stepped into the role of Sally Bowles soon thereafter.

Sienna Miller as Sally Bowles

sienna millerTo complete the rest of Alan Cumming’s run, from February 17, 2015 until the last performance on March 29, 2015, Sienna Miller stepped into the role of Sally. Miller had been on Broadway once before, as the title role in After Miss Julie in 2009. Though she didn’t receive excellent reviews then, she has certainly captivated the attention of America through her screen performances in such recent hits as Foxcatcher and American Sniper. Miller, though not as successful as Stone, also did fairly well at the box office. She reached a high note in the final week, with a weekly gross of $935,989, although the credit is not due entirely to her of course, as a show generally picks up its ticket sales in the final week before closing. All in all, this revival of Cabaret can be considered a success, but the musical is such a classic that it almost supersedes the concept of success and failure. Whether or not the Tony committee chooses to recognize a revival of a revival, there will always be an audience delighted to see Cabaret.

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.

Celebrated Cabaret Revival Returning to Broadway

Michelle Williams

Michelle Williams

It’s not often that a revival is revived on Broadway, but the Roundabout Theatre Company’s 1998 Tony Award-winning revival of the musical Cabaret is returning to Broadway in 2014. What’s more, the production’s original star, Alan Cumming, will also be reprising his performance as the Emcee.

Starring alongside Alan Cumming will be Michelle Williams, the Oscar-nominated actress known for her work in films such as Brokeback Mountain and Blue Valentine. This will mark her Broadway debut.

“I’m delighted to be stepping back into the Kit Kat Klub one more time,” stated director Sam Mendes, “and to be having the opportunity to re-explore and re-discover this extraordinary musical alongside two equally extraordinary performers.”

Cabaret will start preview performances at Studio 54 (the same theater where the earlier production played) on March 21, 2014, with an opening night scheduled for April 24.

Alan Cumming and Audra McDonald Are Made in NY

Audra McDonald

Audra McDonald

Two of Broadway’s best will be honored with 2013 Made in NY Awards in a presentation at Gracie Mansion on June 10.  Audra McDonald (Porgy and Bess, Ragtime) and Alan Cumming (Macbeth, Cabaret), both Tony Award winners, are receiving these special awards, which recognize both people and organizations who have made notable contributions to NYC’s entertainment and media industries.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Media & Entertainment Commissioner Katherine L. Oliver will host the Made in NY Awards ceremony, which will include a performance from Broadway’s Kinky Boots (to be introduced by the show’s bookwriter, Harvey Fierstein).

“The honorees of the 2013 ‘Made in NY Awards’ have made New York City proud by establishing their remarkable careers here,” stated NYC Mayor Bloomberg. “They are a part of a community of thousands of New Yorkers who together have brought the City to the forefront of the entertainment and digital media industries, helping to make New York City an exciting and thriving place to be.”

Broadway Star Alan Cumming Releases Shakespeare Recording

Alan CummingJust as he prepares to take on William Shakespeare’s classic tragedy Macbeth (all by himself!) on Broadway at the Barrymore Theatre, Alan Cumming releases a new recording on which he tackles several of the Bard’s works. The Head That Wears a Crown, available from GPR Records, features Cumming reciting numerous speeches from Shakespeare plays.

On the 22-track album are many of Shakespeare’s most revered speeches, including “Now is the winter of our discontent” from Richard III, “Once more unto the breach” from Henry V, and “If music be the food of love, play on” from Twelfth Night, along with lesser-known passages.

The Head That Wears a Crown is already available for digital download, and it will be released in stores on April 23. Alan Cumming’s one-man Macbeth begins previews on April 7, with its official Broadway opening set for April 21.

Liza Minnelli and Alan Cumming To Perform at Town Hall

Liza Minnelli and Alan CummingTwo Broadway favorites, Liza Minnelli and Alan Cumming, will perform together in concert at The Town Hall next month. The concerts, to be held on March 13 and 14, will be in celebration of Liza Minnelli’s 67th birthday.

The pair are both well-known by Broadway fans for their turns in the musical Cabaret, though decades apart. Liza Minnelli starred in the 1972 film version of the Kander & Ebb classic, while Alan Cumming gave a memorable take on the Emcee in Sam Mendes’ acclaimed 1998 Broadway revival.

For their Town Hall concerts, which are based on an engagement they had on Fire Island this past summer, Minnelli and Cumming will sing both solo and together, sharing stories and jokes about show business and their personal lives.

For tickets and further information, click here.