“Doctor Zhivago” Concludes Run Early

Shuttered After Only 26 Previews and 23 Regular Performances

doctor zhivagoOn May 10, 2015, Doctor Zhivago played its last performance in a very short Broadway run, which began with the first preview on March 27, 2015. After the opening night on April 21, 2015, it became clear that Doctor Zhivago would not be surviving based on the commendation of the critics, as there was almost unanimous agreement that the show was not very good. Based on Boris Pasternak’s novel from 1957 of the same name, and immortalized on screen in the 1965 film directed by David Lean and starring Julie Christie and Omar Sharif, this epic musical set during the Russian Revolution just couldn’t cut it in this competitive Broadway season. Playing at the Broadway Theatre, the show was directed by Des McAnuff (700 Sundays, Jersey Boys, Jesus Christ Superstar), and choreographed by Kelly Devine (Rocky, Rock of Ages). In addition, the book is written by Michael Weller (Spoils of War, Loose Ends), with music by Lucy Simon (The Secret Garden), and lyrics by Michael Korie (Grey Gardens) and Amy Powers (Sunset Boulevard). Still, the pedigree of its creative team could not save this musical, which failed to receive any Tony nominations or pull any significant weight at the box office.

Unanimous Discontent Among Critics and Tony Votersdoctor zhivago

This show was the third to announce its closing following disappointing results from the Tony nominations. The first was Living on Love, which also received zero, and the second was The Heidi Chronicles, which only received one nomination for Elisabeth Moss, in the category of Best Actress in a Lead Role in a Play. Even with poor critical response, Tony recognition can sometimes save a show just enough by boosting its renown among theatregoers. In this case, Doctor Zhivago had no luck in either account. When the reviews came out, all major critics gave it a thumbs down. Charles Isherwood at The New York Times asked in his review, “Is it over yet?”, proclaiming the show to be turgid, baggy, and expositional. Frank Scheck of The Hollywood Reporter compared it to a poor man’s Les Miserables. David Cote of Time Out New York did the same, referring to Doctor Zhivago as a pale juggernaut in comparison. Jesse Green from Vulture wanted to affirm once and for all that sprawling European novels do not make good musicals, as evidenced by this failure. Furthermore, Joe Dziemianowicz from the New York Daily News called it an “epic miss.”

Struggles at the Box Office

In the show’s last week of performances, the week ending May 10, 2015, Doctor Zhivago reached its peak at the box office, which amounted to $537,474. That represented only 44.79% of its gross potential. With a top ticket price of $247.00, the average paid admission that week was $62.66. Even with such discounting, the average audience capacity was only 72.5%. Though these numbers are not as dire as some other shows that continue to run, the producers made the decision to close the show upon the announcement of the Tony nominations, as they could not imagine the musical gaining any more traction. With a capitalization of $12 million, the show was reported to have brought in a total gross of less than $2.7 million, not to mention running costs. However, there is still hope for the 50 odd producers, many of them first-time Broadway producers convinced to invest in this production, as the show may be able to make back some of its money on further productions and tours, both nationally and internationally. At least, the brand name should hold some weight on tours around the world.

“Doctor Zhivago” Begins Performances

Based on the 1957 Novel by Boris Pasternak

doctor zhivagoOn March 27, 2015, Doctor Zhivago began previews at the Broadway Theatre. Based on the 1957 novel of the same name by Boris Pasternak, this new musical first premiered in 2006 at the La Jolla Playhouse in California. In 2011, Des McAnuff (Jersey Boys, 700 Sundays, Guys and Dolls) took the helm as director for a touring production in Australia. That production received excellent reviews, finishing up its tour in Melbourne and then Brisbane. This 2015 Broadway production is also directed by Des McAnuff. In addition to the stage adaptation, Pasternak’s novel was adapted into a film in 1965 directed by David Lean, which won five Academy Awards including Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Score. The musical has a book by Michael Weller (Spoils of War, Loose Ends, Moonchildren), music by Lucy Simon (The Secret Garden), and lyrics by Michael Korie (Grey Gardens) and Amy Powers (Sunset Boulevard). This creative team therefore has an impressive pedigree, and the beautiful score shows this talent thoroughly. The Broadway production is choreographed by Kelly Devine (Rocky, Memphis, Rock of Ages). Official opening night is scheduled for April 21, 2015.

A Love Story from the Russian Revolution to World War Idoctor zhivago

Doctor Zhivago is epic in scope, set against the backdrop of a crucial period in Russian history, and yet it is deeply personal – telling the story of a woman loved by three men and a man loved by two women.  Lucy Simon’s score is as gorgeous as it is varied – the songs are stirring, sometimes even mesmerizing, and they help enormously to move this tale along efficiently and powerfully. The characters evolve over a long period of history; Lara (Kelli Barrett) is a vibrant and visceral female lead, as she undergoes significant development but always keeps her strong will. The role of Yurii Zhivago is played by Tam Mutu, making his Broadway debut. The fascinating role of Pasha is played by Paul Alexander Nolan, and he recurs in Act II as the vengeful Strelnikov. Other roles are played by Jacqueline Antaramian, Lora Lee Gayer, Sophia Gennusa, Jonah Halperin, Jamie Jackson, and Tom Hewitt (The Rocky Horror Show). Ultimately, this is a rich and compelling piece – it is a story of war and retraction of basic human rights, as well as love against all odds and devotion to artistic expression – compounded with a powerful score and a vastly recognizable title.

Presently at the Box Office

In the last reported week of box office figures, the week ending April 19, 2015, Doctor Zhivago brought in $464,613, which represents 41.48% of its gross potential. That remained almost exactly the same from the week before, which brought in 41.78% of its gross potential, though with one more performance. The audience capacity also remained fairly steady, increasing from 75.4% to 78.3%. However, the following week will incorporate the first post-opening figures, and it will remain to be seen whether the notices in the papers and online will contribute to theatregoers’ excitement about this piece, or whether the institution of Doctor Zhivago may not hold interest in this competitive Broadway season.

Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons On Broadway Opens

Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons on Broadway opens at the Broadway Theatre today.  The lives and music of the original four-man pop sensation inspired the massive hit musical Jersey Boys, which is just playing a couple blocks away at the August Wilson Theatre.  The limited engagement offers people an opportunity to see the real-life Jersey boy Frankie Valli singing songs that, decades later, remain part of the public consciousness.  “Sherry”, “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, “Walk Like a Man”, “Working My Way Back To You”, “December 1963 (Oh, What a Night)”, and “Who Loves You” are just a few of the classic chart-topping hits from the ’60s and ’70s made famous by Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.

Frankie Valli himself is the only remaining member of the original band who performs live, so the concert does not actually feature the original line-up.  But it is Valli’s clarion lead vocals that most people remember most when they think of the band’s songs, so no doubt Four Seasons fans will find the concert a treat.  They are only performing seven shows, from October 19-27.  To get tickets, visit www.telecharge.com or call 212-239-6200.  More information on the Broadway engagement is also available at www.frankievallionbroadway.com.