“It Shoulda Been You” Closes on Broadway

Final Performance Sunday, August 9th at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre

it shoulda been youOn March 17, 2015, It Shoulda Been You began previews at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. The official opening night took place on April 14, 2015, in time for consideration for the 2015 Tony Awards. However, the show received no Tony Awards nominations. Although they did receive the chance to perform a number from the musical at the awards ceremony, word of mouth never picked up to an adequate degree following this exposure, and ticket sales remained mediocre throughout the run. Therefore, at the end of June, it was announced that the final performance for this wedding musical with a twist would be Sunday, August 9, 2015. The show is conceived by Barbara Anselmi, with a book and lyrics by Brian Hargrove, and a musical score by Barbara Anselmi. Furthermore, the show was directed by David Hyde Pierce, who happens to be the husband of Brian Hargrove. Though he did not appear onstage, David Hyde Pierce was by far the biggest name involved with the production, as he is renowned for his acting roles in such television shows as Frasier, such films as Wet Hot American Summer and The Fisher King, and such Broadway productions as Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Curtains, and La Bête. Nevertheless, having this name behind the scenes did not boost ticket sales for the show as much as if he had been onstage.

Mixed Reviews for a Fun-Loving Wedding Comedyit shoulda been you

When It Shoulda Been You opened on April 14, 2015, it received mixed reviews. Ben Brantley of The New York Times commenced his review with the single word, “Oy.” This musical comedy set at a Jewish wedding did not win over this prestigious critic, who concluded his review by stating that the latter day twist (of the gay element) did not make this cocktail of clichés any less flat. The New York Post likewise stated that the show “lacks laughs” in the headline, finding the songs disposable and the plot twist improbable. The New York Daily News gave the show two stars out of five, calling it a harmless diversion that “shoulda” been better. Marilyn Stasio in Variety found it awfully funny, but admitted that nothing was particularly clever about the show. Vulture found the show not quite dead of laughs, but rather on life support. Entertainment Weekly gave it a B-, admitting that the grande dames of this show – Tyne Daly and Harriet Harris – deserve some applause. In any case, the overwhelming sentiment of these reviews is one of disappointment, and that did not allow this show to stick around for long enough to make its money back.

Mediocre Box Office Throughout the Run

In the final week of ticket sales, the week ending August 9, 2015, It Shoulda Been You made its highest weekly gross of the run. With a gross of $494,033, the show brought in 49.85% of its gross potential, and filled up an average of 84.9% of the audience. With a top ticket price of $197.00, the average paid admission was $71.85. However, at the low point of the run, the show only brought in $272,693, which represents 27.51% of its gross potential. All in all, the show never appeared to have the makings of a box office hit. However, the show’s capitalization was fairly low compared to most shows, and though the Broadway run will not make profits, the future market for licensing this show is optimistic. With a low cost to run and a fun-loving family sentiment, It Shoulda Been You may be a top pick for regional and amateur theatre licensing, allowing the investors to make back a bit more of their money.

Deaf West “Spring Awakening” Comes to Broadway This Fall

Acclaimed Los Angeles Production of Tony Winning Musical

deaf west spring awakeningIn a surprise move, the Deaf West Theatre Company production of Spring Awakening has announced that it will come to Broadway this fall. Following the announcement that It Shoulda Been You will be closing on August 9, 2015 and vacating the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, the producers of Spring Awakening revealed that they will be taking advantage of the opportunity to move the production out east. With previews beginning on September 8, 2015, and an official opening night scheduled for September 27, 2015, Spring Awakening is scheduled to run for an 18 week limited engagement with a closing date of January 9, 2016. Spring Awakening premiered on Broadway in December 2006, and it conquered the 2007 Tony Awards by winning eight awards of their 11 nominations, with the wins including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, Best Direction of a Musical, and Best Choreography. Spring Awakening has music by Duncan Sheik (American Psycho) and book and lyrics by Steven Sater. The original production was directed by Michael Mayer with choreography by Bill T. Jones. Though this production will step back onto the Broadway stage less than a decade later, it will be a very different Spring Awakening.

Deaf West Theatre Company’s Second Time on Broadwaydeaf west spring awakening

The Deaf West Theatre company was founded in Los Angeles in 1991, since which time they have been dedicated to producing theatre made for deaf and hearing audiences both, utilizing both deaf and hearing actors. The highest profile show of theirs to date was Big River, the Huckleberry Finn tale which transferred to Broadway in 2003 and was nominated for Best Musical. That year, the Deaf West Theatre company was also given an honorary Tony Award for their contributions to theatre. This production of Spring Awakening will be the second Deaf West production to make it to Broadway. Spring Awakening, which is based on an 1891 German play of the same name by Frank Wedekind, tells a story about teenagers reckoning with inner and outer tumult and dealing with their own burgeoning sexuality. One of the main themes is the teenagers’ difficulty communicating with parents who do not understand them, and that is one reason why the show is a particularly apt choice for a Deaf West production. This production, directed by Arden, premiered in Los Angeles at Inner-City Arts and then transferred to Beverly Hills’ Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, where it concluded its run on June 7, 2015. After receiving rave reviews, the show decided to move to Broadway.

The Beauty of Using Both Hearing and Non-Hearing Performers

According to Charles McNulty’s rave review in the Los Angeles Times, this production is a very successful reimagining of the modern classic, going above and beyond the mere fact of using deaf performers as well as hearing performers. The choice of which characters are to be played by hearing actors, or non-hearing actors, or sometimes both, is very thoroughly conceived. For example, one of the lead roles, a young woman named Wendla, is portrayed by two actors – one hearing, and one non-hearing who uses sign language. Therefore, we are able to step inside her head even more than usual, understanding the alienation and fear she is encountering while also listening to the beauty of these feelings expressed in song. However, the male lead of Melchior is played solely by one actor who sings his heart out. Overall, this production seamlessly integrates the complex logistics of this sometime dual casting, while making the audience completely suspend disbelief as they are lead into the heart of this beautiful ensemble story.

“It Shoulda Been You” Box Office Unmoved By Reviews

Tyne Daly Stars In This Untraditional Wedding Comedy

it shoulda been youThis past week, the week ending May 24, 2015, It Shoulda Been You brought in $378,180 at the box office. This is a decrease from the first full week following the show’s opening on April 14, 2015. In the week ending April 26, 2015, which is the first week of eight performances after the post opening reviews hit the press, the gross was $447,362. However, a month later, the grosses are dragging, and this isn’t looking good for a musical that received no Tony nominations in an exciting period of Broadway theatergoing, when many other shows are buzzing from the awards season. It Shoulda Been You has a book by Brian Hargrove and a score by Barbara Anselmi, both of whom are making their Broadway debuts with this musical. The show had a pre-Broadway trial run at the George Street Playhouse in 2011, and then transferred to Broadway this season. The biggest name involved is the director, David Hyde Pierce, who is well known for his acting roles both on screen (“Frasier,” Nixon), as well as stage (Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, La Bete, Curtains). This, however, is his Broadway directorial debut. As it happens, Brian Hargrove, the book writer, is his life partner. Nevertheless, Pierce and team have constructed an entertaining, unconventional, if still not utterly exhilarating, piece of musical theatre.

Difficulty at the Box Officeit shoulda been you

For this past week’s gross of $378,180, the show brought in only 38.16% of its gross potential. The greatest percentage reached of this potential thus far was the week ending April 26, 2015, when the show brought in $447,362, representing 45.14% of its gross potential. Still, the following week saw a decrease in ticket sales of $97,081, bringing the weekly box office down to $350,281. In the week following, it increased slightly, and then increased even more slightly the week after that, but this past week saw a decrease again of $40,236 from the week before. Therefore, this show is demonstrating no level of increased interest from the reviews, which were decidedly mixed. It did not help that It Shoulda Been You received no Tony nominations, and is a relatively small scale musical with few big names attached. The biggest star in the show is Tyne Daly, who plays the mother of the bride, and whose other Broadway credits include Mothers and Sons, Master Class, and Rabbit Hole. Though she is a fairly important name on Broadway, that isn’t generally enough to sway ticket sales when many other shows feature big Hollywood stars. The other main actors are Sierra Boggess (Master Class, The Little Mermaid), Harriet Harris (Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Thoroughly Modern Millie), and David Burtka (Gypsy, The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?). None of these names are large enough to have much impact on the box office, and with poor reviews and no Tony Awards recognition, this show may have difficulty maintaining even the low box office it has been achieving thus far.

Mixed Reviews from Critics

Ben Brantley of The New York Times did not like It Shoulda Been You, found the show aggressively bubbly. Meanwhile, Adam Feldman of Time Out New York felt that the only way to enjoy this musical was to deceive oneself that one is watching a lost TV show from the 1970s, denoting that the show feels dated. Steven Suskin from the Huffington Post proclaimed that the show was only laudable for its load of Jewish related humor. Robert Kahn from NBC New York enjoyed the campy nature of the show, and also found the cast to be a dream team for a musical about a wedding. Only Frank Scheck from The Hollywood Reporter was fully in favor of this show, relishing in the modern twist presented by this otherwise traditional proceedings. However, these reviews were overall not very positive, and are certainly not a major incentive for ticket buyers in this otherwise very enticing Broadway season.

“It Shoulda Been You” Begins Previews

David Hyde Pierce Directs, Tyne Daly Stars

it shoulda been youOn March 17, 2015, It Shoulda Been You began previews at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. The musical comes to Broadway after a critically acclaimed run at the George Street Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey. The show marks David Hyde Pierce’s Broadway directorial debut. As an actor Pierce has appeared on Broadway in many shows including Spamalot, La Bête, and Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. This is in addition to his numerous screen credits, most notably TV’s “Frasier.” The musical has book and lyrics by Brian Hargrove (who happens to be David Hyde Pierce’s husband) and a score by Barbara Anselmi. This marks the Broadway debuts of both Hargrove and Anselmi. This wedding musical comedy stars Tyne Daly (Mothers and Sons, Master Class, Gypsy) as the mother of the bride, Sierra Boggess (Master Class, The Little Mermaid) as the bride, Harriet Harris (Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Present Laughter) as the mother of the groom, and David Burtka (Gypsy, husband of Neil Patrick Harris) as the groom.

Further Cast and Creative Teamit shoulda been you

Additional roles are played by Montego Glover (Memphis, The Color Purple) as the bride’s maid of honor, Lisa Howard (Priscilla Queen of the Desert, 9 to 5) as the sister of the bride, and Edward Hibbert (Mrs. Warren’s Profession, The Drowsy Chaperone) as the wedding planner. The show is choreographed by Josh Rhodes (Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella, First Date), and the musical director is Lawrence Yurman (On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, Grey Gardens). In addition, the scenic design is by Anna Louizos (Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella), the costume design is by William Ivey Long (On the Twentieth Century), the lighting design is by Ken Billington (Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway), and sound design is by Nevin Steinberg (Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella), who happens to share the same last name as the bride’s family in this musical comedy.

A Wedding Comedy Gone Awry

In It Shoulda Been You, two families of different backgrounds come together for the wedding of their son and daughter. Rebecca Steinberg, the bride, comes from a very Jewish family, whereas Brian Howard, the groom, comes from a WASPier clan. The groom’s mother loves to drink, and the bridge’s mother loves to kvetch. Not only do the parents clash immediately, but there are other tensions brewing beneath the surface. Ultimately, the bride’s sister needs to come to the rescue, as she realizes her sister has gone too far and the secrets need to be revealed. The show is scheduled to open on April 14, 2015, and it is presently set for an open-ended run.

“Love Letters” Opens on Broadway

Just Six Preview Performances

love letters posterOn September 13, 2014, A.R. Gurney’s play Love Letters had its first preview at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. After just six previews, on September 18, 2014, the show had its official opening. Whereas most shows usually run for three or four weeks of previews before inviting the press to review the show, denoting its official opening, Love Letters took a different approach. The reason is that the show is cast with a rotating selection of actors, all who are at the top of their trades. As the show is read rather than memorized, which they can get away with due to the conceit of letters, there is less left to chance than with most shows, so fewer preparatory performances were needed. Moreover, as this preliminary cast – Mia Farrow and Brian Dennehy – is only slated to appear until October 10th (with Dennehy continuing on until November 8th), it was necessary for the press to be invited early on, so theatregoers would have a chance to see the cast represented in the reviews for a few weeks after the reviews came out.

A Rotating Cast of Stars

This is the second time Gurney’s epistolary play has been seen on Broadway – the first time was in 1989. The 2014 revival is directed mia farrow brian dennehy love lettersby Gregory Mosher, who is presently the artistic director of Lincoln Center Theatre, and who has directed such Broadway shows as That Championship Season, A View From The Bridge, and James Joyce’s The Dead. Like in the first production of Gurney’s play, the show is performed with a rotating cast of stars, taking turns in the two-hander. As mentioned, the first duo is Mia Farrow and Brian Dennehy, and on October 11th Carol Burnett will step in to read with Dennehy. Brian Dennehy is a Broadway star best known for his portrayal of Willie Loman in Death of a Salesman. Farrow, on the other hand, hasn’t been seen on Broadway since 1996, but she is renowned for film performances in such movies as Rosemary’s Baby. On November 8th, the pair will be replaced by Alan Alda and Candice Bergen, and on December 6th the duo will be played by Stacy Keach and Diana Rigg. Finally, from January 10th to February 1st, the run will conclude with the roles played by Anjelica Huston and Martin Sheen.

Mixed Reviews, Tending Toward the Positive

The reviews spanned the spectrum, with critics either praising the durability of the revival along with the star performances, or panning the show for being glorified staged reading. It is true that the actors have not memorized their lines, which is why the producers were able to woo such esteemed actors, and so many of them, to do the parts. Furthermore, as these actors have busy film schedules, the short stints allowed many of them to take on the roles when they would have normally been unable to commit to a Broadway show. Therefore, the balance works out, as long as the audience doesn’t mind seeing the actors with their glasses donned and reading the parts from the pages of the letters. Fortunately, it is all about the letters, and the story was commended for its tribute to a now old-fashioned form of communication in this age of email and text messaging. The play was reported as being quietly moving and deceptively simple, while the performances were lauded for the depths they managed to reach.

Peter and the Starcatcher Celebrates Pirate Day With Free Ticket Offer

“International Talk Like a Pirate Day,” founded by humor columnist Dave Barry, is coming up on September 19, and the Peter Pan-themed show Peter and the Starcatcher has come up with a unique way to celebrate it.  In tribute to the play’s own pirate, Black Stache, Peter and the Starcatcher will have a special “Stache Day” on that date.

In honor of “Stache Day,” Peter and the Starcatcher will give out free tickets for that night’s performance to the first 100 people wearing mustaches (they can be real or fake) who line up at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre (located at 256 West 47th Street) on the morning of September 19.  The tickets will be distributed at 10:00AM, and only one ticket can be claimed per person.

To encourage fans to come bearing their most impressive mustaches, Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson (the authors of the book on which Peter and the Starcatcher is based), as well as the actor who plays Black Stache, Matthew Saldivar, will choose the three best mustaches.  Those people will each be given a pair of tickets, plus a backstage tour at the performance that evening.