Jason Alexander Replaces Larry David in “Fish in the Dark”

Box Office Takes Major Dip With David’s Departure

jason alexander larry davidFish in the Dark has been one of this season’s major hits. Written by and starring Larry David, the creator of Seinfeld and creator / star of Curb Your Enthusiasm, this play marked the household name’s Broadway debt. The theatre going audience was riveted by this new face on the big stage, as the box office receipts were immediately excellent right out of the gate, and stayed that way until Larry David’s final performance on June 7, 2015. This was the same day as the Tony Awards. Although Fish in the Dark was not honored with any awards or nominations, there was a nod to the stardom of Larry David as he was given the honor of presenting the most coveted award and the final award of the evening: that for Best Musical. He presented this award to Fun Home. Despite this lack of accolades, Fish in the Dark was an undeniable box office success. It announced recoupment of its initial capitalization on May 20, 2015. It brought in over one million dollars every week, with rising weekly grosses as the run went one, from the first full week of performances ending February 15, 2015 until Larry David’s final week ending June 7, 2015. However, the moment Jason Alexander stepped in on June 9, 2015, the box office took a major dip. In his first week, the week ending June 14, 2015, the show saw a decrease in ticket sales of $403,563 from the week before. Though Jason Alexander is also a major star, he is also a much more prevalent face on Broadway, and fans were just not as excited to pay top dollar to see him.

Three Weeks of Piddling Grossesjason alexander larry david

In the three weeks of full performances since Alexander took over, the weekly grosses have remained fairly constant. Following the week ending June 14, 2015 with the weekly gross of $842,633, there was the week ending June 21, 2015 with a gross of $849,330, and then this past week ending June 28, 2015 had a weekly gross of $848,378. In this past week, the average paid admission was $107.66, which is still higher than many plays on Broadway, but it is a sharp decrease from the average paid admission in David’s final week, which was $142.98. Whereas David was regularly filling up the audience to an average capacity of 101.5%, the weekly average audience capacity since Jason Alexander took over have averaged about 90%. Finally, while the average percentage reached of gross potential during David’s run was about 114%, the percentage reached of gross potential since Alexander took over has been about 81%.

Keeping It in the “Seinfeld” Family

When Jason Alexander played George Costanza on Seinfeld for many years, he was reportedly written to be a character based on Larry David himself. It is therefore appropriate that he should replace David in the role he wrote and played himself in his Broadway debut. Alexander is a common name on Broadway. He was in the second cast of The Producers opposite Martin Short, when Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane departed the production. He has also appeared in Accomplice, Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, Broadway Bound, The Rink, and Merrily We Roll Along. Most of these roles were before his Seinfeld days, so he left his established position of appearing onstage when he became a sitcom regular. At this point, however, he is returning to his stage roots, combined with the creative source that made him a household name as well. However, he just isn’t able to sell tickets the way Larry David can. Alexander continues with the show until its final performance on August 1, 2015.

“Skylight” and “Fish in the Dark” Recoup

Tony Winning Revival “Skylight” Recoups Its Investment

skylight posterAmong the shows this season that have earned enough profits to recoup their initial capitalization, Skylight managed achieved this crucial marker of success in the week before the Tony Awards. The show has been running in previews since March 13, 2015 at the John Golden Theatre, and its official opening night was on April 2, 2015, after which it earned magnificent reviews. Skylight has been regularly bringing in grosses between $700,000 and $800,000 per week since this opening, with the highest weekly gross yet achieved this past week, the week ending June 14, 2015: $865,346. For the first time, the show broke through the 100% of gross potential mark, bringing in 100.85% of its gross potential with an average paid admission of $134.87. Though it was not revealed what the initial capitalization was for this show, the producers Scott Rudin and Robert Fox have done well for themselves, as recoupment was announced on May 31, 2015. It may have helped that this week the highest paid admission was raised from $297.00 to $323.00, but it is nevertheless undeniable that audience members were keen to catch this show before its closing next week on June 21, 2015.

Tony Snubbed Play “Fish in the Dark” Also Recoupslarry david  jason alexander

Unlike Skylight, which recouped after earning rave reviews and significant recognition from the Tony committee, Fish in the Dark achieved this honor after earning none of the other accolades. Fish in the Dark, written by and starring Larry David, began previews on February 2, 2015, and opened on March 5, 2015 at the Cort Theatre. This play has more than just financial success in common with Skylight; both plays are also produced by Scott Rudin, who certainly knows how to pick them. Fish in the Dark received a mixture of negative and blasé reviews, and it was not nominated for a single Tony award. However, Larry David still had the honor of presenting the Tony Award for Best Musical at the ceremony, alongside Jason Alexander who has recently replaced him in the starring role of Fish in the Dark. Despite a lack of success in the press and awards, the play achieved success in the way that ultimately matters most to producers: financial success. Recoupment was announced on May 20, 2015. Although the producers would not specify what the capitalization was, Variety speculated that it was between $3 million and $4 million, due to the large cast and A-list talent involved. The highest gross achieved thus far by Fish in the Dark took place in the week ending June 7, 2015, the week approaching the Tony Awards, when it brought in $1,246,196, representing 119.73% of its gross potential. The top ticket price is a whomping $497.00, and the average paid admission that week was $142.98. Still, since Jason Alexander took over in the following week, grosses have significantly diminished.

Skylight’s Tony Success

Skylight was nominated for seven Tony Awards, but only won one; still this was arguably the most coveted of the awards for which it was nominated: Best Revival of a Play. The other nominations it received were Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play for Bill Nighy, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play for Carey Mulligan, Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Play for Matthew Beard, Best Scenic Design of a Play for Bob Crowley, Best Lighting Design of a Play for Natasha Katz, and Best Direction of a Play for Stephen Daldry. Daldry, who also directed the highly acclaimed and financially successful The Audience, was nominated just for Skylight. However, in this case the Tony voters believed that the whole was greater than the sum of its parts, for it won the Tony Award that sums them all up: Best Revival. Fish in the Dark, on the other hand, received no Tony Awards, but made an even bigger splash at the box office with weekly grosses over $1 million every week in which Larry David appeared.

“Fish in the Dark” Opens on Broadway

Mixed to Negative Reviews Despite Record Box Office

poster fishEven before it began previews on February 2, 2015, Fish in the Dark has been performing extraordinarily at the box office. This new play written by and starring Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm, co-creator of Seinfeld) broke the advance box office record for a straight play by bringing in $13 million prior to the first performance. Ticket buyers were therefore buying blind, as the show was not reviewed until this morning, following last night’s opening on March 5, 2015. Unfortunately for those who have already invested an average of $300 per ticket, the show was received somewhat poorly by professional critics. The most notorious and respected theatre critic, Ben Brantley of The New York Times, gave it a complete flop, and even those that responded positively to the play did so with the caveat that it was Curb Your Enthusiasm extended and for the stage, primarily interesting for pre-existing fans of David’s television accomplishments. Directed by Anna D. Shapiro (This is Our Youth, Motherf**ker with the Hat), the play stars David along with Jayne Houdyshell, Rosie Perez, Rita Wilson, Ben Shenkman, Jerry Adler, and many others in the large ensemble cast.

Rounding Up the Criticsfish in the dark

Ben Brantley of The New York Times claims to have laughed fully only one time in the entire play, faulting the show for being a glorified live witnessing of a celebrity in the flesh. Robert Kahn of NBC New York was slightly more forgiving, but still admitted the stage play felt like an overextended sitcom, mostly appropriate for diehard Larry David aficionados. Nevertheless, the charm that has earned David so many adoring fans seems to affect even high profile critics, as others gave the show positive remarks even while discussing similar opinions to Brantley. David Cote of Time Out New York grandiosely compared Fish in the Dark to an ancient Greek tragedy, praising the offensive honesty of the Seinfeld creator. David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter observed a slightly more recent ancestor to David’s stage creation, comparing him to Neil Simon and the fluffy comedy surrounding the Jewish American family. Rooney also discerned the “pure sitcom” nature of the play, but did not criticize it for this cross-genre flavor, instead proclaiming that this show is a bona fide hit no matter how the reviewers respond. As a reviewer, therefore, Rooney is basically foregoing his responsibility to remark on the quality of the show, instead kowtowing to the established record-breaking box office as indicator of “hit” status.

Well Above 100% of Gross Potential

In the four weeks that box office has been reported thus far, Fish in the Dark has performed remarkably. Furthermore, the rest of the run is reportedly almost sold out, so the reviews were truly moot, whether future committed audience members like it or not. In the most recent reported week, the week ending March 1, 2015, the show brought in $1,159,537 over the course of eight performances, which represents 115.27% of its gross potential. Over the course of previews, the show never made less than 113.39% of its gross potential. With a top ticket price of $423.00, the average paid admission thus far has been around $133.00. This shows that no discounting has taken place, and instead diehard fans are paying premium and inflated prices for the chance to witness David’s Broadway debut.

“This Is Our Youth” Opens on Broadway

Critics agree: Kenneth Lonergan’s Broadway debut is a hit!

this is our youthDirected by Anna D. Shapiro, This Is Our Youth opened this past Thursday, September 11, 2014 at the Cort Theatre to rave reviews.  Starring three young actors portraying three lost youths, this play is the Broadway premiere of a play that originally played Off-Broadway in 1996.  This marks the Broadway debut for all three cast members.  Michael Cera plays Warren Straub, a dejected 19 year-old who has robbed his father and gotten kicked out of his home when the play opens.  Cera is best known for his screen work such as television’s Arrested Development and films including Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and Juno.  He plays opposite Kieran Culkin in the role of Dennis Ziegler, an aspiring cocaine entrepreneur. Culkin is best known for his roles in Igby Goes Down and a small part alongside his brother Macaulay in Home Alone.  The third cast member making her Broadway debut is Tavi Gevinson, who plays Jessica Goldman, an anxious yet insightful student of fashion who is pursued by Warren.  Tavi recently transitioned into acting from her precocious career as a fashion blogger and model, with such credits as Enough Said.

A Long Time Coming for Kenneth Lonergan

Kenneth Lonergan has been entertaining audiences of stage and screen for over 30 years.  This Is Our Youth was the first title that kenneth lonerganbrought him acclaim, earning a Drama Desk Award nomination for Best Play in 1996.  His play The Waverley Gallery was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 2001.  As a filmmaker, both writer and director, he won the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize in 2000 for You Can Count on Me, which was executive produced by Martin Scorsese.  That film won countless more writing awards such as the Los Angeles Film Critics Award for Best Screenplay as well as the AFI Award for Best Film and Best New Writer.  He co-wrote the screenplay for Gangs of New York in 2002, which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Screenplay.  In addition, he wrote the screenplay for the 1999 film Analyze This and the 2002 film Analyze That, and his other plays include Lobby Hero and The Starry Messenger.  However, despite all this acclaim, this is the first time one of his plays has been seen on Broadway.

Excellent Reviews, But the Box Office is Still Behind

this is our youth castCritics were unanimous in their praise of this Broadway premiere.  Ben Brantley of The New York Times called Anna D. Shapiro’s production “sensational,” and praised the performers for their acrobatics.  Entertainment Weekly called it a “crackling Broadway revival,” and AM New York deemed it Chekhov meets Gossip Girl.  All in all, the reviews were laudatory.  However, the box office is still slow.  The latest box office report only took into account two days after the reviews came out, so there is still time for word of mouth to spread and for theatregoers to find their way to the Cort Theatre during the run.  In the week ending September 14, 2014, This Is Our Youth only grossed $372,793, which represents 49.85% of its gross potential.  This is approximately how well the show has been doing since it began previews on August 18, 2014.  It’s possible that the young actors Kieran Culkin and Michael Cera are not popular names with the usual Broadway going audience, and that their fanbases are having difficulty affording Broadway tickets.  But this is still hope that word will spread that this is a show worth seeing for all demographics.

Larry David’s “Fish in the Dark” Headed to Broadway

A Broadway Debut as Actor and Playwright

larry david

Larry David, the creator of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm and co-creator of NBC’s Seinfeld, is making his Broadway debut as actor and playwright.  Fish in the Dark will begin previews on February 2, 2015 at the Cort Theatre, and the show will officially open on March 5, 2015.  The play will be directed by Anna D. Shapiro, who won a 2008 Tony Award for her helming of August: Osage County.  This season, Shapiro is directing Kenneth Lonergan’s This is Our Youth, which is produced by Scott Rudin.  Rudin is also behind Fish in the Dark, and he was also the producer of Shapiro’s staging of Motherf**ker with the Hat in 2011.  The scenic design will be by Todd Rosenthal (This Is Our Youth, Of Mice and Men), the lighting will be designed by Brian MacDevitt (A Delicate Balance, This Is Our Youth), and costume design is by Ann Roth (A Delicate Balance, It’s Only a Play).

A Super Cast for David’s Debut

anna d shapiro

Anna D. Shapiro

David’s play is not a one-man show; rather it is said to have about 15 characters, though it is not clear how many actors play these characters.  So far, the further cast members who have been announced are Jayne Houdyshell (Tony-nominated for her roles in Well and Follies), Jake Cannavale (the Broadway debut of the son of Bobby Cannavale), Jerry Adler (Taller than a Dwarf, Play Me a Country Song), Jonny Orsini (Macbeth, The Nance), and Rosie Perez (The Ritz, Reckless).  Anna D. Shapiro directed Bobby Cannavale in Motherf**ker with the Hat, so it is all too fitting that she is also the director of the show in which his son Jake makes his Broadway debut.

David’s First Play as an Adult

Larry David says this will be the first play in which he has performed since the age of 8.  He said that he has often thought of writing a play, though he has rarely thought of appearing in a play.  However, he is talented at writing characters similar to himself, and this play certainly includes a character that can be described in that way.  In fact, he says that character may just be him with a different name.  In any case, it has not yet been announced what that name is, nor have all of the details been disclosed about the story or the rest of the characters.  The New York Times reported that David has said the play involves a death in the family.  More information will come to light as the spring season approaches.

“This Is Our Youth” Begins Previews on Broadway

Kenneth Lonergan’s Broadway Debut

this is our youthThroughout his writing career, Kenneth Lonergan has had countless successes for stage and screen, including the Pulitzer Prize nominated play The Waverley Gallery, the Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner and Academy Award Best Screenplay nominee You Can Count on Me, and the Academy Award nominated Best Screenplay Gangs of New York.  Still, this is the first time his work has been seen on Broadway.  This Is Our Youth began previews on August 18, 2014 at the Cort Theatre, starring Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin, and Tavi Gevinson.  The play’s official opening will take place on September 11, 2014.  It is the story of three lost youths, taking place in 1982 in New York City.  The play originally premiered Off-Broadway in 1996 produced by the New Group, when it starred Josh Hamilton, Mark Ruffalo, and Missy Yager.  It has also been produced in the West End with an array of stars including Freddie Prinze, Jr., Anna Paquin, Casey Affleck, Jake Gyllenhaal, Matt Damon, Colin Hanks, Hayden Christensen, and Heather Burns.

Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin, and Tavi Gevinson

The Broadway production of This Is Our Youth is directed by Anna D. Shapiro (August: Osage County, Motherf**ker with the Hat).  This this is our youth castproduction originated in Chicago at the Steppenwolf Theatre, prior to arriving on Broadway.  Michael Cera and Kieran Culkin are longtime collaborators, having starred in these same roles in a production of This Is Our Youth in 2012 at the Sydney Opera House.  They also co-starred in the film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.  All three young actors are making their Broadway debuts.  Michael Cera is best known for his screen comedic roles such as the television show Arrested Development as well as films including Juno, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Superbad, and This is the End.  Kieran Culkin is a well-known actor for roles in such films as Igby Goes Down and Music of the Heart.  Furthermore, he is renowned as the younger brother of Macaulay Culkin, and he also previously acted in a film written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, Margaret.  Tavi Gevinson is only 18 years old, but she has already had a celebrated career as a fashion blogger and model.  She only recently turned to acting, appearing in films such as Enough Said.

Young and Adrift

this is our youth posterThe play takes place in an apartment in the Upper West Side of Manhattan in 1982.  Dennis Ziegler is a cocaine dealer and friend to Warren Straub, a 19 year-old who has just been kicked out of his house and stolen $15,000 from his alcoholic father.  When a young fashion student named Jessica Goldman comes over to the apartment, Warren hopes that he can entice her to sleep with him with his newfound load of cash.  The play is bitingly realistic and insightful about issues of adolescence and maturity, and these three actors are sure to bring a fresh and vibrant take on the material to the Broadway stage.  The play is produced by mega-producer Scott Rudin, who often uses his power to bring high quality material to the stage that might not otherwise be seen by such large-scale audiences.  Interestingly, he has already made one creative marketing move: the marquee outside the theatre appears as if the sign for This Is Our Youth was illegally taped over the sign for the show that was previously in the Cort Theatre – the recently shuttered The Cripple of Inishmaan starring Daniel Radcliffe.  Incorporating the show’s themes of rebellion and youth, this marketing ploy is sure to cause a few heads to turn.

“The Cripple of Inishmaan” Concludes Its Run

Daniel Radcliffe Takes His Final Bow

The Cripple of Inishmaan Daniel RadcliffeThis year’s revival of Martin McDonagh’s Irish dark comedy The Cripple of Inishmaan played its final Broadway performance at the Cort Theatre on Sunday, July 20, 2014.  The production was directed by Michael Grandage and starred Daniel Radcliffe, the British Harry Potter star who has recently performed on Broadway in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Equus.  The play’s American premiere was in 1998 at the Public Theater, and it also enjoyed a 2008 revival by the Atlantic Theater Company.  Though this was the show’s first time on Broadway, it was considered a revival for purposes of Tony consideration.  At the 2014 Tony ceremony, the production received six Tony Award nominations: Best Revival of a Play, Best Direction of a Play (Michael Grandage), Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play (Sarah Greene), Best Sound Design of a Play (Alex Baranowski), Best Lighting Design of a Play (Paule Constable), and Best Scenic Design of a Play (Christopher Oram).

A Critical But Not Commercial Success

Beginning performances on April 12, 2014, The Cripple of Inishmaan officially opened on April 20, 2014.  Over the course of its 114 performances, the show performed adequately but not excellently at the box office.  In its final week of performances, the show saw an upsurge in ticket sales, concluding with a weekly gross of $740,711, which represented 76.35% of the show’s gross potential that week.  Unfortunately, that was the highest weekly gross of any week throughout the show’s run.  Though Radcliffe’s last two Broadway outings played to more fanfare and commercial success, this may prove that even such undeniable star power may not attract audiences to a little known Irish straight play with a puzzling title.  It is to Radcliffe’s credit, however, that he seems to be selecting his roles not based on their spectacle or pizzazz but rather for his genuine interest in their artistic merit.

Daniel Radcliffe, The Gentleman

Though this production was a financial wash, it was a critical smash.  Critics loved the revival, with Ben Brantley of The New York daniel radcliffe selfie what ifTimes calling the production “splendid,” and the ensemble “first-class.”  Though this production was not a commercial success, it did not slow down Radcliffe’s career for a second.  On Monday, July 21, 2014, the night after closing The Cripple of Inishmaan, he flew to Toronto to premiere his new film at the Scotiabank Theatre, What If co-starring Zoe Kazan.  Furthermore, the good-natured movie star took the time to take selfies with his fans outside stage door following the final performance, demonstrating his impressive ability to remain genuinely kind-hearted and appreciative of his devotees, despite his immense fame.