For the last several years, Broadway has embraced the Christmas holiday season with special limited-run shows designed specifically to entice holiday crowds. How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Elf, and A Christmas Story have all provided warm-hearted Christmas-themed cheer to Broadway audiences.
However, this winter, it appears that while there will be at least a couple of holiday friendly musicals in New York City, they won’t be playing in Broadway theaters. A Christmas Story, which was at Broadway’s Lunt-Fontanne Theater last year, will play instead at the Theater at Madison Square Garden, which has been a popular venue for other holiday fare like a musical version of A Christmas Carol.
As usual, Radio City Music Hall will have its Radio City Christmas Spectacular featuring the Rockettes. But neither How the Grinch Stole Christmas (which was on Broadway in 2006 and 2007) nor Elf (which played Broadway’s Al Hirschfeld Theatre in 2010 and 2012) currently plan to come to NYC. Instead, both shows will tour large regional theaters around the country.
This will be the first time since 2006 that Broadway hasn’t featured a limited-run holiday-themed show (unless something changes in the next couple months). The success of several show’s from Broadway’s spring season means that fewer theaters are available, which may be one reason for the lack of Christmas spirit on the Great White Way this year. Whether or not this is just a blip in the holiday Broadway show trend remains to be seen.
Several Broadway shows end their runs today. After taking advantage of the holiday crowds over Christmas and New Year’s, these Broadway shows determined that it wouldn’t be worth it to continue running through the traditionally slow months of January and February. Of the five, Elf was the only holiday-specific show and had no reason to run any longer, though it may return to Broadway again next Christmas.
Dead Accounts and Grace were the only two straight plays among today’s Broadway closures. Despite boasting film stars (Katie Holmes in Dead Accounts and Paul Rudd in Grace) in their casts, both shows struggled to sell more than a middling number of tickets throughout late autumn and early winter.
A play with music, War Horse was a popular and highly acclaimed show that enjoyed a healthy run but decided to close once ticket sales were starting to run out of steam. Chaplin, on the other hand, one of the first musicals to open this season, had a difficult time during its entire run. Leading man Rob McClure enjoyed a great deal of positive buzz for his performance, but it wasn’t quite enough to create the great reviews and sensational word-of-mouth that a new musical typically needs to succeed.
TDF’s Autism Theater Initiative (ATI) has announced that it will be presenting autism-friendly performances of Broadway shows in the coming year. These performances will be performed in a supportive environment for an audience made up of children and adults on the autism spectrum, as well as their friends and family. The productions themselves may include slight adjustments, such as the reduction of jarring sounds or disturbing lighting effects (such as strobe lights). The lobby of the theater will have designated quiet areas and activity areas, where autism experts will be on hand if any audience members feel the need to leave the theater during the performance.
“When we piloted this program we had a sense that there was a large audience of families in need of this service,” said Executive Director of TDF, Victoria Bailey. “After the first performance it was clear that our presumption was true. Watching families experience live theatre together for the first time in an environment that was safe and supportive is a truly emotional and gratifying experience.”
Four Broadway shows are currently scheduled to present autism-friendly performances in 2013: Elf, the Musical on Saturday, January 5 at 2pm; Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark on Saturday, April 27 at 2pm; The Lion King and Newsies on Fall 2013 dates to be determined. Tickets for the Elf performance are already on sale at www.tdf.org/elf.
Starting with tonight’s performance, the Broadway musical Elf will be celebrating its own version of the ’12 Days of Christmas’ in honor of the holiday season. At the conclusion of select performances of the Christmas-themed musical taking place between now and December 13, a member of the show’s cast will choose a random seat number. The person sitting in that seat will win a prize, courtesy of a participating partner.
The prizes being given away (each of which is worth at least $250) include a dessert class at chocolatier Jacques Torres, a $250 Macy’s gift card, a spa package, a $500 luxury designer gift basket, a Hard Rock Cafe prize package, a two-night stay at Doubletree Metropolitan, a Warner Brothers DVD package, and a M&M’s World prize package.
These are the performances in which the special prizes will be given away: 11/27 at 7pm, 11/28 at 2pm & 7pm, 11/29 at 7pm, 12/4 at 7pm, 12/5 at 2pm & 7pm, 12/6 at 7pm, 12/11 at 7pm, 12/12 at 2pm & 7pm, and 12/13 at 7pm. All one has to do to be eligible is buy a ticket to see Elf on Broadway on one of those dates and times. Furthermore, even the audience members who don’t win the special prize at those performances will still get an assortment of offers from the show’s participating partners.
A New York City holiday tradition for 86 years, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is also a great showcase for another NYC staple, Broadway musicals. This year’s parade, which will air on NBC from 9am to noon on Thursday, November 22, is going to showcase five of this season’s Broadway musicals: family-friendly shows Annie and Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Christmas-themed Elf, the Matthew Broderick-starring Gershwin showcase Nice Work If You Can Get It, and the competitive cheerleading musical Bring It On.
Of course the hallmark of the Thanksgiving parade remains the massive balloons and parade floats that make their way along the parade route from the Upper West Side down to 34th Street. But performances from Broadway shows add a little musical spark to the proceedings. Given the broadcast’s enormous national ratings, this gives the featured shows tremendous exposure to potential ticket buyers. Bring It On in particular, which has struggled to fill seats, is likely to enjoy a box office boost due to its on-air performance.