“Constellations” Concludes Its Run

Last Performance March 15, 2015

constellations-large-643x441On March 15, 2015, Constellations played its last performance at Broadway’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. Produced by the Manhattan Theatre Club, Constellations began performances on December 16, 2014 and officially opened on January 13, 2015. Upon closing, it had played 76 performances on top of 29 preview performances. The play starred Jake Gyllenhaal and Ruth Wilson, both making their Broadway debuts. Constellations is a new play by Nick Payne, a British writer whose last New York production, If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet, also starred Jake Gyllenhaal, but that time Off-Broadway in a Roundabout Theatre Company production. Constellations was directed by Michael Longhurst, who also directed the Roundabout play. This two-hander play premiered in London at the Royal Court Theatre in 2012, after which it transferred to the Duke of York’s Theatre in the West End. It earned strong reviews as well as the covetous honor of Best Play in the Evening Standard Theatre Awards, marking Nick Payne as the youngest writer whose play has ever received that honor. At one point, Payne disclosed that a film adaptation was in the works, but that plan has since been shelved according to a later interview.

Moderate Performance at the Box Officeconstellations

Over the course of its run, Constellations performed fairly well but not excellently at the box office. The highest weekly gross was earned in the closing week of performances, amounting to $704,605, which represents 85.83% of the gross potential. That week, the average ticket price was $120.53, and the audience was at an average 99.9% capacity. Furthermore, in the final three weeks of performances (as well as one week in January), Constellations played nine performances, whereas it had played three weeks of only seven performances each in the first month of its run. It is unclear whether this is due to scheduling conflicts, or designed so as to allow the performers to warm up to the heavy schedule. In any case, throughout the run, the weekly gross was more often around $500,000 per week, with the average paid ticket across the run being $98.87. Furthermore, the percentage reached of gross potential each week averaged out to 67.87%. Therefore, the show could have certainly performed better at the box office, but this is also not bad for a straight play with a small cast and no brand name title recognition, although it may have been thought to fare better due to the starry cast.

Overall Extremely Positive Reviews

Despite the only moderate success at the box office, the theatre critics loved Constellations. Following its opening night on January 13, 2015, the rave reviews poured in. Ben Brantley of The New York Times found the play to be gorgeous and emotionally devastating, praising the excellent performances and writing. Other critics were wowed by the production as well, including Time Out New York, Variety, the Hollywood Reporter, and NBC New York. Therefore, this goes to show that not all plays get the box office response that they deserve, but fortunately many people were able to catch this brilliant production in its New York rendition.

“Constellations” Opens on Broadway

Jake Gyllenhaal Reunites With Playwright Nick Payne

constellations-large-643x441On December 16, 2014, Constellations began previews at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, the Broadway venue for Manhattan Theatre Club. The play opened on January 13, 2015 to unanimously positive reviews. The play is a two-hander starring Academy Award nominee Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko, Brokeback Mountatin) and Golden Globe winner Ruth Wilson (The Affair). This production reunited Gyllenhaal with the playwright Nick Payne as well as the director Michael Longhurst, who all worked together on a Roundabout Theater Company Off-Broadway production of Payne’s play If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet in 2012. Both Payne and Longhurst are British theatre artists of great acclaim; Payne’s accolades include raves for Wanderlust and the Evening Standard Best Play Award for Constellations, and Longhurst has received great acclaim for his direction of works including Bad Jews, The World of Extreme Happiness, and Stovepipe.

The Critics Agree: This Show Is Phenomenalconstellations

Ben Brantley in The New York Times called Constellations “gorgeous” and the “most sophisticated” date play ever to be seen on Broadway. He commended the play for making physics seem sexy, and congratulated the production on inflating to fit the scale of Broadway beautifully. Adam Feldman in Time Out New York likewise loved the play, calling it “convincing,” lauding Gyllenhaal and Wilson for being “multiversatile,” and deeming Payne’s play smart without being dry. Marilyn Stasio in Variety found the play “dreamy” and “graceful,” comparing it to If/Then as another “Sliding Doors” style drama but deeming it much more successful at the approach. David Rooney in The Hollywood Reporter found the play “rich” and “emotionally direct,” distinguishing him from other British playwrights and deeming him a level above. In addition, Roberth Kahn from NBC New York praises the play as a solid entry into the canon of “multiverse” plays. Finally, Matt Windman from AM New York was more on the fence, but he entered the play skeptically unsure of why Gyllenhaal had such a thing for British playwright Nick Payne.

Will The Numbers Match the Buzz?

In the reported box office figures thus far, Constellations is off to a moderate start. Still, it should be noted that these weeks of figures do not yet take into account the effect of the post-opening reviews, as the last reported week ended on January 11, 2015, two days before Constellations’ opening night. In the week, the show brought in $336,203 over 7 performances, which represents 56.66% of the gross potential. In the week prior ending in January 4, 2015, the show brought in $478,445, representing 70.39% of the gross potential, which was the highest percentage yet. It is to be expected that these unanimously positive reviews will have some impact, even if moderate, on ticketbuyers. It has been noted before that positive reviews British plays tend to have a greater impact than their American counterparts even when comparably reviewed, perhaps as theatregoers are awaiting the American press’ response before deeming the ticket worth buying, or perhaps just because they hadn’t even heard of the play before it hits the papers.

Jake Gyllenhaal Stars in Off-Broadway Play

Film star Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain, Donnie Darko) is currently making his debut on the New York stage, but not on Broadway, as would be expected for a star of his fame.  Instead, Gyllenhaal has taken a role in the new Off-Broadway play If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet, produced by the non-profit Roundabout Theatre Company and playing at the Laura Pels Theatre.

Written by British playwright Nick Payne, If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet is about an overweight teen who is struggling with both school bullies and her family’s unsuccessful attempts to help her.  Jake Gyllenhaal plays the teen’s drifter uncle, with whom she develops an unexpected bond.

Also starring Brian F. O’Byrne, Michelle Gomez, and Annie Funke, If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet officially opens Off-Broadway on September 20 for a run that is scheduled through November 25.  For tickets, click here.