“Kinky Boots” Takes an Unusual Hiatus

Kinky Boots has been playing at the Al Hirschfield Theatre on Broadway since it began previews on March 3, 2013.  With a book by Harvey Fierstein (La Cage aux Folles, Newsies, Casa Valentina), a score by the singer songwriter Cyndi Lauper, and directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell (Legally Blonde: the Musical, The Rocky Horror Show revival), the musical is based on the 2005 film of the same name and inspired by a true story.  Kinky Boots is the sensationalized tale of a young man struggling to keep his father’s boot factory afloat in England, only to resuscitate it as a maker of boots for drag queens.  In addition to winning the Tony Award for Best Musical in 2013, it also took home the Tony Awards for Best Score, Best Actor (Billy Porter), Best Sound Design of a Musical, Best Choreography (Jerry Mitchell), and Best Orchestrations (Stephen Oremus), with an additional seven nominations.  Needless to say, the show is a hit, consistently playing to well over a million dollar grosses.

In a generally unprecedented move, Kinky Boots took a brief hiatus this past week.  Between May 8, 2014 and May 13, 2014, the show went dark, but the theatre did not.  Univision, the American Spanish language television station that boasts one of the largest audiences of SpKinky boots broadwayanish speaking television viewers in the world, rented out the Al Hirschfield Theatre over this period, during the time that the show would have played a full week of eight performances.  The only reason this was possible was because of Univision’s monetary power, as they not only paid for the theatre rental, but additionally paid the producers and theatre owners for the lost revenue in ticket sales over the eight performances in the 1,437 seat venue.  Furthermore, they also compensated the actors and stage crew, who were paid for their vacation as if they had been playing a regular performance week.  Exactly what Univision used this space for is unclear, but press statements affirm that the network used the theatre for upfront presentations.

In anticipation of this dark period, the producers of Kinky Boots – Daryl Roth and Hal Luftig – adjusted the performance schedule in weeks leading up to the break.  As a result, the weekly gross reports show an extraordinary decline for Kinky Boots.  In the week ending May 11, 2014, the show only grossed $668,658.  Though this may not be that low for other shows, even for other musicals, that represented a loss for Kinky Boots of $808,892 from the week before, when it earned $1,477,550.  The highest weekly gross that the show has earned thus far is $2,247,240, when it played nine performances in the week ending December 29, 2013.  As for eight performance weeks, its weekly gross record is $1,912,568 from the week ending December 1, 2013, when it made an extraordinary 124.61% of its gross potential.  Nonetheless, the show has still been grossing well above one million dollars throughout all of 2014 so far, and it looks to continue to be a favorite pick among visitors to New York City.

Broadway Bares Raises $1,430,241 for Broadway Cares

Broadway BaresThe 23rd edition of the popular “Broadway Bares” benefit brought in a record high of funds, raising $1,430,241 for the charity Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Held on June 23 at New York City’s Roseland Ballroom, “Broadway Bares: United Strips of America” brought together 220 of the city’s dancers to show off their skin for a good cause. The event’s theme centered around the idea of a couple taking separate journeys through several U.S. states.

Along with the dancers, “Broadway Bares” featured appearances from numerous Broadway actors and singers, including Billy Porter, Alan Cumming, Christopher Sieber, Max von Essen, Charl Brown, and Jim Newman, as well as American Idol‘s Adam Lambert. Recent Tony winner Judith Light (The Assembled Parties) also made an appearance, as did Andy Cohen of the Bravo network.

Since its modest beginnings with just a few dancers stripping on a bar in 1992, “Broadway Bares” has raised over $11.3 million for BC/EFA. The annual event was created by Broadway director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell (Kinky Boots, Hairspray).

The Drama League To Honor Bernadette Peters and More

Bernadette PetersSince 1922, The Drama League Awards have been recognizing excellence in Broadway and Off-Broadway theater, making them America’s oldest theatrical honors. This year, the Drama League — which includes thousands of members across the nation — is bestowing special honors on beloved Tony Award-winning actress and singer Bernadette Peters, acclaimed director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell, and The Rockettes (known of course for their yearly appearance in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular).

Bernadette Peters (Follies, Gypsy, Annie Get Your Gun) is being given the Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theatre Award for her decades-long contribution to the art form (her first appearance on Broadway was in The Most Happy Fella in 1959). Jerry Mitchell, who is currently represented on Broadway by the new musical Kinky Boots, is receiving The Founders Award for Excellence in Directing. The Rockettes, along with Madison Square Garden Entertainment, are being given the Unique Contribution to the Theatre Award for their longstanding contribution to the promotion of live theater.

The 79th Annual Drama League Awards will be held on May 17 at the Marriot Marquis (home of Broadway’s Marquis Theatre) in Times Square. Visit www.dramaleague.org for more information.

The Honeymooners Becoming a Musical

Michael McGrath

The famed 1950s sitcom The Honeymooners will step onto the musical theater stage in September 2013 at The Old Globe in San Diego.  This new musical version of The Honeymooners features a book by Bill Nuss and Dusty Kay, lyrics by Peter Mills, and music by Stephen Weiner.  Jerry Mitchell (Hairspray, The Full Monty) will serve as both director and choreographer.

Taking on the iconic role of Ralph Kramden, made famous by Jackie Gleason, is Michael McGrath, the actor who recently won a Tony Award for his performance as a tough guy bootlegger in Nice Work If You Can Get It on Broadway.

The musical features the classic TV show’s beloved characters, Ralph, his wife Alice, Ralph’s best friend Ed Norton and Ed’s wife Trixie.  However, the musical’s plot is an original storyline in which Ralph and Ed enter a jingle competition and, surprisingly, they win, bringing the blue collar Brooklyn guys into the world of Madison Avenue.