“Once” to Close on January 4, 2015

The Little Irish Musical That Could

poster Once Broadway Musical white black guitarThe 2012 Tony Award winning Best Musical Once has scheduled its closing date: January 4, 2015. This marks the culmination of a true success story for this simple show dealing with complex emotions. The journey began with the 2007 musical film of the same name that was written, composed, and performed by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. The stage adaptation with book by Enda Walsh, music and lyrics by Hansard and Irglova, direction by John Tiffany, and movement by Steven Hoggett began its New York life Off-Broadway at the East Village’s New York Theatre Workshop. Ecstatic reviews allowed the show to transfer to Broadway’s Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, where it began performances on February 28, 2012 and opened on March 18, 2012. It entered a competitive season filled with large-scale musicals with brand recognition such as Evita, Porgy and Bess, Newsies, and Nice Work If You Can Get It. Nevertheless, Once stood out from the pack due to its relatable story, brilliant score, beautifully subtle performances, and magical orchestral staging, and it took home eight Tony Awards, including the coveted honor of Best Musical.

The Future for “Once”

Cristin Milioti and Steve Kazee in Once the Broadway Show

Cristin Milioti and Steve Kazee in “Once”

In addition to its New York productions, Once began its run in London’s West End in March 2013, and it is scheduled to run there until March 2015. That followed a pre-West End run in Dublin, Ireland in February 2013 where it received much acclaim. Furthermore, the United States national tour began in October 2013, and it is scheduled to continue until August 2015. Recently, on September 26, 2014, a production of Once opened in Melbourne, Australia, where it is scheduled to run until November 16, 2014. Also in late November of this year, the cast from the U.S. tour will fly to Japan for an engagement of several weeks. Though this will be in English, there are future plans for a Japanese language version as well. The first foreign language production of Once will commence in Seoul, South Korea in December. Furthermore, a production is scheduled to begin in February 2015 in Toronto, Canada. Other countries on the horizon for Once include Holland, Greece, Thailand, Brazil, Sweden, the Czech Republic, and Ireland – the last two of which directly relate to the cultural exploration in the show itself.

With Decreasing Grosses, Closing Was Only a Matter of Time

After cleaning up at the Tony Awards, Once regularly brought in over one million dollars each week in the middle and end of 2012. In 2013, the show’s grosses began in the $900,000 range, soon decreased to $800,000 and then $700,000, and then fluctuated between the $500,000 and $700,000 range through to the beginning of 2014. Over the course of this year, however, grosses have been more in the $400,000 to $500,000 range per week, and the show even reached the low of $355,062 in the week ending September 28, 2014. On October 7, 2014, the show’s closing date was announced. Though the musical has already recouped its capitalization and has been earning profits, with such low weekly grosses it has become difficult for Once to meet its weekly running costs and justify remaining open. However, with many other profitable productions in the pipeline, the producers and creators are sure to continue to profit from their fantastic achievement. And it is also very likely that grosses will rise in the last few months of the run, as ticketbuyers realize this may be their last chance to see Once on Broadway anytime soon.

Drama League Winners Announced

drama leagueThe 80th Annual Drama League Awards Ceremony took place today, May 16, 2014.  The luncheon was held in the Broadway Ballroom at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square.  Though the Drama League Awards are not considered to be as high an honor as the Tony Awards, it is definitely an immense distinction to earn a Drama League Award, and they are often thought to point to the direction that the Tony Awards may be leaning.  Led by executive director Gabriel Shanks, the Drama League Awards are the oldest theatrical honors in America, having been given since 1922, and formally awarded since 1935.  The Tony Awards, on the other hand, were founded in 1947.  They are distinguished from all other major awards because they are chosen by audience members, specifically the thousands of individuals who make up the Drama League membership from all around the country.

And now for the winners!  The award for Distinguished Production of a Musical was given to A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, which is also nominated for the equivalent Tony category, and which has been nominated for the greatest number of Tony Awards: 10.  This adds momentum to the Tony campaign for this new musical, whose competitors for thea gentleman's guide to love and murder a new musical comedy Tony category of Best Musical are Aladdin, After Midnight, and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.  The award for Distinguished Production of a Play was given to All the Way by Robert Schenkkan.  Starring Bryan Cranston as Lyndon Johnson, the play is a historical drama recounting the era of civil rights struggles in the 1960s.  The Distinguished Revival of a Musical was chosen to be Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and the Distinguished Revival of Play was determined to be The Glass Menagerie.  The Drama League only gives one Distinguished Performance Award, which was awarded to Neil Patrick Harris for his performance in the title role of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Furthermore, Barbara Cook was given an award for Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theatre.  At the age of 86, Cook was last seen on Broadway in 2010 for Sondheim on Sondheim, and she is well known for her roles in such shows as Plain and Fancy, Candide, and The Music Man.  In addition, the award for Unique Contribution to the Theatre was given to John Gore of Key Brand Entertainment and Broadway Across America.  Gore founded Key Brand Entertainment in 2004, and acquired Broadway Across America in 2008, as well as the e-commerce theatre website Broadway.com.  As a theatre producer, Gore’s Broadway credits include Bullets over Broadway, Betrayal, Jerusalem, Passing Strange, One Man Two Guv’nors, The Mountaintop, and many more.  Finally, the Founders Award for Excellence in Directing was given to John Tiffany, who directed The Glass Menagerie this season.  Of Scottish origin, Tiffany has only three Broadway credits, the first of which was Once, winner of the 2012 Tony Award for Best Musical and a long-running hit.  He also directed Alan Cumming’s one man show Macbeth last year.

The Glass Menagerie Concludes Its Run On Broadway

The Glass MenagerieThe critically lauded revival of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie finished its 24-week Broadway run this past Sunday, February 23rd 2014.  Starring Zachary Quinto (Angels in America, TV’s Heroes) as Tom, two-time Tony winner Cherry Jones (The Heiress, Doubt) as his mother Amanda, Celia Keenan-Bolger (Peter and the Starcatcher) as his sister Laura, and Brian J. Smith (The Columnist) as the gentleman caller Jim, the production swept critics and audiences away with an essentially perfect record of critical acclaim.  Following its opening on September 26, 2013, audiences flocked to the theatre, allowing the show to recoup its $2.6 million investment with seven weeks remaining to reap profits.

Revivals are not always successful on Broadway, as it takes a truly eloquent reimagining for an older work to strike a chord with critics and audiences alike.  Director John Tiffany, who along with his award-winning design team from Once, crafted a magnificent recreation of Williams’ vision by surrounding the Wingfield family apartment with a pool of reflective black liquid.  The play made numerous top 10 lists at the end of 2013, celebrating this as a landmark production of the American masterpiece.

The production attracted a wide demographic due to the play’s classic status and national familiarity.  With its original New York production in 1945, this play became the first major work by Tennessee Williams and has now been produced a total of seven times on Broadway.  Williams is also renowned for plays such as the Pulitzer Prize winning A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, both of which have been revived numerous times, including in the past two years.  The Glass Menagerie was also adapted into two Hollywood films; the more well-known version, directed by Paul Newman in 1987, starred Joanne Woodward (Amanda), Karen Allen (Laura), John Malkovich (Tom), and James Naughton (Jim).

Williams is known as an autobiographical writer; as legendary director and frequent Williams collaborator Elia Kazan once said, “Everything in his life is in his plays, and everything in his plays is in his life.”  The Glass Menagerie is understood to mimic his life even more so than his other writing, as Williams (whose real first name is Tom) grew up with his neurotic, Southern belle mother not unlike the character Amanda, and his older sister named Rose who, like the character Laura, suffered from physical and mental instability throughout her life.  In writing this piece, Williams coined the term “memory play,” granting a poetic freedom to real life that has enabled this work to be particularly resonant.

This production transferred to Broadway from its original staging at Boston’s American Repertory Theatre, produced by Jeffrey Richards, John N. Hart, Jr., and Jerry Frankel.  The frequent producing team Richards and Frankel are represented this upcoming spring season with the following productions: Robert Schenkkan’s All The Way starring Bryan Cranston; Marsha Norman and Jason Robert Brown’s musical The Bridges of Madison County starring Kelli O’Hara and Steven Pasquale; Will Eno’s The Realistic Joneses starring Toni Collette, Michael C. Hall, Tracy Letts, and Marisa Tomei; and Lonny Price’s Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill starring Audra McDonald.