A Rise in Thursday Matinees On Broadway

The traditional Broadway show week includes eight performances, typically with evening shows on Tuesday through Saturday, and matinees on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday.  For actors and crew, this means Monday off and a double show day on Wednesdays, or in cases with a Sunday evening show, this requires them to play for a five performance weekend.  However, Wednesday matinees have traditionally slow sales, and five performances over one weekend can be a lot for actors.  Therefore, producers have begun experimenting with changes to this performance calendar.  The most extreme change that several shows have begun instigating is a matinee on Thursday afternoon.Broadway thursday matinee show

In recent weeks, three musicals have begun to offer shows on Thursday afternoons: Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Mamma Mia!, and The Phantom of the OperaMatilda the Musical is reportedly also considering such a change.  In order to stick to Actor’s Equity rules of no more than an eight performance week (although sometimes they make exception for holiday periods, allowing nine performances in a week), the producers of each show have needed to alter the overall weekly schedule, and each show has done so differently.

Cinderella has opted to keep their Wednesday matinee in adding on a Thursday matinee, instead removing Tuesday evening performances.  As this musical caters to children, especially young girls, it makes sense that weekdays would be preferable to weekday evenings, as tourists on week-long vacations will be able to take advantage during the daytimes.  Mamma Mia!, on the other hand, has opted to remove their Wednesday matinee in adding on a Thursday matinee, and furthermore they offer a Monday 8:00pm performance in place of a Sunday matinee.  More of a date night fare, this show therefore offers 8:00pm showings every night except Sunday, with matinees on Thursdays and Saturdays.  Phantom of the Opera has chosen to do something very similar, with matinees on Thursdays and Saturdays, except that on Tuesdays their curtain is at 7:00pm.

A 7:00pm curtain has also begun to appear more and more frequently in recent years, which allows theatregoers to attend a late dinner after shorter shows, or instead to eat a very early dinner and get home earlier.  This decision to vary evening curtain times allows for the fact that theatregoers have differing schedules, avoiding the chance that someone will decide not to attend a show just because the hour at which it begins or ends does not work with their work or home schedules.

This addition of a Thursday matinee will be an interesting trend to watch.  It will allow theatre-loving tourists to cram more shows into a week if they happen to be in town for just a few weekdays.  Furthermore, if it is more successful than the Wednesday matinee has been, then it will show that people tend to have more flexible schedules later in the week.  In any case, this demonstrates that producers are trying to keep on top of changing trends and stay relevant to their audience community.

Mamma Mia! To Play on a Cruise Line

Mamma MiaIt was only recently that the smash hit Broadway musical Mamma Mia! moved into its new home at the Broadhurst Theatre (following a long run at the Winter Garden Theatre), but soon the internationally known musical will take to the high seas on the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.

Mamma Mia! will make its sea-faring debut on Quantum of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean ship equipped to carry more than 4,000 passengers. Currently under construction, the ship is expected to begin presenting Mamma Mia! on its stage in November of 2014.

Mamma Mia! is not the first Broadway musical to be produced on a Royal Caribbean ship. Hairspray, Saturday Night Fever, and Chicago have all previously played on the cruise line’s ships, providing passengers with Broadway-style entertainment on the open seas.

Mamma Mia! Will Move To The Broadhurst Theatre

Mamma MiaAfter well over a decade of playing at the Winter Garden Theatre, the long-running smash Broadway hit Mamma Mia! will transfer to the Broadhurst Theatre (currently home to the limited-run production Lucky Guy starring Tom Hanks). The transfer is expected to take place this fall.

“I’m thrilled that we have this opportunity to move Mamma Mia! to the Broadhurst Theatre in the heart of Times Square,” stated producer Judy Craymer. “As we celebrate 12 years and 5000 performances in New York, I’m thrilled that The Shubert Organization has created this timely opportunity, which will allow us to present Mamma Mia! to delight audiences on Broadway for many years to come.”

The Broadhurst Theatre has fewer seats than the Winter Garden, which may make more financial sense for Mamma Mia!  Though the musical remains popular, it has discounted its tickets for most of the show’s run, so it may benefit from playing in a smaller theater where there are fewer seats to sell. The Broadhurst also has better exposure in the high-traffic West 44th Street area of the theater district, as opposed to the Winter Garden which has less visibility to tourists given its location on the north end of Times Square.

Get a Taste of Broadway Today at a Free Broadway Concert

taste of broadway 2012 at the World Financial Center New York City

Stars of Broadway’s Mamma Mia Perform at Taste of Broadway 2012 at the World Financial Center New York City

United Airlines is sponsoring a free outdoor Broadway concert today, August 23, from 12:30-1:15pm in downtown Manhattan.  Hosted by Tony Award winners Judy Kaye and Michael McGrath, the concert will be held at the World Financial Center Plaza, located at 220 Vesey Street (between North End Avenue and West Street).

Designed to be a sort of “sneak peek” of the upcoming annual “Broadway on Broadway” concert, a free event held right in Times Square each September, this Taste of Broadway is scheduled to feature performances from five different Broadway musicals.  Though the schedule is subject to change, the shows currently on the docket are Chicago, Mamma Mia!, Nice Work If You Can Get It, Rock of Ages, and The Phantom of the Opera.

The show is being done in a bare bones format, so gone are all the great costumes and impressive sets, but what remains is the superb singing from these great Broadway actors that bring their characters to life on stage eight times a week.

Given the variety of participating Broadway shows, there will be a little something for everyone at Taste of Broadway, so it is an ideal opportunity for the downtown lunchtime crowd to enjoy a bit of music with their lunch.

Upcoming Broadway Musicals Spotlighted at Broadway in Bryant Park

Broadway in Bryant Park, the annual summer series that features lunchtime performances from Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, has an exciting schedule this month that will feature current Broadway shows alongside upcoming ones.  Held from 12:30pm to 1:30pm each Thursday through August 16, these free midday concerts are ideal for midtown workers and tourists who want to enjoy Bryant Park’s beautiful lawn while watching Broadway singers perform.

On August 2, long-running Broadway musical Mamma Mia! will be showcased, along with Off-Broadway hit Silence the Musical (a hilarious parody of The Silence of the Lambs), the British farce One Man, Two Guvnors, and the forthcoming bio-musical Chaplin.

August 9 will feature another long-running favorite, Chicago, along with the Off-Broadway revival of Rent (which is closing soon, so catch it now!), the new revival of Evita, and the upcoming Broadway musical Rebecca.

The last Broadway in Bryant Park concert of the summer, on August 16, will include the raunchy musical comedy Avenue Q, the delightful Gershwin charmer Nice Work If You Can Get It, and the high-energy musical Rock of Ages, along with two new Broadway shows:  Bring It On: The Musical and A Christmas Story.

Find out more about Broadway in Bryant Park and information about the park itself here.