Dodger Theatricals’ Matilda Offers Discount Tickets At The TKTS Booth, But Nowhere Else

Matilda  on BroadwayMatilda the Musical, which has been playing on Broadway since spring 2013, is well on its way to establishing itself as a long-running hit musical.  After being nominated for thirteen Tony Awards and winning five, Matilda’s sales remained at full audience capacity for the majority of the summer, and the production has grossed well over a million dollars every single week since last April – until two weeks ago, when Matilda fell below the million-dollar mark.  Still, between the inclement weather and traditionally slower sales season of January to February, this is not necessarily a warning sign.  For instance, this past week it was the third highest show in terms of increase in gross from the previous week (up $220,225).

Matilda is one of the Broadway shows that is least frequently represented at TDF’s discount booth in Times Square. Dodger Theatricals, who partnered with the Royal Shakespeare Company to bring the musical over from London to Broadway, initially chose to discount at the booth for only a handful of performances in these past two weeks. The discount was only in the range of 30 to 40 percent (other shows often discount 50 percent). But recently they have started discounting the maximum allowed at the booth, which is the full 50 percent. Oddly, they opted to offer discounts only at the Times Square booth, not online or at the other TDF stations at South Street Seaport and Brooklyn.  This bespeaks a hit show, with an odd twist – only a hit show has the luxury of declining the opportunity to discount, as ticket-buyers will be more willing to purchase at full price.  It makes sense that producers tend to minimize their discounts in order to maximize their gross potential and recoup their investments as quickly as possible, but show some desperation in going to the maximum discount allowed.

matilda broadway discount

Still, this raises the question of when and why producers should choose to discount.

Matilda has been hovering around 90 percent capacity for the past few weeks, and yet it did not always choose to discount – instead preferring to leave tickets unsold to create a manipulated ticket market by having less inventory.  It is a tricky balance – and one of the greatest challenges of shepherding a show as producer throughout its run – to choose when to discount, and when to hold out for full-price sales and risk leaving seats empty.  Broadway general managers devote countless man-hours to calculating the precise percentages and platforms on which to offer discounts in order to maximize gross potential.  But this decision-making isn’t all quantitative, there is also the qualitative concern of a show’s brand image.

Producers generally believe that when a show appears at the booth, ticket buyers will consider it to be less of a hit.  For instance The Book of Mormon, widely known to be a tough ticket, never appears at the booth.  Though Matilda sold over $12 million in tickets while it was still in previews, it hasn’t yet announced recoupment on its $16 million capitalization.  Once a show is in profits, producers can breathe a little more easily, but at this stage Dodger Theatricals may still be treading carefully.  Brand image is especially important in light of the fact that Matilda announced its US National Tour two weeks ago; the tour will kick off at Los Angeles’ Ahmanson Theatre in May 2015.  It is important for out-of-town visitors to feel that Matilda is such a hot show that even if they don’t manage to snag a ticket during their trip to the city, they will be very excited to attend when the musical visits their hometown.  Therefore, even if selling the remaining 10 percent of seats at a discount may lead to a higher gross in the short term, such a choice could harm the show’s brand image over time.

Matilda The Musical

If producers do not discount anywhere else, they may choose to offer the show at the TDF booth because it is an easy last-minute option.  Unlike discounts offered through NYTix or telecharge e-blasts, which require the advertising agency to design a flyer and the general managers to advise on timing well in advance, producers can turn to the booth in a pinch if they notice one particular performance is particularly low in ticket sales.  Furthermore, booth discounts are not widely advertised; unlike direct mail discounts that arrive at homes around the country or ticket blasts that are sent to a slew of inboxes, the booth is a fairly private way to advertise discounts to tourists or New Yorkers who happen to show up that day and are rewarded with a whopping 50% discount on tickets to Matilda, something you cannot find anywhere else.  TDF’s website only shows discounts from the past weel, and then they disappear from record, which also protects the brand from dilution.

Still, in offering discounts only at the Times Square TKTS booth and not on the internet or in-the-mail offers, are the Matilda producers favoring tourists and isolating locals from the lower priced tickets? Even Dodger Theatricals choice of the Times Square TKTS over the South Street Seaport and Brooklyn TKTS booths seems to yell at New Yorkers to stay away. Its true that locals can access the Times Square booth if they so choose, although it  tends to be considered by most as a dire tourist destination, avoided by locals in almost all circumstances. Also, If it wasn’t bad enough already, the huge pedestrian construction in Times Square right now is a further impediment to locals venturing there in search of those discount tickets. Therefore, Dodgers Matilda discount ticket strategy effectively prevents locals who cannot, or choose not to, pay full price from seeing the show.  In contrast, local New Yorkers actually keep the Broadway industry alive during the soft months, but Dodger Theatricals tendency to prefer the booth over online discounts or other forms of direct response,  may very well be ostracizing the regular ticket buying market, the very life blood of Broadway ticket sales.  Every Broadway show, however, eventually wears out its unattainability, and it can be expected that in the next year or two, New Yorkers will have easier access to affordable Matilda tickets as Matilda ticket sales are not showing anywhere the same steep sales yield curve as The Book Of Mormon did at the very beginning of their run. A show cannot survive on discounting at the TKTS booth alone, unless Dodgers are in fact out to prove that it can. It wouldn’t be the first time that the Dodgers have flown in the face of conventional wisdom.

Next month sees Disney’s Aladdin open and Matilda will soon face some stiff competition from Disney, who are the masters in this genre. The Dodgers do have a success on their hands in Matilda, just not the runaway success they had hoped for.

Grammys Nominate Motown, Matilda, and Kinky Boots

Motown the Musical Broadway ShowThe 56th Annual Grammy Awards recently announced this year’s nominees, and as usual Best Musical Theater Album is the category that gets the attention of the Broadway community. This year the category has just three entries, all Broadway shows. The trio of nominees are three of the biggest hits on Broadway to open last season: Motown the Musical, Matilda: The Musical, and the Best Musical Tony Award winner Kinky Boots.

The recent film adaptation of the musical Les Miserables was also represented among the Grammy nominees, with the deluxe edition of the movie soundtrack getting a nod in the Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media category.

The Grammy Award winners will be announced on January 26, 2014, when the ceremony is broadcast live on the CBS network from Los Angeles.

Cast of Broadway’s Matilda To Perform at Barnes & Noble

Matilda Broadway MusicalThe hit British import Matilda is celebrating the release of its original Broadway cast recording with a special CD release event at the Upper East Side location of Barnes & Noble (86th Street and Lexington Avenue) on October 24 at 3pm.

Members of the current Broadway cast of Matilda the Musical will both perform and sign copies of the CD at the event. The recording is already available digitally, with the CD scheduled to be released to stores on October 22.

Available on the Broadway Records/Yellow Sound label, the Matilda Broadway cast recording comes in both standard and deluxe versions. In addition to the 24 tracks on the standard edition, the deluxe two additional numbers, the cut song “Perhaps a Child” and a recording of “Naughty” sung by all four of the young girls who play the role of Matilda on Broadway.

Pippin and Matilda Take Top Drama Desk Awards

Pippin Broadway MusicalThe Drama Desk Award winners were announced yesterday, and a wide variety of Broadway and Off-Broadway shows and performers were honored. While the Tonys, which exclusively honor excellence in Broadway theater, are the best known theater awards, the Drama Desk Awards recognize a broader range of shows, considering excellence in all New York City theater, from Broadway to small Off-Off-Broadway productions.

The well-reviewed British musical Matilda did well, taking Drama Desks for Outstanding Musical, Featured Actor (Bertie Carvel), Set Design (Rob Howell), Book (Dennis Kelly), and Lyrics (Tim Minchin). The Broadway revival of Pippin also scored big, earning Outstanding Revival of a Musical, Director (Diane Paulus), Featured Actress (Andrea Martin), and Choreography (Chet Walker and Gypsy Snider). Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, which won Outstanding Play, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, which won Outstanding Revival of a Play, also enjoyed plenty of recognition.

Here Lies Love was the biggest winner among the Off-Broadway shows, earning Outstanding Music, Lighting, and Projection Design awards. Michael Urie in Buyer & Cellar won for Outstanding Solo Performance, and Old Hats (starring Bill Irwin and David Shiner) received the Outstanding Revue award.

2013 Tony Award Nominations Announced

Kinky Boots Broadway ShowThe Tony nominations were announced this morning, and the new musical Kinky Boots came out ahead of the pack with 13 nods, including Best Musical, Direction, Choreography, Original Score, Book, and, of course, Best Costumes. Close behind was the rave-reviewed British musical Matilda, with 12 nominations.

The Broadway revival with the most Tony Award nominations was the Stephen Schwartz musical Pippin, which earned 10 noms. With 8 nominations, Golden Boy was the play revival that fared the best. Lucky Guy had the most nominations (6) of any new play, and star Tom Hanks earned a nod for Actor in a Leading Role.

The Tony nominees will battle it out on June 9 when the Tony Award ceremony takes place. The awards will take place at Radio City Music Hall and will be aired in a three-hour broadcast on CBS.

Stars of Broadway’s Matilda To Be Given Tony Honors for Excellence

Matilda Broadway MusicalThis past week the Tony Awards Administration Committee came together to determine various eligibility issues concerning shows from this Broadway season. One of the most anxiously awaited rulings was whether or not the four young performers who alternate in the title role of the musical Matilda will be eligible to share a Best Performance by an Actress in a Musical nomination. But though Billy Elliot had set a similar precedent when its three stars were nominated (and won), the committee decided not to allow Matilda‘s Milly Shapiro, Oona Laurence, Sophia Gennusa, and Bailey Ryon eligibility in the Best Actress category. Instead, the quartet will be given Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre because the committee felt that the young ladies deserved recognition for their “outstanding performances”. This makes the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) – Who developed the show – and Dodger Properties (The Producer of the show on Broadway) very happy as they can take this four-way Tony accolade all the way to the bank by squeezing the marketing juice out of this guaranteed honor pre and post Tony’s, making it unlike any other Tony award given this year.

Other decisions made by the committee included declaring Orphans eligible for Best Revival of a Play (even though it didn’t previously appear on Broadway), disallowing the Motown score award eligibility, and deciding that neither Manilow on Broadway nor The Rascals will be eligible for nomination. Most of the other decisions involved whether certain performers would be eligible in Leading or Featured acting nominations.

Upcoming Broadway Musical Matilda Has Found Its Stars

The forthcoming Matilda the Musical has finally found the young ladies who will play the role of the title character — all four of them.  Sophia Gennusa, Oona Laurence, Bailey Ryon, and Milly Shapiro are the talented performers who will alternate in the part of the musical’s bright young heroine.  Each of the actresses is making her Broadway debut.

Already a big, award-winning hit in London, Matilda the Musical comes to Broadway’s Shubert Theatre this spring.  The show will begin its preview performance period on March 4, 2013, with its official Broadway opening set for April 11.  The pint-sized performers will be joined onstage by Bertie Carvel, the Olivier Award-winning actor who is going to reprise the role of Miss Trunchbull, which won him so much acclaim in London.

Matilda the Musical has a score by Tim Minchin and a book by Dennis Kelly.  Tony winner Matthew Warchus directs the production.