“It’s Only a Play” Opens on Broadway

Ticket Sales Anticipate Reviews

it's only a playOn October 9, 2014, It’s Only a Play opened at Broadway’s Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, after having played 48 preview performances since the first on August 28, 2014. Generally, an opening night is vital for a show to gain traction after reviews hit the press, but in this case, the reviews were all but unnecessary. The show is already almost completely sold out until the end of its run, currently scheduled for January 4, 2015. In every single week that the show has been running, it has brought in over 100% of its gross box office potential, due to premium ticket sales on top of outstanding regular priced sales. Discounts are not part of the equation in this case. In the first partial 5-performance week ending August 31, 2014, the show earned 112.45% of its gross potential. In the full 8-performance weeks following, the show has unfailingly passed the million dollar mark on each occasion. In order, from the week ending September 7, 2014 until the most recently reported week ending October 12, 2014, the weekly grosses were: $1,163,626, $1,230,603, $1,277,059, $1,261,025, $1,248,660, and $1,173,896. The reason for this outstanding box office performance can be summarized in two words: star power.

Chock Full of Stars

With regards to attracting ticketbuyers, the most important names associated with this production are its actors. First of all, the it's only a play castproduction reunites Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick who made Broadway history with their performances in 2001’s The Producers. Beyond the combination of this power duo, each has individually earned a remarkable series of accolades, including two Tony Awards a piece: Lane earned the Best Actor honor for The Producers and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and Broderick earned the same for Brighton Beach Memoirs and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. They are joined by Stockard Channing, who came to fame with the film Grease, and earned a Tony Award for A Day in the Death of Joe Egg. In addition, F. Murray Abraham won an Academy Award for 1985’s Amadeus and is a seasoned veteran of stage and screen. Furthermore, the cast includes Rupert Grint making his Broadway debut, and yet he may hold the honor of having been seen by the most eyeballs due to his starring as Ron in the Harry Potter franchise. On top of the stellar cast, rounded out by Megan Mullaly and Micah Stock, the playwright Terrence McNally has had a remarkable 21 productions of his plays on Broadway, and the director Jack O’Brien has helmed at least 26 shows on Broadway (winning three Tony Awards with an additional seven nominations), also serving as the artistic director of the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego from 1981 to 2007.

Critical Appreciation, with Some Reservation

In general, the reviews are positive though some are mixed. In particular, Ben Brantley of The New York Times saw through the starry exterior and reviewed the play on its merits. He remarked how McNally revised the script to be more up-to-date. As the play, originally written in 1982, has some antiquated references, newer stars such as James Franco, Rosie O’Donnell, and Denzel Washington were swapped in for their written predecessors. Most notably, the respected theatre critic Frank Rich was swapped out for none other than Brantley himself. He responded to this fact with sufficient grace and only mild resentment, explaining that the entire premise of the play was to throw mud at famous names, whether those of critics or actors. In any case, he was fully aware that his review would not be affecting ticket sales, which are already more victorious than any written assessment of the play’s merits could expect to be.

“It’s Only A Play” Begins Performances on Broadway

An All-Star Cast

it's only a playNathan Lane and Matthew Broderick are back at it again.  The hilarious team behind The Producers has reunited for Terrence McNally’s It’s Only a Play, which began previews on August 28, 2014 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre.  Directed by Jack O’Brien (The Nance, The Coast of Utopia), the play will officially open on October 9, 2014, and is slated to run for a limited engagement until January 4, 2015.  The play premiered Off-Off-Broadway in 1982, and then Off-Broadway in 1986 produced by Manhattan Theatre Club; this is the play’s Broadway premiere.  Not only does the cast feature The Producers dream team Broderick and Lane, but it also includes Academy Award winner F. Murray Abraham, Emmy and Tony Award winner Stockard Channing, Harry Potter film star Rupert Grint making his Broadway debut, Emmy Award winner Megan Mulally, and a newcomer named Micah Stock.  This all-star cast is sure to make a huge splash in this upcoming Broadway fall season.

Already a Financial Success

In fact, the box office is already showing a lot of promise.  In the first week of only 5 performances, the show grossed a total of it's only a play cast$793,046, which is 112.45% of its gross potential.  With a top ticket price of $225, the average ticket was a remarkable $146.81.  This is especially impressive given that the play has not yet been reviewed, nor has it appeared on Broadway before.  However, Terrence McNally is a tried and true playwright on Broadway, whose experience underscores the quality of this production perhaps even more than the starry cast.  He has had a total of 21 productions on Broadway, beginning in the year 1963 with his adaptation of The Lady of the Camellias.  The first play he wrote that was produced on Broadway was And Things That Go Bump In the Night in 1965, and some of his other writing credits include the epic musical Ragtime, last season’s Mothers and Sons starring Tyne Daly, Master Class also starring Tyne Daly, the book for the stage adaptation of Catch Me If You Can, the book for the musical The Full Monty, the book for Kiss of the Spider Woman, as well as Love! Valour! Compassion!, The Rink, Deuce and many more.

A Backstage Drama

This script promises to be one of McNally’s best.  The cast list alone implies that the play is top-notch, as such as stellar list of actors responding positively to the material cannot be a coincidence.  According to a statement by McNally, the play was cast in less than two days, as the actors responded with an immediate yes.  The only exception was Rupert Grint, as he was on location filming a movie where there was no wireless internet, but he responded positively within four days.  Also, the play is reported to have undergone significant revision since its Off-Broadway production in the 1980s.  The story involves a backstage drama in a metatheatrical fashion.  Matthew Broderick plays a playwright named Peter Austin, and the show takes place on opening night of a production of one of his plays.  As he nervously awaits a response from audience and critics, he interacts with a television star played by Nathan Lane, his early-career producer played by Megan Mullally, the star of the play (Stockard Channing), the young director (Rupert Grint), a scary critic (F. Murray Abraham), and a coat check boy (Micah Stock).

Broadway Fall 2014 Line-Up Falling into Place

This fall looks to be an exciting one on Broadway!  Let’s face it – every new season is pretty exciting.  But with the Tony Awards still a month away to commend the brilliant plays and musicals of the 2013-2014 season, announcements are already being made for shows to open next fall.

It was recently announced that Hugh Jackman will be returning to Broadway this fall in Jez Butterworth’s play The River.  Jez Butterworth’s work was last seen on Broadway with the 2011 production of Jerusalem starring Mark Rylance, directed by Ian Rickson, and prohugh jackmanduced by London-based powerhouse theatre production company Sonia Friedman Productions.  Sonia Friedman will be shepherding a Butterworth play once again, after having watched over its production at the Royal Court Theatre, where Jerusalem also premiered.  The partnership between Ian Rickson and Jez Butterworth also holds strong, as Rickson is on board to direct this play.  The River is about a loner on a remote island and the two women in his life, who will be played by British actresses Laura Donnelly and Cush Jumbo.  The River will begin performances at the Circle in the Square Theatre on October 31, 2014.  A favorite of the Great White Way, Hugh Jackman sold out his 2011 one-man show Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway, and he will host the Tony Awards this year for the fourth time.

In addition to the proven partnership between director Ian Rickson and playwright Jez Butterworth, another fall show will see the recurrence of a proven Broadway partnership, this time between two beloved actors.  Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, who famously co-starred in 2001’s The Producers, will join forces this fall for a Terrence McNally play called It’s Only a Play, directed by Jack O’Brien.  Like The Producers, It’s Only a Play is also a comedy based in the world of show biz.  Having premiered at the Manhattan Theater Club in 1986, It’s Only a Play is the story of a nervous playwright (Broderick) at the opening night party for a play he has written, and his interactions with his backstabbing friend (Lane).  Produced by Tom Kirdahy, who is married to Terrence McNally, the play will begin performances in September at a theatre yet to be announced.

Producer Scott Rudin also has a starry play up his sleeve for this fall.  This Is Our Youth, written by Kenneth Lonergan (You Can Count on Me, Margaret, The Starry Messenger) first premiemichael cera kieran culkinred Off-Broadway in a production by The New Group in 1996.  The play centers on three aimless teenagers in New York City, and this Broadway production will star Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin, and Tavi Gevinson.  Directed by Anna D. Shapiro (Motherf**ker with the Hat), the show will have an out-of-town pre-Broadway run at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago over the summer, and it will then transfer to Broadway’s Cort Theatre with performances beginning August 18, 2014.  Michael Cera and Kieran Culkin also appeared in their same roles in an Australian production of this play in 2012, directed by Mark Brokaw.

Further fall productions that have been announced include Simon Stephens’ play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, which is a transfer from London’s National Theatre via the West End.  The play will occupy the Ethel Barrymore Theatre with previews beginning September 15, 2014.  In addition, The Country House by Donald Margulies will star Blythe Danner at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, with previews beginning September 9, 2014 in a Manhattan Theatre Club production.  Finally, it has also been announced that a production of Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing will play at the American Airlines Theatre in a Roundabout Theatre Company production, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ewan McGregor, and Cynthia Nixon, and directed by Sam Gold.  This is just the tip of the iceberg, however, as many more exciting shows are sure to be announced for the Broadway fall season in the coming months.

PBS To Air Broadway Play The Nance

Nathan LaneAlthough it didn’t last especially long on Broadway, the recently-shuttered play The Nance will live again on film. Taped during special performances of the production that were added following its scheduled closing, The Nance will air on PBS as a part of its “Live from Lincoln Center” series in 2014.

Written by Douglas Carter Beane (The Little Dog Laughed, Xanadu, Sister Act, Cinderella), The Nance starred Tony Award winner Nathan Lane as a burlesque performer who played campy characters onstage, yet had to hide his own homosexuality from the world.

Lane’s co-stars in The Nance included Cady Huffman (The Producers), Andrea Burns (In the Heights), Lewis J. Stadlen, Jenni Barber, Jonny Orsini, and Geoffrey Allen Murphy.

The Nance Plays Final Performance on Broadway Today

The Nance Broadway ShowDouglas Carter Beane’s new play, The Nance, ends its run at the Lyceum Theatre today. The production began previews on March 21 and officially opened on April 15. Though it was scheduled for an open run and enjoyed respectable sales, presumably The Nance was not able to sell enough tickets (particularly during the summer months when kid-friendly fare thrives) to stay open any longer.

Set in 1937, the play starred Tony Award-winning Broadway favorite Nathan Lane in the role of Chauncey Miles, a well-loved New York burlesque performer. Though Chauncey plays a popular campy character type known as ‘the nance,’ he must keep his own true homosexuality a secret.

Directed by Jack O’Brien, the production also starred Andrea Burns, Cady Huffman, Jonny Orsini, Jenni Barber, Mylinda Hull, and Lewis J. Stadlen.

Ben Vereen, Nathan Lane To Take Part in Theatre World Awards Ceremony

Ben Vereen

Ben Vereen

The slate of performers and presenters that will participate in the upcoming Theatre World Awards ceremony have been announced. A mix of Broadway theater veterans and relative newcomers will take part in this annual event, to be held at the Music Box Theatre on June 3.

Ben Vereen, Courtney B. Vance (Lucky Guy), Anika Noni Rose, Lea Salonga, Jackie Hoffman, Wesley Taylor, Jessie Mueller, Phillip Boykin, Tony Sheldon, Isabel Keating, and Christine Lahti are among those currently scheduled to either present or perform at the Theatre World Awards. Nathan Lane will also appear as a special guest.

Directed by John Tartaglia (Avenue Q), the Theatre World Awards will be hosted by theater columnist Peter Filichia. Learn more about the event at www.theatreworldawards.org.

Nathan Lane Returns To Broadway in the Spring

Broadway star Nathan Lane will return to the Great White Way this spring in a new play by Douglas Carter Beane (The Little Dog Laughed, Xanadu) called The Nance.  Directed by Jack O’Brien and produced by Lincoln Center Theater, The Nance will begin performances at the Lyceum Theatre on March 21, with opening night set for April 15.

Set in 1930s New York, The Nance is about a popular burlesque sketch performer named Chauncey Miles (Nathan Lane), who plays a stereotypically camp character onstage, but must remain secretive about his real-life homosexuality offstage.

Tony Award-winning actor Nathan Lane was last seen on Broadway in the musical The Addams Family.  Among his many other Broadway credits are Guys and Dolls, Waiting For Godot, The Odd Couple, and, of course, the smash hit The Producers.  Lane is currently guest starring on TV’s The Good Wife, which films in New York City.

New Web Series To Showcase Members of the Broadway Community

Graham Douglass and Nathan Lane

A new web series called The Graham Show, launching on September 28, will focus on the Broadway community.  Hosted by Graham Douglass, the series will feature illuminating interviews with Broadway performers, writers, and other theater folk.  Already scheduled to be interviewed on the series are Nathan Lane, Michael Urie, Adam Pascal (Rent), Jersey Boys‘ writer Rick Elice, Roger Rees, John Tartaglia (Avenue Q), and Christian Borle (a recent Tony winner for Peter and the Starcatcher, series regular on TV’s Smash).

The in-depth interviews, which will be filmed at interesting local venues like Joe’s Pub, will run approximately 30-40 minutes.  Graham Douglass aims to take a youth-oriented approach, targeting the demographic of young theater lovers who he hopes will be inspired by the interviews.  “What better way to encourage the next generation of theater professionals and make lifelong fans out of future ticket buyers than to teach them about the industry directly from the stars they admire?” said Douglass in a press release.

Episodes of The Graham Show can be viewed at www.TheGrahamShow.com.  Each Wednesday, the website will also provide a 60-second overview of Broadway news in a segment called “Instant Graham”.