“The Elephant Man” Begins Previews

Bradley Cooper As a Disfigured Protagonist

bradley cooper elephant manOn November 7, 2014, The Elephant Man began previews at the Booth Theatre. It will have its official opening night on December 7, 2014. Set in Victorian England, The Elephant Man was originally written in 1977 by Bernard Pomerance, and the original Broadway production was in 1979. At that time, it won three Tony Awards, those for Best Play, Best Direction of a Play (Jack Hofsiss), and Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play (Carole Shelley). It also won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding New Play, the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play, and it was also selected for inclusion in The Burns Mantle Theater Yearbook as one of the Best Plays of 1978-1979. In 2002, a Broadway revival starring Billy Crudup was nominated for two acting Tony Awards but won neither. This production stars Bradley Cooper as the eponymous Elephant Man (whose name is actually John Merrick), and it is directed by 6-time Tony nominee Scott Ellis. Cooper stars alongside Patricia Clarkson as Mrs. Kendal and Alessandro Nivola as Frederick Treves.

Cooper’s Star Attraction

Bradley Cooper first played the role of John Merrick in a 2012 production at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. This is his second timeelephant man on Broadway, having also played the roles of Pip and Theo in a 2006 production of Three Days of Rain. Also, at the 2008 Williamstown Theatre Festival, he played the role of Jake in The Understudy. However, he is much better known for his performances on the screen. He has starred in such films as American Hustle, Silver Linings Playbook (receiving Academy Award nominations for them both), The Place Beyond the Pines, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Hangover trilogy, and many more titles. Bradley Cooper is a beloved actor, as seen by the notable box office success of The Elephant Man thus far. In its first week of four performances, it has already grossed $520,087, which represents 113.36% of its gross potential. Furthermore, with a top ticket price of $298.00, it had an average paid ticket admission of $163.45, which represents little to no discounting. Of the 3,096 total seats across those four performances, it sold a miraculous 3,182 of them (accounted for by the premium ticket sales).

The Story of the Elephant Man

It is clearly the star attraction of Bradley Cooper, rather than the flashy subject matter, that has drawn such numbers to the box office. However, though it may not be superficially engaging, the storyline of the play is also excellent. It is based on the real life story of Joseph Merrick, a 19th century British man who suffered from extreme bodily deformity. He became a star of the freak show circuit, until a doctor takes him under his wing to study. He ends up being amazed by Merrick’s intellect, faith, and longing for love and loyalty. A romantic subplot emerges when Dr. Treves introduces Merrick to the beautiful Mrs. Kendal, who also sees his truly touching nature. However, Mrs. Kendal is not single, and there is a complex underlayer to their friendship, as she wants to protect him from the corruption of the real world. The Elephant Man is therefore a love story, but it is also the story of a man cut apart from the universe yet who still manages to maintain a virulent humanity. Interestingly, The Elephant Man is always performed without extravagant special effects stage makeup, so that Bradley Cooper displays the deformity through physicality alone.

“You Can’t Take It With You” Opens on Broadway

A Critical Hit With Financial Difficulties

you can't take it with youOn September 28, 2014, You Can’t Take It With You opened at Broadway’s Longacre Theatre after 39 preview performances. Starring James Earl Jones as the patriarch of the quirky Sycamore family, this classic 1937 comedy by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart received generally rave reviews from critics. However, despite appreciation and even celebration by some of New York City’s most dependable reviewers, the show is struggling to attract ticketbuyers at the box office. In the five full or partial weeks that the show has been open so far, the audience capacity has ranged between a weekly average of 80 to 90 percent; however the potential reached of the weekly gross fluctuated between 40 and 55%. This demonstrates that the producers are offering heavy discounts to ticketbuyers, who are happily taking advantage of the offers. However, the show will only be able to stay open so long with numbers like these. Nevertheless, it should be noted that these figures represent the pre-opening data, and that it is possible word will quickly spread now that the reviews are in. However, Broadway audiences have been decreasingly swayed by critical response in most cases, and are more generally made aware of shows through marketing campaigns, and thus the positive reviews are by no means a certain bet to improve the box office figures.

The Reviews Are In

Ben Brantley, the most significant theatre critic at New York’s most significant newspaper, The New York Times, loved You Can’t Take It With You. He opened his laudatory review by saying the only part of the show that he could complain about is the ache in his cheeks from smiling so much throughout the entire two and a half hour show. Even though the show won the 1937 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, he did not expect to enjoy this revival so much. Apparently the show has stood the test of time, rather than becoming dated, so much that Brantley refers to this family comedy as the Platonic ideal of family dysfunction. And Brantley was not alone in his praise. David Rooney at the Hollywood Reporter, representing the West Coast perspective on the situation, stated that the play remains irresistible after all these years. He calls the director Scott Ellis a comedy pro, and he gives Jones his due respect by calling him a theater lion with natural gravitas. The Huffington Post, representing the younger urban viewpoint, also gave the play a thumbs up, stating that the audience leaves in a state of euphoria.

Fran Kranz Taking on a Leading Part

you can't take it with you

Fran Kranz, Rose Bryne, and James Earl Jones

The young comedic actor Fran Kranz made his Broadway debut in the 2012 revival of Death of a Salesman starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, and received great notices for his memorable supporting role. You Can’t Take It With You marks his second Broadway performance. He has also received recognition for his roles in television shows such as Joss Whedon’s “Dollhouse” and films such as Cabin in the Woods and Much Ado About Nothing. This is the first time, however, that he has been given a proper leading part as the romantic lead. He told Variety that this is an honor he does not take lightly, and he jumped at the chance to lead the show alongside James Earl Jones and Rose Byrne, the latter of whom made her Broadway debut. This appears to be the second of many Broadway outings for the up-and-coming actor, who is likely to become a name more people know in coming years. You Can’t Take It With You is scheduled to run until January 4, 2015.

“The Elephant Man” Starring Bradley Cooper Is Delayed

The Broadway Run Is Pushed By A Month

Originally slated to begin performances on October 18, 2014 at the Booth Theatre, The Elephant Man has delayed its production until November 7, 2014.  Its official opening night will now be on December 7, 2014, with the limited engagement scheduled to conclude on February 15, 2015.  The delay was reportedly caused by a scheduling conflict.

This Will Be The Second Broadway Revivalbradley cooper elephant man

This 1977 play by Bernard Pomerance has been produced on Broadway twice before.  Its premiere was in 1979, for which it won the Tony Award for Best Play as well as the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Play.  There was then a revival in 2002, which ran for only 57 performances.  In any case, plans for the 2014 revival are well underway, with direction by Scott Ellis.  Scenic and projection design will be by Timothy R. Mackabee, costume design is by Clint Ramos, lighting design is by Philip S. Rosenberg, and sound design is by Drew Levy.

Cooper Played the Role at Williamstown

In the lead role of John Merrick will be film star Bradley Cooper, whose credits include Silver Linings Playbook (Academy Award nomination for Best Actor), American Hustle (Academy Award nomination for Best Featured Actor), The Hangover, The Place Beyond the Pines, and Wet Hot American Summer.  The cast of this revival will also include Patricia Clarkson as Mrs. Kendal and Alessandro Nivola as Frederick Treves.  Scott Ellis directed these same three actors in a 2012 production of the play at the Williamstown Theatre Festival.  Joining these three cast members for the Broadway revival will be Anthony Heald, Scott Lowell, Kathryn Meisle, and Henry Stram. elephant manThe Elephant Man is the story of a severely disfigured man in 19th century England, who travels the freak show circuit until he is noticed by a renowned physician.  Bradley Cooper will play John Merrick, the disfigured man.  Interestingly, this role is always portrayed without the use of any excessive makeup or props, but rather it is up to the actor to display the proper physicality to invoke the sense of disfigurement and awe.