End of Run for David Javerbaum’s Second Lap on Broadway
On September 4, 2016, An Act of God will play its final performance at the Booth Theatre. This is the second time the show has been on Broadway in two years. Last year, Jim Parsons played the title role of God, and this time, Sean Hayes took up the challenge. In comparing the box office performance of the two, Jim Parsons is clearly the winner. However, we can presume that his salary was also a bit higher, thus making the running costs more affordable for Hayes. Still, it does not appear that this rendition of the show has entered profits. Despite a considerable amount of respect and appreciation for the hilarity of Sean Hayes, for whatever reason Jim Parsons has amassed a larger following at this point in time. An Act of God began previews the second time around on May 28, 2016, and officially opened on June 6, 2016. It is written by David Javerbaum, based on the book “A Memoir by God,” which he also wrote. He also wrote lyrics to accompany music by Adam Schlesinger for this production, which was directed by Joe Mantello. In addition to the lead role played by Sean Hayes, the roles of the angels Gabriel and Michael were played by James Gleason and David Josefsberg, respectively. The voice of God was pre-recorded by Patrick Page.
In reviewing the Hayes-led production of An Act of God, Charles Isherwood of The New York Times compared the two performances in that both actors were cuddly, endearing versions of the Almighty. While Hayes is a tad older, he has a boyish charm that made him so successful in previous roles such as Jack in “Will and Grace.” According to David Cote from Time Out New York, the two performances can be differentiated in that Hayes brought a narcissist entitled vibe in contrast to Parsons’ wayward choirboy rendition. As for Vulture, Jesse Green wrote that Parsons succeeded in the role by nature of his charm, whereas Hayes brought a quote-unquote “charm,” which reeked more of insincerity. In any case, overall critics enjoyed Hayes’ performance, so it was not critical dissatisfaction that led to the gap in box office performance. Rather, that was brought on by fans themselves.
Box Office Performance Significantly Higher with Parsons
It may just be that Parsons had the advantage of premiering the play for the first time, as opposed to Hayes, who had to reprise a play that had just been on Broadway only one year prior, but Parsons clearly shone through as the winner in terms of box office. In Parsons’ final week of performances, the week ending August 2, 2015, the show brought in $1,074,778, which was the highest week of the run. Even the penultimate week was outstanding, with Parsons bringing in $1,011,538. However, in the penultimate week of Hayes’ run, the week ending August 28, 2016, the box office was just $346,584. Over the course of the run thus far, the highest weekly gross for Hayes was $348,283, which represented just 42.3% of the show’s gross potential. In contrast, Parsons was often in the 80% or 90% range of the show’s gross potential, with the final week reaching 106.65% of gross potential. However, the show will go down in history in having brought two hilarious comedic performers to the forefront in a well-received religious satire.