On Sunday, June 10, 2018, Saint Joan plays its final performance with a 2:00pm matinee. Immediately after, Condola Rashad and her team will be rushing off to get ready for the Tony Awards, which take place that evening. The show is nominated for just one award, and that is for Condola Rashad as her leading performance as the titular character Joan. Upon closing, the show will have played 55 performances on top of 24 preview performances. The show has been running in a Manhattan Theatre Club production at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. Written by Bernard Shaw (who is perhaps better known as George Bernard Shaw), the play is directed by Daniel Sullivan, whose Broadway directorial credits include The Little Foxes, Sylvia, The Country House, The Snow Geese, Orphans, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Columnist, and John Lithgow: Stories by Heart. The play has been revived on numerous occasions, and is always an excellent vehicle for an extraordinary actress to embody the 15th century French military figure also known as Joan of Arc (or Jeanne D’Arc). The Broadway premiere of this play was in 1923, starring Winifred Lenihan as Saint Joan, and the next production was the London premiere in 1924 starring Sybil Thorndike, whom Shaw had in mind when writing the play. Further Broadway productions included 1936 starring Katharine Cornell, 1951 starring Uta Hagen, 1956 starring Siobhán McKenna, 1968 starring Diana Sands, 1977 starring Lynn Redgrave, and 1993 starring Maryann Plunkett. Now, 25 years since the last production, Condola Rashad takes on the role, following her previous Broadway credits: Stick Fly, The Trip to Bountiful, Romeo and Juliet, and A Doll’s House, Part 2.
Mixed Reviews and a Struggle at the Box Office
When the show opened on April 25, 2018, the review were less than ecstatic. Jesse Green from the New York Times complimented Condola Rashad’s “usual intelligence and unfussy theatricality,” but stated that the “blank quality in Ms. Rashad’s Joan leaches the play of drama.” Frank Rizzo from Variety was a bigger fan, calling the production “a smart, stylish and engaging Broadway revival,” but Frank Scheck from the Hollywood Reporter disagreed, saying, “Even when done well, Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan is a slog.” But then, he goes on to say, “And since Manhattan Theatre Club’s Broadway revival of the 1923 play isn’t done very well, it’s even more of a slog than usual.” Leah Greenblatt from Entertainment Weekly called Rashad’s performance “girlish” and the revival “glossy,” and Roma Torre from NY1 said that, on the surface, the revival is timely, but that “the production falls a bit short.” With these mixed reviews, the show had an even tougher time selling at the box office than it already had, just by being a much-revived play from many decades ago without an A-lister on the marquee. Over the course of the box office figures reported thus far, which include all but the last week, the show has brought in an average of 30.49% of its gross potential. With a top ticket price of $199.00, the average paid admission across the run thus far has been $50.48, and the audience has been filled up to an average of 81.03% of capacity. In the last reported week, the week ending June 3, 2018, Saint Joan brought in $214,730, which represents 29.36% of gross potential. All in all, the show will surely close at a financial loss, with the one last hope of legacy being Condola Rashad’s pending Tony nomination. Still, she has tough competition in Glenda Jackson from Three Tall Women, as well as Amy Schumer from Meteor Shower and Lauren Ridloff from Children of a Lesser God.
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