Disgraced has opened at the Lyceum Theatre to extraordinary reviews. Unfortunately the box office figures are not yet remarkable.
Unanimously Positive Reviews
On October 23, 2014, Disgraced had its official opening night at Broadway’s Lyceum Theatre. It had been running in previews since September 27, 2014. The show transferred to Broadway following a successful critical run at Lincoln Center Theatre’s Off-Broadway venue the Claire Tow Theatre, which focuses on producing plays through the LCT3 initiative for new writing. This play was written by Ayad Akhtar, a Pakistani American who studied Directing in graduate school at Columbia University after earning his BA in theater at Brown University. He has worked as an actor as well as writer for film and television, and Disgraced was his first play. Amazingly, his debut into playwriting earned him the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Perhaps predictably, then, the critics unanimously loved the play. Charles Isherwood of The New York Times gushed over the deliciousness of the play (which takes place over dinner), declaring the show a Critics’ Pick. David Cote of Time Out New York loved that the play was issue-based. Thom Geier of Entertainment Weekly determined that the play was indeed worthy of the Pulitzer Prize, and Mark Kennedy of Associated Press praised the show’s punch and power.
Now Will The Numbers Match the Praise?
As is always a question when a play earns top reviews, it is now to be seen whether the box office figures will follow suit in earning top numbers. However, it is unfortunately infrequently the case that they do. The exception, for some reason, seems to be British plays, which often earn extraordinary figures following extraordinary reviews, even if the public had never heard of the play before the cross-Atlantic transfer. In this case, however, Disgraced has merely transferred some blocks downtown from Lincoln Center to Broadway, and thus it will be difficult to prove to the public that it is worth shelling out for the higher priced fare. After all, when Disgraced ran as part of the LCT3 initiative for new writing, the tickets were a mere $25. It is difficult to justify the price spike, especially when the cast does not include any A-list stars. The closest is Gretchen Mol (Boardwalk Empire) in the role of Emily. Of course, there is the fact that the show has now won the Pulitzer Prize and has widely been deemed excellent. Still, it is often difficult to break through the barrier of skepticism when there is so much competition among new shows this season.
Box Office Performance Thus Far
In the most recently reported figures, which was the week ending October 26, 2014, Disgraced brought in $362,147, which represents only $46.84% of the show’s gross potential. Fortunately, the box office figures have been on a steady incline, beginning with the first full week’s figures (the week ending October 5, 2014) of $292,989 – and that week had only 7 performances. Now that the production is up to a normal eight performance week, it has the potential to fill 7,344 seats over the course of the run. Unfortunately, at its peak thus far, it has only sold 5,990 of them. With a top ticket price of $198.00, the show is heavily discounting, because the average paid ticket price that past week was only $60.46. Still, it is likely that the numbers will increase, if not extraordinarily, as the run continues and word of mouth spreads. At least, that is the pattern the numbers are displaying thus far.