A Cappella Musical Having Difficult Time Finding Audience
On December 11, 2016, In Transit
had its official opening night on Broadway. It had been playing in previews since November 10, 2016, and it is presently scheduled for an open-ended run. However, if the box office doesn’t pick up quickly, the show will probably not last for much longer than the holidays. While no closing has been announced, the show will very likely shutter in early January 2017. In Transit
is an a cappella musical co-written by four individuals including Kristen Anderson-Lopez, who co-wrote the music to Frozen
with her husband Bobby Lopez, who was also the co-creator of Avenue Q
and The Book of Mormon
. The show is directed and choreographed by the accomplished Kathleen Marshall, whose past directorial and choreography credits include Nice Work If You Can Get It
, The Pajama Game
, Living on Love
, and Anything Goes
. The cast is an ensemble cast, which is historically a difficult sell unless it is an ensemble of stars. In this case, the cast is a mix of B-level names and unknowns, with some of the more recognizable names including Telly Leung, Justin Guarini, Margo Seibert, and Erin Mackey. Unfortunately, the a cappella phenomenon alone does not appear to be attracting the fans of such works as “The Sing Off” and Pitch Perfect
to the Broadway theatre.
A Round of Mixed to Negative Reviews
Upon the show’s opening, Ben Brantley of The New York Times called the show a peppy cliché, and insulted the entire show by stating that the silence at the
conclusion was the most satisfying part. He also remarked that the Broadway style voices of many of the cast did not jive well with the a cappella arrangements. David Cote from Time Out New York was slightly more generous, but remarked that the show is utterly forgettable and involves stereotypical characters. Matt Windman of AM New York found the show to be completely missable, remarking that New Yorkers spend enough of their days on the subway and do not need to be thrust into a similar environment when they attend the theatre. Breanne L. Heldman of Entertainment Weekly was also not thrilled with the show, although she was impressed with the beatboxer aka Boxman, who is the thumping heart of the show. Of the major critics, only NBC New York gave the show a generous review, remarking that In Transit
may very well be an elixir to remedy the frustrations of the New York subway system.
Very Risky Box Office
For a commercial endeavor such as In Transit
, which does not have any not-for-profit theatre institution subsidizing the production, it is very risky to be running in so many consecutive weeks with such low box office. In fact, all Broadway productions have a stop clause in their contracts with the theatre landlord, which permits the landlord to halt the production if the box office is continually low. In Transit
may be riding dangerously close to that line. In the last reported week of box office figures, the week ending December 11, 2016, In Transit
brought in a weekly gross of $225,117, which represents just 30.67% of its gross potential. In fact, in that week of shows, In Transit
was the only show of all the productions running on Broadway to show a decrease in ticket sales from the week before, when every other show saw an increase. Over the four and a half weeks of the run so far, the average percentage reached of gross potential has been 34.81%, which is near the lowest on Broadway. To be fair, the reviews came out just after this last week of box office figures was reported, so it is possible that the occasional positive reviews, coupled with the mere spread of word of mouth, may bolster a slight increase in ticket sales during the holiday season. However, the outlook for In Transit
is not all that great, however you look at it.