The revival of Scott McPherson’s play Marvin’s Room opened on Broadway to poor reviews, and is having a difficult time selling at the box office.

Lili Taylor and Janeane Garofalo Star in Revival of Scott McPherson Play

marvin's roomOn June 29, 2017, Marvin’s Room had its official opening night at the American Airlines Theatre in a Roundabout Theatre Company production. It had been running there in previews since June 8, 2017, and the run is scheduled to continue until August 27, 2017. In opening in mid-summer after the Tony Awards, this production was never going to be able to benefit from any boost from the 2017 Tony Awards. To the contrary, while all the buzz surrounded the awards contenders, wins, and snubs, Marvin’s Room was beginning performances to little fanfare. The play will technically be eligible for the 2018 Tony Awards in almost a year from now, but by then the play will have been long forgotten, both by the nominating committee, and by the voters. As it stands, not-for-profit theatre institutions such as the Roundabout Theatre Company must fill their theatres year-round, and their seasons therefore inevitably contain one or two summer shows that have trouble staying afloat amidst the Tony winners and long-running musicals, always a favorite for the summer tourists. Therefore, if such a show receives less than positive reviews, such as Marvin’s Room did upon its opening night, then there is little hope for its box office to even rise to middling levels.

The New York Times Panned the Play, and Other Critics Were Less Than Elatedmarvin's room

Open the play’s opening night, Jesse Green from The New York Times called it “fatally mild,” expressing utter confusion about how famed theatre critic Frank Rich from the same paper called the original 1991 Off-Broadway production “one of the funniest plays of the year.” Matt Windman from Newsday also found the production to be “uneven,” but did acknowledge it was emotional and funny. Allison Adato from Entertainment Weekly was also on the fence, deeming the revival not to be warranted given the lack of topicality and resonance of this early 1990s piece in the present day. Joe Dziemianowicz from the New York Daily News found the comedic elements of the play to be forced, critiquing director Anne Kauffman for failing to maximize the material. On the other hand, Adam Feldman from Time Out New York was more enthusiastic about the show, enjoying the story about two sisters – played by Lili Taylor and Janeane Garofalo, the latter making her Broadway debut – who are dealing with the difficulty of their ailing father, and the saintly sister’s recently diagnosed leukemia.

A Difficult Sell at the Box Office

In the last week of reported ticket sales, the week ending June 25, 2017, Marvin’s Room brought in a weekly gross of $214,401, which represents just 32.13% of its gross potential. With a top ticket price of $149.00, the average paid admission was $45.69, and the audience was filled up to an average capacity of 79.9%. Over the course of the short run thus far, the average percentage reached of gross potential was 31.74%, and the average paid admission was $47.39. It remains to be seen whether these mediocre reviews will have a negative or negligible impact on ticket sales, but they will certainly not give this show a boost. An unlikely choice for the summer season, Marvin’s Room had the worst performance of any show this past week in terms of gross potential. With the low gross of just 32.1% of its gross potential, the second lowest gross in terms of potential was achieved by On Your Feet!, which brought in $655,588, or 42.2% of its gross potential. The third lowest performing was another new play that is struggling in the summer months, 1984, which brought in a weekly gross of $337,503, or 43.6% of its gross potential.