Theater & Broadway News
It was a great week for Broadway as ticket sales soared from the previous week's box office of $20,739,845 to $24,454,021. That brings the current total at this point in the season to $866,572,070 compared to $853,123,798 for the same point in time last season, representing a 1.6 percent increase.
A total of 33 productions graced the Great White Way: 23 musicals, nine plays and one special. Thirteen of those enjoyed 95 percent or better attendance. Overall, theaters reported 88.31 percent attendance.
The Great White Way will suffer another early shuttering this season due to disappointing box office receipts. Lyceum Theatre's staging of "Looped," the Tallulah Bankhead bio-play starring Valerie Harper, will close on April 11.
The announcement surfaced midday on April 5 along with box office numbers for the previous week and just-ended weekend. Receipts for the week were just $168,351, while attendance was stagnant with the 916-seat house at a bare 51 percent average capacity, according to the Broadway League's reports.
Stanley Tucci directs the Broadway revival of Ken Ludwig's comedy "Lend Me a Tenor," which opened April 4 at the Music Box Theatre.
Set in a Cleveland hotel suite in 1934, "Tenor" is the story of the Italian opera star Tito Merelli (“Il Stupendo”), played by Anthony LaPaglia opposite Jan Maxwell as the singer's jealous wife, Maria. Tony Shalhoub also stars as the frazzled opera company manager Saunders, who must keep everything in order and find a substitute when Merelli is incapacitated on opening night.
March was a boom month for Broadway, which saw an influx of shows parading onto the Great White Way in time for spring. But for a couple of the season's newest shows, boom quickly turned to bust as lagging ticket sales led to announcements of early shuttering.
Final bows will come April 4 for two productions at opposite ends of the entertainment spectrum -- a revival of the historical drama "The Miracle Worker," and the new musical revue-style comedy "All About Me."
This past week saw box office ticket sales drop slightly to $20,739,845 from $20,836,876 the previous reporting period. That puts the gross ticket sales ahead by 0.9 percent this year from the same time in the previous season, $842,058,049 to $834,490,954. Five productions came into the million-dollar category led by Wicked at the Gershwin, The Lion King at the Minskoff, The Addams Family at the Lunt-Fontanne, Billy Elliot at the Imperial and Jersey Boys at the August Wilson, all musicals.
The hits of Frank Sinatra are brought to life through dance in Twyla Tharp's latest production, "Come Fly Away," which she also directs. The two-hour production opened on March 25 at Broadway's Marquis Theatre, where it is booked for an open-ended run.
Plot takes a backseat to fancy footwork in Tharp's latest dance musical, which follows the exploits of four couples on the floor of a swanky nightclub. Dialogue is minimally improvised if not nonexistent, as Tharp focuses on storytelling through the movements of her dancers and the live orchestra that brings Old Blue Eyes' songs to life. The lyrics themselves are piped-in from Sinatra's recordings, though vocalist Hilary Gardner occasionally adds her voice to the mix.
There was a healthy increase in ticket sales this past week, $20,836.876 compared to the previous reporting period of $18,747,373. The number of productions, 32, did not change from last week and could not account for the increase but a rise in attendance does. Total attendance reached almost 86 percent this past week compared to 83 percent the week ending March 14. The total gross for the season to date of $821,318,204 represents a 0.7 percent increase in dollars compared to the same point in time last season of $815,577,583.
Written by Christopher Durang, Michael Feinstein and Barry Humphries, the musical revue and comedy mash-up "All About Me" opened March 18 at Henry Miller's Theatre.
Directed by Casey Nicholaw, the production stars acclaimed standards singer-pianist Feinstein alongside Humphries, who appears as his famed character, the brash Aussie comedienne Dame Edna Everage. Both initially appear under the premise that each believed he or she was the featured performer of the evening. The result is an evening of dueling performances and one-ups, with support from Jodi Capeless and on-stage chorus boys Gregory Butler and Jon-Paul Mateo.
Broadway tickets sales heated up this past week, increasing to $18,747,373 compared to $15,227,613 the previous reporting period. The figures for the season to date have hit $800,481,329 compared to $796,430,515 at the same point last year. The number of productions increasing from 28 to 32 this past week is responsible for much of the increase. This week's million-dollar productions were Wicked at the Gershwin, The Addams Family at the Lunt-Fontanne, The Lion King at the Minskoff, Billy Elliot at the Imperial and Jersey Boys at the August Wilson.
"Looped," a comedy by Matthew Lombardo based on the life of actress Tallulah Bankhead, had audiences laughing on March 14, its opening night at the Lyceum Theatre. This was not the first turn in the production for lead actress Valerie Harper; she played Bankhead in the world premiere of the comedy in 2008 at the Pasadena Playhouse.
Starring four-time Emmy Award winner Harper as the famously outrageous Bankhead, the special is based on a fabled sound editing session in 1965.