By Carol-Ann Rudy
April 27, 2007
What’s happening with the Broadway production of “The Pirate Queen?”
According to Variety, the musical Young Frankenstein may open at the Hilton Theatre, “Pirate Queen’s” current home, on Halloween, Oct. 31st. It has been scheduled to play at the newly-vacated St. James theatre, the recent home of “The Producers.” But the Hilton is more desirable with a larger stage and 177 more seats. The theatre owners, LiveNation, can close “The Pirate Queen” if ticket sales fall below an agreed upon minimum for more than two consecutive weeks. It fell $64,096 between the last two reporting periods….
In its six-week run on Broadway, “The Pirate Queen” has met with harsh criticism and rumors of an early demise. Could it be that “Pirate” ran a much higher risk of a poor reception by critics simply because so much money was poured into the sets, the costumes, and the advertising? The expectations therefore were much higher? Reputedly the most lavish and expensive musical of the season at $16 million dollars, with a 37-member cast, writers and songwriters with a sterling record, it is possible that it will go the way of the “Dance of the Vampires.” That musical previewed on Broadway on Oct. 18, 2002, and closed on January 25, 2003. It was considered a big flop.
“Pirate” has been blasted by Ben Brantley of the New York Times, Jeremy McCarter of New York magazine, Zachary Picus-Roth of Newsday, Elysa Gardner of USA Today to name a few. Even its few lukewarm supporters, such as the Toronto Star’s Richard Ouzounian, in praising the set, the lighting, and the costumes, commented “…you wait in vain for an actual melody to emerge.” Harsh criticism indeed.
The lone critic in praise of the musical is Matthew Murray for “Talkin’ Broadway” who found much to praise in “Pirate Queen’s” capturing the “electric and cinematic spirit of musical theatre at its freshest,” even calling recent rewrites and redesign “dazzling.”
In this last reporting period “Pirate” enjoyed $693,237 in ticket sales; the public supported it to the tune of slightly more than a 77% capacity house. Maybe the theatre-going public will prevail, and continue to enjoy this old-fashioned, rollicking musical. This, while so many others seem ready to cut anchor, give the ship a shove, and wave goodbye as it slips away from the shore.