What’s a star worth to a Broadway play? In the case of Jeremy Piven and the recent revival of David Mamet’s lacerating Hollywood satire Speed-the-Plow, just about $160,000.
That’s the amount ticket sales dropped last week after Piven pulled out of the show citing mercury poisoning from eating too much fish. The actor, best known for his hilarious turn as fictional agent Ari Gold on HBO’s “Entourage,” had been the main draw for the show and has since been replaced by an understudy.
For the week ending December 21, ticket sales plummeted to $326,559, down from $485,751 the previous week, according to The Broadway League and Playbill.
Compared to musicals, plays tend to not draw as well on Broadway, and while Mamet is considered one of America’s premiere playwrights for good reason, his plays are often challenging for some audiences. So despite Piven’s star power, the play was not doing particularly well prior to his departure.
Attendance for the week after he left dropped 19.3 percentage points from 69.9 percent to 50.6 percent.
Veteran actor William H. Macy, who has performed in Mamet productions in the past, is reportedly going to join the cast in mid-January to late-February.
“Well, now we know that Piven was the draw,” said one East Coast ticket broker. “But then again, no one should have expected that this play would do particularly well. Mamet’s ‘American Buffalo’ had John Leguizamo, Cedric the Entertainer and Haley Joel Osment and that closed in about a week.”