Thursday, February 22, 2007

Idol-ized

I'm tired tonight, but I promised an American Idol analysis and an American Idol analysis there shall be. We hear a lot about AI alums being recruited by Broadway producers, as if them signing on means instant box office. But does it?

Tamyra Gray entered Bombay Dreams on November 9, 2004 for a 12-week stint, except the show didn't even last that long. Is that her fault? No, the show was on its way out before she joined the cast, but clearly they were thinking her addition would spark a huge ticket bump and it did not. A few weeks before she joined the cast, the show was up to around $543,000, but the week prior to her arrival it was at approximately $399,192. The week she joined, the musical shot up about $70,000, so it appeared Tamyra was the ticket. But then it fell back down. And while it had stellar holiday weeks during her reign, you can't really say her joining the cast was a huge silver bullet.

Hairspray seems to have had more success with Diana DeGarmo. Until mid-January of 2006, Hairspray was rolling in the low-to-mid $600,000 range, but then it began to fall into its inevitable winter slump. The week before DeGarmo joined the cast, the show made just $462,775. Her first week, it was up to $530,619. But the amazing thing is for the rest of February, when everyone in the industry thought it would be dead, it generally took in around $650,000 a week. Now that is not to say that casting DeGarmo consistently made Hairspray a top seller--I'm not blind, I know the show has struggled periodically over the last year even when she was there--but she does seem to have made an impact.

That brings me to Mr. Cool, Constantine Maroulis (I don't use that title in a kind way). It is particularly difficult to judge his impact on The Wedding Singer. This is because of the timing of his start. He began his run on September 8, 2006, that is just as tourists have headed home and shows generally enter a lull. His first full week, the show shot up a whopping $148,074 to $515,159, so go Constantine, except, the next week it was down at $433,503. It then went back up later in the fall, but it is really hard to place his impact. He does not seem to have had a big one, but we can't really say he had none, as we we don't know if the show would have done worse without him.

Now, before anyone sends complaint emails to me, I know these numbers don't tell the whole story. There are other factors that could effect the gross figures quoted above. Like, maybe one of these weeks mentioned, there was a bad storm that caused grosses to drop. Also, who knows if there were absences any of the time periods mentioned?!? I don't remember that crap years later. And there are a whole bunch of other points I'm sure people could raise, but, I can only account for so much in this forum.

It's interesting to think about these numbers because it is curious to think about what makes star casting effective. Is it just the star? Probably only in the case of Julia Roberts or someone like that. Is it the combination of star and show? That is more like it. Take Tamyra and Diana. As far as solo careers go, Tamyra has I believe been more successful than Diana (though Diana placed higher in AI and neither of them have proved to be pop stars by any means), but she seems to have made less of an impact for the show she joined. Could that be simply because her season of Idol was less-watched than Diana's season? Is it Tamyra's fault? Well... Tamyra Gray, who isn't Indian, entered a show about Indians that was known to be sort of a joke. Maybe Alicia Keys could have made it a blockbuster, but... Whereas Diana was seen as a cute lovable youngster and she entered a candy-colored musical that was known as a hit. That's more of a can't-miss combo.

This all leads to Fantasia, but I'm too tired to go there. Maybe next week. Also next week, maybe an examination of why The Producers will not last beyond April 2007.

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