Monday, March 12, 2007

The cost of war

Is the upcoming NYC mounting of Ragtime off? That's what my last phone call was about... but the details why it would be are so iffy I cannot make this post about that.

Instead... I've gotten a few emails from people this week surprised that Journey's End is not doing better. I am not surprised. In America, we feel like we are overloaded by war. The images (however sanitized by our media) are inescapable. And, many people, blame our country, our own government, for what is going on. Most people want to escape the reality of such harsh happenings when they attend the theater; they don't seek it out. When I was at Journey's End, during a climactic final scene, someone exclaimed behind me: "I didn't need this now!" I'm sure others were thinking similarly.

Journey's End received good reviews and it is a strong drama, but ticket sales aren't always about quality (or perceived quality). Do reviews have a force in ticket sales? Of course they do. (Though I have long thought they are more likely to dissuade than encourage, that is a topic for another time.) But reviews can't make people run to the theater if they are wary of the topic of the show.

Journey's End was a hit in London, but it has never been above 50% capacity at the Belasco. That's sad, but putting on a show is all about timing and knowing your audience. Would the play be doing better if Orlando Bloom or Josh Harnett had done it? Probably (assuming whichever one of them it was didn't get the worst reviews ever), but neither of those names would make it a hit. This show was always going to be a tough sell. I personally liked it much better than Translations. That doesn't mean anything really, but i wanted to throw it in.

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