Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy Rainy Sunday, or something

Did you know Gina Gershon has a CD? My friends gave it to me tonight. It's not what you would expect, well, it's not what you would expect if you were me. I was expecting rock. Instead it's ballads. Just in case you wanted to know.

Meanwhile, I was going to write my next 5 stories of the year. But it hits me that no one is going to read this tomorrow. So I've decided Wednesday, 2008, will be a final look at 2007. Instead today a clarification about one of the last five.

In response to my #2 point the last time, I received a few emails about the fact that in many ways theater is now at the forefront of culture. (There is a comment below that speaks of its popularity with young people, that's along these same lines.) That is true--Ugly Betty goes to Wicked. We're witnessing the return of the movie musical... My contention is that the majority of it is theater for the sake of amusement rather than art. That sounds very pretentious and those of you who know me know I'm not at all pretentious... (One of the big Broadway producers always refers to me as a "populist," which I'm not sure is a compliment, but, whatever.) What I mean is, it used to be an art form all on its own. People went to the theater to experience something truly special. They dressed up, they wouldn't dream of eating popcorn while a show was going on and talking was rare. Now a lot of people treat a Broadway show as a live movie. And while it's great that so many people are going and buying tickets--and I'm very happy attendance is up--theater is simply not as cherished as it used to be. Does that make sense? I mean, people go and they love it. Those people would probably miss it if it went away. People cried when it did go away this year! But less and less people care about it as its own individual art form. Many of you remember The Times' Friday theater column. In my very first year in this business, 2000, I knew non-theater people who read it because they wanted to know what was going on in the "world" of theater. By the time it went away, 4-5 years later (I can't remember now), I didn't know any non-theater people who read it. The drop-off in readership among theater people could be related to the websites, but the people I'm talking about didn't read the website news. They only read The Times column to begin with and then they simply stopped reading anything theater-related. You could blame that on the person who was doing the column, but a lot of it is that people stopped caring about what is going on in the theater "world." They choose individual shows to see, or they buy subscriptions to certain non-profits, but they care less about the art form of theater.

Attendance would be up on Broadway if all we had was stage versions of recycled movies. This is because it's a combination of people wanting to go to something special--it's expensive and thus a treat--but many not really wanting to see something special. That's why I don't think this is about attendance or the fact that people who have latched on to specific shows. It's a general statement about how few people truly care about the theater. I deal with these people everyday and, I'm telling you, the numbers are growing.

I hope all of you have a happy holiday. (I really want to say: "I've had a good life, I've hope all of you have good lives too." And for the 2 people who get that very obscure Broadway show reference, there, I've said it.)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

This Isn't The Greatest Post Ever

Nine people have found this site by searching "The Black Suits." I find that odd, but I do support Joe Iconis so there we go. Meanwhile--it's time for the year in theater. Well, the first half of my list of my personal top stories. These don't have anything to do with anyone else. It's all about me. And they are in no particular order. I like the random.

1. The Strike
Yeah, whatever, we all know.

2. The Decreasing Import of the Theater
The theater is becoming less and less important as an art form. What do I mean? Ticket sales are up, you say? Wicked is selling out everywhere! We have huge hits! Well, yes, but most people go now because its like going to an amusement part except with no rides or activities. That didn't really make sense, but I think you all know what I mean. People eat popcorn. They text-message during shows. OK--I hear my friend Don now, "You think? Carajoy, no one has cared for years. And you're just realizing this now? NO ONE CARES!" And of course he is right--I've known for years. But this year it really hit home for me more than ever because of the increase in bad viewing habits and because of the strike. During the strike, I kept talking to average people who didn't even know it was still going on... and didn't care when told. New Yorkers in general just didn't care all that much. When the musicians had their strike, people seemed more fired up. This time the people most fired up were the families that weren't getting in to see Ariel swim.

3. The Frankenstein/Mermaid Mishap Overlap
Just as Broadway shows do not open the same day, big Broadway-bound musicals don't tend to open on the same day out of town. But Young Frankenstein and The Little Mermaid did. My friend at Disney thought this was great because the NYC vultures would all be camped out in Seattle and would leave them and the Rocky Mountains alone. Indeed, Young Frankenstein invited the New York press, while Disney wanted to have their tryout in peace, the old-school way. But sadly for Disney this didn't work out so well. While Campbell Robertson and Michael Riedel might have made the trip to Denver regardless, I highly doubt Variety chief theater critic David Rooney would have travelled from New York to there just to see Mermaid. But he was going to Seattle and just tacked one more stop onto his trip. His scathing review really hurt the public perception of my most highly-anticipated stage musical. I don't think I've ever gotten so many calls asking me if I read a given review. (I did read it, though I still refuse to internalize anything bad about this show and am counting the days until I see it.) So, producers, place your openings far apart. Meet. Decide these things. Help me help you.

4. No Grosses, No Problem
Young Frankenstein caused a big uproar by refusing to report their grosses. (Yes, I know a "big uproar" in our world means that 122 people were on it. Moving on.) For years I've heard people complain about having to report them, mostly because people like me use them as ammunition. But there are positives to it--people believe the numbers, so if you're a hit, it shows and being a hit builds future ticket sales. We all know you want to see what everyone else is seeing because you want to know why everyone else is seeing it. Duh. Also, it is a good way to see industry trends, which can be helpful to producers as well as writers. So there are those producers who believe in the reporting. But many other producers believe the bad outweighs the good--they do it begrudgingly for tradition-sake alone. They do it because they think they need to do it. Now a few are thinking they might not 100% have to do it. And I believe tradition doesn't suffice as a reason to do something you don't believe in. So I'm with them there. On the other hand, the only reason critics wait until opening night to put up reviews is because of tradition. When there were reduced-priced previews it made logical sense, but now it's just a tradition thing. Readers would rather critics went first performance. Producers wouldn't want that. Do they want an end to all tradition? Because they shouldn't be able to just pick and choose what they want to keep--all or nothing I say. (NOTE: I could do a YF ticket price post but I refuse to give them another entry.)

5. Jeffrey Richards
For those of you who don't know, producer Jeffrey Richards is also press agent Jeffrey Richards. So he's someone I've dealt with for quite a while. (Fun fact: A very long time ago, Ken Mandelbaum worked for Jeffrey in his press office!) But, as a producer, his first three Broadway shows were Gore Vidal's The Best Man, A Thousand Clowns and Enchanted April, which wasn't exactly a great string. However in recent years Richards has been on the rise. And currently he is a main producer on four Broadway shows. Really. Four. And two of them, Spring Awakening and August: Osage County, are hugely acclaimed. Plus, he is the subject of this month's Playbill feature. So it's been a pretty sweet 2007 for Mr. Richards. He has all of Broadway talking about his great taste. (The fact that he also produced things like Trailer Park is so forgotten.) Young producers talk about him like he is an idol. I'm not alone in thinking that his high level of success is a major 2007 story.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


I want you all to expect that I am going to be a huge supporter of the Alli Mauzey Tony campaign. I don't know her personally but she is genius in Cry-Baby and I am going to go out on a limb and say, while I have not seen either A Catered Affair or South Pacific, she probably deserves a nomination more than anyone else. (Even if people in those shows are giving the best performances ever, she still should get in. I am going to be very depressed if a mediocre performance from a better known performer a mediocre performance in a better known role takes Alli Mauzey's nomination away.)

We live in a community where this was considered a "starry" cast by a legitimate internet journalist: Will Chase, Ashley Brown, Noah Galvin & Christiane Noll. Seriously. I mean, I'm a big Will Chase supporter, but.... yeah.

I finally read Time Out's big blogger feature. In it, Linda Stasi said that the word "musings" in a blog was the sign of bad writing. I was thinking of sending an email to Linda Stasi mentioning how writing things like "I wish I hated this cheeseball show as much as I used to. But damn, if it ain't a hoot and a half." isn't a sign of a genius writer, but I thought better of it.

I am going to add one name to Playbill's Dancing in the Dark (which the Weisslers are in theory bringing in) cast list: Patrick Page. I rarely report things like that, but I thought I might as well... If they are reporting scattered unconfirmed people, I can too.

I turned on the TV today and I saw Gwyneth Paltrow and Jake Gyllenhaal speaking and I thought, "What the hell movie were those two in together?" Then I heard him say: "Mathematicians are insane." Then of course I knew--but what was striking to me is how much that movie clearly made absolutely no impression on me. Oh, well.

My friend Billy, who is smarter than me, read the comment about the Morton/Dunagan split and came up with precedent for splitting a mother/daughter in such a way. In The Beauty Queen of Leenane both Anna Manahan and Marie Mullen could have been considered lead, but they were split. Both won, so it was a good strategy.

I wasn't sad at the Drowsy closing announcement (it had a nice run and this way I know Alli Mauzey will have a venue to show everyone her Tony-worthy performance) but I do feel sad that Cindy Williams closed it. So much for "we're gonna do it!"

Was anyone else excited about the Joan Rivers supporting cast? Yosefa Forma, Tara Joyce and Adam Kulbersh! Yeah, I have no idea either.

Poor Brad Oscar, replacing the unknown Jeffrey Kuhn who replaced the unknown Steve Rosen. Being the next Monster would even be better. Though he will get to work with Clay Aiken, which is I'm sure every Equity member's dream.

IBDB, my favorite Broadway database, has now started linking to for CD/DVD purchases of related titles. It feels a little less like an information source now and a little more like a not pretty sales forum.

I don't think I saw this in the stories I read about From Up Here--it's author, Liz Flahive, is best known for being a beauty editor at Lucky and Teen People. That doesn't say anything about the play, I just like those fun facts.

I am so happy Christian Borle is no longer doing Catch Me If You Can. I never understood why they thought he was right.

I was saddened a couple of weeks ago that The Times' head theater reporter wrote a story in the theater section about how busy impersonators are during the holiday season. I'm the first one to applaud tacky white suits and sequins, but this story was a bad sign. Clearly the legit theater has gotten too boring.

I'm not sure I think Jack O'Brien is the perfect choice for a Phantom sequel, but I suppose that is a much better idea than Joe Mantello doing 9 to 5.

I almost forgot--the big news of late was the League's name change to The Broadway League. That was huge. I'm sure it was huge news all throughout the country. Why report about baby Spears if you have stuff like this?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I'd like to thank... Woody Shelp for our wonderful hats...

Quick, who said it?! Who thanked Woody Shelp in his/her Tony speech?! He/she's a possible nominee this year... And who else is a possible nominee this year, you ask? Well, let's see. It's a little hard to tell right now, as there will I think be a lot of category juggling this year. But let's try and take a stab at it, shall we? Remember, people, it's not who deserves it, it's who Tony's fickle, sometimes slightly deranged finger will point to.


Ben Daniels, Les Liaisons Dangereuses
Charles Edwards, The 39 Steps
Laurence Fishburne, Thurgood
Morgan Freeman, The Country Girl
Rufus Sewell, Rock 'n' Roll


Eve Best, The Homecoming
Laura Linney, Les Liaisons Dangereuses
Frances McDormand, The Country Girl
S. Epatha Merkerson, Come Back, Little Sheba
Amy Morton, August: Osage County


Daniel Evans, Sunday in the Park with George
Cheyenne Jackson, Xanadu
Lin-Manuel Miranda, In the Heights
Paolo Szot, South Pacific
Tom Wopat, A Catered Affair


Kerry Butler, Xanadu
Patti LuPone, Gypsy
Kelli O’Hara, South Pacific
Faith Prince, A Catered Affair
Jenna Russell, Sunday in the Park with George


Dylan Baker, November
Brian Cox, Rock 'n' Roll
Byron Jennings, Is He Dead?
James Earl Jones, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Jim Norton, The Seafarer


Sinead Cusack, Rock 'n' Roll
Deanna Dunagan, August: Osage County
Martha Plimpton, Top Girls
Phylicia Rashad, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Rondi Reed, August: Osage County


Harvey Fierstein, A Catered Affair
Christopher Fitzgerald, Young Frankenstein
Boyd Gaines, Gypsy
Shuler Hensley, Young Frankenstein
Matthew Morrison, South Pacific


Laura Benanti, Gypsy
Leslie Kritzer, A Catered Affair
Andrea Martin, Young Frankenstein
Alli Mauzey, Cry Baby
Loretta Ables Sayre, South Pacific

We shall see what we shall see...

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Mid season Tony predictions!


August: Osage County LOCK
Rock ‘n’ Roll LOCK
The Seafarer

The Farnsworth Invention is dead in the water. Mauritius will be forgotten. The buzz on November went from zero to positive in the last week – Jesse Green in the Times claims that it’s hilarious on paper, and he actually has taste. There’s still the question of where Is He Dead? will end up. A case certainly could be made for Best Play eligibility, especially with all the press David Ives has been getting. I suppose The 39 Steps will have similar eligibility questions, so we’ll have to wait on that too. I have hopes that that Edward Albee play Me, Myself and I will be wonderful and transfer from the McCarter. If so, it will certainly be a contender. I also have hopes that something else will pop up Off-Broadway or beyond and sweep to Broadway. Something usually does. Dead Man’s Cellphone, anyone?


A Catered Affair
Cry Baby
In the Heights
Young Frankenstein

I think the first three are looking increasingly more likely, but they can’t yet be called locks. Talk of Jason Robert Brown’s 13 has diminished. It was never very loud to begin with, but should that change, it could contend. That fourth slot could go to Xanadu, though I worry Xanadu might have trouble hanging on through the winter and without the opportunity to go back and see it again, the nominators might forget its charms, which I think are considerable. Yet it didn’t even sell out during the strike. What was that about? As for Passing Strange, I smell disaster. The ghost at the Belasco claims another victim!!! As for the mermaid at the Lunt-Fontanne, I hope she’s good… The pictures have been looking more promising… We’ll see…


The Country Girl
The Homecoming
Les Liaisons Dangereuses
Top Girls

might be coming-coming, and if so, it certainly could be nominated-nominated. I suppose Cymbeline or Cyrano or Come Back, Little Sheba could be remembered. Or not. As for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof… Its leads will certainly do better than Ashley Judd and Jason Patric five years ago, but the Debbie Allen of it all… Call me crazy, but I need to wait and see.


South Pacific
Sunday in the Park with George

Can I officially ask – no, beg – the Tony people to PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, for the good of all things Tony, PLEASE allow this category’s slots to be reduced. If there are only four shows eligible, reduce the category to two nominees, three if necessary. But if only four musical revivals open and all four get nominated for Best Musical Revival, that’s not award-giving, people!!! That’s attendance-taking!!! And when one of those shows is this God-awful production of Grease, it’s criminal. Please? I’m begging. In the meantime, I refuse to put Grease as a nominee.

On Wednesday, acting predictions! Lots of category juggling to do there, but I’ll do my best.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Bitch of Living

Someone emailed me that they used Givenik. Yay!

On another note, we were supposed to have a guest-blogger tonight but I am actually here. Why? Because something annoyed me so much this week I felt the need to address it.

I love gossip--as a child I actually wanted to be a gossip columnist when I grew up. And at some point I was close... So I don't mean to attack gossiping, but at some point, individual rumors should be stopped. And with that in mind I really need to address one rumor that upsets me--Ken Mandelbaum did not leave that website I don't like to name because he got caught videotaping a show. This week I got 3 calls asking me about Ken because this week that rumor was AGAIN on the message boards. It is a renaissance of a rumor I was hoping had died. It is 100% not true. You can believe but you want, but I was there when he stopped working at said website. I know this rumor isn't true. It's not my place to say what happened (it's not my story to tell), but I can promise you the split did not have anything to do with videotaping a show. (Has anyone noticed the change in editorial content there?) I don't know how that rumor got started--it's not based in reality. Ken Mandelbaum is also not a total recluse. That is ridiculous!!!! I was talking to him last month at the Hilton Theatre. Who is saying these things? I mean, come on. I know some people don't know any better.... And I know that some people genuinely miss Ken and are concerned. I appreciate that. I'm not accusing you folks of anything. Hopefully you'll be happy to know that the rumors are not true! But to the people who do know better and are saying this crap or letting it be said, I ask you to remember that this is about a member of the theater community. This man really cares about the history of theater--that's very rare. I know a lot of times when I have a question I think "Ken Mandelbaum is so the only one who would know this..." (And I ask and sometimes he answers and sometimes he doesn't--just the same as when people email me, sometimes I know the answer and answer right away and sometimes I tell myself I'm going to think about it and then fail to respond by accident.) So whether you personally like him or not, you have to respect that. And these kinds of rumors don't show respect to him and his level of dedication.

Ok, that's it. Though another thing that annoys me--as long as I'm on a roll, is this ongoing Charles Isherwood drama. I mean it even inspired a magazine cover... And people are still talking to me about it. And I just don't get it. Honestly.... I'd like someone to explain. I mean, if it was just about that one story, I get that, but, of course it's not. It's more "he should be fired/he sucks." What makes him worse than any other critic? I would understand if he didn't support anything, but he does. I mean, not only does he support some obvious critical darlings, but, look at his Xanadu review. Is it that when he doesn't like something he's mean and some other critics are more wishy-washy (some people call this "understanding" but I'm more blunt)? Is it that these people just don't agree with his opinions? Because, overall, I rarely agree with him, but, then again, I rarely agree with any critic consistently. So I don't get why he is being attacked more than anyone. Is he anymore responsible for the fall of Rome than anyone else? I mean, I guess you could argue that that story triggered it all.... but... eh. I mean, again, our tastes aren't similar, and I'd like if every critic had my tastes (that way my shows would get more play), but that is never going to be the case...

Last thing that annoys me--"???? star ?????" when the person has hardly been in the show/was barely in the movie. For example, Playbill recently wrote ""Lost" and "One Tree Hill" star Blake Bashoff will make his Broadway debut later this month as the ill-fated Moritz in the Tony Award-winning musical Spring Awakening..." I watch One Tree Hill (because of my love of absolute crap) and I don't remember ever seeing him on it. I looked it up, he was on it twice, but, my point is taken. (Note, I do remember him from Judging Amy, totally. There he had a big role.) I mean, as a writer, I'm sure I've done this sort of thing myself. But that doesn't make it cool.

Guest blog on Sunday/Wednesday! Huge! Wait for it! Lose sleep!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Time For Cheer

And the world goes on, as does the writer's strike. As much as the stagehands strike threatened the Broadway season, now we have this to deal with too. Actors' schedules are all screwed up, thus altering casting for spring/summer productions. So, in other words, we're losing people we should have had.

On the other hand, thinking ahead, the possible SAG actors strike, might give us people we wouldn't ordinarily get. For instance, in February (the time Speed-the-Plow is in London), Jessica Alba and every other leading lady in Hollywood will be rushing to finish all the movies they had on their schedule before shut-down threat time. But this summer they may be free. Alba said on Regis & Kelly that her involvement in the possible Speed-the-Plow Broadway revival was based on whether there was going to be in an actor's strike when a bunch of SAG deals expire June 30. (She also said "it was just talk" and she was "freaked out" and she didn't know if "audiences would want to see" her on Broadway. As for the last point, I personally think she'd generate attention at least. Clearly Jeffrey Richards thinks that too.) I am actually somewhat surprised we're getting SAG stars at all in the winter/spring. Like--shouldn't Terrence Howard be capitalizing on his recent success and fitting in some film just in case? (On an unrelated note--does anyone else think Terrence Howard and Anika Noni Rose are not really a hot combo when you picture them as Brick and Maggie?)

Anyway, I love the idea that a bunch of theater producers are sitting waiting for there to be a SAG actors strike. It's really genius. I have zero idea if there will be an actors strike--I suspect no one knows until after this WGA mess is settled, but, let's muse. (I should say that I personally don't think there will be a SAG strike, but, I'm often wrong.) The question remains--what can it mean for us? If the west coast is heading into the summer with a real threat of another strike, they'll be a rush to get things done and then there could be a scheduling hold. If there is no strike or if it's very short, the question remains how fast the actors will be needed back on that other coast. But, my feeling is, if there is a strong possibility of a strike, you'll suddenly hear a lot about July/August productions of plays with Hollywood stars. I say plays even though I wish this meant we'd see like James Marsden in a new musical... I say plays because plays are easier to put up quickly/cancel without much loss. Of course, another issue becomes the theatre situation. Will we have the houses to fit in a bunch of random limited runs? Only a couple? If we don't have the houses or the strike duration is super uncertain, will we see these people as star replacements? Certainly, the people at Hairspray and Chicago are so keeping track of this. When is Debra Monk leaving Curtains? Maybe some Hollywood person could go in that!

I know a lot of you out there think we shouldn't be waiting on Hollywood folk, but, these people often bring in business. That's the end result. Some are good and some are not. Some sell and some do not. Though even the lowest rent film star would sell more than a Broadway look-alike. But it's all sort of a crap shoot, a sad one at that. And, actually, I find a lot of it ridiculous, but, that's the business we're left with. If only the people who read this blog could sustain the theater industry I assume we'd have a different industry. (If I alone could sustain the theater industry, I would encourage every producer to cast Anne Heche. For real. But apparently others of you have an Anne Heche limit, so like after the first production with her they'd be good for a year or so.)

Anyway, I have other work to do. Work does not stop during blog night. Alas. And even if I could ramble on--would you care? Also--unrelated--does anyone care that the Givenik site that Jujamcyn is acting like just went up was up at least since May (which was the first time I saw it, though it may have been up a while before)? I guess not. A good cause is a good cause, whenever they get around to promoting it. I myself created an account, though I was a little sad to see the big sold-out shows only were offering groups through the site. So like I'd normally tell you all to get Little Mermaid tickets that way--you could support Ariel and a charity of your choosing (though I sort of don't get why my high school is on the list of possibilities) with the same purchase--but, alas, you can't. But buy your A Catered Affair tickets through it. Might as well. Support.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Killer Strike?

Well, good morning Baltimore. Or whatever. (Did I post here before that, during the strike, I found the giant "You Can't Stop the Beat" billboard hysterical?)

Since I last wrote you, we got the grosses for last week. So, what we saw was the big shows were big, despite the strike. If they were effected by some group cancellations, they clearly made it up in single ticket sales. Shows that you would expect to be middling--or worse--were, well, worse. Notably the Xanadu average ticket price went down a good amount from where it was during the last two strike weeks. (Though it's still at $80.58, which is substantial and way better than any experts predicted it would be six months ago.) Really, I found the grosses sort of uneventful. Which I guess is good? Well, not good for the blog, but good for theater. Of course we still have to deal with January and February. On that note--did anyone read all the way down in Campbell Robertson's Friday post-strike analysis piece, because it ended with Kevin McCollum saying: "The months of January and February historically have been more devastating than any strike." Umm... So my take on that immediately was "Hey, it's good to see this many shows back on the boards, but don't get used to them." Great? Though of course we all know the harsh winter is particularly hard on tiny people, like me (though I love the cold, I may blow away one day), and Broadway. So it's not like he was delivering shocking bad news.

And with that in mind--let's talk about Broadway's straight plays, particularly August: Osage County. We're in a little bit of a crunch, more shows are opening now than should be. This means that each show gets to soak in the sun a little less. Does it matter? August: Osage County (which has a title my friend Kevin Manganaro described last year as "the best thing ever") got across-the-board amazing reviews. The best play Broadway has seen in years! Rush to the theater! Buy full price tickets! Of course that's exciting. Really. Genuinely, as a theater person, you so wait for that.

But August: Osage County was the third Broadway show to open in as many days and tomorrow another show opens. This can't be good for August. And here we're talking about a straight play with a random title and an unknown cast, so, it needs help. And this backlog is not helping it. But how much is it hurting it? That's harder to say.

You know, outside of the community (containing people who would be going to see the play anyway), it's not like plays are buzzed about for days. They get their big reviews in the paper, people read them and then the next day they read something else. They've made up their minds if they are going to buy tickets already and that is that. So if you look at it that way, the effect isn't horrible. That being said, there is another argument. If Play X opens on a Sunday, gets rave reviews and then nothing opens for a week, if someone thinks to themselves on Wednesday, "I want to buy tickets to a play," they're probably going to go buy Play X. Now if Play X opens on Sunday, gets rave reviews then Play Y opens on Tuesday and gets just somewhat good reviews (though not nearly the raves X got), Play X might lose some of those Wednesday ticket buyers to Play Y. The question is: How many of those Wednesday ticket buyers exist and how many of those that exist is Play X losing? And there is sort of no way of answering that. My instinct is that isn't not that huge a problem. I talk to a lot of average theatergoers and, at least the people to, make a decision the day they realize Play X is the play to see. Now Play Y could alter that decision, but I don't think we're talking about a devastating result there.

But, the thing is we can't look at recent precedent really. Typically we do have a little crunch now and a big spring crunch. But that crunch doesn't usually involve 5 straight plays. And, additionally, during that crunch we don't typically have an unknown--to the general public--play that critics tell you to drop everything and go see. (If we do, it's a spring opener and spring is a different time audience-wise as it heads into summer, considerably better than heading into winter in terms of box office.) So we can't really look at 2006 and say, "Well, when this happened then...." It's all speculation. And there is never going to be anyway to tell because, well, it's not like we have one August: Osage County opening in its own week and another one opening this week. There is no control group. Sadly. But we will see what the grosses look like in the coming weeks and maybe that will tell us a little something.

Of course, I hope they are sky high. And if they're not, we're going to be hearing that critics don't matter anymore. But, eh, I'll never buy that. They matter less than they did years ago, but they matter. The question I frequently hear discussed is whether they matter in terms of full reviews or they just matter for ad pull quotes--in other words, whether the average consumer is reading Isherwood's review or they are just buying based on the pull quote in the ad. That's another issue that factors in to this whole date analysis, but I'm ignoring it because I think it's related. (Can you get your full page ad out when you're the only big ad? If you have 5 big ads you know someone is going to find quotes for each one.... which therefore minimizes the importance of the quotes in each...)

Anyway, something to muse on. Let me know what you guys think. Support August: Osage County and straight plays in general. (My friend, genius aspiring playwright Billy Finnegan, is so going to love this post because of that last line.)

Monday, December 03, 2007

Part of My World

Well, Broadway was back. Yet I went to see Enchanted because I was supposed to see it weeks ago and felt I needed to. Enchanted, which I loved (I'm a big sap, if you didn't know), supported my belief that theater snobbery is often bad. I'm a snob and yet I say that. Why? Well, Amy Adams was up for the leads in at least two Broadway musicals (which shall remain nameless here because I value my life) and she was turned down in favor of theater vets who, well, ended up not being right for their part. Now, I'm not saying Amy Adams necessarily would have been the best musical theater lead ever, but, she's so clearly amazingly charming. (I knew this before seeing Enchanted, but Enchanted reinforced it.) Now you can say, "Hey, that is screen charm, which is different." But, well, I called a person involved with one of the decisions (I can sometimes do that sort of thing, even though I shouldn't) who said to me: "She was great, so lovely, but I wasn't confident she could sing 8 performances a week." That is a real fear, but, well, it also smacks of theater snobbery. And I hate that sort of theater snobbery.

But, that being said, I was so excited to see people heading to the theater. I didn't head myself, but I was excited to see the lines. Of course I also got calls that not many people were heading to the theater. This is to be expected, even though it is December. I mean--despite all the news attention to the end of the strike, word takes a while to trickle down. So of course the crowds weren't big at Les Miz on Thursday. Duh. And a lot of group cancellations simply won't be made up. Alas. That's the way it goes.

Yesterday The Daily News came out with a story that seemed to be written to blame the strike for coming increases in ticket costs. Then it said the pending rise wasn't because of the strike. Then it said it was. Ummm... Hmmm... OK. Well, I guess it's good to present arguments on both sides. I want to say, that, as far as I'm concerned, the price hikes will not really be a direct result of the settlement. They will partially be because, simply, the price of doing business always goes up in general (this being just a very little bit of that overall picture), but, also, because you charge what you can get away with charging. That's our market economy. That's the American way.

I'd talk about the Busker Alley announcement, but, well, that would be giving it too much credence. Speaking of giving things too much credence--during the strike an article I loved came out and I didn't talk about it because the damn strike was more important. But, now... Playbill's Ken Jones wrote a story about a possible London production of Grey Gardens, in honor of the fact that some of the team, and Ms. Ebersole, headed to London to talk to producers and theater owners. The story started: "A London production and a national tour were mentioned as possibilities for Grey Gardens when the musical was still running in Broadway in spring 2007, but those prospects now look to be vague." Umm.... were the prospects ever less vague? And, if they were, "mentioned as possibilities" isn't the right wording to get that across.

Anyway, off-Broadway League spokepserson David Gersten (who i love), had been sending out "Off-Broadway is still open" releases every week during the strike. I hope he continues to send them. After all, off-Broadway will need more publicity now.