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.


Savannah said...

Is there any Black Suits news?

One NYC StageHand said...

I had the honor and privilege of working with Jeffrey Richards' mother, Helen, doing her last show "My Old Friends" as Jeffery was working on one of his first, "Passion Of Dracula". Helen was a wonderful, intelligent, sharp-as-tacks business women who had a long and successful career as a Company Manager and Press Agent. Jeffery certainly came from good stock and imagine young Jeffery being chucked under the chin by the actors in one of his mothers first Bway shows "Don Juan In Hell". Moorehead,Laughton, Boyer and Hardwicke. Not bad company to be getting cooed over.

carajoy said...

I never met Helen Richards, but I have always heard good things about her. You're right, that is certainly not bad company!

As for Black Suits, no, no news. Hopefully someday... but as of now, nothing. (And I think I'd know.)

Esther said...

While the importance of the theater has probably been decreasing for the past hundred years, I don't think all hope is lost. It's kind of a mixed bag.

At the Broadway shows and touring production I've seen, the age range has been fairly diverse. When I go to my local repertory theater, which is a pretty acclaimed company, the age range definitely skews older. Maybe part of it is that I'm going on Sunday afternoon, but I'm sure there are plenty of younger people at the movies at that time. And it's not prohibitively expensive. I often get the $15 rush tickets a couple of hours beforehand.

Certainly shows like "A Christmas Carol" that are designed to appeal to families do well. And I even missed seeing one production because it was sold out on Sunday afternoons. I gambled once too often and lost. I should have just bought a full-priced ticket!

And on Broadway, the biggest crowd I saw at the stage door this year was at a Wednesday matinee of "Spring Awakening," which attracts a young, devoted following.

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