Producer Scott Rodin and the rest of the investors need not be concerned of the danger of living in a meta-reality based on Willy Loman’s own tragic combination of disillusionment and fear of betrayal. Why so grand a statement? Well, Death of a Salesman has recouped its initial capitalization, as reported by the New York Times. This is incredible considering the move to seven shows a week instead of eight and raising Death of a Salesman tickets to the levels unseen by a dramatic production in years.
Theatergoers are more than willing to pay near Book of Mormon prices to see Philip Seymour Hoffman, Andrew Garfield, and Linda Emond earn their Tony Award nominations every night. I would say the same for director Mike Nichols’ contributions, but no one comes to see a Broadway director. This willingness has brought the investors a couple of weeks to turn a huge profit.
In a world in which only 30 percent of Broadway productions (plays and musicals) are able to turn a profit, his has been an astounding run. It took 14 weeks of the 16-week run to make this happen. Most of the time this would mean an extension for a revival or original production, but it has been clearly and deafeningly stated that the 2012 revival of Death of a Salesman will close its curtains at the Barrymore Theatre on June 2.
In other words, this production is going out on top without a replacement cast to usher in a few more months to really drive home a profit. I think the theater community appreciates the foreseeable disappointment of seeing a cast of actors getting their big break in a second run (though those ticket prices would have to drop dramatically from the current $425 price tag). Especially, if any of those actors are going to be accepting individual awards eight Days later at the 2012 Tony Awards.
Not to be outdone by the Tony Awards, the Drama League has preannounced its nomination announcements. The Tony Awards may have Kristin Chenoweth and Jim Parsons, but the Drama League has tapped Megan Hilty and Justin Long! Hilty and Long may not have quite the resume of the Tony announcers but they are quite vogue.
Hilty is one of the stars of the hit show Smash, so take that Chenoweth. GCB may have its fans, but Smash is Broadway for adults, a more mature version of Glee with far more realistic singing sequences. Yes, Chenoweth may have originated the role of Galinda, but Hilty owned the role when she took over on Broadway. Neither one of these actresses will be seen with Wicked Tickets now, but they are part of the Wicked lineage. Hilty has also starred in 9 to 5: The Musical.
Long is currently on Broadway in the new play Seminar, Theresa Rebeck’s new play. Long has a much longer television and film resume though, one much longer than Parsons. He may not have a sitcom as wildly successful as the Big Bang Theory. He does have Live Free or Die Hard, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, He’s Just Not That into You, and Waiting to his credit. Long has been making a career out supporting roles and celebrated reoccurring roles. Most recently he appeared on The New Girl as a romantic interest opposite Zooey Deshanel.
Similarly, the Drama League of New York is slightly less well-known and celebrated than the Tony Awards. Yet, the Drama League Awards predate the Tony Awards. The first Drama League Awards were held in 1935 while the Tony Awards were first presented in 1947. The announcement comes on April 24, 2012, a week before the Tony Award announcements. The Drama League Awards are held well in advance of the Tony Awards too. The 2012 award show will be presented on May 18, 2012 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel with Stockyard Channing and John Larroquette.
Broadway shows with long runs are a producers dream. They are also great for burgeoning stars of the musical theater. The latest would-be star to grace the stage at Gershwin Theatre is Chandra Lee Schwartz. She portrays Glinda the Good Witch. Schwartz has been perfecting the performance since she joined Wicked on the touring circuit.
Chandra Lee Schwartz has essentially been selling Wicked tickets since Friday, August 21, 2009. Then she joined the first national tour of Wicked the Musical as Elphaba. Schwartz would switch roles and take on the role of Glinda, a role she would reprise on Broadway.
Before Wicked, both the national tour and her Broadway performance, Chandra went the normal route. Born on August 18, 1981 and graduating from AMDA NYC, Schwartz started off Broadway in What’s That Smell and The Music of Jacob Sterling. Soon she graduated to play before much larger audiences. She played Sharpay in the High School Musical and Penny in Hairspray.
Wicked would be her chance to break out. She has gone from traveling the country to residing in Manhattan and starring in the biggest show of each Broadway season since it opened back in 2004. What will be next – a television sitcom, a supporting role in a romantic comedy, or originating another role on Broadway? Her star appears ready to rise even higher.
Last week it was reported that the Book of Mormon would be retaining its Tony Award winning cast until 2013. Well, evidently, the casting is not as clear cut. Andrew Rannells, who stars as Elder Kevin Price, might not be part of that returning cast. First, he is going to have to take a few weeks off to head to Los Angeles to work on the new Ryan Murphy sitcom. During those weeks an understudy would have to take his place. Of course, the bigger concern is not that Rannells will be missing for a few weeks, but that he will be gone for an extended period of time, taking up the role for the entire season.
The role is that of one-half of a gay couple interacting with the surrogate who is carrying their child. Well, chances are pretty good that the sitcom, currently known as “that new Ryan Murphy project”, will find a primetime slot for at least half a television season. It has been reported that NBC, ABC, and FOX had been bidding for the pilot. NBC won and they are desperate to put up some kind of comedy programming featuring homosexual characters to challenge Modern Family. For goodness sakes, this is the network that made Will and Grace a huge hit, this pilot will likely get an entire year no matter how good or bad it ends up being.
This is not the first time a television pilot has interfered with the cast of a Broadway play. Sutton Foster took a break from the musical Anything Goes to work on the TV pilot Bunheads. The co-creators of the Book of Mormon would be hard pressed to demonstrate any kind of bitterness if Rannells is given the opportunity to leave for greater exposure. Trey Parker and Matt Stone are, of course, famous for their animated half hour comedy South Park.
So, get Book of Mormon tickets to enjoy the true original cast before Ryan Murphy likely adds another successful program to his IMDB profile.
The newest generation of Disney stars has a new role model and that role model is Daniel Radcliffe. First he makes enough money to retire by the time he is 16 by starring in the Harry Potter franchise. Next he showed his junk in Equus to bust that squeaky clean image. Then he finished it all off with a move toward legitimacy by starring in the big Broadway revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
The latest family-friendly star to try and add the adjective “former” to the list is Joe Jonas. Jonas may be doing nothing more than teasing the press, but he told the Advocate he might be up for doing a nude scene on the live stage as Radcliffe did because he understands the difference between acting and real life. Did he say he would do a nude scene? No, but he did not count it out and that may just be the best way to establish oneself as an adult in the celebrity world without going full frontal.
Besides, though How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying tickets are still selling quite well after the cast replacements (a fact that should not go without recognition). According to Playbill’s box office report, How to Succeed has found that filling the Hirschfeld at 97.5 percent capacity is a pretty solid path to prosperity.
If Jonas follows this return to Broadway with a nude scene he is just going to invite criticism for following Harry Potter’s exact path, albeit a little out of order. Instead, he should keep flaunting his hot Australian singer girlfriend and people will quickly get the point.
Meanwhile, the Advocate article spends a good amount of time dancing around the issue of the Jonas Brothers’ conservative image and Joe’s exposure to the gay community after entering the ranks of a Broadway performer at the age of 8. It is in this long series of questions where Joe Jonas truly establishes himself as an adult. His answers read sincerely with being supportive of the LGBT community while maintaining his faith, making the distinction between an individual believer, the generalized opinion of those high-profile leaders within the church, and everyone’s right to their own belief.
The nature of success for a Broadway musical has remained quite the same since the advent of film. First, a show makes to Broadway and sells out, quickly recouping the producers’ investment. Then a national tour is launched. In the post-Lion King world of big budget theater this means that the Broadway show and the tour run concurrently. Add a West End run and then all this leads to a big budget production of a different kind, the kind that graces the silver screen. War Horse quickly concluded along these lines, but it now has Broadway brethren (or perhaps a cousin, since War Horse conquered the London before crossing the Atlantic) in the Rock of Ages.
Yes, the Rock of Ages debuted recently and appears to be the second sign of Tom Cruise’s return to legitimacy as a movie star (the first being Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol). Now, in addition to the option to purchase Rock of Ages tickets for the Broadway production at Hayes Theatre, the West End production at the Shaftesbury Theatre, and the second national tour, fans of the 1980s rock, musical theater, and star studded casts will be able to rock out in air conditioned movieplexes across the nation come June 1, 2012.
While, it is important Broadway brag about the superiority of a live show, it is difficult to be underwhelmed by this cast. Diego Boneta and Julianne Hough play the protagonists and star-crossed lovers Drew Boley and Sherrie Christian. They are not he draw though. Rather it is Tom Cruise as cocky, ridiculous Stacee Jaxx, Alec Baldwin as aging rock venue owner Dennis, Russell Brand as Lonnie, Bryan Cranston as the Mayor of Los Angeles, Catherine Zeta-Jones as the Mayor’s wife and rock concert antagonist, and Paul Giamatti as Jaxx’s manager that will bring in the crowds.
It appears the film took liberties with the plot, nixing the German investors and going the anti-fun league route. This is not necessarily disconcerting, but at least offers a slight deviation from the live stage version.
Ok, so here is the scary thing. I do not know which version I am going to prefer. Rock of Ages takes on rock and roll during the stadium glam rock era, so perhaps the story will play out better on a big screen. Certainly Cruise has demonstrated he can capture an over-the-top character like Stacee Jaxx. Add Alec Baldwin being Alec Baldwin and is difficult to hate on the Hollywood adaptation.
Most often it is those on stage who fear the written word, but this time the barrels of ink and reams of paper have gotten Ben Brantley in trouble. Noted New York Times theater critic was busy lauding praise upon Hugh Jackman and used a term that sent the collective Internet into a tizzy. He referred to the actor as bisexual.
Now, Brantley puts the word in context, making it clear he does not intend to insinuate that the popular actor and heartthrob is gay. Brantley is saying that Jackman is unapologetic about his love of musicals while loving playing Wolverine, a character who would rather regrow an arm than sit through The Boy from Oz. Brantley is not the first to discuss sexuality with regards to the actor. Hugh Jackman’s wife has repeatedly shot down rumors that he is indeed homosexual.
Brantley’s assertion is not meant to challenge this. However, one look down the comment board and hateful comments spew forth, from multiple sides. One lady accused Brantley of being unable to accept that he has no chance with her. Another person, whose name was simply displayed as J, “can’t think of anything more insidiously terrible than Hugh Jackman, or any red meat eating male for that matter, prancing about shirtless in a silly musical”.
Really, the most intriguing aspect of the article is not the use of any language or loaded terms, but that Jackman is unable to carry himself on stage with the same intrigue as Judy Garland. I never witnessed this spectacle on stage, but his description definitely piques my interest. Garland allegedly adored and resented her audience. Jackman, unequivocally, loves his legions of fans however they come – male, female, gay, or straight. He is the LBGT’s choice for a superhero, a performer comfortable in his own skill and able to play roles ranging from a Broadway legend to a man teeming with testosterone.
If only the Internet could focus on Jackman’s range as an actor and let the messenger live. Currently Hugh Jackman tickets are on sale to see this limited engagement at the Broadhurst Theater, one of the few Broadway venues to embrace the American “er” instead of the British “re”.
War Horse’s ascension may seem a recent phenomenon, but time has come to announce cast changes. The most important character, the horse Joey, will always remain. However, the role of Albert Narracott, the boy in desperate search for Joey, will be passed on from Seth Numerich to Andrew Durand. Durand’s Broadway resume is quite impressive, so War Horse tickets for the production at the Vivian Beaumont Theater should remain as popular as ever after the cast change on January 12, 2012.
Durand is the headliner of a 15-person cast change. Durand previously commanded critical praise as a member of Spring Awakening, Frank Wedekind’s famed play about the sexually-repressed culture at the beginning of the 20th century. While 15 new faces is much for any theatrical production to endure, the producers, directors, puppeteers and familiar fans appreciate the 21 actors and actresses who are remaining to provide some kind of consistency as the show adjusts to such an upheaval.
Many more young, hungry actors and actresses will be given the opportunity to portray the many characters of this Tony and Laurence Olivier Award-winning play as War Horse is set to embark on a much less treacherous journey. A touring production will tour the United States beginning on June 13, 2012 at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles. Also, before the national tour begins, the neighbors to the north will be enjoying its own production. War Horse will begin an open-ended run at the Princess of Wales Theatre on February 28, 2012.
Of course, the Steven Spielberg directed film adaptation will likely be receiving most of the attention, as it opens in December 2011, just in time for Christmas. In the battle of media exposure and the big bucks War Horse is most definitely not wandering in No Man’s Land. It is set to continue its success as a play and will certainly become one of the best grossing films of the new Academy Award season.
The summer heat can be fun, but later in July and August it can bring muggy, saturated days. Thankfully it is now November and the fall breeze is in full effect, offering a refreshing blast of lightly chilled air before the temperatures become downright bitter. Broadway is not immune to this sudden change, as the summer big-budget blockbusters like Spider Man and Sister Act have given up their time on the media, and more dramatic offerings grace the live stage. The 2011 theatrics include two world-renown actors and two very serious tomes.
Both plays essentially deal with patriarchs. In Man and Boy, the patriarch is a father and head of an international finance company visiting his son, who has been thought dead by the rest of the world. In Seminar, a famous and accomplished writer visits with a small writers’ group and the four would be literary stars jockeying for his ever-fickle approval.
Those with Man and Boy tickets will see Frank Langella portray Gregor Antonescu, an international financer desperate to see a merger during the Great Depression to save his company and cover his shady business practices. This production by the Roundabout Theatre Company questions his sincerity and his motivation as he shows up at the door of his estranged son. Business and other family find their way through the same door on stage at the American Airlines Theatre. Though the show is just in previews, the early reports rave about Langella in this minor Terence Rattigan work.
Less than half a mile away at the John Golden Theatre, Pulitzer Prize nominated playwright Theresa Rebeck debuts a dark comedy. There, Seminar tickets provide entrance to witness Alan Rickman as he brings international literary figure Leonard to life as he torments four young writers who are trying to publish their first novel.
Langella and Rickman, as Gregor and Leonard, represent two almost pathologically controlling men dedicated to preserving their strange hold in their perspective worlds. Perhaps this sounds far bitterer than refreshing, but these slightly heavier, darker productions (Seminar is a dark comedy) help cleanse the palate after two seasons of domination by shows intended to be much lighter and louder. The seasons have changed and so has the taste on Broadway, so enjoy these works before their limited engagements end.
The first War Horse trailer intrigued audiences, gently tugging at the heart strings across the English-speaking world, but this second War Horse trailer takes a tight grip and pulls back as hard as it can. Watching this extended War Horse trailer makes me hold my breath as the title screens and the soft symphonic movie music make me want to cheer while sitting in my chair.
Indie Wire’s blog called it Oscar bait, and if there is one director that knows how to seduce the Academy Awards it is Steven Spielberg. He also is smart enough to take a product that is already receiving its due attention and ramp up the emotional cues with incredible orchestration and beautiful action sequences.
War Horse will be the darling of the silver screen across the United States come Christmas, but it is already the glint in the eye of Broadway. Every once in a while the theater community needs a dramatic play to avert some of the criticism of its penchant for big budget musicals that are saccharine are smug. Recently that has meant a journey down the deep dark path that is David Mamet’s mind, but this time Broadway has welcomed a British import that is surely sentimental but understated enough to stand alone as something different.
Last week War Horse grossed $990,180 at the Beaumont and nearly filled the theater to capacity, coming in at 99.9 percent. The astounding puppetry and the harkening back to a Great War often forgotten by the History Channel – probably because of the lack of footage – has earned an audience. The movie is certainly going to inspire interest in the play across the nation, so while Spielberg has benefited from a pre-packaged product, the relationship is symbiotic. I expect the Playbill receipt numbers for War Horse tickets to exceed 100 percent as the movie release draws near.