Andronicus Roll-Ups

Illustration of the death of Chiron and Demetrius from Act 5, Scene 2; from The Works of Mr. William Shakespeare, edited by Nicholas Rowe (1709)

Illustration of the death of Chiron and Demetrius from Act 5, Scene 2; from The Works of Mr. William Shakespeare, edited by Nicholas Rowe (1709)

[I was] on stage in “The Beard of Avon,” a farce.  I was playing the role of the boy player, Geoffrey dunderbread.  It was a short scene from a rehearsal of Titus.    My mouth was shoved full of fruit roll ups, which was to be my tongue [soon to be cut out] (I wanted steak, but whatever).

 
I waited on stage, by myself, on my knees, mouth full of fruit roll ups, unable to talk, for approximately 4-6 minutes on opening night, due to [another] actor missing an entrance that started the scene.  

 

Never have my ears been so hot.

 

 – Eric St. Cyr,  with Yellow Taxi Productions, New Hampshire

 

Subways are for Sleeping

"7 out of 7 are ecstatically unanimous about Subways are for Sleeping." Howard Taubman: "One of the few great musical comedies of the last thirty years, one of the best of our time. It lends lustre to this or any other Broadway season." Walter Kerr: "What a show! What a hit! What a solid hit! If you want to be overjoyed, spend an evening with 'Subways are for Sleeping.' A triumph." John chapman "No doubt about it. 'Subways are for Sleeping' is the best musical of the century. Consider yourself lucky if you can buy or steal a ticket for 'Subways are for Sleeping' over the next few years." John McClain: "A fabulous musical. I love it. Sooner or later, everyone will have to see 'Subways are for Sleeping'." Richard Watts: "A knockout, from start to finish. The musical you've been waiting for. It deserves to run for a decade." Norman Nadel: "A whopping hit. Run, don't walk to the St. James Theatre. It's in that rare class of great musicals. Quite simply, it has everything." Robert Coleman: "A great musical All the ingredients are there. As fine a piece of work as our stage can be asked to give us."

"7 out of 7 are ecstatically unanimous about Subways are for   Sleeping."  Howard Taubman: "One of the few great musical comedies of the   last thirty years, one of the best of our time.   It lends lustre   to this or any other Broadway season."  Walter Kerr:   "What a show!  What a hit!  What a solid hit!  If   you want to be overjoyed, spend an evening with 'Subways are for   Sleeping.'  A triumph."  John chapman "No doubt about it.  'Subways are for Sleeping' is   the best musical of the century.  Consider yourself lucky if you   can buy or steal a ticket for 'Subways are for Sleeping' over the   next few years."  John McClain: "A fabulous musical.  I love it.  Sooner or later,   everyone will have to see 'Subways are for Sleeping'."  Richard Watts:  "A knockout, from start to finish.  The musical   you've been waiting for.  It deserves to run for a decade."  Norman Nadel:  "A whopping hit.  Run, don't walk to the St. James   Theatre.  It's in that rare class of great musicals.  Quite   simply, it has everything."  Robert Coleman: "A great musical  All the ingredients are there.    As fine a piece of work as our stage can be asked to give us."

It was January of 1962.   The Broadway production of Subways are for Sleeping at the St. James Theatre was getting weak reviews.   Ticket revenues were low, and in need of some magic.

Producer David Merrick had a trick up his sleeve that he had been saving for several years.    He spent some time making some interesting arrangements, and then prepared the following advertisement for every major New York newspaper.  It included the names of the most prominent theatre critics of the time, followed by over-the-top enthusiastic reviews:

 

“7 out of 7 are ecstatically unanimous about Subways are for Sleeping.”

Howard Taubman: “One of the few great musical comedies of the last thirty years, one of the best of our time. It lends lustre to this or any other Broadway season.”

Walter Kerr: “What a show! What a hit! What a solid hit! If you want to be overjoyed, spend an evening with ‘Subways are for Sleeping.’ A triumph.”

John Chapman “No doubt about it. ‘Subways are for Sleeping’ is the best musical of the century. Consider yourself lucky if you can buy or steal a ticket for ‘Subways are for Sleeping’ over the next few years.”

John McClain: “A fabulous musical. I love it. Sooner or later, everyone will have to see ‘Subways are for Sleeping’.”

Richard Watts: “A knockout, from start to finish. The musical you’ve been waiting for. It deserves to run for a decade.”

Norman Nadel: “A whopping hit. Run, don’t walk to the St. James Theatre. It’s in that rare class of great musicals. Quite simply, it has everything.”

Robert Coleman: “A great musical All the ingredients are there. As fine a piece of work as our stage can be asked to give us.”

 

Merrick’s ingenious trick:  He rounded up seven men who were not reviewers of theatre, but happened to have the exact same names as the ideal set of critics to be quoted.

He treated them all to a free showing of the production with other perks, and coaxed the published quotes out of each.  Nowhere in the ad does it say that these individuals are affiliated with any newspaper or have any other credentials.    It is, in fact, a completely truthful piece of information, though a deliberately misleading one.

David Merrick

David Merrick

By ABC Television (eBay front back) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Phyllis Newman

Merrick might have used this trick earlier in his career, but he had been unable to find anyone with the same name as Brooks Atkinson.  Atikinson retired in 1961, opening the way for Merrick’s inventiveness.

Only the Herald-Tribune ran the ad.  One of the other papers examined the photographs, and realized that the pictured individuals were not, in fact, the reviewers being implied by the piece.   The word spread among the rest of the papers that had not yet gone to press.

That one newspaper, however, provided much-needed publicity for the show.  It went on for over 200 more performances, and even earned a Tony Award:  Best Featured Actress in a Musical, for Phyllis Newman.

Webber Musical School of Rock Open Call for Kid Musicians

School of Rock, the musical

School of Rock, the musical

Webber’s latest, School of Rock, offered open calls in NYC and Chicago.

The new Andrew Lloyd Webber show School of Rock, The Musical, which he has developed with Glenn Slater and Julian Fellowes, offered young Broadway hopefuls and teen musicians the chance to strut their stuff in an open call yesterday. Dozens showed up to get a chance to be seen and heard.

Getting a Chance to Play

The Logo for the stage musical.

The Logo for the stage musical.

There were teens and pre-teens, many of them rock guitarists, and all with dreams of being in show business. Some were from just a few blocks away and others travelled four or more hours to wait in the unkind weather and be seen. The musical also ran a concurrent open casting call for young performers in Chicago.

The kids were auditioning to be art of the young rock band that is formed by a substitute teacher at a private school. A variety of talents are needed, including guitarists, bass players, drummers, and vocalists.

The Story

The musical is based on the 2003 hit Hollywood comedy of the same name, which starred Jack Black. The film was produced by Paramount Pictures and directed by Richard Linklater. The movie was exceedingly popular and highly praised. It grossed more than $130 million worldwide.

The film centers on Dewey Finn (Jack Black). Finn is a young guy who wants to be rock star, but is having a tough time getting any traction in his career. In fact, he can’t make ends meets at all, and so he pretends to be a substitute teacher and lands a teaching gig at a prestigious private school. He realizes that his fifth grade class has some awesome rock chops and decides to organize them into a rock band in order to win the Battle of the Bands contest.

Jack Black was a big hit in the musical.

Jack Black was a big hit in the musical.

The new songs have not yet been announced by the stage musical; songs from the film that may be used include “School of Rock,” “Fight,” “Heal Me, I’m Heartsick,” and “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll).”

Opening in December

School of Rock, The Musical will preview at the Winter Garden Theatre starting Monday, November 2, 2015. It is scheduled to open December 6. Laurence Connor, who directed the current Broadway revival of Les Miserables, will direct the musical, and JoAnn M. Hunter will choreograph.

Anna Louizos will design scenery and costumes, Natasha Katz lighting, and Mick Potter sound. Nina Lannan is the Executive Producer for School of Rock, The Musical.

Broadway Grosses Unpredictable During January

Honeymoon in Vegas Box Office

Honeymoon in Vegas Box Office

Honeymoon in Vegas, which received great reviews, got a bump in ticket sales.

The ‘dead months” for Broadway begin in January with the start of the calendar year and stretch into early March. It’s a time that can be tough on Broadway ticket sales, as people are often low on cash due to holiday spending. Also, the unpredictable and unkind weather, short days and cold nights, and a general letdown after all of the hustle and bustle that defines the time from Thanksgiving through to New Year’s, contribute to uneven ticket sales.

Mid-January Box Office Figures

Mamma Mia!  Broadway musical

Mamma Mia! saw a decreased os more than 10%.

The box office numbers as reported by Playbill.com for the week ending January 18, 2015, reveal an overall uptick from those for the week ending January 11th. Most plays and musicals showed an increase in ticket sales for the week running from the 12th to the 18th. Where as for the week ending January 11th every show, except Aladdin and The Book of Mormon, saw a decline from the week prior, which included New Year’s.

Shows that experienced a decline in sales for the week ending January 18th were Cabaret (-1.4%), Chicago (-5.8%), It’s Only a Play (-5.0%), Jersey Boys (-6.3%), Les Misérables (-5.9%), The Lion King (-1.0%), and The Phantom of the Opera (-8.8%). Mamma Mia! posted the only double-digit dovetail, with sales down 12.8%,

Shows Trending Upward

Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance on Broadway

John Lithgow and Glenn Close star in Albee’s A Delicate Balance.

Of the 29 shows presently running on Broadway, 21 either showed no decline or enjoyed an increase in sales. That means 74% of the shows experienced either improved or stable tickets sales.

The show that saw the biggest increase was the revival of Edward Albee’s Pulitzer Prize winning drama A Delicate Balance. There was a 10.1% increase in sales, as the John Golden Theatre reached 83.4% capacity. Two other revivals rebounded nicely, as On the Town notched an increase of 7.7%, going from 58.1% to 65.8%, and You Can’t Take It With You received a 7.2% bump, as it went from 61.3% capacity to 68.5%.

Honeymoon in Vegas

The new musical Honeymoon in Vegas, which garnered wonderful reviews during the week, went from 78.5% to 81.5% capacity. It will be interesting to see if what appears to be the first big hit of 2015 continues to see increased ticket sales during what can be the harshest time of the year for Broadway theatres. Broadway producers will be anxiously eyeing advanced sales for the coming months, as well as daily and weekly grosses.

New Broadway Musical Mrs. Doubtfire Has Premium Creative Team

Mrs. Doubtfire, musical, Robin Williams

Mrs. Doubtfire, musical, Robin  Williams

Williams’ comedy, Mrs. Doubtfire, to be stage musical.

The hit film Mrs. Doubtfire, in which Robin Williams starred as a dad who cross-dresses and becomes an aging housekeeper in order to see his kids, is being made into a stage musical. The news was first heard in an interview on January 22nd broadcast Entertainment Weekly Radio with Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken.

Menken Makes the Announcement

Mrs. Doubtfire Alan Menken composer for musical

Alan Menken announced he is composing the score.

Alan Menken revealed that he and David Zippel were writing the music and lyrics, respectively, for, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Harvey Fierstein the book. Menken and Zippel collaborated on the Disney animated film Hercules. Fierstein’s latest hit is the long running musical Kinky Boots, which he co-wrote with Cyndi Lauper. Menken is presently represented on Broadway by the musical Aladdin.

Menken observed, “Harvey Fierstein is writing the book, David Zippel is writing the lyrics, I’m writing the music, and it’s going very well. It’s in its early stages, and that’s probably all I can say. We’re really enjoying working on it.”

The Movie

Fierstein, who will write the book for the musical, played Williams' brother in the film.

Fierstein, who will write the book for the musical, played Williams’ brother in the film.

The movie Mrs. Doubtfire was popular with fans when it came out in 1993, but it got mixed reviews from critics. Along with starring in the movie, Williams served as the producer. Other stars included Fierstein and Sally Fields.

Although it received low grades from some reviewers when it was first released, over the yearsMrs. Doubtfire has found some redemption. The movie was listed 67th in the American Film Institute’s 100 Years, 100 Laughs: America’s Funniest Movies, which is a ranking of the 100 funniest movies of the 20th century. Also, Bravo ranked it 40th on its list of 100 Funniest Movies of All Time.

Williams’ Death

Williams, beloved by many as a comedian and actor, shocked the world this past August with his suicide. He was, at that time, preparing to star in the sequel to Mrs. Doubtfire. The musical is in its early stages of development.