Larry David’s Fish in the Dark Opens to Mixed Reviews

David's Fish in the Dark opened tonight.

David’s Fish in the Dark opened tonight.

Yes, it is true that Larry David’s Fish in the Dark is booked solid. It was an instant hit the first week pf previews. But now it’s official as the first reviews come out. Reviewers are surprised not by the fact that the comedy is filled with and finds much of its comedy from David’s neuroses, but that it’s a relatively old-fashioned, you might say, “classic,” comedy.

The reviews for Fish in the Dark are mixed.

Reviews Snippets

The reviews for Fish in the Dark were mixed. The Wall Street Journal thought Fish in the Dark was less of a play and more of a personal stage appearance and that David was uncomfortable on stage. The New York Times reviewer, Ben Brantley, said that he “laughed fully exactly once. The Washington Post called it a “middling comedy.”

The Wrap, which was more positive than the WSJ , Times, or Post noted, “It’s to be expected that Larry David’s new play is laugh-out-loud funny. The big surprise, though, is just how sturdy and conventional his stage comedy is in an old-fashioned Broadway kind of way. David may have written cutting-edge TV, but “Fish in the Dark,” which opened Thursday at the Cort Theatre, is anything but cutting-edge theater.”

The Daily News was also fairly upbeat, saying, “Fans will be pleased to know that David, a Broadway rookie, holds his own with seasoned stage pros in this solid production helmed by Anna D. Shapiro (“August: Osage County”), who is as good as it gets for shaking hilarity from family dysfunction.”

For Variety, Marilyn Stasio observed, “For anyone who’s still reading this review, let me say that, contrary to rumor, the show is not a TV sitcom. It does, however, round up some outrageously funny Larry David-ish characters who could probably float such a show.”

Stasio adds, “Helmer Anna D. Shapiro (“Of Mice and Men,” “August: Osage County”) has shrewdly surrounded her star with some of the best character actors in the business — Lewis J. Stadlen, Kenneth Tigar and the wonderful Marylouise Burke among them — to give master classes on how to time a laugh. There’s a swarm of these pros playing the family friends and relatives who crowd the waiting room keeping the death watch for Sidney, who is showing a lot of spirit for a dying man. Just ask the pretty girl who makes the mistake of paying him a bedside visit.”

The cast, as just about every reviewer admits, is stellar.

Record Breaker

No play in Broadway history has had $13.5 million in advanced ticket sales. Fish in the Dark for that fact alone is a record-setter. David fans are giddy with the show, reviewers are mixed, and producers are very happy. Fish in the Dark opened March 5 and is scheduled to close June 14.

Broadway Grosses and Capacity for Week Ending February 8

Fish in the Dark by Larry David

Fish in the Dark by Larry David

Larry David should be smiling as his show is selling beyond capacity.

It’s been an interesting week on Broadway, as four of five top shows in terms of capacity were plays and not musicals. Musicals topped the list of grosses, with four of the top five being tuners, but that’s partly because musicals tend to be playing in larger houses and tickets to these shows are pricier. You might think that a majority of the plays at the top of the list would be comedies, but only one, Fish in the Dark, is.

Fish in the Dark

The play by and starring Larry David, Fish in the Dark, seems to be an instant hit with a ready-made cult following who love his show Curb Your Enthusiasm and are big fans of his co-creation Seinfeld. A Fish in the Dark grossed just under one million last week and filled the theatre beyond seating capacity, coming in at 101.05%. The River, which stars Hugh Jackman, sold at 102.42% capacity, leading all shows, as The Book of Mormon, which was second to The Lion King in gross, selling $1,455,237 worth of tickets, was also second in capacity at 102.19%. Fourth and fifth in capacity were The Elephant Man (100.15%) and Constellations (98.69%).

Top and Bottom Grossing Show

This week the top grossing show, The Lion King, brought in $1,463,314. As noted, second was The Book of Mormon, while Wicked was third at $1,262,017, Aladdin fourth at $1,203,871, and Fish in the Dark fifth at $993,940.

Shows that are struggling at the box office include the musicals On the Town, Mamma Mia!, and Honeymoon in Vegas. All of these shows offer fairly light entertainment. Disgraced, which had a solid Off-Broadway run, seems to be unable to find an audience, as it is last in grosses, selling $333,741. Finishing close to Disgraced is the classic American comedy You Can’t Take It with You, starring James Earl Jones. It grossed just $334,224.

Top and Bottom Five for the Week

Here’s a quick summary of high and low grosses and capacities.

Tops (Gross)

  1. The Lion King ($1,463,314)
  2. The Book of Mormon ($1,455,237)
  3. Wicked ($1,262,017)
  4. Aladdin ($1,203,871)
  5. Fish in the Dark ($993,940)*

Bottoms (Gross)

  1. On the Town ($379,914)
  2. Mamma Mia! ($362,236)
  3. Honeymoon in Vegas ($359,163)
  4. You Can’t Take It With You ($334,224)
  5. Disgraced ($333,741)

Tops (Capacity

  1. The River (102.42%)
  2. The Book of Mormon (102.19%)
  3. Fish in the Dark (101.05%)*
  4. The Elephant Man (100.15%)**
  5. Constellations (98.69%)

Bottoms (Capacity)

  1. Les Miserables (60.09%)
  2. Mamma Mia! (55.29%)
  3. You Can’t Take It With You (52.50%)
  4. Honeymoon in Vegas (51.63%)
  5. On the Town (36.15%)

Broadway Openings in February Are Nil But Ramp up in March and April

Constellations opened in January.

Constellations opened in January.

There are no shows scheduled to open on Broadway in February. Since the start of 2015, two shows have premiered- Constellations (January 13, 2015, Samuel J. Friedman) and Honeymoon in Vegas (January 15, 2015, Nederlander). The 2014-2015 Broadway theatre season, which started in June with the premiere of Holler If Ya Hear Me (June 19, 2014, Palace), saw a total of 17 openings through to the end of December.

That means a majority of the shows on Broadway will open in what are the final four months of the season, which officially closes just before the Tony nominations on April 28.

March Openings


Helen Mirren stars as Queen Elizabeth II in The Audience.

Once again, in March, Broadway will be abuzz with the opening of two new plays and the revival of a play and a musical. On March 5, the Larry David comedy Fish in the Dark opens at the Cort. Three days later, on March 8, The Audience, starring Helen Mirren, will premiere at the Gerald Schoenfeld. The Audience focuses on the secret weekly meetings that Queen Elizabeth II held with her various prime ministers.

March 12 sees the first major Broadway revival of the Cy Coleman, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green musical On the Twentieth Century (American Airlines). When On the Twentieth Century premiered in 1978 it won six Tonys, the most for that season. The revival stars Kristin Chenoweth and Peter Gallagher.

The stars of The Heidi Chronicles.

The stars of The Heidi Chronicles.

Wendy Wasserstein’s Pulitzer Prize winning play The Heidi Chronicles opens on March 19 at the Music Box. This is the first revival of this play, which will star Elizabeth Moss, Jason Biggs, and Bryce Pinkham.

April on Broadway

April is filled with new productions. In fact, with 14 openings, April stands as the most active month on Broadway for the 2014-2015 season. Included will be the screen to stage adaptation of the classic Gene Kelley film An American in Paris (April 12).

Vanessa Hudgens stars in the revival of Gigi.

Vanessa Hudgens stars in the revival of Gigi.

Other new musicals include the Off-Broadway transfer of the musical comedy It Shoulda Been You (April 14), the Broadway premiere of the epic Doctor Zhivago (April 21), the Kander and Ebb adaptation of The Visit (April 23) starring Chita Rivera, and American Repertory Theatre’s production of Finding Neverland (April 16). Other musical revivals include The King and I with Kelli O’Hara (April 15) and Gigi (April 8) with High School Musical star Vanessa Hudgens.

There Will Probably Be More

Chances are there will be one or two more shows crammed into the Broadway schedule prior to the Tonys, as producers race to the finish line to try to mount an award-winning production. The more the merrier when it comes to competing for the ultimate stage award.