This will hopefully be a semi-regular feature here on Smichovsky Compensation Syndrome (side note: I haven’t had a single person ask me about the name of the blog, which is awfully surprising. I assume either you all immediately get the reference–which I know is not the case–or you’re all researching it and coming away satisfied. Or you just don’t care). I post on this “general discussion” message board sometimes (okay, a lot of times), and every once in a while I throw up what I call an EASILY IGNORED THEATER POST, since most of the folks who visit that site aren’t really checking for theater like that. But now I have a blog where people show up to read about Rent and Idina Menzel and The Tony Awards (tag tag tag), so hopefully this will be a more effective public service.
1. Not surprisingly, a bunch of shows have posted closing notices after missing out on Tony Awards and ticket bumps. Passing Strange remains my big concern. As of the week ending June 22 (the last week of receipts available on variety.com AND the first week after the Tonys), the show is only playing to 60% full houses, and only pulling in about $260K — one third of its potential net receipts. As a comparison, In The Heights is up to 99% capacity houses and making over $900 grand a week–just about maxing out. Now of course, Heights won Best Musical, and the buzz there is undeniable, and there’s no way to compare expectations for one show against the other. But Strange simply isn’t finding its audience, and its a shame, because as I’ve said here before, it might be a better show top-to-bottom than Heights. So here’s my last ditch plea: go see Passing Strange. A lot of these other shows will be around for a while. You’re going to kick yourself if you miss it.
2. Other interesting stuff to note from the returns: Grease got a $105K bump after the Tonys — did that performance really convince people they needed to see this show?…Gypsy, to no one’s surprise, had a huge bump after Patti won her Tony, bringing in an additional $125K (or half of what Strange brought in total) for the week. That show will be close to sold out as long as she sticks around…Legally Blonde also got a MASSIVE bump ($117K), and I’m sure it had to be some kind of coincidence–was there some MTV related activity going on that week?
Okay, enough Broadway.
3. New York Theatre Workshop has announced its 08-09 season. I’m reserving judgment a bit. They’re only doing three full productions, plus an Encores! kinda thing for underappreciated Off-Bway musicals and some political work around the election. They’ve got some limitations this year due to some budget issues (losing the income from Rent certainly doesn’t help), so the lightened schedule makes sense. I’m not super excited about anything in the season just yet (which is troublesome, since The Public has such a lights out lineup), but I’ll keep my eyes open.
4. In a Variety story that will only interest some of you and then only in passing (Strange, go see it), New York is considering tax breaks for Broadway producers. This is kind of a big deal (c) Ron Burgandy.
5. The Summer Play Festival kicks off this week at The Public. They’ve limited the slate (now I’m talking like Variety) to just two shows a week (down from four in the olden days on Theatre Row) for a total of just eight shows (down from sixteen–and even more the first year, I believe). I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for SPF. Some of you reading this will remember seeing Welcome to Arroyo’s way back in the 2005 Festival. The folks at SPF and Arielle Tepper Productions always treated the artists well, and certainly knew how to throw a party (or six). That said, there are limitations to the festival’s structure: it’s great for small, self-contained plays that can easily be produced in two weeks with a little bit of money, but it doesn’t give larger plays a whole lot of time to find their way. I’ve seen more than a few plays come off poorly at SPF simply because they were too big to get on their feet in the time alotted.
So basically, what I’m saying is this: go to SPF. See a bunch of shows. Tickets are cheap. The shows are usually well-selected and diverse. You’ll have a good time. Just keep in mind that the shows are far from finished productions (the SPF people don’t always remind audiences of this).
On a last SPF note, my long-time buddy (we used to play the most ridiculous ER-based speculation game on the planet in college) Caitlin Moon is directing Tio Pepe by Matthew Lopez in the festival’s last week. Go see it.