Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Money For The Begotten?

Money For The Begotten?

According to New York Post's Michael Riedel, Kevin Spacey is "angling" for a hefty weekly salary for his upcoming limited stint in the Broadway revival of A Moon For The Misbegotten. The play is due to open April 9 at the 950-seat Brooks Atkinson Theatre.

Supposedly, Spacey is seeking $25,000 per week, along with an extra 10 percent of the weekly take over $350,000. Naturally, we're only getting half the story, and there's no word yet on whether Spacey's demands are for real, and if so whether they'll be met or countered.

If the production attracts sizeable crowds, it will be in no small part due to Spacey's role in the show. There's no denying Spacey's a distinguished thespian of the first order with two Oscars and a Tony to show for his breadth of talent. And while he's been tirelessly working across the pond as the Old Vic's artistic director for reportedly nominal wages (and thus foregoing more lucrative film opportunities) over the course of more than three years, there's no discounting the critical acclaim his portrayal of James Tyrone, Jr. in London has already garnered. That will, no doubt, further enhance the box office despite the paltry draw of the last Broadway revival in 2000.

Compared with most Great White Way fare, A Moon For The Misbegotten is arguably a smaller show, with only five principal characters and substantially lower overhead than the typical production. Savvy audiences are smart enough to know that such factors don't make the tickets any less expensive -- they just make producers' return on investment come back more quickly.

So at a time when overzealous producers are already charging exorbitant "premium" seating tickets at well over $200 a clip, shouldn't more of that money go into the hands of those squarely responsible for placing butts in the seats in the first place? I won't begrudge Mr. Spacey one moment for trying to negotiate a handsome reward for himself; in my mind, he's earned it.


This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Related Stories:
Brooks Atkinson To Get Space(y)d Out With Moon For The Misbegotten (November 22, 2006)

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6 Comments:

At 11 January, 2007, Anonymous Esther said...

As one of Mr. Spacey's devoted fans, I want to thank you for coming to his defense! Sure, I'd rather spend $100 on a ticket than $200 or $250, but I don't begrudge Kevin his big payday for a minute.

I guess there's always a debate in our society over whether the athletes, entertainers, and even corporate executives, deserve these astronomical sums.

But I think Kevin is a great ambassador for the theater. And if he can create the same kind of excitement for Moon on Broadway that he did in London, well he deserves the money.

If you've ever listened to or read an interview with him, well his passion is so evident. It's always been his first love. When he took over as artistic director at The Old Vic, one of the things he said was: "The movies don't need me; theater does."

And I don't think Kevin's forgotten that the theater should be available to everyone. He also talks all the time about opportunities he had as a kid growing up in Southern California to attend plays and participate in workshops with actors.

When he talks about his work at The Old Vic, he always mentions the education programs, the community outreach, giving people who live in the neighborhood a chance to attend performances at greatly reduced prices. There are student seats for every performance, and workshops for schoolchildren that he participates in.

And he's also been generous with his own money. This is from an article last fall in The Economist magazine:

Mr Spacey, whose personal fund-raising target is 1 million pounds a year, says money is coming in faster than before from corporate sponsors such as Morgan Stanley, 3i & Starbucks. His personal contribution is to waive his salary of ''about 100,000 pounds' a year as artistic director. He is paid a little to be an actor or a director.

Obviously, a $250 ticket is going to exclude a lot of people from going to see Moon. I don't know how these things work, but I assume there'll be less expensive tickets. I know when Kevin did The Iceman Cometh on Broadway, he made sure that there were cheaper seats for students. I hope he does it this time as well.

And you know what, if I'm helping to subsidize that cheaper seat, well that's fine. I just hope it goes to some young person who's as passionate about the theater as Kevin. I know we'll both have an unforgettable experience.

 
At 11 January, 2007, Anonymous Esther said...

This doesn't have anything to do with how much money Kevin should get for Moon, but I just wanted to mention that the man is very gracious to his fans.

I got a personal note from him in response to a card I sent, and I was just thrilled. This was when he was in the middle of doing Richard II, his first big Shakespearean role. And yet, he still made time in his day to answer fan mail. I know other people have received notes from him, too.

Also, he signs autographs after every performance, no matter how tired he is or how he's feeling or how he thought he did. If you go see a play at The Old Vic, you know that afterward, you'll have a chance to meet Kevin and get his autograph. How many double Oscar and Tony winners are that accessible!

 
At 11 January, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Great comments, Esther. While there will almost assuredly be a substantial number of tickets at the $250 level, there will also be tickets at a much more affordable level, too - they just won't be quite as close-up.

The exception could very well be a trick that's employed by various shows like "Wicked" that employ a lottery for those hoping to get seats in the $25 range. A select number of front row seats are reserved for each performance, thus enabling those without the means to get the best seats in the house. It's entirely feasible that the production of "A Moon For The Misbegotten" might also use a similar program and reserve it for all audiences or restrict it to students and/or seniors.

Cheers!

 
At 12 January, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Tickets "A Moon For The Misbegotten" are now scheduled to go on sale exclusively to American Express cardholders on January 17. Tickets will be available by calling 212.307.4100 or by visiting www.ticketmaster.com.

Tickets will be priced at $82.50-$102.50 (no word yet on whether there are premium seats, though).

Regular box office for everyone else starts on February 5.

Previews begin on March 29 with opening night set for April 8. The limited engagement is set to close on June 10.

 
At 15 January, 2007, Blogger City Slicker said...

The lottery system is a great method. London uses it quite frequently and it opens up the theatre to types (like me) who can't afford to go as regularly when only at full price.

I saw Spacey at the Old Vic here in London. My seat wasn't great as I went stand by one night. To fully appreciate his performance and the drama generally it is definitely best to be close up. I think I would have loved it more. But he was great. It is only a matter of degree.

 
At 15 January, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

CS, Thanks for providing your perspective on the value of getting a decent seat for this production. I honestly can't imagine doing SRO for the three-hour-plus production, but bravo to you for your stamina!

Also, sounds like this will most definitely be a production to see. Thank you!

 

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