Monday, February 05, 2007

Winter Blues For Color Purple

Winter Blues For Color Purple

With temperatures finally heading south to bear some semblance to the season -- take that, Global Warming! -- so were last week's Broadway box office receipts. Only ten of the Great White Way's current offerings managed to improve on the previous week.

Perhaps the biggest chill has come for The Color Purple, which despite drawing a slightly larger crowd over the week before, appears to be among the bluest of all productions. For the third straight week, the tuner's gross sales have been under the half million dollar mark -- unthinkable just a month ago. Capacity hovered below 60% again this past week, but that's nothing compared to the 24% drop in capacity it experienced three weeks ago when some, no doubt, were fearful of a freefall.

Naturally, tongues are wagging about what this all means for the future of Oprah Winfrey's production. If the assertion by Michael Riedel of the New York Post that most of the fan base has now seen this show has any merit, what then does that say about the future of the soon-to-be-launched tour?

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for tickets.

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At 05 February, 2007, Anonymous Esther said...

I think The Color Purple would do pretty well on tour. I read the Michael Riedel article, and he mentions that busloads of people were coming to New York from as far away as Texas and Georgia. Maybe the New York-area fan base has been exhausted, but I bet there are still lots of people in other parts of the country who'd love to see it.

I'm not sure what the problem is in New York. I've read the book and I've seen the movie, so I know that the story, while ultimately inspiring, deals with some pretty brutal subject matter. Maybe it's the type of show that people feel they can only see once.

I do want to put in a good word for Oprah. I think she's often unfairly maligned. (I have to admit, her audience, with its incessant cheering, does freak me out a bit). But she chooses her causes wisely and puts her fame to good use.

Besides, I know someone who once had the job of driving her around the Indiana State Fair for a day, back when she was just a local Chicago personality. He said she was incredibly nice and very down to earth.

At 05 February, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...


I actually like Oprah. A lot.

Matter of fact, I thought she was great in the film version of The Color Purple and admire her for all she has done philanthropically.

I even managed to see her television show a year and a half ago thanks to a friend of mine who works for her (I got to see George Clooney in October 2005, which was quite a memorable experience). She's amazing -- and my friend vouches for how gracious she is to those in her employ.

However, I do wonder about the long-term viability of The Color Purple given the touring company's inevitable syphoning-off of audience members from the Broadway show. I saw the show shortly after it opened and thought it was a decent show. But as with so many epic novels cum musicals where so much transpires in such a short period of time, the story rarely has an opportunity to delve deeply and instead feels more like a Cliff Notes version of the original work. But the original cast was outstanding, to say the least.

At 06 February, 2007, Anonymous Esther said...

Wow, George Clooney! Hey, I would have been one of those screaming audience members. (Well, I don't know if I would have screamed, but I would have been very, very excited!) What a wonderful friend. You could have gotten a ticket for a show with Dr. Phil!

I understand what you're saying about the effect of a tour on the Broadway box office. Certainly if the show's in Chicago, a lot of people will see it there rather than make a special trip to New York OTOH, there are lots of people who come to New York on vacation and just want to see "a show."

But now that I think about it, I've been scouring travel message boards in preparation for my own trip. Lots of people write in asking for suggestions about which show to see, and I don't recall a lot of discussion about The Color Purple. Usually, it's Hairspray or Wicked or Drowsy Chaperone or Jersey Boys or Spamalot.

I don't know if there's a rule of thumb about these things in terms of when a show goes out on tour.

I mean, certainly there are some shows that go on tour while they're still in New York. But I imagine they're shows that in addition to drawing tourists, also have a loyal New York fan base that will come back time and time again.

At 06 February, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Esther, I think you've just hit on it. Aside from the vigorous promotion of The Color Purple that Oprah has offered through her own show, there simply has not been any sustained buzz about the show. And the last of the major players from the original cast - the incredible Felicia P. Fields - is now out on the road with the tour.


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