Friday, December 03, 2010

Too Bloody Soon To Close

Too Bloody Soon To Close

Sure this post is two days late, but I've been reeling, feeling bloody awful in the wake of two high profile closing notices that went up this week.

Although I'll have more to say on the other one shortly, let me discuss my dismay that Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson received the ax on Wednesday. (Almost immediately after the closing notice was posted, the shiny starry revival of That Championship Season -- which on paper stands to be a bigger box office success -- announced it would take BBAJ's Bernard B. Jacobs berth starting in February.)

Yes, my review was among the minority taking a dim view of the show. But I was rather enthusiastic about Michael Friedman's rollicking rock score and the brilliant star-making turn offered by Benjamin Walker as the eponymous 7th President.

My dismay is two-fold.

First, while I can't claim to be among the production's boosters, my hat is off to the enormous effort expended by director Alex Timbers and the Public Theater to make Broadway relevant to a new audience. I fully appreciate that I may be getting a little long in the tooth and may not be the type of audience a show like this was seeking. But I fully support their valiant attempt to infuse fresh new, er, blood into the Great White Way.

Second, I submit that the box office wasn't that bad. Last week, the production grossed $442,113, playing to a capacity of 64.7%. Though those are not the greatest figures, they're far from the worst, which includes shows that are barely attracting 50% and have indicated that they'll be around for a longer haul. Certainly the box office would likely have improved over the upcoming holidays, right? Unfortunately, a lot of talent will be out of work when the show closes January 2.

One silver lining at the box office has been that Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson's average ticket price was at a respectable $82.92 last week -- that's just under the average ticket price for The Phantom Of The Opera, which grossed over $1 million last week.

Perhaps BBAJ's producers should have given considerably more thought to how to attract their target audience, who simply can't afford Broadway prices. My recommendation before the show opened was for them to invest in a $20 ticket promotion -- you know, with that guy on the bill who happens to be the star of the show. My hunch is that they could have earned a major steam of buzz and the type of word-of-mouth that could have kept the show open considerably longer.

Instead, we have a closing notice coming too bloody soon.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

In keeping with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations that unfairly discriminate against bloggers, who are now required by law to disclose when they have received anything of value they might write about, please note that I have received nothing of value directly in exchange for this post.

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At 03 December, 2010, Blogger JK said...

While I was on the definite "cheer" side of the critical fence, I couldn't agree with you more about their lack of trying to get to their target audience. I think most shows would benefit from a hefty decrease in ticket prices. More people would go, more could afford to go and better yet, more would be willing to take a chance on something different. Maybe instead of being driven with the need for "immediate profits" producers should look to long term success with smaller profit margins for a longer time. They'd still get their money, but they'd also build a "theatre goer for life" audience, which surely has even bigger implications long term.

Great blog, Steve!


At 03 December, 2010, Blogger Esther said...

I decided to skip Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson and American Idiot but I'm glad they're both on Broadway and I'm sad BBAJ is closing. Broadway should be a place for all kinds of stories, all forms of music, from classic show tunes to the latest in pop and rock. I'm glad I've had a chance to see shows as musically diverse as South Pacific, In the Heights, Passing Strange, Spring Awakening and Fela, just to name a few!

But I agree - to attract a new, young audience, Broadway needs to make the entry point cheaper. It needs to be competitive with other forms of entertainment. The New York area is filled with college students, so there's definitely an audience to be reached.

I'm also dismayed at how quickly producers pull the plug. I mean, that average ticket price is pretty strong and the capacity isn't bad.

At 04 December, 2010, Anonymous Ella said...

On the subject of ticket pricing...I am dismayed to see the target audience you're talking about spending hundreds of dollars on attending arena shows for music artists like Pink, Black Eyed Peas, Madonna. They will go to those events a couple of times a year and not to the theatre on a regular basis. I agree with you Steve, promotional tickets are a fabulous way of getting the message out to people who might not go because of ticket prices. It can't be all about Lion King and Phantom surely?

At 04 December, 2010, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not surprised about the close. The Public Theatre is out except for small royalties; it's now a commercial production. The box has been "OK," and likely covered the weekly nut, with little left for recoup. The producer, Jeffrey Richards may not have wanted the risk of the post holiday slump.

He's had a tough 3 years and probably now has "gun shy" investors. Only "Blithe" and "Hair" recouped AND made $$. (Race recouped but lost $$ til closing.)

Since Hair he produced A Life In the Theatre, Enron, All About Me, Superior Donuts, Desire Under The Elms, & Reasons To Be Pretty, a string of losses and early closings. Thus he may be trying to preserve what he can to return at least a little something versus the risk of nothing at all. (Just my opinion)

At 04 December, 2010, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ticket prices high? Yes...but plenty of discounts out there. Most shows have discount offers; (Theatre Mania etc.) Plum Benefits for employee discount programs; then TKTS booth for 50% etc.

Also Broadway lottery and SRO for most shows. For Students, Broadway Rush, (Student Rush)for almost every show, Am Idiot $27, Billy Elliot $31.50, Bloody Bloody $20, Fela $27, Jersey Boys $27, Brief Encounter $22 etc.

Check for details, prices, rules etc.

(Not trying to justify prices too high, just pointing out opportunities for students & others


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