“You could make a killing, but not a living, in the theater,” said playwright Robert Anderson in a 1966 Christian Science Monitor interview about “Tea and Sympathy,” his successful first Broadway play that was turned into a movie. Anderson couldn’t recreate that same success on stage and turned to teaching and writing Hollywood screenplays.
About 75 percent of Broadway shows — musicals and plays — don’t recoup their investment let alone make money for investors. In NY state there is a strict legal formula concerning who gets paid first (Hint: It’s not Max Bialystock). But that’s not what we’re talking about now. Lucky investors of the original production of “Jersey Boys,” the 12th longest running show on Broadway that grossed more than $2 billion worldwide, told the NYTimes in an article published today (1/15/17), they made back about 22 percent on their original investments.
Wanna be a Broadway producer? How about off-Broadway? Maybe you should launch a show at one of NJ’s regional theaters, which have transferred several shows to NYC, most recently Dan Lauria’s mob drama “Dinner With the Boys.”
According to today’s New York Times the show, which made its world debut last year at the New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Branch, was so popular patrons paid $10 to watch it in the lobby from a TV feed. The troupe’s main stage seats less than 50.
The play concerns two old-school Mafia guys hiding out after botching an assignment. They cook and swap stories as they await their fate. “It’s really about all the violence we consume,” Lauria told the Times.
The show stars Lauria, best known as the dad in TV’s “The Wonder Years,” Ray Abruzzo, who played Little Carmine on HBO’s “The Sopranos,” and Richard Zavaglia, who was in “Donnie Brasco.” Frank Megna will direct. To read the whole story, click here.
Beginning Broadway previews Tuesday (March 17) is “It Shoulda Been You,” one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen. Directed by the super multi-talented David Hyde Pierce, it had its world premiere at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick. Starring Tyne Daly and Harriet Harris, the show has more crazy characters than one show should be legally allowed to possess, even if it is a comedy about a wedding day run amok between Christians and Jews.
Meanwhile, Paper Mill Playhouse’s“Honeymoon in Vegas” currently is running on Broadway and its very successful production of “Newsies” recently closed. On Sunday, the 77-year-old theater in Millburn opens a new production of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” which could be ripe for a Broadway picking. And there is talk that a revamped version of Cole Porter’s “Can-Can,” which opened Paper Mill’s current season last fall, may make a Broadway transfer.
Next season, the 1,500-seat space offers two world premiere musicals: “Bandstand,” a story of a mismatched band of WWII veterans, and “A Bronx Tale,” set against a backdrop or organized crime and racial strife in the 1960s. The latter is directed by Robert DeNiro. Yeah, the two-time Oscar winner. Jerry Zaks, the four-time Tony Award winner, co-directs. For the complete season, click here.
McCarter Theatre in Princeton, which tonight opens Ken Ludwig’s new take on Sherlock Holmes in “The Hound of the Baskervilles” sent Christopher Durang’s 2013 Tony Award-winning comedy “Vanya, Sonia, Masha and Spike” to Broadway. David Leveaux’s production of “Electra” featuring Zoë Wanamaker moved to Broadway in 1998. And that’s just the latest in a long line for the venerable playhouse that itself is the recipient of the 1994 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre.