Broadway is packed this week with tourists and the like. You can barely get a seat to any show, and the restaurants in the theater district are full.
But come January 4th, the Great White Way will be singing a different tune. Several shows are in trouble at the box office and may close quickly.
Among them: “Superior Donuts” closes January 3rd despite solid reviews and an initial rush for tickets. The dreadful “Bye Bye Birdie,” which was already a limited run. Ditto Carrie Fisher’s wonderful “Wishful Drinking” at the subscription Roundabout Theater.
But these are the shows people are gossiping about in the theatre biz: “Ragtime,” “Burn the Floor,” “Hair,” “Memphis,” “God of Carnage,” and, believe it or not, “Fela!”
The latter is a surprise since Jay Z and Will and Jada Smith were faux drafted to endorse and support it. But only Jay showed at the opening, the press office has done nothing but create enemies, and now I’m told this by an inside source: “They’re papering the house. The tickets are so discounted, it’s impossible to make money.”
According to playbill.com, “Fela!” is playing at 89.5% capacity. But the average sold ticket is $77, a far cry from the official top price of $125.
Having even more trouble is the revival of “Finian’s Rainbow” at the St. James. This very terrific production is filling just 59% of its seats, and the average is a paltry $68.
If only that show’s publicist–same as “Fela!”– had done something early on to encourage positive endorsements. I took my family to see “Finian’s” on Saturday, ages 9 to 77, and everyone had a grand time. Kate Baldwin and Jim Norton are not big names, but they’re dynamite. Christopher Fitzgerald continues his hot streak, going from Igor in “Young Frankenstein” to the winning leprechaun here. And the score–”How Are Things in Glocca Morra?”– by Yip Harburg and Burton Lane–is out of this world. The show is as timely as ever, and a definite must for families, especially teenagers. You’d think it would be a natural hit.
But there may be no pot of gold at the end of this rainbow.