Friday, April 12, 2024

A Broadway First: “1984,” Looking for Publicity, Bans Children Under 13 Years of Age

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It’s a first, but it’s a bit of a canard. The new play, “1984,” will not allow children under the age of 13. To be more specific, no one before 2004 can see the show.

I’d be hard pressed to think they’d want to see it. But then again, 7th grade is usually when George Orwell’s classic makes its appearance on reading lists.

The Age Restriction policy is being implemented due to the intensity of the production, which includes several scenes that are graphic in nature and have disturbed younger patrons. 

A press release says:  “The Age Restriction policy is being implemented due to the intensity of the production, which includes several scenes that are graphic in nature and have disturbed younger patrons.”

Well, that should get folks interested! “1984” opens on Broadway tonight, just clear of the Tony Awards and not really part of any Broadway season. It stars Reed Birney, Tom Sturridge and Olivia Wilde. The first two are Tony winners. Birney is a Broadway and New York theater veteran. Wilde is a talented actress making her stage debut.

Of course, the producer is Scott Rudin, who fancies himself a modern David Merrick. He’s got to do something to make people aware of “1984.” Last week, the show made just $301,000 out of a possible $750,000. The average ticket price was $50, which on Broadway is like giving it away. The production only filled 77% of its seats. (Maybe if they let kids in, it would help!)

Good reviews might help “1984.” But New York Times chief critic Ben Brantley called it “willfully assaultive” when he saw when he saw it in London. Other reviews were just as mixed. It doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, that’s for sure. But maybe it’s illuminating. The book “1984” became a hit all over again when Trump was elected, and the play may strike a note in this perilous time.

I can’t remember any show restricting children, not even things like “Hair” or “Oh Calcutta.” New York theatergoers have always been left to their own good judgement about what’s appropriate for the young ones. But good for Rudin thinking of this. He’s taking a page from Harvey Weinstein’s book of PR gimmicks. Always emulate the master!

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedmanhttps://www.showbiz411.com
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
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