Monday, May 20, 2024

Broadway’s Tough Summer: Only 3 Shows Played at 100% Last Week, “Strange Loop” Wasn’t One of Them, “Mockingbird” Still MIA


Broadway is having a tough, tough summer.

Shows are closing left and right, or announcing their finales are coming. The mask mandate has been lifted, so everyone can come in and cough up a storm. Theaters are no longer checking vaccination cards.

If all that wasn’t bad, New York in the news looks like 1975 again. There are random shootings and stabbings. Times Square between 44th and 47th Streets, in the godawful pedestrian mall, is a sewer. No one in their right mind would hang out there, so everyone not in their right mind is making it their headquarters.

Plus, it’s really hot.

So last week, of 29 shows, only three played to 100% capacity crowds. None of them was “Strange Loop,” which just won the Tony for Best Musical and played at 91% last week. And they’re in a decline.

The three hit shows were “The Music Man,” “MJ,” and “Hamilton.” Even standard bearers like “The Lion King” and “Wicked” weren’t sold out. The only good news is that the Tony winning revival of “Company” is packing in crowds before it closes at the end of the month.

“Funny Girl” is a disaster waiting for fresh troops to arrive and save the day. Currently at 73%, “Funny Girl” is bringing in less than $800,000 a week. Star Beanie Feldstein, who’s leaving early on July 31st, comes and goes. August will be a write off with understudies — really good ones — in the main roles. Then right after Labor Day comes Lea Michele and Tovah Feldshuh. The show will be re-re-reviewed. If all goes well, ticket sales will pick up. If not, the parade will be rained on.

Broadway soldiers on. Lots of potential hits are in the wings. A short-run “Into the Woods” revival is sold out. Maybe one day, “To Kill a Mockingbird” will return, not likely with Greg Kinnear, but with some big name actor if producers can lure one. “Mockingbird” was supposed to have returned already, on June 1st, but that obviously hasn’t happened. Richard Thomas is starring in the national tour, and I’ll bet he’s good.

What I would do with “Mockingbird” is hire Matthew Modine right now. He’s had a huge comeback with “Stranger Things.” He’s played Atticus Finch at Hartford Stage and done a beautiful job, rave reviews. Get Millie Bobby Brown to play Scout. Maybe get Finn Wolfhard to play Scout’s brother, Jem. And that would sell some tickets!

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
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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