Saturday, April 13, 2024

Broadway Summer: Oops! Britney Spears, Neil Diamond Juke Box Musicals Playing to Half-Full Theaters While Other Shows Selling Out


Broadway is mostly booming this summer even with fewer shows than usual.

“Back to the Future,” which will publish reviews tomorrow, did $1.3 million even with comp tickets for critics friends. I’m seeing it tonight and will report back tomorrow night.

Around 20 of the 31 shows playing now are filling or overflowing their seat capacities.

But two shows are in trouble despite having big starts and being based on big stars.

Both “A Beautiful Noise: The Neil Diamond Musical” and “Once Upon a One Moe Time,” inspired by Britney Spears and her “music,” are playing to half full or half empty houses depending on how you look at it.

The Diamond musical at least has the singer’s story and his great catalog of songs like “Sweet Caroline” and “Solitary Man.” The audience loves Will Swenson as Neil.

The Britney Spears show is more complicated since it is/isn’t her real story, and the songs are basically junk pop. There are a lot of talented people in the cast, but there’s no book, evidently, and no effort by Spears to promote the show. (Her Instagram is largely devoted to videos of herself doing burlesque dancing at home.)

As far as I can I tell Spears didn’t come to the opening and has not seen the show. Neil Diamond, even with Parkinson’s, came to his opening night and sang from his seat.

Last week, the Spears show made just $579,378. (The Diamond show was about $100,000 higher.)

What’s happening is the rude awakening that Britney Spears is not a commercial commodity. While she’s the star of tabloids, and probably could still sell out Las Vegas showrooms, the latest products tied to her aren’t making money. In addition to the musical, she recently released a single with that flopped in its first week.

How either “Beautiful Noise” or “Once Upon a One More Time” can make it through August with 56% capacity theaters is a mystery. And come the fall, with news shows arriving, it will be impossible.

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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