December 2012 Archives

Each year on the first Sunday after New Years (January 6th this year), a large number of Broadway shows close. Some limited runs, some Holiday shows, but the balance are shows that profited during the financially-lush Christmas season but not into the stark month of February.  

I'd say this year is no different, but among all the shows closing in January only 4 are actually closing on that January 6th date.  Some close on December 30th, a few (Anarchist, The Performers) didn't make it to Christmas at all, and a handful of others are closing a few weeks after that standard January 6th date.  And still you have others--Picnic, The Other Place, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof--with limited runs that have either just started previews or are about to, and won't open until January.  Perhaps I've always assumed that the time between December 31st and the first Sunday after New Years was more financially worthwhile than it really is.  And perhaps there's something keeping tourists around more through January 20th than the rest of January and February (Martin Luther King weekend?).

I admit haven't been paying much attention to Broadway this season.  On a whole I'm quite less interested in the new autumn stuff than usual, and you can sort of see the general theatre-going audience feel that way as well:

  • The Anarchist
  • Annie
  • The Book of Mormon
  • Bring It On (Dec 30)
  • Chaplin (Jan 6)
  • Chicago
  • A Christmas Story (Dec 30)
  • Dead Accounts (Feb 24)
  • Elf (Jan 6)
  • Evita
  • Glengarry Glen Ross (Jan 20)
  • Golden Boy (Jan 20)
  • Grace (Jan 6)
  • The Heiress (Feb 10)
  • Jersey Boys
  • Lion King
  • Mamma Mia
  • Mary Poppins
  • The Mystery of Edwin Drood
  • Newsies
  • Nice Work If You Can Get It
  • Once
  • The Other Place (Feb 2)
  • The Performers
  • Peter and the Starcatcher (Jan 20)
  • The Phantom of the Opera
  • Rock of Ages
  • Scandalous (Dec 9)
  • Spider-Man
  • War Horse (Jan 6)
  • Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Feb 24)
  • Wicked
In past years I've "half" crossed out shows that seemed like they still had a chance to announce a closing.  But looking at the past week's percentages and grosses for non-crossed-out shows, the lowest-scoring are Mamma Mia, Chicago, Evita, Mary Poppins, Phantom and Spider-Man, all in the 60-something percent capacity range.  Really, the only one of those I might guess has a shot of closing this winter is Evita, which loses Ricky Martin, Elena Roger and Michael Cerveris on January 26th, with no replacements announced as of yet.

Usually it's nice to see that those strikeouts are just making room for more new exciting stuff, but aside from wanting to Matilda solely based on Kevin Daly's high praise, I think I'm going to tune out of this upcoming Spring as much as I tuned out on the past autumn.

Review: ELF on Broadway

I am in the wrong audience for Elf.  I think the movie on which it is based is Just Okay.  I stopped enjoying Will Ferrell movies at some point after Anchorman, unless you count the Producers movie musical, in which case Ferrell was about the only thing I found worthwhile.  And when it comes to Christmas music, I'm less likely to get in the festive mood and more likely to rant about how all the recordings are Baby Boomer-era.  So perhaps it is fully chalked up to low expectations, but I actually kind of enjoyed the musical version of Elf. 

Elf The Musical takes it's cue from the original film at nearly every moment: it's still a story about a supposed orphan (Avenue Q's Jordan Gelber) who is brought up at the North Pole among elves before taking a trip to Manhattan to unite with the Father he never knew he had, all the while falling in love with a girl (Leslie Krtizer) who simply needs to find her Christmas spirit!  The plot is a near-copy of the movie, save for the obvious changes you'd expect with the constraints of the stage.  Which means, like many film-to-musical adaptations, characters will undoubtedly break out in song to belabor a minor point that was three lines long in the film. 

But bookwriters Thomas Meehan (Producers, Hairspray, Annie) and Bob Martin (Drowsy Chaperone) seem to understand the way these bland adaptations are expected to transpire and have decided to just go with the flow, all the while peppering the script with as many jokes as possible (many of which are pretty damn funny).  Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin's songs are serviceable and while they definitely have a Christmas feel, they are not quite as witty as the book that surrounds it.  In fact the need to "get a song in" often stops the show dead; an example is one song where Gelber's Buddy teaches Jovie the importance of singing, which not only feels like the most generic showtune ever but also happens so early that she has no character advances or epiphanies for the other half of the musical. 

The cast ranges from wasted (talented ladies Kritzer and Beth Leavel as Gelber's mother) to hysterical-but-a-bit-one-note (Gelber) to an unbridled joy (Wayne Knight, playing Santa Claus as a sometimes-narrator).  David Rockwell's yuletide set evokes the North Pole, the Empire State Building, Central Park, and a how-did-they-do-that-onstage ice rink that I can only presume was a very smooth telfon-y plastic that can be "skated" on.  I haven't seen Grinch, White Christmas or A Christmas Story's musical adaptations so I can't speak much about comparison, but if your family chooses Elf as the Christmas musical they see this season then by all means go, let go of your expectations, and have a great time.

RECENT BLOG ENTRIES

The Annuary Post-Christmas Broadway Closings List
Each year on the first Sunday after New Years (January 6th this year), a large number of Broadway shows close.…
Review: ELF on Broadway
I am in the wrong audience for Elf.  I think the movie on which it is based is Just Okay.…

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