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Broadway B.O. Looks Up For The Season, But Is The `Honeymoon’ Over?

GerardColumn_badgeThe Broadway season will end next week with some good news: The total box office will be up about 11% and $100 million over last season, closing at around $1.27 billion. Attendance will be up, but not as much — about 5%, to 12.2 million customers. Those numbers won’t mask some of the phenomenal losses, led, of course, by the January closing of Spider-Man "Big Fish" Broadway Opening Night - Arrivals And Curtain CallTurn Off The Dark, to the tune of  $70 million or $80 million or $85 million, depending on who you believe and the current status of various lawsuits. But there were smaller, sadder flops, notably the Susan Stroman-led Big Fish, which left most critics (not me) cold and, despite a gorgeous production and a terrific lead performance by Norbert Leo Butz, closed at a total loss.

Related: Broadway B.O. Rebounds; Bryan Cranston, Mufasa Holler With $200,000 Gains

And of course there was the closing this past Sunday of Jason Robert Brown and Marsha Norman’s adaptation of The Bridges Of Madison County, at a loss of $8 million. The question is, will the failure of Bridges affect the future of Brown’s other new show, Honeymoon In Vegas, co-written with that 1992 movie’s screenwriter Andrew Bergman.

Honeymoon — complete with a phalanx of Elvis impersonators, a charming performance by Tony Danza in the key of Sinatra and a career-restoring lead performance by Rob McClure — tried out last fall at New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse. Unlike the Williamstown Theatre Festival, which asked most critics not to come, the Paper Mill wanted the reviews. After all, the critics had shlepped out to Millburn, NJ for the tryout of Disney’s Newsies, turning what was supposed to be the dry run for a tour into a Broadway-bound hit.

stevejasonkelliI reviewed both Bridges and Vegas. The producers of Bridges might have been better served by more, not fewer, reviews; though I admired Brown’s score, the book was in trouble and the show was only sporadically involving, problems it never overcame. Like most of my colleagues, I thought Honeymoon In Vegas had hit written all over it: “Honeymoon in Vegas doesn’t always know whether it’s comedy or parody,” I concluded in my review, “But Gary Griffin’s fleet staging, Denis Jones’s stylish dances and a fabulous big band conducted by Tom Murray come alive in Anna Louizos’s typically cheeky settings and Brian Hemesath’s spot-on costumes. Honeymoon is a winner.”

And yet Bridges came in, while Honeymoon cooled its heels. Lead producer Roy Gabay said at the time that there was no theater available, though I now hear the real issue is that the theater owners weren’t convinced — reviews to the contrary notwithstanding — it would be a hit. Read More »

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CAA Signs ‘Bridges Of Madison County’s Jason Robert Brown

By | Friday May 2, 2014 @ 9:45am PDT
Mike Fleming

jrbEXCLUSIVE: CAA has signed Jason Robert Brown, the composer and lyricist just nominated for the 2014 Tony Award for Best Score and Best Orchestrations for The Bridges Of Madison County. He’s also up for Drama Desk, Drama League, and Outer Critics Circle Awards honors.

Related: ‘Bridges Of Madison County’ To Close May 18

CAAlogo_rBrown is also the composer, lyricist, and book writer of the musical The Last Five Years, adapted into the Richard LaGravanese-directed film that stars Anna Kendrick, and won the 1999 Tony Award for Best Score for Parade. While four Tony noms couldn’t save Bridges from posting a closing notice, Brown’s next up with the Broadway musical version of Honeymoon In Vegas which will star Tony Danza. He had been repped by WME, which proves that while most of the ferocious competition for clients between the two agencies takes place in Hollywood, New York is also a battleground. Brown continues to be lawyered by Mark Sendroff of Sendroff & Baruch, LLP.

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UPDATE: Broadway’s Unloved ‘Bridges Of Madison County’ Will Close On May 18

BridgesMadisonCountyUPDATED with new information throughout: After struggling for weeks to find an audience and getting little love at the Tony nominations on Tuesday, the producers of Jason Robert Brown and Marsha Norman’s musical adaptation of The Bridges Of Madison County announced tonight that the estimated $8 million tuner will shutter May 18 at Broadway’s Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. Among the show’s producers was Warner Bros, which co-produced the $35 million 1995 film of the Robert James Waller’s best-selling weeper about an affair between an Italian-immigrant farm wife and a sensitive roving photographer. Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood starred in the film. The musical will have played 137 performances.

Related: Tony Noms Show Complicated Affair Between Broadway And Hollywood

The show won Tony noms for Brown’s lush score and sensitive orchestrations, Kelli O’Hara’s lead performance and Broadway vet Donald Holder’s lighting design. But absent a Best Musical nomination, the others don’t carry much weight. Despite glowing notices for O’Hara and co-star Steven Pasquale in the Streep and Eastwood roles, the show was rapped for its length and lugubriousness. The few ticket buyers weren’t leaving the theater fired up to tell their friends it was a must-see. Some critics noted the show’s problems and challenges last summer at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, which presented the world premiere. The show came to New York, however, little changed. Read More »

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