New York Theater in 2012

A new tradition was created in 2012: the Saturday Intermission Picture. He is the last one by the cast of A Christmas Story, which closes today.
Broadway trend: A new tradition was created in 2012: the Saturday Intermission Picture. He is the last one by the cast of A Christmas Story, which closes today.

It is hard not to be sentimental about the theater at the end even of a so-so year.

There ARE Broadway shows with performances on New Years Eve: Mary Poppins, Newsies, Peter and the Starcatcher, The Lion King. (Eve, not evening; these are all matinees), so it’s possible to ring out the old year from a theater seat.

The rest of us can just contemplate the year just passed, perhaps noticing some of the trends:

Broadway ticket prices up; audiences richer: Broadway theatergoer’s average annual household income: $193,800. This when Actors Equity revealed this week (Scroll to December 27) that the media earnings of its members was about $7,200.

Very short runs (usually less than a week) on Broadway: William Shatner, Frankie Valli (the real one) Mike Tyson, Lewis Black. Continues in 2013 with Barry Manilow

Religion, or at least religiosity: Jesus Christ Superstar, Leap of Faith, Grace, Scandalous. The producers didn’t get the earthly rewards they might have been hoping for.

Within the next month, 11 shows are closing on Broadway, two of them today.

Closing December 30: A Christmas Story, Bring It On

Closing Jan 6: Chaplin, Dead Accounts, Elf, Grace, War Horse

Jan 20: Glengarry Glen Ross, Golden Boy, Peter and the Starcatcher

Jan 26 Evita

Feb 10 The Heiress

Feb 24 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

But four are opening, which is more than usual for January:

Jan 10 The Other Place

Jan 13 Picnic

Jan 17 Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Jan 24 Manilow on Bway

It’ll soon be time to look ahead.

The week in New York theater:

December 24, 2012

Jack Klugman (far left) as Herbie in "Gypsy" with Ethel Merman in 1959, as drawn by Al Hirschfeld.
Jack Klugman (far left) as Herbie in “Gypsy” on Broadway with Ethel Merman in 1959, as drawn by Al Hirschfeld.

Jack Klugman,best-known for the TV series The Odd Couple and Quincy, ME but a veteran of nine Broadway shows, has died at age 90.


Charles Durning as Big Daddy in Tennessee Williams' Cat On A Hot Tin Roof in 1990, drawn by Al Hirschfeld
Charles Durning as Big Daddy in Tennessee Williams’ Cat On A Hot Tin Roof on Broadway in 1990, drawn by Al Hirschfeld

 Charles Durning, consummate character actor and veteran of 13 Broadway shows, has died at age 89. Durning on the secret to his success: “I never turned down anything and never argued with any producer or director”


Indira Satyendra (@hudsonette): Saw Charles Durning in The Gin Game and with Pacino in Brecht. Love his sweet performance in Tootsie. Man had a presence.

Others who died in 2012 included  songwriters Marvin Hamlisch, Hal David, Robert B. Sherman and Richard Adler, actresses Celeste Holm and Joan Roberts, producers Theodore Mann and Marty Richards, designer Eiko Ishioka and dramatists Nora Ephron and Jerome Kilty


Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway as Jean Valjean and Fantine in Les Miserables the movieLes Miz opens: It is the best of films; it is the worst of films; it was eh.

Kerri ‏@what_a_dream  LES MIS was absolutely by far the greatest film I have seen ever!

Shawn Hitchins ‏@ShawnHitchins Just dreadful. Absolutely dreadful.

Michael @mkmackey78 A mixed bag: the young stars soared, the new song ineffective. It was close-up heavy.  Colm as the Bishop a treat

Anne Hathaway, who in Les Miserables stills "I Dreamed A Dream" away from Susan Boyle
Anne Hathaway, who in Les Miserables stills “I Dreamed A Dream” away from Susan Boyle

M ‏@iluvny3000 I want Anne Hathaway as Fantine forever (it was really great even with slight changes)!

Stephen (with a PH) ‏@skippy_ste It’s very good but peaks at I Dreamed A Dream!

Akia Sembly ‏@MuzzyBarker They should have ended it after Fantine died.

Jonathan Mandell ‏This would have made it into a movie short

 Akia Sembly: but a good movie short, instead of a progressively frustrating movie

 Mark Shenton @ShentonStage The odd paradox about Les Miserables is that UK original brilliant production was filmic. The film is stagey!

Matrix of Les Miz movie views complicated by prior view of stage show: 1. loved, 2. liked, 3. tolerated. 4. hated. 5. never saw.

Raymond J Lee ‏@raymondjlee1. loved it. Anne Hathaway’s I dreamed a dream was masterful and Eddie Redmayne and Hugh Jackman rocked it out

Glenn Sumi ‏@glennsumi I really like the material, always affects me, admire Crowe. Movie left me cold.

 Frank Rizzo @ShowRiz Does it ALWAYS have to rain on Eponine in Les Miz?

 Jonathan Mandell:  I loved that in the movie: Her tears mingle with the earth’s

Bobby Rivers (@BobbyRiversTV):. Folks rave at live singing in #LesMiz. Broadway actors sing live eight times a week
Jonathan Mandell: But you can’t see their nostrils close up

Morgan James (@morganajames): I’ve never seen Les Mis on stage, and don’t plan on seeing the movie.

(This won’t get her in as much trouble as the last time)

Literacy plug: Victor Hugo’s novel, Les Miserables, translated into English, is free on Kindle (and from your local library)

Film literacy: The first film of Les Misérables appeared in 1909. There have been at least 17 versions since then


 Jennifer Tepper @jenashtep I named my cat Cosette in 2004, before it was cool.

Jonathan Mandell: Um, did it ever become cool?

Daisy Eagan (@DaisyEagan): I can do you two better. I got a boy and girl cat in 1989 and named them Cosette and Gavroche. Granted, I was IN the show at the time, but still.

Jonathan Mandell : If I were to name a pet after a Les Miz character, it would be a goldfish named Eponine: always wet; never kissed; short life

Whatever you think of Les Miz the movie, one thing is clear: It is getting more attention than Rock of Ages the movie did.


carolee Carmello in Scandalous; Sandy the dog in Andy; Lin-Manuel Miranda; Jack Klugman

The New York Theater December 2012 Quiz

Sample question:

Which of the following did Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of “In The Heights,” NOT do this year?

  1. Help update a 34-year-old Broadway bomb by Stephen Schwartz.
  2. Star in a new production of a 31-year-old Broadway bomb by Stephen Sondheim
  3. Help turn a film about cheerleading that spawned four direct-to-video sequels into a Broadway musical
  4. Debuted a concert version of a new rap-infused musical about one of America’s Founding Fathers
  5. Join the cast of a new midseason TV medical drama

6. Attract tens of thousands of followers on Twitter with a steady stream of Tweets

7. He did none of this.

8. He did all of this.

Lin-Manuel Miranda ‏(@Lin_Manuel):  ha! I’m pooped! 🙂

Actor interruptions: accidents,fire,”a live mouse in my costume”(?!),phone ringing, audience smooching. from the BBC 

Singing at the Kennedy Center on New Year’s Eve, all over TV and Bway: Who’d have known Cheyenne Jackson was a late bloomer


2012 median earnings of Actors Equity members: $7,256

Sean Bryan ‏@seanjbryan ugh I wish I made that much money in a month. Maybe I need to stop being a producer and start acting.

Jonathan Mandell ‏ $7,256 is how much the average U.S. actor makes from acting in A YEAR, not a month. Broadway performers make $7,000+ per month (when in a show), but the average American actor makes that in a year.

Sean Bryan Oh, a YEAR…Sheesh. Not wishing to make that now.


Happy 50th Birthday Joe Mantello, debuted on Bway as actor in Angels in America; now directing his 20th Bway show,The Other Place

To those who know Laurie Metcalf only as Roseanne’s TV sister: The Other Place is her fourth Broadway play, and she was a founding member of Steppenwolf Theater oc Chicago.

Broadway to dim lights at 8 p.m. tonight for Charles Durning (1923-2012) and tomorrow night for Jack Klugman (1922-2012)


Isaac Butler ‏@parabasis Is “Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” different from the regular kind?

Jonathan Mandell: This is so you don’t think you’re getting The Gershwin’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf

 David J. Loehr (@dloehr): (starts writing “The Gershwins’ Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”)

Isaac Butler ‏In the Gershwin version, the son is real.

David J. Loehr ‏And he wants to put on a show at a local roadhouse.

Jonathan Mandell ‏In Gershwin version, George teaches at Catfish College, and Martha’s addicted to Pinot Grigio.

Diep Tran ‏@diepthought in the Gershwin version, Honey actually gets pregnant

Jeremy Shamos @jeremyshamos: HOMELAND ACTING CHALLENGE: Perform my role in Glengarry tonight like Brodie.Lots of nose-breathing & fake smiles


Norbert Leo Butz and Katie Holmes in Dead Accounts on Broadway
Norbert Leo Butz and Katie Holmes in Dead Accounts on Broadway

Teresa Rebeck’s Dead Accounts with Katie Holmes and Norbert Leo Butz to close Jan 6, after 27 preview and 44 regular performances. 

Something positive came out of DOA Dead Accounts: I discovered Graeters ice cream (which IS sold in NYC, contrary to what play says)

Kari @inflammatorywrt They actually sell it at one of the grocery stores in Astoria, Queens – to the delight of my midwestern friends.

 Jonathan Mandell: It’s sold in every D’Agostino’s supermarket in the city

Taylor Swift  reportedly auditioned for Eponine in Les Miserables but lost out to Samantha Barks — one of the best things about the film.

Happy 58th Birthday Denzel Washington!

Denzel Washington in Fences. He reportedly plans to star in revival of Raisin in the Sun
Denzel Washington in Fences. He reportedly plans to star in revival of Raisin in the Sun

Michael Riedel says in his New York Post column that Denzel Washington plans to play Walter Lee Younger in a 2014 Broadway revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun

Two reminders about the play: 1. Sean Combs played Walter in a 2004 revival on Broadway. 2. The play is the basis /leaping-off point for the Pultizer-winning Clybourne Park. (Ironically, Raisin did not win the Pulitzer)

Billy Flood ( BFlood28) A tad old to be Walter…mother will have to be the Della Reese 4 it to work 

Back Stage Barbie: Let’s get Aretha Franklin to play the mother, Beyonce to play the wife and we’ll be in business

Peter Marks ‏@petermarksdrama Producing for Dummies strikes again!

Jonathan Mandell ‏ Denzel Washington could appear in a skirt in…Julius Caesar and still make money. #OhWait#Hedidthatalready

Peter Marks ‏ Haha. I think he was in fatigues–it was set in Iraq or Bosnia or some such like… Washington’s Brutus was wooden. He was better in Fences; wish he’d bring audiences to a new play.

 Studying acting teaches “life skills,” says Terry Schreiber Studios: other perspectives, listening, confidence,adaptability

How to get young people to the theater, by Isaac Butler: (1) Do work they want to see. (2) Do it well (3) Charge reasonable prices

Margarette Connor ‏@mrc0201 For most of my NYC college students, it’s all about cost. Even rush is beyond them.

The Mad Fashionista ‏@madfashionista Sometimes if you go to the theater right before the show starts, you can pick up a stray ticket.

Karen Wilson ‏@akakarenwilson They should start with a subscription at the Signature Theater)  There are also volunteer usher slots at places like the Roundabout, 2nd Stage.

10 breakthrough performances of 2012 from Theatermania:

Carrie Coon (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?)

Annie Funke (If There Is I Haven’t Found it Yet)

Russell Harvard (Tribes)

Yvonne Strahovski (Golden Boy)

Rob McClure (Chaplin)

Katie Thompson (Giant)

Barrett Wilbert Weed (Bare)

Gabriel Ebert (4000 Miles)

Cory Michael Smith (CockThe Whale)

Elena Roger (Evita)

(This last choice can be considered controversial; many critics did not praise Roger’s performance.)


A Christmas Story and Stomp held an essay contest for middle school students on bullying. The winner got to appear on stage for one performance. Here are the top three essays on How To Stand Up To Bullies

Adam Chanler-Berat, backstage at Peter and the Starcacher
Adam Chanler-Berat, backstage at Peter and the Starcacher

Adam Chanler-Berat’s rules for NYC theater success:

1. Be someone others will enjoy working with.

2. Inspire co-workers to be kinder

3. Create your own opportunities, but also prepare to be lucky.

4. Share yourself even if you don’t feel like it.

There are many talented, good-looking people to choose from in New York. Talent and looks aren’t the sole formula for success.

These rules are extrapolated from a 25-minute video “Google hangout” video interview by drama students

Tom Watson oversees 3,500 wigs a season at the Metropolitan Opera, and moonlights frequently for Broadway (Annie to Wicked) 


Just saw Joyful Noise, which is, ok, not the best film despite Dolly Parton & Queen Latifah. But it’s Jeremy Jordan’s film debut! You can legitimately ask: Will we see him on Broadway ever again?

Ran Xia ‏@rhinoriddler: Don’t movie actors appear on Broadway like…all the time?

Jonathan Mandell: Depends. Marlon Brando made his name on Broadway; never returned.

Ran Xia: Katie Holmes returned

Jonathan Mandell: Katie Holmes didn’t make her name on Broadway.

Are actors who got their Big Break on Broadway (Jeremy Jordan, Nina Arianda) less likely to return once they’re on screens?

Daniel Bourque ‏@Danfrmbourque: More often than not, sadly yes. Money is to good in film for most actors to turn down, especially at peak earning potential. Those who do then return to the stage really WANT to be there, and no amount of money can substitute for that.

Terry Teachout ‏@terryteachout: I hate to say this, but it depends on how conventionally pretty they are.

Abraham Lincoln found refuge from the pressures of war by going to the theater, went 100+ times, says historian Doris Kearns Goodwin in “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,” the book on which the new movie “Lincoln” is based.

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

Leave a Reply