Broadway Season Summed Up. Week in NY Theater


The 2016-17 Broadway season’s statistics, according to The Broadway League:

Shows that opened during season: 45
(eight of them not eligible for Tony Awards)

Attendance at all shows: 13,270,343 visitors
(down about .3 percent from 2015-16)

(up 5.5 percent from 2015-16)

Average ticket price: $109 (up from $103)

Revenue made a big jump, even though attendance has dipped slightly. The reason is primarily increased ticket prices

The hit musicals have shown no restraint in what they charge their customer

Top ticket price for

Hamilton: $849
Hello, Dolly: $748
Sunday in the Park with George (now closed): $499
Book of Mormon: $477

(Unmentioned in the Broadway League report: The top ticket price for a Broadway show has gone up 78 percent. It was a year ago, in other words, that Hamilton started charging $849. Before that, the Book of Mormon’s $477 was the top ticket price.)

The spin on this, from such as Broadway producer Barry Weissler, quoted in the New York Times: “It’s not about us charging more, it’s about the public wanting to see something they’re willing to pay for, and it’s an amazing credit to the work being done on Broadway.”

Such an argument absurdly absolving producers from any responsibility for their price gouging, will do nothing to bring Broadway back as a popular art and entertainment.

Amber Gray as Helene

But the numbers, of course, don’t get at what makes a season special. By any measure, Natasha, Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812 is doing fine with almost 100 percent attendance, 90 percent of “gross potential, and 12 Tony nominations, more than any other show. But the show is especially exciting to me because it has brought the concept of “immersive theater” to the proscenium stages of Broadway, thanks to its designers, primarily set designer Mimi Lien. How can you quantify the pleasure that Amber Gray gives by singing “Charming” in that musical? For that matter, how can you assign a number to Significant Other, a show that closed quickly, when it featured the memorably hilarious scene of Gideon Glick’s elaborate dance of indecision as he struggles with whether to click the key on his computer that will send the love e-mail?

Week in Awards

Katrina Link, of A Band’s Visit and Indecent, performing at the Obies


Better Midler accepts her OCC

Week in NY Theater Reviews

The Boy Who Danced on Air

In 2010, an Afghan journalist produced an hour-long documentary for PBS’ Frontline entitled The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan , about the illegal revival of an ancient tradition called Bacha Bazi (literally “boy play“), which involves wealthy men buying boys as young as 11 from their poor families, and training them in traditional dance, which they perform at all-male parties wearing women’s attire. The boys are often expected to gratify their masters sexually, and sometimes their masters’ friends as well.

That documentary “set us on  a half-decade journey of researching and writing,” composer Tim Rosser and wordsmith Charlie Sohne write in a program note for “The Boy Who Danced on Air,” their musical that uses the complex and unsettling context of the Bacha Bazi to tell a love story between two 16-year-old boys.

Building the Wall

“Building The Wall,” Robert Schenkkan’s chilling two character play that imagines the consequences of President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant policies, is clearly meant to help rally the resistance…it is comparatively modest, even restrained. Yet it is also an intelligent, well-played and ultimately potent drama.

Can You Forgive Her?

By the end of “Can You Forgive Her?”, it’s not clear which of the five characters in Gina Gionfriddo’s latest comedy is the “You” of the title, and who is the “Her.” All the characters in one way or another are grappling with debts either financial or emotional, or both.

The Week in NY Theater News

(l-r) Tony Shalhoub and Katrina Lenk in The Band’s Visit

The Band’s Visit is moving to Broadway’s Ethel Barrymore Theater, set to open ons Nov 9, 2017. Although it closed at the Atlantic Theater Off-Broadway in January, it has been sweeping most theater awards this season. The musical, based on a 2007 independent film of the same name, will not necessarily have the same cast on Broadway.


New York City Opera will present the U.S. debut of the opera Brokeback Mountain in 2018

Michael Bloomberg donates $75 million to the new New York City arts center called The Shed.

What IS The Shed?

Author: New York Theater

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

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