Blockbuster shows are finding new life off-Broadway -

Blockbuster shows are finding new life off-Broadway

Blockbuster shows are finding new life off-Broadway




When Broadway’s “Jersey Boys” closed up store final January after an almost 12-year run, followers had been thrilled to listen to it will quickly return — off-Broadway.

However with a smaller stage and finances, would we be getting Frankie Valli and the Three Seasons?

Fortunately, that’s not the case. All 4 Seasons are current and accounted for within the manufacturing that opened final month at New World Levels, the subterranean performing-arts complicated between West 49th and 50th streets. The longtime house to “The Gazillion Bubble Present” has 5 theaters, considered one of which has housed “Avenue Q” since 2009. In truth, that R-rated puppet present’s having fun with an extended run off-Broadway than it had on it.

“Small is the brand new huge,” its producer, Kevin McCollum, tells The Put up with fun. However Broadway economics are not any joke: As soon as a present’s field workplace falls under a certain quantity, theater homeowners can let you know to maneuver on.

As soon as a present’s field workplace falls under a certain quantity, theater homeowners can let you know to maneuver on.

In 2009, six years into its run on the 800-seat Golden Theatre, “Avenue Q” was promoting simply 350 to 700 tickets per present, McCollum says: “However I simply knew it wasn’t time for ‘Avenue Q’ to shut.”

There was speak of transferring it downtown, the place it started, however McCollum needed to maintain his Tony-winning present nearer to Broadway. “Since we had been sitting on 46th Road, I believed, ‘Why don’t we simply cross [Eighth] Avenue and go up three blocks?’”

The transfer was straightforward. Not solely did the Broadway set match its new stage, however Actors Fairness OK’d a one-third lower in wage, he says. The pit orchestra went from 5 musicians to 4 and the crew — 13 sturdy on union-heavy Broadway — dropped to 4. All advised, McCollum says, the musical that price about $350,000 every week to run on Broadway prices lower than half that to run off the primary stem. Ticket costs dropped, too, from $110 to about $75. That, plus phrase of mouth, has saved “Avenue Q” alive and kicking.

Granted, not each transfer works. “Hire” opened on Broadway in 1996 and ran 12 years. At New World Levels, the place McCollum moved it in 2011, it lasted 13 months. Then once more, it wasn’t the identical present: It even stripped Mark, our hero, of his trademark two-tone scarf.

New World Levels is the post-Broadway house for “Jersey Boys.”Joan Marcus“I believe that was our New Coke,” McCollum says, including that the unique manufacturing’s nonetheless on tour. “I don’t suppose theaters make exhibits. Exhibits make exhibits!”

“Jersey Boys” director Des McAnuff agrees. He says he and his producers determined to maneuver their present even earlier than it closed. The one query was the place.

“Avenue Q,” he says, led them off-Broadway. By November, 10 months after “Jersey Boys” closed, the brand new manufacturing was up and working.

In a manner, the sprawling story in regards to the rise, fall and rebirth of the band behind “Sherry,” “Stroll Like a Man,” “Massive Ladies Don’t Cry” and extra has come full circle: What began in a 499-seat theater is now enjoying one other 499-seat theater.

The brand new manufacturing — whose common weekday ticket value is $99, versus $147 on Broadway — has 4 fewer musicians and 4 fewer actors. Aside from the actors enjoying Valli and his bandmates, most play at the least two roles, whereas one, Jon Hacker, performs a dozen. “He actually will get rounds of applause from the viewers,” McAnuff says, “as a result of they acknowledge him.”

General, he says, the smaller theater makes for a extra intimate feeling, the sense that “you’ve spent the day with the 4 Seasons.” Even so, at a latest efficiency, it was onerous to not miss the brass part that might burst forth throughout a climactic second on Broadway or to recall the brilliance of the present’s Tony-winning stars, John Lloyd Younger and Christian Hoff, who left the present years in the past. Does McAnuff have hassle attracting their successors to play New World Levels?

“I believe plenty of actors would reasonably play a number one position in ‘Jersey Boys’ [here] than a supporting half on Broadway,” he says. “If we’re working in three years — contact wooden — ask me once more.”