Many winners at Radio City Music Hall on June 11 had their bestselling weeks to-date after being recognized for achievement and, in the case of musicals, making the most of the international platform to present songs from their shows.
Eric Falkenstein, who helped finance the nonprofit Manhattan Theatre Club revival of August Wilson’s Jitney, is trying to give it another life on Broadway in a commercial production.
“There are a lot of producers who say they want to jump on board,” Falkenstein said in a brief interview a day before it won the Tony Award for best revival of a play.
ANALYSIS: The 71st annual Tony Awards opened with Kevin Spacey as Evan Hansen in a goofy polo shirt and cast around his left arm. The ceremony ended moments after an acceptance speech by Dear Evan Hansen‘s producer.
In between there was suspense aplenty at Radio City Music Hall. While Dear Evan Hansen, about a socially anxious teenager caught up in web of lies, was methodically collecting awards, including for score and book, Come From Away won for director, Christopher Ashley. That win raised the tantalizing possibility of an upset by the feel-good musical set in a remote Canadian province after 9/11. Ultimately, Evan Hansen prevailed in a historic night.
On Sunday, the Tonys — a joint venture of the American Theatre Wing and Broadway League — is seeking to end the practice of dozens of producers rushing the stage at Radio City Music Hall when their show wins. Just six producers will be permitted onstage to accept each major award — for play, musical and play and musical revival — according to an email from League President Charlotte St. Martin and Tony Award Productions that was obtained by Broadway Journal.
“Like Christmas Day and sex with supermodels, Broadway seasons are often far more exciting during the anticipation stage.” So began Jess Cagle’s December 1997 review of Broadway’s The Lion King in Entertainment Weekly. (He gave it an A+).
Two decades later, Cagle, 51, is editor-in-chief of People; editorial director of Time Inc.’s Style and Entertainment Group, which includes EW, In Style and Essence; and his conversations with actors, directors and other celebrities — known as The Jess Cagle Interview — are distributed by Sirius XM. We spoke on May 16. Edited excerpts follow:
EXCLUSIVE: The producers of Rebecca aren’t giving up on their four-and-a-half-year campaign to force their former press agent to pay for the musical’s collapse.
Rebecca Broadway Limited Partnership, led by Ben Sprecher and Louise Forlenza, requested a New York judge throw out last month’s $85,000 jury award for wrongful interference against publicist Marc Thibodeau. Sprecher and Forlenza originally sought at least $10.6 million. Their lawyer, Erik Groothuis, said in a court filing that the jury picked $85,000 “from thin air.”
Broadway producers and investors made the brave decision to present several new plays without stars this past season.
Audiences haven’t followed. Grosses for straight plays (non-musicals) tumbled 15 percent in the 12 months ending on Sunday, after plunging 27 percent the previous season, according to statistics out today from the Broadway League. At $154 million, it was the lowest-grossing season for plays in at least six years.
With a week to go, 2016-17 has already surpassed last season’s record grosses.
After 51 weeks, Broadway has sold $1.415 billion of tickets, vs. $1.373 billion for all of 2015-16. Sales are on track to rise 5 percent, according to figures from the Broadway League.
UPDATED THROUGHOUT: In a court battle over money and reputations, the partnership that sought to bring Rebecca the Musical to Broadway won a token $90,000 damage award against its former press agent — less than 1 percent of what producers were seeking.
Publicist Marc Thibodeau hugged his lawyers and cried after the jury verdict. Five women and one man decided that Thibodeau wrongfully interfered with a contract but didn’t defame Rebecca Broadway LP when he sent rogue emails under the pseudonyms Sarah Finkelstein and Bethany Walsh. The emails warned a prospective investor that Rebecca‘s commercial potential was questionable and there was fraud in its midst .
Rebecca Broadway LP vs. Marc Thibodeau went to the jury Tuesday afternoon after two weeks of testimony. The five women and one man had a range of information requests out of the gate in order to decide the civil suit, which was filed in 2013 after Rebecca the Musical collapsed amid a cash shortfall.