Avenue Q continues to surprise people, even six years after its Broadway debut. It surprised audiences when it opened because… well, foul-mouthed puppets are a little shocking. It was the upset win for Best Musical at the 2004 Tony Awards, beating out the favored mega-hit Wicked. And it announced what no one saw coming at its closing night performance on Broadway on September 13—the show was re-opening off Broadway!
The announcement sets a sort of precedent for struggling Broadway shows; The New York Times reported that the last incident of a Broadway-off Broadway transfer occurred in 1984. When last January saw the closing of three Best Musical Tony winners (Spamalot, Hairspray and Spring Awakening), enthusiasts claimed the shows were too good to be closing this soon. Of course, if a show’s not making enough to pay the bills, that’s just the way it is. But Avenue Q’s surprise move could start a new trend in New York theater. And it makes perfect sense—Avenue Q wasn’t selling well enough to earn its keep at the Golden Theatre, yet interest in the show was still strong enough to fill an off-Broadway venue. Perhaps Avenue Q’s strategy will give new life to future shows that have slipped in sales, but still maintain a strong fan base.
I saw Avenue Q on Broadway in 2005 and loved it. But a few years have passed and I forgot the reasons that made it great. Viewing it at its new home at New World Stages (where it opened last night) made me remember, and grateful that this show got its second chance. Read more
Some great rock musicals have made their way to Broadway in the “post Rent” era. Spring Awakening, Passing Strange, and Next to Normal have all piqued my interest in the evolution of the Broadway musical. With Memphis billed as a story about “the birth of rock and roll,” I was expecting to tack another show onto this list. And I had reason to think so.
While I was standing outside the Shubert Theatre in the brisk October morning air, two people walked by me, noticed I was waiting for tickets, and exuberantly told me what a treat I was in for. This kind of man-on-the-street feedback was surprising to me, particularly for a show that was still in previews. I felt so good about myself! I was the first rusher in line at 9:30 a.m. (come on people; you’re making this too easy!) and only had to wait a half hour to get front row tickets to a show that two New Yorkers thought was great.
The student rush policy for Memphis was a great one. It was the good ol’ two-tickets-in-the-front-row-for-$26.50-each deal. The reason I say “was” though is because the policy was only in effect during previews (Memphis opened last night). When contacted, publicists for Memphis told me that there are no official plans to instate a rush post-opening, but there has been talk of it and it will depend on week-to-week sale monitoring. So I guess that means all you rushers waiting to see this new musical will have to hope the show isn’t a sellout. Memphis sold just over 91 percent of its tickets last week, so the likelihood of a rush being reinstated soon isn’t looking too good. Read more
It was a beautiful, 90-degree summer day to wait in line on 42 St. for $10 tickets to the first preview performance of Bye Bye Birdie. That is, if you didn’t have a job. I stopped by the line for the ambitious marketing stunt when the box office opened at noon. At that point, there were 400 people stretching down 43 St. where the box office for the new Henry Miller’s Theatre is, through the covered passageway of the Bank of America Tower, and to the end of 42 St. at Avenue of the Americas. The line was moving sssslllloooww, but for those with the time (and skin) to burn, it was worth the wait for cheap tickets (up to two per person) to the first performance in the new Broadway theater on September 10.
The rush for Next to Normal is about as organized as a rush can get. Let this one stand as the example for all rushes. Theater employees distribute wristband numbers to the people in line (no, you don’t have to wear the wristband). This eliminates line cutting and allows people to run briefly to the bathroom or get a snack. I can’t express how many times the pals of people in front of me have joined them in line while I’ve been in place for hours. This isn’t a problem on the Next to Normal rush (just watch that it doesn’t happen before the wristbands are distributed).
Not only is this rush organized, but it’s generous. This is a general rush, meaning you don’t have to be a student to take part. The tickets are $25 a piece (each person can buy two, and the box office doesn’t tack on the usual $1.50 facilities charge). Furthermore, the seats are in the front row, which is a special experience for this show (more on this later). I’ve heard that once the front row is filled, rushers are put in the mezzanine and sometimes a box. Read more
Accompanied by my fellow rushing pro friend, Kym, we headed over to the Booth Theatre in the early a.m. to rush Next to Normal. I will admit – I have gotten complacent while rushing. Chalk it up to too many successful and easy rushes, or maybe my rushing ego was getting in the way. But I made a misstep. We arrived at the Booth at 8 a.m. Some might say that’s early enough, but during the week of the Tonys, with Next to Normal being nominated for 11 awards, and it being something you and a friend have your hearts set on seeing – it’s not a good idea to get lazy. There were 18 people ahead of us. I knew we wouldn’t be able to get rush tickets. I did, however, think we were a cinch to get the $36.50-priced tickets that Normal offers (a fantastic deal, and a great backup option to rush). But believe it or not, the new musical that started out with tepid ticket sales is now boiling hot – the performance was sold out. The person in front of us snatched the last two rush seats and there were no other seats available. Read more
Welcome back to this week’s edition of “Another movie-musical that disappointments me!” Today’s show features intense bleaching of dark themes, feather-light songs, and repressed homosexuality turned not-so repressed.
It’s been a while since I’ve rushed a show that had a long line, but I wasn’t surprised there was one for this show. Billy Elliot sells its student rush tickets two hours prior to the performance for $41.50, and officially bests Shrek the Musical for the most expensive rush ticket I’ve heard of. Since Billy sells nearly all of its tickets each week, I suppose it’s pride that inspires the producers to set the rush rate at this price. To put this in perspective, $41.50 for a Broadway show is not a bad deal. But since we’re talking student discounts, the reason such a practice was put into place was so that students with limited funds could experience Broadway for a cheaper rate. Rear mezzanine seats can be bought for this price at nearly any Broadway show.
The lobby of the Imperial Theatre is quite large, so the rush line forms inside, which always makes me happy. I arrived just a few minutes before 5 p.m., and just beat a large group of people that tagged on behind me. Anyone planning on rushing this would be well advised to arrive between 4 and 4:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased with credit or debit and each person may receive two tickets. The seats are nothing special – rear mezzanine for the performance I attended. The Imperial Theatre is gigantic (it seats 1,421) and the facial expressions of the actors weren’t too easy to make out. Read more
Guys and Dolls is a big musical. It’s got big orchestrations, big scenery, big characters, and a big history. So in its third iteration on Broadway, it’s surprising that what keeps this classic afloat are the minor details.
I arrived at the Nederlander Theatre (gorgeously renovated, post Rent) just before 8:30 a.m. I was alone in line and remained so until I was joined by three other rushers just before the box office opened. Why such a slow rush day for this show? It’s a little odd, since during the month of March, Guys and Dolls sold 91.6 percent of its tickets. It was chilly, but being that it’s now April (yay spring!!) it was an easier haul. At 10 a.m., the box office opened and I picked up my $26.50 ticket for what was one of the best seats I’ve ever had for a show, with or without rush. Mezzanine, fourth row, dead center. It was probably one of the few times I’ve ever felt guilty sitting among all those patrons that paid top dollar. At $26.50, with seats like this, and a two-ticket option – this seems to be the rush to beat this season.