Shocking (Theater) News out of New York (updated!) while YONKERS Breaks Box Office Records in DC, with a New Rave in the Washington Times

Another terrific review came out yesterday that we missed–it was Jayne Blanchard’s review in The Washington Times–and it helped Theater J achieve its best day (and night) of box office ever. Though there are still Halloween night tickets left on sale for tonight, the rest of the weekend’s supply got gobbled up in a hurry and it’s fun to know we have extra performances of this wonderful show throughout November.

But my God, consider the whiplash for the cast and producers of The Simon Plays on Broadway, where a closing notice was just posted with a final performance of BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS this Sunday. Poor Noah Robbins (our DC/GDS high school alum) who took off first year (or just semester?) of college expecting a decent run on Broadway. And all those other stellar actors (Laurie Metcalf, Dennis Boutsikaris, Jessica Hecht… all my faves)…

Breaking News Update: The “closing notice” is “only provisional” — courtesy of playbill.com

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And a day later, this nail in the coffin meditation on the failure of The Simon Plays to find an audience; from Howard Kissel in The New York Daily News. It concludes:

“I’m afraid these plays could now only have been mounted in repertory in a not-for-profit theater, which is where you can still find remnants — somewhat aged — of The Broadway Audience. There may come a time when Neil Simon experiences a major revival. I hope I’m around, and I hope the revivals meet the level Cromer did with this one.”

Time may be a coming…

4 thoughts on “Shocking (Theater) News out of New York (updated!) while YONKERS Breaks Box Office Records in DC, with a New Rave in the Washington Times

  1. This is very sad. Troubling, in fact. Premature?
    I don’t know about Broadway Theater, but isn’t it presumptuous to assume a play won’t be successful because it “fails to find an audience” in its first week? Perhaps people have other plans.
    Perhaps they are waiting for reviews. Or for relatives to come in for the holidays. Closing a play after one week seems crazy, not even allowing demand to surface. What would happen if the retailers closed up shop because sales were dismal prior to holiday sales? Especially in today’s economy. Did the producers even consider that the tix prices are high?
    So you’ve got to be sure it is really really good before deciding to spend $$ to see it again.
    The other sad thought is that I daresay most of today’s young people wouldn’t know what good theater or good music or good art is… given what they think is hot on American Idol. It is so unfortunate that they don’t have reliable gold standards. They don’t appreciate that you could see a Neil Simon or Tennessee Williams or Arthur Miller play time and time again, and still enjoy it. In contrast most of the plays from current playrights can’t hold a candle to these masters in writing truly compelling, enduring, endearing dialogue. That is the different between good and great theater. Sadly, too many people have no basis of comparison.

    P.S. Theater J… why is there NO mention or list of the YONKERS post-performance discussions on Sunday ON YOUR WEBSITE. If it’s there, it is NOT visible or findable. Shortsighted. Error.

    • Our discussions are listed through the link “Beyond the Stage” on our theaterj.org website.
      Perhaps we’ll remind people on our homepage about that navigation. thank you.

  2. “… Broadway lost its national audience as well as a lot of its local audience starting in the ’60s, when it became increasingly politicized and intellectualized. The audience that had grown accustomed to turning to the theater for emotional catharsis no longer found it…” The Daily News piece says —

    I’d say more like when it moved to feature spectacle — and imported at that, making literate drama seem small and dated by its very nature.

  3. “The other sad thought is that I daresay most of today’s young people wouldn’t know what good theater or good music or good art is…”

    I think a statement like this is a really troublesome one, and rings a bit of the cane-shaking, finger-wagging, “kids these days!” cartoon figure that I hardly think we want to emulate. That kind of attitude doesn’t bring people in, it drives them away from the theater, away from the arts.

    For what it’s worth, the average age of the American Idol viewer is 40. And the judges and producers are all in their late 40s/early 50s, so what, now let’s blame the boomers (the tail end at least) for the “demise of theater”!? Better yet, let’s blame the early boomers since they were the ones watching the gong show, and surely that wasn’t any better than IDOL, was it? See, finger pointing isn’t useful. And writing off an entire generation of newer playwrights is even worse than not useful, it’s short-sighted and tragic.

    Theater is not dying. Current playwrights can absolutely write compelling, enduring, endearing drama and most of the “emerging” playwrights I know will gladly cite their earliest influences. Albee. Miller. Shakespeare. Hellman. And yes, Simon.

    Let’s not blame this on “today’s young people”. That’s way too easy.

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