May 21, 2008

Cutting “Young Frankenstein” Down to Size

When the Tony Award nominations were announced last week, the one thing that practically everyone agreed on was how ridiculous it sounded each time David Hyde Pierce or Sara Ramirez had to say “The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein”. Of course, they only had to say it three times because the show, more familiarly known as Young Frankenstein only got three nominations: Christopher Fitzgerald for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. Andrea Martin for Best Featured Actress in a Musical and Robin Wagner for Best Set Design of a Musical.

But that may be the least of the show’s worries. This week, the musical decided to cut five of the seven string players in its orchestra, a sure sign that business ain’t good. You can usually tell what kind of business most Broadway shows are doing because they release their grosses each week but, following their equally boneheaded decision to charge $450 for a premium seat, the producers of Young Frankenstein refused to disclose how many tickets they sell.

Over the past couple of months, however, there have been other hints that the show is in trouble. In March, the producers got rid of the $450 seat and began advertising “All tickets $50 to $120." In April, they started sending out emails offering tickets “starting at $45.”
The cheap seats don’t seem to have wooed theatergoers. Insiders say the producers have been handing out comp tickets for some performances to people in the company so that the cavernous 1800-seat Hilton Theatre won’t look so empty.

5 comments:

dylan said...

It is certainly true that Mel and company alienated themselves from the theatre community this season with a series of boneheaded blunders. But what I'm finding more interesting is how many in this community have made sport of reveling in its speculated financial woes. Aside from the arrogance of its producers, Young Frankenstein is still a fairly good show, worthy of a place on Broadway. I for one hate to see it or any other show of reasonable merit in trouble.

jan@broadwayandme said...

Dylan, you're right that a certain schadenfreude is behind a lot of the talk about Young Frankenstein, including the talk in the entry above. And you’re right too that those of us who love theater should be rooting for shows to succeed and not watching for them to stumble. So on those accounts, consider my hand slapped and me appropriately chastised. But I can't agree with you that Young Frankenstein is a good show. And I think the hubris of its creators had a lot to do with it's not being so.

dylan said...

Hand slapped and chastised? Never Jan! Let's just call it spirited dialogue between theatre lovers on either side of the YF fence. It's what your terrific site is all about! ;-)

Anonymous said...

I saw the show on Sunday and enjoyed the silly humor and happy ending. Does everything have to be a masterpiece?? NO!! I Enjoyed seeing Megan Mullally too! Sometimes its nice to forget about real world problems,to just sit back, relax and laugh. My friend and I had a great time... We met a nice guy from out of state, in the ticket line who was buying a ticket to take his mom. How nice that was, too. Too bad I didn't get his number- if you're out there.....

jan@broadwayandme said...

Anonymous, I'm glad you had a good time and delighted that you wrote to say so. And I hope you do get a chance to hookup with that nice guy.