Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Broadway robbery

$450 for one ticket to a Broadway show? Are you kidding me??

When Mel Brooks’ new musical adaptation of YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN hits the Great White Way in November that’s what the top tix will cost. For a musical that hasn’t even opened yet. They’re charging outrageous prices on the assumption that this show (which has yet to go before a single audience) will be a smash rivaling or eclipsing THE PRODUCERS. Yeah, like it’s so easy to just knock one of those out.

Unless Barbra Streisand is playing Frau Blucher and the kids from SPRING AWAKENING appear and have real sex with YOU on stage, $450 seems excessive.

For a date night at the theater, two people, dinner beforehand, parking in Manhattan -- $1300. Maybe $1400 depending on what they charge for Junior Mints in the lobby.

I understand that it’s getting more expensive to mount these musicals. I shudder to think when Disney gets around to adapting THE LITTLE MERMAID and the entire audience is underwater. It’s a risky business, hard for investors to get their money back, yada yada, so theatergoers have to shell out three figures to see Jerry Mathers??

At what point does it become sheer greed? And at what point does the general audience, the tourists, the “bridge and tunnel” crowd, the eight people who watch the Tonys say, “Fuck it. I’ll go the Bahamas instead.” I think that time is now.

Producers claim scalpers get those big prices. Oh yeah? How many did they sell when Brad Oscar starred in THE PRODUCERS instead of Nathan Lane?

Sure, these high prices are just for the “VIP” seats but that means what, the rest of us have to sit way way back in the orchestra or up above the timber line? And if it's just a few seats, is it really worth the bad PR for the extra couple grand per performance?

I love Broadway. I want to see it prosper. You may think I'm bitter because they're turning every old movie into a musical except VOLUNTEERS but it's not that (entirely). I want to see Broadway give people a reason to go, not 450 reasons to stay away.


Rob said...

Is it any wonder people are going to see fewer movies, fewer shows, and fewer concerts?

My wife and I just spent $32 for a matinee, a bit of food, and drink at a local theatre. For that price we could have bought two DVD movies, a two liter and a bag of microwave popcorn.

Tallulah Morehead said...

Those FRANKENSTEIN prices are monstrous!

I spent HOURS coming up with that line. Thank you. Tip your hooker.

Confess Kent, the real reason you were inspired to write this rant is because you found out about those prices when PAYING them as you bought a couple seats for November.

But I've shelled out more than that for smaller shvancestukers.

Anonymous said...

You do know, don't you, that Disney actually is adapting LITTLE MERMAID for Broadway? It opens next season as well. Nope, they're not underwater -- they're all on roller skates. I wish I were making this up.

Dwacon said...

I wouldn't spend such an outrageous amount on Broadway.

I'd rather spend it taking a Ken Levine workshop.

super lee said...

it's an era that art is defined by outrageousness. divides, man.

David J. Loehr said...

And if you've been to the theatre they'll be using, nosebleed seats isn't the half of it. You'd need a Hubble telescope to see anything from the balcony. Any pro basketball game is more intimate and immediate. Seeing 42nd Street there was like trying to watch tv on an iPod across the room.

I'll get the cast album and use my imagination. It's cheaper, and the sets are amazing.

Richard Cooper said...

If you're blue, and you don't know where to go to, why don't you go where fashion sits...

For 450 clams, I expect to see an electrified performance - like actually reanimating the late great Peter Boyle to reprise his role as The Monster.

Now that would be 'UTTIN' ON THE 'IIIITZ!

BlaineW. said...

Why is it that what is REALLY exciting for people is an upcoming musical about an old(er) movie? Do you think any original new musical would generate these kind of prices and this kind of buzz. I suppose in this case, obviously, it is because it is Mel Brooks, and after the success of The Producers and everything, etc. But is there more to it? Is it because everyone is dying to see an entire number set to "Roll, roll, roll in the hay ... ", because I know thats what it is for me.

Anonymous said...

I don't disagree with your sentiment, (or sediment, but that's a story for a different day)... but in their defense, if they charge $125 for those seats you know damn well they will get scalped for well over $450. So I can see why the producers are asking those prices.

I don't know how many rows are going for that price, or how long they will be able to them, but if those prices are going to be charged then I'd rather see the money go to the people producing the show.

And of course the beauty of free markets is that if there isn't demand for tickets at those prices then they will quickly fall.

Speaking of extracting the last penny from your fans... I'm going to a concert at the Hollywood Bowl later this year that, if you want to sit in the front (pool?) seats, they are only available bundled with a hotel room for $1,500 a pop.

A little outrageous for someone who lives in LA and doesn't need a hotel room. I was so incensed I only bought two.

Anonymous said...

I'd rather see Barbra Streisand play the Madeline Kahn role of Elizabeth.

But then the writers would have to change the line from "great knockers" to "is that your nose or are you eating a banana?"

And that would just be abbie-normal.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me while I remember seeing the Rolling Stones at the Hollywood Bowl for 93 cents...

Anonymous said...

I think the fuckit factor kicked in for theatre prices a long time ago. What hump?

howie said...

The real question is:

Has Mel started working on the musical numbers for "Spaceballs" yet?

floretbroccoli said...

You shutter to think? Wouldn't it be easier just to shudder? You wouldn't need the hammer and nails then.

Brian Scully said...

The thing that pissed me off was that Cloris Leachman's name was bandied about by the production as possibly playing Frau Blucher and then was told they were "going a different way" with the part. So basically, they scored some free publicity by throwing her name out there, then just threw her away. I'm told that the director said she was "too old" although I don't know that firsthand.

I think Mel Brooks should be ashamed of himself for allowing Cloris Leachman to have been used like that... and if it's true that she was denied the part because of her age, shame on Mel because that same sort of discrimination could easily be used against him. The plain fact is, funny is funny and Cloris Leachman hasn't lost a step when it comes to being funny. AND, if they have even a hope or prayer of getting those outrageous prices for the play, they might have had a slightly better chance by actually having someone from the movie in it.

I have a great deal of respect for Mel Brooks and in particular the amazing work he did in the 1970's and early 80's... "Blazing Saddles", "Young Frankenstein", "High Anxiety", "Silent Movie"... but he should have stood up for someone who did very good work for him back then, and would have done very good work for him today.

Anonymous said...

I'm assuming that, as with many tickets to pricey multiple-night subscription events like the Metropolitan Opera or the lower levels of Yankee Stadium, there will be a substantial number of business write-offs for people actually using those $450 seats, so that the tickets won't actually be paid for by the person with butt in chair, but passed along through whatever company is involved and the U.S. government's tax system to have the cost be spread among the populous.

Of course, if "Young Frankenstein" debuts with a scathing review in the New York Times, it's going to be hard to get people into those $450 seats, business tax deduction or not, since it won't be "the show to see" on Broadway for the upcoming season.

Dante Kleinberg said...

That reminds me the old Garry Shandling joke about the expensive price of a house in L.A... someone suggests it has a great view and he says "For that price, the view should be breasts pressed against the window"

Anyway, the moral is: I'll never be able to afford to go to Broadway or own a home in my hometown

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the logic. If scalpers get $450, then people must be willing to pay $450--that part I get. The part I don't get is...won't the scalpers just turn around and get $600, $700, $800? There will always be people willing to pay stupid-level prices. Where does it end?

Karen Scott said...

That's nothing, Barbara Streisand is charging £550 ($1000) for a ticket to see her show, here in Northern England.

Anonymous said...

This year, I wanted to take my wife to New York for her birthday and catch a play. When we realized it would be a couple grand (minimum) for an overnight stay, we scrapped the trip and took the kids on an RV trip to Williamsburg instead. Spent less than a quarter of the money and had a great time.

DC said...

For $450, there better be $350 stuck to the back of my ticket.

Anonymous said...

Has Mel started working on the musical numbers for "Spaceballs" yet?

No, but there's an animated series forthcoming.

Buttermilk Sky said...

And a $1.50 "restoration fee" tacked on. Nothing to do with Congreve or Sheridan, this pays for maintenance and upkeep on the theatre -- which used to be the responsibility of the Shuberts, et al. Forget the Junior Mints, there are theatres now where you can buy chips, ice cream and soda at inflated lobby prices and EAT THEM IN YOUR SEAT DURING THE SHOW.(Performers love this. "Hello, young lovers -- CRUNCH, SLURP -- wherever you are...")

By the way, who's in this? I heard Gerard Depardieu wants to play the Monster.

Febrifuge said...

Meh. Ever since 'Phantom of the Opera,' Broadway has been all commerce, and precious little art. Today's musical theatre is usually an exercise in trotting out the dessicated corpses of good ideas from years ago, and parading them about with the greasy sheen of nostalgia subbing for the spark of real inventiveness.

Thankfully, off-Broadway still exists. And real theater isn't about chandeliers, helicopters, puppets that swear (although that is pretty damn brilliant), or movies based on books based on your favorite cereal from grade school. It's not about dressing up, and it's not about impressing the folks at the office with how affluent you are. Real theater is about ideas, and events, and being right there in the same room while it's happening.

For $450 you can see about 30 smaller, potentially better shows. Or you can see five, and then donate $300 to your favorite nonprofit (or low-budget) theater troupe.

Anonymous said...

"I suppose in this case, obviously, it is because it is Mel Brooks, and after the success of The Producers and everything, etc. But is there more to it?"

Yes, there's more to it. SPAMALOT's success must also be factored in.

And, no matter what they charge, it's YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN! It's always been a special movie for me: A loving parody of my favorite film, BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, mixed with SON OF FRANKENSTEIN, another deep, deep love affair of mine.

At 23 years old, I snuck onto the set when Mel was shooting the PUTTIN' ON THE RITZ scene at the Mayfair Music HAll in Santa Monica, January 1974. I spent an afternoon Looking Like I Belonged There watching some of that immortal comedy scene shot, and was in Heaven! 18 years later, I taught an improv class on that same stage, and felt honored to be teaching comedy techniques on the same stage Gene and Peter had danced on.

Be cynical about other shows, and the whole Broadway overpriced scam, but I really am excited to see what they make of YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, and Andrea Martin is a MUCH better choice for Fau Blucher than Streisand would ever be, and I will certainly prefer Megan Mulally's Elizabeth to Streisand's also.

In fact, Steisand can charge $10,000 for her tickets. It's fine with me. I wouldn't go if she were free.

What depresses me, is I'll probably end seeing YF at the Pantages in two years, with Jason Alexander as Frederick, Tom Wopat as the monster, Rosie O'Donnell as Frau Blucher, Lucie Arnaz as Elizabeth, and Bruce Vilanch as Ygor.

Anonymous said...

"What knockers!"

"Thank you, dahleeeng..."

Mel, why mess with a classic?? Leaves a bad taste in my mouth and takes away from the movie's greatness.

Anonymous said...

"Leaves a bad taste in my mouth and takes away from the movie's greatness."

NOTHING takes away from the movie's greatness. The movie will continue to exist, unchanged and untouched, as it has for 33 years. Silly, stupid, small-minded thing to say. The movie of THE PRODUCERS also still exists unaltered by the musical made from it.

A stupid interviewer once asked Stephen King how he felt about Stanley Kubrick "Ruining" his book THE SHINING. King pointed to the shelf beside him and said, "He didn't ruin my book. There it is right there on my shelf. It's fine."

And of course, the musical of YF MIGHT be GOOD. Did you ever consider that? We might weigh all the possibilities before we settle down to bash a show still more than a month away from even it's first out-of-town performance. Ken was only bashing the prices, which ARE insane. YOU haven't seen the show yet. It could be good.

It has a strong cast. For those like "Buttermilk Sky" above, too click-challenged to take 30 seconds and find the cast on GOOGLE, it stars:
Roger Bart as Frederick Fronkensteen,
Megan Mullally as Elizabeth,
Sarah Sutton as Inga,
Andrea Martin as Frau Blucher,
Shuler Hensley as the Monster,
Fred Applegate as Inspector Kemp
Christopher Fitzgerald as Igor.

For those of you asking "Who is Shuler Hensley?", he played Judd opposite Hugh Jackman in OKLAHOMA. Check out the DVD. He's good, and he can sing. He's also played the Frankenstein Monster before, also opposite Hugh Jackman, in the terrible movie VAN HELSING.

Among the songs so far announced (ALL songs subject to cutting) are THE TRANSYLVANIA MANIA and HE VAS MY BOYFRIEND!

No matter how YF the Musical turns out, it will be better than VAN HELSING.

shaz said...

I nearly caused a car crash the other day as i drove past my local theatre in Glasgow and had a laughing fit a the wheel when i seen .....SCOOBY DOO the live action show was the latest production at £30 a ticket .
Who the hell wants to see a guy in a dog suit sweat it out for two hours ? Well apparently 100 kids in line with really pissed off looking parents do but really is THIS what its come to ?
$450 to see young frankenstein seems like a bit of a cheek when you could walk down any glasgow street on a saturday night for free and be entertained by the assorted freaks and weirdos out on the lash .

lump516 said...

I'll wait for the college production of Young Frankenstein: The Musical. In the meantime, I'll just watch the DVD--one thing the Broadway version won't have is Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle. By the way, did Cloris Leachman and Mel Brooks ever have their arm-wrestling match.

Anonymous said...

It's Sutton Foster as Inga not Sara Sutton. As for the prices, I won't be feeding this greedy Monster!

Anonymous said...

I've seen the show. It's in three weeks of tryouts up here in Seattle. I saw the ninth performance.

It is a big honkin' show, with three-story sets and sparks flying and giant faux ships sliding on and offstage. They could probably stage it at Yankee Stadium, where a seat behind the dugout also costs $450, at least when the Red Sox are in town.

It lifts whole scenes intact from the movie, so a lot of the show is like English pantomime, where the audience knows exactly what's going to happen. My crowd was practically mouthing the punch lines along with the actors. Talk about a pre-sold property.

I'm sure it'll run for years, but you can rent the movie and see 50 percent of the show... for $2.50.

Anonymous said...

Mel Brooks has ruined Broadway for me. I haven't seen a show since he jacked up the prices on the Producers. To take my family of four to see Young Frankenstein (one of my all time favorites!)would cost the same as a mini-vacation. As far as I am concerned, I am headed for a travel agent! How Sad!!!!!