The rave NYT review of Tracy Letts' August:Osage County has made it a bona fide boffo Broadway hit!
Biz for Steppenwolf Theater's production of "August," which opened Tuesday at the Imperial Theater, is unusually high for a straight play, a legit genre that tends to attract smaller auds than razzle-dazzle tuners.
"It's a huge number for a play," said Philip J. Smith, prexy of the Shubert Org, which owns the Imperial along with 15 other Rialto houses. "It's almost like a musical."
In Smith's estimation, the last time a Broadway play achieved a similarly boffo post-opening figure was the original 1984 production of Tom Stoppard's "The Real Thing," starring Jeremy Irons and Glenn Close, which wrapped around $200,000 the day after the show opened.
This may yet prove that the power of the NY Times to make or break a show may not be dead after all, when it comes to plays. After the raves for Well and Journey's End did no good, one couldn't be blamed for wondering.
It helps that August, reportedly, is a play with genuinely popular appeal and has the word of mouth of not being too arty. Charles Isherwood's previous review (of the Chicago production) caught the ire of David Cote for its seemingly faint praise. But note the Ish now says: "It is, flat-out, no asterisks and without qualifications, the most exciting new American play Broadway has seen in years."I myself still haven't seen the play so can't weigh in. But now I'm pissed that because it's doing so "well" I won't be seeing it! So much for a post-strike discount...
This is why I do not bemoan the demise of "the straight play" on Broadway--better it be done at a price I can afford! What's healthier for The American Drama: to live on as a tourist attraction for $100+ a ticket? Or play to people who care about theatre?