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October 17, 2008


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Well, down at Court Theatre, we're having the most successful run of a show in our history (at least since the Abelson Auditorium was built in 1981).

So, there's that.

Scott Barsotti

Curious doesn't have anything else planned between now and the Rhino, but I'm interested to see how it will affect us. I'm actually not that pessimistic, Curious shows and the Rhino being pay-what-you-can, I wouldn't think it would have a huge effect on sales, but you never know. Much of our audience is made up of people who, dare I say, aren't heavily invested in the stock market, so I'm not sure it will lower our numbers. We'll see when the time comes, I guess.


The Picture of Dorian Gray has been selling out consistently since our previews to the point where we will probably extend. At The Theatre Building last night however, it was a graveyard. 17 people for Griffin's acclaimed production of On the Shore of the Wide World (disclosure: I'm a Griffin member too). Note that the Saint helping me with house management was talking up Turn of the Century with anyone who would listen as the most charming thing she's ever seen. :)

Mark Jeffries

We at the Saints take no responsibility for the show recommendations made by our members. :)

And there you go--I was pretty much unmoved this past Sunday night by almost everything in "Turn of the Century" that didn't involve Rachel York singing, but it still got the Ritual Standing O. And almost every seat was filled, so I'm suspecting that whatever seats subscribers reading the reviews turned back were grabbed up by the suburbanites who read nothing more than "from the creators of 'Jersey Boys.'" I hate to say this, but this barely-warm blob of a show will probably become a hit, despite a pan from Ben Brantley, and the Goodman will have its "Chorus Line."

I'm just wondering--how far out of sync with the tastes of Jane Over-55 Big Theater Ticketbuyer have a lot of us who pontificate on these theater blogs become--and before anyone thinks I'm turning on the flames, could it be perhaps a good thing?


Most people I know haven't really seen any effects--yet. I think it's gonna be a tough winter and into spring at least though.

I'm curious to see how, or if, it will affect programming in the next year or two.


The thing is, when a company does lousy at the box office, how can you tell why the audience doesn't come? I think it's too easy to blame 'the economy' when the fact of the matter is shows that are hits still do well- for example, the justly praised and well-sold production of "Caroline or Change" down at Court. Shows that are well done and/or well marketed will succeed, and shows that are poorly done or poorly marketed will fail. Same as always. Economic conditions might exacerbate the situation- shows that are hits might do *really* well, while shows that aren't might do absolutely piss-poor business and even close early- but maybe that's for the best. Won't it separate the wheat from the chaff a little bit? The ones left standing would ideally be the most dedicated, or the ones doing the highest quality work. Unfortunately the fact is tough times may only ensure the survival of the best-funded who have the largest war chest.


They have been better.


I know that Shattered Globe has had a tough time with Glass Menagerie. It had pretty good reviews overall, but they haven't turned that into major ticket sales. One source has told me that they are lucky to have 50% capacity most nights. But then again, there has been numerous recent productions of this play and it doesn't help that another major theatre is doing a progressive take on the old piece.


Holy cow. Kris, did you see this?


That's one that I chalk up to economy issues. That's scary- are we going to see more companies fold because they lose vital foundation support? I was expecting belt tightening,but to see a major organization snuffed out like a candle like that is pretty shocking. The conventional wisdom is that one shouldn't rely on ticket sales for a substantial percentage of one's budget...but this shift could mean that the companies with a strong following that are *primarily* funded by tickets sales would be in a stronger position to weather this storm.

(Credit where it's due: I saw this info on Chris Jones's blog first.)

Mark Jeffries

It seems that the foundation had been Milwaukee Shakespeare's main funder from the beginning--and that the father of the man running the foundation was one of the company's founders.

Also, they had been doing their shows for some time at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's mainstage, one of those 300-to-500-seat three-quarter thrust stages with voms that Milwaukee has a lot of. This season, "Love's Labour's Lost" was done and "Othello" would've been done in the tiny studio space of the Broadway Theatre Center, which was originally rehabbed for the now-defunct Theater X before the fancy-shmancy Cabot Theatre and the Skylight Bar were built around the old building to make up the complex (the musical company Skylight plays in the Cabot, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre plays in both spaces). The fact that they were doing two shows in a 99-seat space after years in much larger spaces would not give me too much comfort as to the company's future.

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  • Kris Vire
    I write about theater for Time Out Chicago. I write more about it here.

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