As the April 27 cutoff for Tony eligibility approaches, the season is heating up. Here’s a snap shot of the terrain:
We may have to throw a pity party for “Amélie,” which just opened to polite but bloodless reviews. The show had no advance sale to speak of and you’ll need a microscope to see what’s filling the coffers this week.
Elsewhere, the gremlins plaguing “Groundhog Day” seem to have been tamed. Reports of set malfunctions flooded my inbox for nearly two weeks. At one point, the cast performed the second act without the set.
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I’m rooting for “Groundhog Day” because I’m a big fan of Tim Minchin, who wrote the score for that and “Matilda,” one of the best musicals of the past several years. Matthew Warchus directed both, and his work is first rate.
Though the reviews in London were terrific, the box office here isn’t nearly as strong as it should be, and, at $18.5 million, the show is expensive. No wonder nervous investors have been seen clinging to the bar at Gallaghers across the street.
Gremlins have also infiltrated “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Christian Borle and John Rubinstein have had to improvise here and there during a lull in the technical proceedings. Some insiders believe the orange wigs make the Oompa Loompas look like the killer doll Chucky, but there are no plans to redesign them.
The show is still a work in progress, with Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (“Hairspray”) doing a fair amount of rewriting. They’re fast and good, and thrive under pressure. But “Charlie” has stiff competition for the family audience: “Anastasia” has nearly $8 million in the bank and, sources say, is delighting teenage girls and their parents.
“Hello, Dolly!” is already a stalwart at the Shubert, with Bette Midler getting four standing ovations a night. Every showbiz VIP in town is scrambling for tickets to the April 20 opening night. Midler’s doing very little publicity — when you’ve got $40 million in the bank, you don’t have to — but look for a few strategic media appearances to secure her Tony.
Producers of “War Paint” are watching their advance rise to just under $10 million. The draws are Patti LuPone, as Helena Rubinstein, and Christine Ebersole, as Elizabeth Arden, who should keep things percolating along nicely in their fabulous hats.
“Dear Evan Hansen” has slipped a little, but that’s probably because the spring shows are gobbling all attention. Producers are planning to step up advertising in the coming weeks, and its young star, Ben Platt, will certainly be out and about charming Tony voters this spring.
Finally, “Come From Away” is rapidly emerging as the front-runner for Best Musical. I’ve heard this from four of Broadway’s most powerful producers, all good at picking winners. Expect Gander, Newfoundland, to be Condé Nast Traveler’s top place to visit in 2018.