Even plays are following supersizing trend
“Supersize me!” is no longer just for the fast-food set. Broadway has come down with its own recent case of elephantitis.
“The Pirate Queen,” the new musical from the “Les Miz” creatives, had Rialto insiders gossiping about its capitalization of $16 million. Who knows if “Dance of the Vampires” or “The Lion King” cost more, or did this “Queen” actually set a record?
Equally surprising, after seasons filled with two-handers and one-person dramas, two plays in 2006-07 actually featured more actors onstage than most tuners.
First up, Lincoln Center Theater undertook “The Coast of Utopia,” Tom Stoppard’s three-play, nine-hour, 45-thesp trilogy about Russian intellectuals in the 19th century. The production rolled out installments starting in the fall, then ran all three in rep through May 13.
At least LCT had the cushion of a built-in membership audience and a nonprofit biz model. Commercial producing org Boyett Ostar risked importing the London hit “Coram Boy” — a play-with-music with 40 performers, including a full choir, plus seven musicians — said to be capitalized at a whopping $6 million.
A sweeping Dickensian melodrama, “Coram” aims to pull in the same Anglophiles who helped make the eight-hour “Nicholas Nickleby” a hit in the 1980s. It’s playing up its size — 20 actors! 20 singers! 7 musicians! — as a draw.
Indeed, LCT found that the massiveness of “Utopia” was part of the appeal. A large percentage of people who bought tickets purchased all three installments at once, even before the strong reviews came in. Hottest ticket: All three plays, seen on a single day.
“We thought people would be more tentative,” says LCT exec producer Bernard Gersten. “But the marathons sold out immediately.”