Website asks audiences to pledge support
Producer Barry Weissler has concocted an Internet initiative to gauge aud support for a return engagement of “The Scottsboro Boys,” the critically lauded but sales-challenged tuner that shuttered Sunday.
The show’s website asks enthusiasts to sign up and pledge their intention to buy tickets to the show should it return for a limited run in the spring. Site also encourages spreading word of the campaign via social networking.
Exact details of a potential return for “Scottsboro,” one of the final musicals by John Kander and the late Fred Ebb (“Cabaret,” “Chicago”), have yet to be nailed down, per Weissler. Cast, venue and other specifics remain up in the air, although the producer said the show would ideally make it back to the boards starting in April.
The tuner, which retells a historical story of racial injusticethrough the performance idioms of a minstrel show, proved a tough sell on Broadway. Serious-minded and ambitious concept was difficult to convey in advertising and marketing, and the cast featured no big-name stars to hook ticket buyers.
Musical also provoked a smattering of protests and picketing due to its revival of the racially charged minstrel form.
During its nine-week run on the Main Stem, weekly sales at “Scottsboro” cracked the $300,000 mark only once, and show played to average audiences that fell as low as 60% of capacity.
However, in the show’s final frame sales leapt 61% to $450,000, with attendance coming in at 97% of capacity, in a groundswell of ticket-buyer support and last-minute biz. Response was a major factor in the producer’s decision to embark on the current gambit.
“That last week broke through and showed true life,” he said.
Weissler, who produced the Broadway incarnation with his wife, Fran, said he had targeted a certain number of sign-ups that would prompt him to pull the trigger on a return engagement, but he declined to give an exact figure.
A spring stint for “Scottsboro” would not only rep a vindication for the short-lived musical but would serve as a handy tool in a Tony campaign, should the show become a contender for the annual legit kudofest.