Producers usually spend the opening night of a Broadway show sweating it out while they wait for reviews to come in. But the upcoming opening night of “Honeymoon in Vegas” will probably provoke a lot less anxiety.
With “Honeymoon” inking in a Rialto run as expected at the Brooks Atkinson Theater this fall, the musical — adapted by Jason Robert Brown, fresh off his Tony wins for short-lived outing “The Bridges of Madison County,” and “Blazing Saddles” scribe Andrew Bergman — arrives on the Main Stem with the happy advantage of already knowing what New York critics think of it because a number of them reviewed the tuner in its 2013 bow at the Paper Mill Playhouse in nearby Milburn, N.J.
As the Internet age has made the privacy afforded by long distances obsolete, producers have begun to embrace the advantages of a pre-Broadway tryout somewhere closer to home. Among the bonuses of a run at the Paper Mill Playhouse is the increased likelihood of the show being reviewed by the same critic who would review it on Broadway — offering a sneak peek at a production’s reception should it transfer to the Main Stem.
That makes one less variable for producers to factor in when deciding whether to push on to Gotham. In the case of “Honeymoon,” producers don’t have to worry what the New York Times will think of it: The paper’s lead critic reviewed it at the Paper Mill, and gave it a big thumbs-up.
That’s a boon more likely to be conferred on a show at the Paper Mill, just a quick train ride away from Broadway, than on a title premiering in a more distant city where critics might be less likely to travel. There are disadvantages to having a Broadway critic review a pre-Broaday run, of course — a still-developing show, for instance, could earn a negative review before the creatives have finished finetuning the show — but as the Main Stem success of another Paper Mill alum, “Newsies,” has made plain, there’s also an advantage to earning good buzz somewhere close by.
It was the unexpectedly enthusiastic reception of “Newsies” at the Paper Mill — including its strong reviews in New York papers — that helped Disney Theatrical decide to bring the tuner to Broadway, where it’s been playing for two years.
“Honeymoon,” helmed by Gary Griffin and choreographed by Denis Jones, will be the third Paper Mill vet to get a spot on Broadway alongside “Newsies” and the current revival of “Les Miserables,” in a new production that originated in the U.S. at the Milburn theater. Next season at the Paper Mill, the Rialto-targeted “Can-Can” hopes to launch its own trajectory to Gotham.
Before that, though, producers bring “Honeymoon” to Broadway with a better idea than most have of how their show will be received by the local scribes. Next up: Convincing audiences to get on board, too.
“Honeymoon” lands on the Rialto with Tony Danza, Rob McClure and Brynn O’Malley starring in a run that begins previews Nov. 18 ahead of a Jan. 15 opening night. The Atkinson Theater’s current tenant, Tony nominee “After Midnight,” vacates the venue at the end of the month.