Slow Starter

The only thing missing from the money reviews was the money.

“Love! Valour! Compassion!” opened on Valentine’s Day, won raves across the board – and did just modest business at the Walter Kerr Theater (see review, page 184). The show sold 1,179 tickets on Feb. 15, ringing up $47,255. Whether the tepid box office response to “L!V!C!” has to do with the fact that Terrence McNally’s play is populated exclusively by eight gay characters, or that it is a comedy overshadowed by AIDS, or that it has considerable nudity – all of which have been well known to the public since the play’s sold-out run at the Manhattan Theater Club – was a matter of considerable speculation last week.

The problem may be merely that “L!V!C!” is a play and not a musical, or that it’s cold outside. As it happens, when Wendy Wasserstein’s “The Sisters Rosensweig” transferred to Broadway under similar circumstances two years ago, that show actually sold about the same number of tickets as “L!V!C!” on the day after opening. But “Sisters” had an advance of $3.2 million, compared with just under $675,000 for “L!V!C!,” making it somewhat more vulnerable to the vicissitudes of weather, competition, etc.

Barry Grove, Manhattan Theater Club’s indefatigable managing director, is entirely optimistic nonetheless. Because the play was produced under the aegis of the Broadway Alliance, the show’s running costs are relatively low – about $125,00 per week, with a gross potential of nearly $300,000. The show was capitalized with a $750,000 loan from Jujamcyn Theaters, which owns the Kerr, and Grove expects to have that money returned by season’s end.

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