Going mainstream

Gay theatergoers now just 'part of the fabric'

After five months, the jury is still out on “Take Me Out” and whether it will make a profit. There are signs that it’s finally on its way to becoming a crossover hit, but the play’s slow start is just one more sign that theater’s “built-in” gay audience isn’t what it used to be.

“Take” saw a typical week-after $50,000 bump from its Tony wins. But while previous best play winners (“The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?” “Proof,” “Copenhagen”) fell after that initial splurge, Richard Greenberg’s gay-themed play continued its B.O. increase with a $36,648 gain for the June 16-22 session.

Gotham’s Gay Pride week should keep “Take” humming right up to the B.O. black hole known as July 4. After that, it’s anyone’s guess.

There is reason for hope: Theater Direct Intl. reports sales for “Take” have doubled since the Tonys, skewing a high 80% from outside Gotham. Average for a play is 65%.

Surprisingly, ticket brokers such as TDI, Group Sales and Prestige have not clocked in many gay groups buying blocks to the Greenberg play. Biz for the brokers is off at least 50% from the heyday of the long-defunct Islanders Club, which booked all-guy theater nights to the big flashy tuner (say, “Evita”) but rarely the more serious play (say, “Bent”).

Certainly there hasn’t be a great stampede to see the gay-themed “The Last Sunday in June” or “Zanna, Don’t!” two well-reviewed Off Broadway shows that will close July 6 and June 29, respectively, after short runs. Their producers point to the most obvious problem.

“Economically, all of Off Broadway is dismal,” says “Zanna’s” Jack Dalgleish.

“Every other Off Broadway show is in the same boat,” says “Sunday’s” Ted Snowdon.

Dalgleish acknowledges that just five years ago the all-male “Shakespeare’s R&J” had many gay groups booking tix. “We’ve only had two for ‘Zanna’: a soccer team and a group from J.P. Morgan,” he says.

Snowdon also points to increased competition from TV series such as “Queer as Folk” and “Will and Grace.”

“At one point gay was exotic. Now we’re part of the fabric,” says the producer. “Maybe that is the price you pay when you do a play about guys in a room talking about their issues.”

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