Bard in the Black on Broadway: ‘Twelfth Night’ and ‘Richard III’ Recoup

Mark Rylance-led revivals turn a profit even with a significant $25 ticket accessibility initiative

Mark Rylance Stephen Fry Twelfth Night

The Shakespeare’s Globe’s repertory staging of “Twelfth Night” and “Richard III” has ticked over into the hit column, recouping its $3.1 million capitalization, according to producers.

Now in the black, the productions have the potential to turn a profit in the remaining weeks of an 18-week run set to end Feb. 16. A rare feat for many shows — and particularly for non-musical plays, which tend not to be tourist magnets — the recoupment of “Twelfth Night/Richard III” is especially impressive because close to a quarter of the show’s entire ticket inventory, 250 seats per perf in a house that seats 1,051, sold for $25 a pop as part of a pricing accessibility initiative spearheaded by lead producer Sonia Friedman.

The two plays, seen in an alternating sked with the same all-male cast in each, have seen grosses snowball since their November opening won the kind of glowing raves that are the stuff of producers’ dreams. That critical imprimatur, plus the theater-avid following gained by two-time Tony winning thesp Mark Rylance and the attraction of that chunk of cheap seats, has drawn crowds enough to fill the Belasco Theater to capacity in recent weeks. For the week ending Jan. 5, “Twelfth Night/Richard III” grossed a hefty $870,000.

Rylance plays a pair of headlining roles — Olivia in “Twelfth Night” and the title role in “Richard III” — alongside a cast that includes Stephen Fry and Samuel Barnett (“The History Boys”). Tim Carroll directs the revivals, which adhere to the “original practices” of performance in Sheakespeare’s era.

It’s been a good season for plays on Broadway, with the recent recoupment of “The Glass Menagerie” (another revival much-lauded in the press) following on the heels of the juggernaut B.O. for Daniel Craig-Rachel Weisz starrer “Betrayal” and Billy Crystal topliner “700 Sundays.”