The show’s attracted some bad buzz since it began previews Oct. 21, stirring talk of unfavorable consumer word-of-mouth and Pacino’s trouble remembering lines. So far that hasn’t hurt box office any, with the show grossing more than $1 million in each of the two weeks it’s been running — and managing to do so with short performance weeks of six or seven performances apiece. (Sales for the week ending Nov. 8 will be reported later today.)
Pacino is one of Broadway’s most reliable top draws, with a track record that includes “The Merchant of Venice” and “Glengarry Glen Ross.” “China Doll” has a further claim to audience interest in its reteaming of the actor with Mamet, the writer with whom Pacino is often associated thanks to stage appearances in his work (including “American Buffalo” on Broadway in 1983) and on film (“Glengarry Glen Ross”).
“China Doll” centers on a rich man who’s just bought a plane for his fiance. Although the play includes another role (played by Christopher Denham), most of the show consists of Pacino’s character on the phone with a variety of his associates. Mamet is said to have come back to town in order to continue to work on the script.
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The show now opens Dec. 4 and is slated to end its limited run Jan. 31. “China Doll” was originally scheduled to open Nov. 19; delaying into the following week wouldn’t seem to have been a possibility, due to the Thanksgiving holiday. Dec. 4, however, is a Friday, which to some observers looks like a ploy to bury reviews over the weekend.