UPDATE with more information:
The producers of David Mamet’s new play China Doll, starring Al Pacino, have moved the opening back two weeks, to December 4th from November 19th. That’s two additional weeks, including the lucrative Thanksgiving holiday weekend when tourists buy out tickets to almost anything on Broadway, for China Doll to command post-opening prices as high as $550 per ticket in the secondary market without having been reviewed or given an official press opening.
Last week, “premium” tickets were selling for as much as $350 each at the Shubert Organization-owned Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, and the average price paid per ticket was $165.94, the highest on Broadway for a non-musical and close to the average price of a ticket to The Book Of Mormon. The move comes after weeks of reports in the New York Post and postings on social media by frustrated theatergoers that China Doll is incomprehensible and the star seemed to be at sea.
The date change also sets the show to officially “open” on a Friday — meaning that the reviews will run on Saturday, December 5. That’s comparable to Hollywood studios opening their films cold without critics’ screenings when they know they have a turkey on their hands. China Doll began Broadway previews on October 21 and will have previewed for six-plus weeks.
In the play, staged by Pam MacKinnon (last season’s A Delicate Balance revival), Pacino plays Mickey Ross, a mogul possibly modeled on Howard Hughes, who has just bought a new plane and plans to head off into the sunset with his trophy fiancée.
Reminiscent of similar problems surrounding Pacino’s previous Mamet outing on Broadway — the 2012 revival of Glengarry Glen Ross — the opening night move, according to producers Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel and Steve Traxler, allows the creative team additional time to work on the play before its world premiere. Hidden TelePrompTers and a headset are being employed to help Pacino with lines, according to reports, and some ticket buyers are demanding refunds at intermission. The limited run is slated to close January 31.