EXCLUSIVE: Sea Wall/A Life, the Broadway production of two solo one-acts starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Sturridge became the first show of the 2019-2020 Broadway season to recoup its initial investment, producers said today.
The $2.8 million production, which closed this past Sunday, had a limited engagement of only nine weeks – 74 performances – at Broadway’s Hudson Theatre, and went out on a high note: The final week of performances grossed $854,678, the highest in the show’s run.
Produced by Gyllenhaal’s Nine Stories, Ambassador Theatre Group, Seaview Productions, and Benjamin Lowy Productions, Sea Wall/A Life completed a sold-out Off Broadway run at the Public Theater last winter before making the jump to Broadway over the summer. Previews at the Hudson began July 26, with an official opening of Aug. 8, making for a total of 14 previews and 60 regular performances.
Written by Simon Stephens (Sea Wall, starring Sturridge) and Nick Payne (A Life, starring Gyllenhaal), with both directed by Carrie Cracknell, the pair of one acts received universal critical acclaim, with the Hudson 96% full, on average, throughout the run.
According to Ambassador Theatre Group, which owns the Hudson, 73% of ticket
buyers were first time Hudson attendees, suggesting an unusually large percentage of young or first-time theater-goers. The producers said that, according to TodayTix figures, about 65% of purchases for the production on that particular platform were made by buyers under 44 years old.
“Simon, Nick, Carrie, Jake, and Tom created a daring and unforgettable piece of art that critics and audiences responded to, with many returning multiple times,” said Riva Marker, producer, president and co-founder (with Gyllenhaal) of Nine Stories. “The great success of Sea Wall/A Life proved that storytelling in its most elemental form – a single actor, alone on stage – can connect with people and create a must-see theatrical experience. Opening on Broadway during the season’s toughest months of summer for a limited run and returning our investment in nine weeks is nothing short of a coup. We are incredibly grateful to the audiences, many first-time theatergoers to Hudson Theatre.”
During previews, Gyllenhaal and Sturridge began hosting weekly talkbacks with audiences on the plays’ topics of “love, faith, family, and loss,” a no-doubt popular attraction given the stars’ popularity. In the production’s final weeks, audience members were invited to share their personal stories, which were then posted on the production’s social media.
Gyllenhaal and Sturridge also recorded Sea Wall/A Life as an Audible Original production, Deadline reported last month, for an upcoming release.
The creative team for Sea Wall/A Life included Laura Jellinek (scenic design), Kaye Voyce (costume design), Christopher Peterson (costume design), Guy Hoare (lighting design), Daniel Kluger (sound design), Luke Halls (projection design), and Stuart Earl (original music).
Sea Wall/A Life was produced on Broadway by Nine Stories, Ambassador Theatre
Group, Seaview Productions, Benjamin Lowy Productions, LFG Theatrical,
Audible, Gavin Kalin Productions, Glass Half Full Productions, Jacob Langfelder, Brian Moreland, Roth-Manella Productions, Salman Vienn Al-Rashid Friends, SLSM Theatricals, Teresa Tsai in association with Dunetz Restieri Productions, Morwin Schmookler, Jane & Mark Wilf and The Public Theater.