Producer Scott Rudin is slashing ticket prices to $50 through March for whatever seats remain available at his five usually sold-out Broadway productions, a move designed to help keep theaters full if coronavirus concerns begin to take a significant toll on attendance.
Rudin’s productions To Kill a Mockingbird, West Side Story, The Lehman Trilogy, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and The Book of Mormon are among the most popular and successful on Broadway, and typically play to, or near, full houses. A quick and random search for seats at To Kill A Mockingbird this month shows relatively few remaining seats available, though of course that wouldn’t reflect last-minute cancelations.
Cancelations across the industry, while apparently modest at this point save for some school groups and the like, would seem likely to increase along with New York City’s cases of the illness.
In a statement, Rudin said, “As long as New York City is open for business, its beating heart remains the Broadway stage. This is an unprecedented opportunity for everyone to see a show that they otherwise might not have had easy and affordable access to. I can’t pretend that great theater is the panacea we’ve been waiting for, but in the meantime I think we could all use a few hours away from the evening news.”
Typically for Broadway productions, unsold seats are sold at TKTS booths at fluctuating discount prices. The $50 price being offered by Rudin is considerably cheaper than what would typically be paid at TKTS.
The $50 ticket price will be available from March 12 through March 29. The tickets go on sale Thursday at noon ET.
Yesterday, Broadway League president Charlotte St. Martin said her organization, representing theater owners and producers, remained “cautiously optimistic” after weekly box office reports indicated modest overall impact on Broadway business last week. While some productions saw dips in attendance – particularly tourist-heavy Disney musicals like The Lion King, Aladdin and Frozen – other, newer productions stayed robust. (Disney Theatrical is waiving its $15 exchange fee through the end of March, with refunds available for tickets through April 19.)
Rudin’s West Side Story, for example, was sold out last week, as was the previewing The Lehman Trilogy. The Book of Mormon was 98% full, while To Kill a Mockingbird and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? each were at more than 90% of capacity.
But as St. Martin conceded yesterday, upcoming weeks might not all look like last week. Rudin’s $50 price policy for seats left available or made so by cancelation is the clearest sign yet that business as usual, literally and figuratively, might not be in Broadway’s immediate future.