February 16, 2012
This Week in New York Theater (Death of a Salesman + Shatner + Signature Theater open in an upbeat February)

- R. Walport

Broadway Grosses released on Monday by the Broadway League for the week ending 02/12 showed that winter blues continue to hold sway though there was a small overall uptick on the previous week’s total. "Book of Mormon" continues to be a hot ticket, in fact the only genuine hot ticket, being the only show to achieve %100+ capacity.

Despite a weak start to the year for Broadway shows and particularly plays with both “Chinglish” and “Stick Fly” failing to complete their announced runs, the steady stream of openings in the coming months suggests an ever upbeat community. The revival production of “Death of a Salesman”, featuring an all-star cast including Philip Seymour Hoffman and Andrew Garfield should have been one of the first out the gate this week, but got off to a rough start when its first performance on Monday was cancelled owing to Hoffman suffering with the flu. The second preview went ahead on Tuesday according to Andrew Gans at Playbill.com and the run continues till March 15th.

Also kicking off this week is possibly the oddest show coming this year, “Shatner’s World: We Just Live In It”, a one man show, written and starring William Shatner. Performances began on Tuesday for an extremely short Broadway berth, running only till March 4th, prior to a National Tour. David Ng of the LA Times’s Hero Complex blog interviewed Shatner in advance of the opening, discussing the ups and downs of his life and career.

In one of the most exciting events Off-Broadway this season, the brand new Signature Theater home on 42nd Street premieres its first production tonight, February 16th, with “The Blood Knot” by Athol Fugard. The complex, designed by Frank Gehry, contains three theater spaces as well as studios and a cafe and the New York Times’s Patrick Healy looked into the fundraising that went into getting the place built. A key selling point for the company is that thanks to a huge $25 million dollar donation from the Pershing Square Foundation all tickets will be $25 dollars for at least the next decade.

Looking further down the line, Michael Riedel at the New York Post looked at the prospects of “Matilda - The Musical” on Broadway. After a collection of incredible reviews in London, including a string of five star raves from the British press plus a very positive review from Ben Brantley of the New York Times, a transfer is inevitable and the Royal Shakespeare Company, who originated the show, are keen to keep hold of the profits.

On the operatic stages of New York attention briefly turned away from the Metropolitan Opera as the New York City Opera finally began it’s short, damaged season. Reviews of the opening night delivered some sharp contrasts, Anthony Tommasini for the New York Times in relative praise whilst James Jorden for the New York Post was considerably negative.