By: Ellis Nassour
An economic downturn, rampant unemployment, home mortagemania, terrorist plots, and a drop in tourism must have happened in a Dallas-type dream. It certainly hasn’t affected theater attendance with Bway and Off Bway boasting their best season yet.
The fact that ticket prices are through the roof hasn’t hurt to make box offices boffo. It’s something everyone complains about but which they keep ignoring. Natives and visitors alike flock to the unique TKTS booth in Times Square, and not just to perch themselves in the dark at the top for the red stairs. What would theater attendance be without TKTS [the booths and their mailings offering steep ticket discounts]?
No denying, this season audiences didn’t flock to theater only because of their love for The Bard, celebrated-to-the-nth-degree composer Sondheim, or any number of brilliant playwrights. It was star power that filled seats.
New York theater can almost lay claim to M-G-M’s old tagline of boasting to have "More stars than there are in Heaven." So many A-List artists appeared or are appearinging this season that producer wallets must be empty.
Among the stage veterans and stars of film and TV are Dylan Baker, Justin Bartha, Laura Benanti, Theodore Bikel, Cate Blanchett, Eric Bogosian, Abigail Breslin, Matthew Broderick, Norbert Leo Butz, Keith Carradine, Michael Cerveris, Kristin Chenoweth, Victoria Clark, Barbara Cook, Daniel Craig, Willem Dafoe, Hugh Dancy, Jeff Daniels, Viola Davis, Dame Edna, Michael Feinstein, Carrie Fisher, John Gallagher, Victor Garber, Kelsey Grammar, David Allen Grier, Valerie Harper, Rosemary Harris, Anne Hathaway, Sean Hayes, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Mary Beth Hurt, Judith Ivey, Hugh Jackman, Cheyenne Jackson, Brian d’Arcy James, Scarlett Johansson, Kristen Johnson, Leslie Jordan, Nathan Lane, multiple Tony and Drama Desk winner Angela Lansbury, Anthony LaPaglia, Christine Lahti, Linda Lavin, Jude Law, Laura Linney, and John Lithgow.
They were joined by Audra MacDonald, Michael McKean, Janet McTeer, Anthony Mackie, Marin Mazzie, Laurie Metcalf, Johnnie Lee Miller, Siena Miller, Alfred Molina, Bebe Neuwirth, Sarah Paulson, Bill Pullman, Tony Roberts, Sam Rockwell, Liev Schreiber, Tony Shalhoub, Alicia Silverstone, Anna Deavere Smith, Jimmy Smits, James Spader, John Stamos, Julia Stiles, Richard Thomas, Michael Urie, Christopher Walken, Denzel Washington, Ben Whishaw, Lillias White, Vanessa Williams, Tom Wopat, the Allureing Drama Desk co-winner for Outstanding Actress, Musical, Catharine Zeta-Jones, and, last but certainly not least, in her last stage appearance, Lynn Redgrave.
Have you been thinking about possibilities for the coming season? Let’s hope the president of the United States, at least the one on Fox-TV’s blockbuster thriller 24, which comes to an end next week after eight seasons, Tony, DD, and Emmy-winner Cherry Jones; and, with the conclusion of the mysterious mystery series Lost after six seasons, Emmy winner Michael Emerson, who played arch enemy Ben Linus and Henry Gale, will soon return to New York stages.
[Can you wait for the DVD box sets of these two series, among the best ever on TV?]
Jones, returning to New York the day after 24 wrapped, dropped off her luggage, made a quick change, and was immediately off to the theater to catch former partner Sarah Paulson in Collected Stories.
"As much as I loved California-living," she said, "I really missed doing theater. I’m itching to get back onstage."
From the number of scripts being sent to her by her agent, that may be sooner than later.