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That’s Gross: Why Did How To Succeed Stop Succeeding?

Say goodbye to Nick Jonas. How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying announced a May 20 closing last week, meaning the young Jonas Brother will be leaving the Great White Way a little earlier than expected.

(That sound you hear is a couple dozen tween girls, and Linda, crying.)

It was only a matter of time, though. Grosses have been down over the last few weeks, and the show’s pre-teen-generated buzz all but died in a post-Newsies world. But How to Succeed…’s closing notice did catch us a little off guard. We imagined producers would keep the show running through Memorial Day weekend at least (possibly summer), in an attempt to snatch those out-of-school youths and their parents who couldn’t get tickets to Newsies. It’s not like producers were really losing investment here. The show already recouped, and has a pretty big reserve. We were sure they’d wait it out.

Even more surprising, How to Succeed… announced its closing on the same day that a five-track EP of Nick Jonas was released. We’re not producers, but if we were going to spend money on a recording, we would probably wait a few weeks to see if ticket sales increased before pulling the plug. The EP seems to be getting a positive response, (not just from us). Seems like a waste, no?

So why’d they do it?

How To Succeed… opened on March 26, 2011, starring Daniel Radcliffe. When he left the show on January 1, 2012, Glee’s Darren Criss stepped in for three weeks. Jonas took over on January 24, 2012. Now, it’s not really fair to compare Jonas’s run to Radcliffe’s or Criss’s because a) he’s not Harry Potter and b) fans didn’t only have three weeks to see him or miss him. But we can look at Jonas’s run overall.

In the week ending January 29, the show grossed $682,879, a drop of $636,945 from Darren Criss’s last week. However, capacity was at 80.1%, which is still respectable. In the following weeks, grosses fluctuated, but were generally between $700,000 and $850,000 with capacity between 70% and 80%. Jonas’s best week in terms of capacity was the week ending March 18 (87.8%) and the week ending April 8 in terms of gross ($843,498). Spring break probably had something to do with it. But the week ending on April 22, capacity dropped to 52.7% ($517,934 gross) and continued to decline. The week ending May 6, right before the closing notice was announced, was How To Succeed’s worst week ever, with $367,605 gross and 42.6% capacity.

So what’s happened since the closing notice and EP release? Last week, How to Succeed grossed $439,851, up $72,246 from the week before. It also had an increase of 11.1% to 53.7% in terms of capacity from 53.7% from 42.6%. Theses are still low numbers, but obviously the closing notice and/or EP did encourage some people to buy tickets.

But why wasn’t Jonas able to sell tickets? If this was 2008, he might have been able to easily fill the Hirschfeld, but the last Jonas Brothers album came out in 2009. Jonas also had to deal with theater types who have no interest in seeing a Jonas Brother (even though he got his start in theater and has more theater experience than Radcliffe and Criss). We don’t blame you, Nick. You were great in the show.

And if you need some comforting, Linda will be waiting by the phone.

Check out all of this week’s grosses, courtesy of The Broadway League.

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Geoff May 16, 2012, 12:40 pm

    I was going to see H2S one last time this past Saturday, but was annoyed I couldn’t get a decent seat online. They were still selling the front row of the Mezz for $302 on a Saturday night. Excuse me, Mr. Producer, but your show is dying. Great way to keep those seats empty!

    I understand the runaway ticket prices and premium seating when the show is a sellout hit. But when you’re floundering and closing, maybe it’s time to just give up on the premium seating idea.

    I went to see “Cock” instead that night. I gotta wonder how many other people passed on H2S that night as well.

  • Tnimnona May 25, 2012, 9:02 am

    John Larroquette went off to do the craptacular Best Man, that’s what happened. Should have stuck with Biggley for a few more months, it’s clear that people like him better than Bridges.

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