When it comes to taking a vacation, the negatives can sometimes outweigh the positives. Spending time away from life’s daily obligations can be relaxing, for sure. But coming back to a huge pile of work? Not fun. Suddenly that week-long trip to the Cape doesn’t feel so relaxing, does it?
This doesn’t just happen to those of us who work insufferable office jobs. Broadway actors often see things go to shit when they take time off. Instead of missed deadlines and project delays, a vacation for a Broadway actor can directly impact the box office.
Take Evita, for example. Ricky Martin took an announced vacation last week, most likely to spend time with the handsome husband and beautiful children that we’re all pretending don’t exist. Understudy Max Von Essen, who regularly kicks ass in the show as Magaldi, stepped up to fill Martin’s shoes. But no matter how sexy Von Essen may be — or how much of a draw he is for us theater fans — he just doesn’t have the same box office power as Mr. La Vida Loca. This week, Evita fell out of the million dollar club, and saw its lowest capacity numbers to date. The show took in only $643,663 and 69% capacity – a far cry from the $1,191,200 gross and 80.3% capacity it had the week before. There’s no doubt in our minds the show will recover well this week, with Martin back in. Still, look for a similar drop when Martin takes his next vacation, August 5-11.
Porgy and Bess also saw lower sales and capacity when its star took a short leave — though this break wasn’t as relaxing as Martin’s. Tony-winner Audra McDonald announced on June 20 that she would be out of the show for two weeks recovering from a severe respiratory infection. In the week ending June 24, the grosses dropped from $655,364 to $529,027 (capacity dropped from 74.7% to 57.5%). The following week, they dropped further to $462,497 and 48.4% capacity –- Porgy and Bess’s lowest gross and capacity to date. With Audra back in the show on July 5, however, the show recovered. Grosses this week went up to $553,531 with a capacity to 62.4%.
While both shows did and will recover, you can imagine how those dips hurt a show’s bottom line, especially in the summer months when theatergoing is supposed to be up. But just like our bosses let us go on vacation, knowing that we work hard the rest of the year, shows can probably afford to take a loss if it means keeping their bankable stars healthy and happy. Though we wouldn’t be surprised if producers encouraged stars to take vacation in the slower months. How do you think Steve Kazee feels about the Bahamas in January?
Grosses are provided courtesy of The Broadway League. Click here to read this week’s complete list of grosses.