Carly Rae Jepsen wants you to call her, definitely — for tickets to her Broadway debut in the current production of Cinderella. She needs help. In her first week taking the lead role of the revived Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, the 28-year-old Canadian pop singer failed to provide much pop at the box office.
In her debut replacing Tony Award nominee Laura Osnes, Carly Rae and Cinderella earned just 39 percent of the show’s potential for the six-day, eight-show period from February 4 through Sunday, February 9.
The week also featured another new, recognizable name in the cast. Former sitcom star Fran Drescher took over the role of Cinderella’s wicked stepmother.
Where in a bygone era, Broadway relied on top-notch writing and musical composing to bring in audiences, the days when names like Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams or for that matter, Rodgers and Hammerstein were enough to insure a solid showing at the box office are long gone.
In the modern era of Broadway, “name” stars from Hollywood and the music industry, together with “pre-sold” concepts such as movie adaptations — often masking the mediocrity of a show’s creative elements — are the hooks producers employ to bring in ticket buyers, whose entertainment options are vastly greater than they were in Broadway’s heyday.
Also, with average ticket prices rarely falling below $80 for most top shows, and usually topping $100, the attraction of seeing recognizable performers and even major stars live on stage is thought to be the last resort for parting customers from their cash.
But at least judging by the first week of the scheduled 12-week Carly Rae Jepsen run in Cinderella, the singer’s chart-topping, global success with her ultra-catchy bubblegum tune, “Call Me, Maybe” did not translate into hoped-for Broadway revenue and appeared to show that the “star” strategy is not always a sure bet.
In the 1700-seat Broadway Theatre at 52nd Stret and Broadway in Manhattan, Cinderella sold just 992 tickets, on average, for each of its eight performances, a total of 7,937 for the week. Though the top ticket for Jepsen’s Cinderella was priced at almost $300, ticket buyers, as they most often do, took advantage of a variety of discount offers to bring the average ticket price down to just under $80.
Cinderella starring Carly Rae Jepsen grossed a disappointing $633,396 for the week, placing it well behind perennial box office champs The Book of Mormon at $1.6 million and Wicked which came in just short of $1.5 million.
Among newer shows, Kinky Boots and Motown: The Musical continued to prove powerful attractions, topping $1.2 million and $1 million respectively.
Carly Rae Jepsen, a former third-place finisher on Canadian Idol, the north-of-the-border iteration of the Idol TV franchise, is not the only “name” star to struggle at the Broadway box office recently.
Last year, Scarlett Johnasson — while earning a reported base salary of $40,000 per week plus a percentage of box office revenues — drew only so-so crowds to a revival of the Tennessee Williams classic Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. The play failed to earn back its budget.
Base pay for a Broadway actor is $1,754. Details of the Carly Rae Jepsen salary in Cinderella have not been made public.