No More “Donuts” (and other thoughts…)

(What did you expect? A better title?)

I’m a bit late with this–I’ve been wifi-less for the past few days–but Tracy Letts latest play, Superior Donuts, is going to close on January 3.

It received positive reviews, but not the gushing, enthusiastic reviews that August: Osage County did. (Although, I’m not sure how many shows do.) I didn’t get to see it, but I’ve read good things from bloggers that did see it and enjoyed it like it was a hot, fresh doughnut from the Krispy Kreme shop near my apartment. (But more filling than a doughnut is.) I had hoped to see it when I might be venturing out to New York, but since that won’t be before January 3, it seems as though I won’t be able to see it.

In his column today, Michael Riedel did his usual doomsaying for the revival of Ragtime, which is another show that I heard great things about and wanted to see. The rumored closing is apparently because of the so-so grosses (which are better than how some shows are doing on Broadway).

While there’s also this news, the New York Times informed readers of something everyone already knew with an article entitled “On Broadway, Shows With the Biggest Names Get the Fullest Houses.” Although, now it’s not just any celebrity. Sure, Julia Stiles and Bill Pullman are pretty big, but Oleanna is closing this Sunday. And Michael McKean was in This is Spinal Tap. Big names now means the biggest names, like Hugh Jackman, Daniel Craig, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Angela Lansbury, Carrie Fisher, and Jude Law.*

I know that this will sound old, but it is sad that very few plays on Broadway can’t survive on good reviews and word of mouth alone. (Translation: It’s sad that Broadway can’t work like Chicago theater where a show with good reviews and buzz at a storefront theater can be a hit.) I’m not just saying that because there are a lot of shows that I’d like to see when I’m in New York that aren’t running when I’m there, it’s just becoming very evident that HUGE celebrities in plays on Broadway does put butts in seats. Some celebrities might be perfect in those roles, and in the case of Fisher, she’s in her own one-woman show, but business isn’t always logical or make sense. (Cue up the song “It’s a Business” from Curtains.)

Anyway, there’s always Christopher Walken looking for his fecking hand in A Behanding in Spokane to look forward too.

In keeping with the new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations that unfairly discriminate against bloggers, who are now required by law to disclose when they have received anything of value they might write about, please note that I have received nothing of value in exchange for this post.

(thanks to Steve On Broadway for the disclaimer.)


3 thoughts on “No More “Donuts” (and other thoughts…)

  1. Yeah, I frequently think of “It’s a Business” these days. “I put on the Iceman Cometh and nobody cameth.” So sad. I do love Superior Donuts, too. The characters were so memorable and Jon Michael Hill is just amazing. Coincidentally, I saw Ragtime the same day and was less impressed. But I know a lot of the critics and my fellow bloggers loved it.

  2. Eric Ziegenhagen

    I’d be interested in seeing a comparison, though, between number of Donuts performances in Chicago and number in the Broadway run. My sense here is that the play ran for two months, but might not have sustained a lengthy commercial run here, either. Thousands of people got to see the show in both cities; it just may take an extra push to interest tens of thousands of people to pay north of $50 eight nights a week, given what restaurants, let alone theaters, are offering for that price in 2009.

  3. The Downstairs Theatre at Steppenwolf, where “Superior Donuts” was performed, is also a 515 seat theatre. This is smaller than the Music Box, which has almost twice as many seats, according to IBDB ( which means that it takes more people to fill it.

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