Billy Crystal 700 SUNDAYS Takes In $6M in Ticket Sales?
In today's New York Post, Billy Crystal speaks to Michael Riedel about making his return to Broadway in 700 Sundays, coming to the Imperial Theater for a nine-week run beginning on November 5th. According to Riedel, the acclaimed one-man show has already taken in $6 million in ticket sales this time around.
700 SUNDAYS first appeared on the Great White Way in 2004. The show recouped its original cost in just one-month's time and went on to earn $14 million. At one time during the run, ticket scalpers were demanding a whopping $800 for a seat in the orchestra section.
The stage memoir takes audiences on a journey through the comedian's life, beginning with his early childhood days on Long Island and continuing through the decades of the 1950s and '60s. The title refers to the quality time he spent with his beloved father Jack, who died of a heartattack in 1963.
Says Crystal, "It's the 50th anniversary of his death and I turned 65 this year, so I thought it was a good time to come back to New York with the show."
The comic, who is currently appearing in a run-through of the show in LA, called upon his friends and family for support. "It had been a while, so I sent out e-mails and invited people to come for free," he says. "I needed an audience. Two hundred people showed up. I did the show on Oct. 15, and when I got to the part in the second act about my father's death, it came at the exact - the exact - same time, 50 years ago, that my mother came in and told me he had died. The 200 people there that night saw, well, not a performance; they saw me. It was the rawest, the purest thing I have ever done."
Crystal spoke about the earliest days of his career at New York's La Mama avant-garde theater where he appeared on a double-bill of "Ubu Roi" and "Arden of Faversham," directed by Andrei Serban in 1970. "I played a toy soldier with a tall red hat and rouge circles on my cheeks. Andrei put me in a garbage can. I was a broken toy. And as I was sitting in that garbage can, the audience began to come in, and I saw Clive Barnes. And I thought, 'Oh, no - this is not how we should meet.' I always meant to call Clive and tell him about that, but I'm not sure he would have remembered me as the broken toy soldier in the garbage can."
The 'Harry Met Sally' actor was once even asked by Mel Brooks himself to star as Max Bialystock in the hit Broadway musical 'The Producers.' "I told him I'd always dreamed of working with him, but I wasn't sure if I wanted to be the eighth Max Bialystock," to which Brooks replied, 'The eighth? You'll be the 12th!' Guess you can't always be number one in show business!
Read the article in full here
About the show:
700 Sundays is written and performed by Billy Crystal with additional content by Alan Zweibel and direction by Des McAnuff. In this original two-act play, Billy plays numerous characters that influenced who he is today. It deals with his youth, growing up in the jazz world of Manhattan, his teenage years and finally adulthood. It is about family and fate, loving and loss. On Broadway, 700 Sundays is set for a 9-week-only limited engagement at the Imperial Theatre, 249 West 45th Street with opening night on November 13, 2013 and a final performance on January 5, 2014.
"700 Sundays has, without question, been the most satisfying experience of my career," said Crystal. "When we originally opened on Broadway, all I knew was that I had a story that I was compelled to share. Now that I've performed my play across the country and internationally, I'm gratified to know that the love of family, through joy and pain, is perhaps the most universal story."
Billy Crystal was pronounced "The King of Broadway" by The New York Post for the Broadway debut of 700 Sundays which, in its opening week on Broadway, broke the house record for highest weekly gross at the Broadhurst Theatre and then continued to top its own record every week. With a cumulative gross of over $21 million, 700 Sundays set a record for the highest weekly grossing non-musical in Broadway history at that time ($1,061,689 for the week ending 5/22/05) and was one of the top ten grossing shows every single week of its run, despite playing only seven performances per week. The show won the 2005 Tony Award for Special Theatrical Experience and both the 2005 Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Outstanding Solo Performance.