The stand-out rave review was John Peter’s in the Sunday Times. Calling the show “A very palpable hit, no question,” he predicted that “the producers will not have to look for a new show for the Palace for a decade or so.” Certainly, the landlord isn’t going to hunt for a reason to push it out — the Palace is owned by Lloyd Webber.
Lead producer Sonia Friedman told Variety that the day after the Sunday Times review, the production doubled its daily gross. With other good notices in the Mail On Sunday, Sunday Express, and to a lesser degree the Sunday Telegraph, there’s now the question whether Woman will repeat the example of Les Misérables and overcome the early thumbs-down reviews thanks to good Sunday and international notices (though the New York Times and Time Magazine — this writer — were not very complimentary) and word of mouth.
Star casting in Michael Crawford and Maria Friedman plus the prospect of Lloyd Webber back in Phantom territory, kind of — a Victorian gothic melodrama with Crawford as villain — helped the advance reach a hopeful $5.75 million cash advance plus £360,000 in reservations. Variety calculates the $7.2 million show can break even within a year playing to 70 percent of capacity.
So far, Friedman said, weekly attendance has been around the 90 to 95 percent mark. And she claims that an American transfer will happen “sooner rather than later” despite the New York Times review. The show profile should be further boosted in October when pop singer Duncan James releases the single of the show’s torch song “I Believe My Heart.” A cast album, already recorded, is due shortly afterwards.