It's Only a Theatre: Producers of The Audience Reject $400,000 Offer to Swap Houses

News   It's Only a Theatre: Producers of The Audience Reject $400,000 Offer to Swap Houses
Producers of It's Only a Play, the Terrence McNally comedy currently playing the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, made an offer of $400,000 to the producers of The Audience, the Helen Mirren play about Queen Elizabeth II that is scheduled to open in the Schoenfeld in spring 2015, according to the New York Times.

Helen Mirren
Helen Mirren Photo by Johan Persson

It's Only a Play, which stars Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Stockard Channing, Megan Mullally and Rupert Grint, opened on Broadway Oct. 9 following previews that began Aug. 28. The limited engagement of the show-business comedy was originally scheduled to run through Jan. 4, 2015, but will extend at the Schoenfeld Theatre through Jan. 18.

Peter Morgan's The Audience is scheduled to begin previews at the Schoenfeld Feb. 17, prior to an official opening March 8. However, another theatre on the same street, the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre — currently home to the Tony Award-winning production of Once, which will close Jan. 4 — will be available. Rather than move It's Only a Play to the Jacobs, the producers of the comedy offered the producers of The Audience $400,000 — half of the approximately $800,000 it would cost them to move — to mount the play at the Jacobs, leaving the McNally play at the Schoenfeld.

"Pretty quickly, we started asking ourselves, 'Is there a world where we can just stay at the Schoenfeld, and The Audience can go next door?'" Tom Kirdahy, one of the lead producers of It's Only a Play, told the Times.

The Times reports that the team for The Audience rejected the offer.

The play about Queen Elizabeth II, with award-winning actress Mirren starring as the monarch, takes place inside Buckingham Palace over the course of 60 years. "The Schoenfeld is a palace, and more suitable for our palace," Stephen Daldry, the director of The Audience, told the Times in an e-mail. "The production design was specifically adapted for this theater," producers of The Audience told the Times. "The sets have evolved from the London production, with designer Bob Crowley adding and incorporating the specific architectural elements of this particular theater, which would have to be reconceived in another venue."

It's Only a Play will now transfer to the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre Jan. 23 for a run through March 29.

Lane will depart the production Jan. 4, 2015, to prepare for his upcoming performance in director Robert Falls' production of The Iceman Cometh at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2015, and Tony and Emmy winner Martin Short (Little Me, The Goodbye Girl) will assume the role of James Wicker, originated by by Lane, beginning Jan. 7.

The production has set the all-time box-office record at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. Read critics' reviews of the play here.

Both the Schoenfeld and the Jacobs have about 1,080 seats, with about 620 in the orchestra section that can sell for $150 to $300 each.

Tickets to It's Only a Play are currently on sale for all performances through March 29.

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