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'Glengarry Glen Ross' Recoups on Broadway

The revival of David Mamet's play, starring Al Pacino and Bobby Cannavale, is the first of this season's Broadway productions to repay its investment.

Al Pacino
Scott Landis

NEW YORK -- It's good to have Al Pacino on your sales team, regardless of what the critics say.

The Broadway revival of Glengarry Glen Ross, David Mamet's 1984 Pulitzer-winning play about a bunch of unscrupulous Chicago real estate salesmen flogging Florida land packages of dubious value, is the first production of the 2012-13 season to recoup its investment.

Producers announced Wednesday that the revival -- capitalized at $3.3 million, according to reports -- is now in the black. That represents an anomaly in a season already littered with quick-closing casualties, including Mamet's new play The Anarchist. That two-hander starring Patti LuPone and Debra Winger halted its run Dec. 16, just two weeks after opening to negative reviews.

The Glengarry Glen Ross revival also landed its share of tepid notices, with many critics comparing it unfavorably to the play's superlative 2005 revival, which starred Liev Schreiber and Alan Alda and won two Tony Awards.

Writing in The New York Times, Ben Brantley said of the latest revival, "Subtext has been dragged to the surface and beached like a rusty submarine." The critic was one of several who found fault with making Shelly Levene, the floundering former sales ace played by Pacino, the dominating force of a play that should work as a tight ensemble piece.

However, despite mixed reviews for his performance, Pacino has also been the major draw in a production that has frequently grossed more than $1 million a week since opening Dec. 8. Its cumulative box office is currently at $9.2 million. Those figures have been pumped significantly by premium seats selling for as much as $350 apiece.

The negligible impact of reviews on the production can be seen in its grosses for the week ending Dec. 16, its first since the official opening. That tally of more than $1.2 million was the highest since the play began previews Oct. 19. The play is scheduled to run through Jan. 20 but is not expected to extend beyond that date due to other cast commitments.

Directed by Daniel Sullivan and also starring Bobby CannavaleDavid Harbour, Richard Schiff, John C. McGinley, Jeremy Shamos and Murphy Guyer, the play's opening was controversially delayed by almost a month, citing two days of rehearsal lost to Superstorm Sandy as the reason. However, many pundits openly speculated that the delay was a ploy to postpone lukewarm reviews for a show that already was a strong seller in previews. 

Lead producers on both the Glengarry revival and The Anarchist are Jeffrey Richards and Jerry Frankel

In addition to the $2.6 million production of The Anarchist, other shows that have closed quickly this season, losing their investment, are The Performers, a comedy set against the adult film awards in Las Vegas; and Scandalous, a new musical about the life of 1920s California evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson, a passion project of Kathie Lee Gifford, who wrote the show's book and lyrics. Also due to close early on Jan. 6 is the bio-musical Chaplin, about screen legend Charlie Chaplin.

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