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Billy Crystal the hottest ticket on Broadway

Top ticket price of $101.25 possible record for one-man show
/ Source: The Associated Press

Billy Crystal’s “700 Sundays” apparently has the best advance sale of any show arriving in New York this fall, but the comedian’s autobiographical evening also has a top ticket price of $101.25, believed to be a record for a one-man show on Broadway.

Some musicals — including “Bombay Dreams” and “Dracula” — charge that much, but it is rare, although not unheard of, for a play to reach that price level. Last season’s highly popular revival of “A Raisin in the Sun,” starring Sean Combs, for example, charged $95 for its best seats.

In fact, Crystal’s show, which opens Dec. 5 at the Broadhurst Theatre, has a higher top ticket price than the three musical productions — “Brooklyn The Musical” and revivals of “La Cage Aux Folles” and “Pacific Overtures” — opening on Broadway this fall.

The top price for “700 Sundays” is for seats in the entire main floor of the Broadhurst (which has a seating capacity of about 1,200), and much of the theater’s mezzanine, where only the last several rows are for sale at $76.25.

The New York Post reported Wednesday that “700 Sundays” has a $6 million — and climbing — advance sale. However, Michael Hartman, a spokesman for the production, said the show’s producers, who include Crystal’s wife Janice, would not talk about specific figures.

“Billy Crystal is a superstar and worth it,” said veteran Broadway producer Emanuel Azenberg (“Movin’ Out” and many of Neil Simon’s comedies). “He should not be fingered as the problem. The fundamental problem in the theater is economics. Ticket prices are outrageous, but then the costs (of producing a show) on Broadway are outrageous, too.”

In 1966, Azenberg produced Hal Holbrook in the one-man “Mark Twain Tonight!” on Broadway for $35,000. “Today, the budget would be $600,000,” he said.

In addition, Crystal’s show, which begins preview performances Nov. 12, has premimum-seating tickets available for $176.25 for Tuesday through Thursday performances and $251.25 for Friday and Saturday performances, according to the Telecharge Web site. Premium tickets are selected seats in prime locations of the theater and are available through the Web site or a special Telecharge Premium Desk telephone number, 212-239-6270.

There are four other new one-person shows this fall on Broadway, but none charges as much as “700 Sundays.” For example, “Dame Edna: Back With a Vengeance” (opening Nov. 21) tops out at $87.50; Mario Cantone’s “Laugh Whore” (Oct. 24), has a top ticket price of $80; Whoopi Goldberg’s show, arriving Nov. 17, is even less — $75.

In his show, Crystal will portray characters from his childhood, his teen years and adulthood.

“As a comedian, I wanted to take the ‘good evening, ladies and gentlemen’ out of the show,” he said in an interview last June with The Associated Press. “It’s not a concert, but there are elements of that. It’s deeply personal and liberating at the same time.”