UPDATE 7:45 P.M.: The mystery of the Putsch Of Paramour is solved: Cirque Du Soleil’s $25 million Broadway venture at Ambassador Theatre Group’s Lyric Theatre has been vanquished by Harry Potter as the Wizarding World heads for the Great White Way. The London smash Harry Potter And The Cursed Child will move into the Lyric in 2018, after extensive renovations to reduce Broadway’s ungainliest barn into a more intimate space..
“Exciting,” Cursed Child producer Colin Callender told Deadline, “Our very own home in NYC.”
EARLIER: ATG plans a multi-million dollar renovation to completely transform, remodel and reconfigure the 1,900 seat theater into a scaled down, more intimate playhouse, with approximately 1,500 seats. Producers Sonia Friedman and Callender, and J.K. Rowling confirmed the plan Thursday afternoon.
“We are thrilled about ATG’s ambitious plans, which will provide a once in a lifetime opportunity to create a unique theatre space tailored to the specific needs of the production over the play’s two parts,” they said in a joint statement. “The remodeled Lyric will include a smaller auditorium redesigned to the specifications of the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child team, as well as an adapted proscenium and stage that can house designer Christine Jones’ glorious set without swamping or compromising director John Tiffany’s brilliant staging. The spacious front of house environment will also be transformed to optimize the atmosphere and audience experience,”
“But above all,” Friedman and Callender further commented, “ATG’s plans will provide Harry Potter and the Cursed Child with a bespoke home that will be intimate enough for a drama, yet big enough for us to deliver on our commitment to provide audiences with access to low priced tickets throughout the auditorium.”
Rowling said “I’m delighted we are one step closer in bringing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child to Broadway and very excited by the proposed plans.”
The booking — along with the promised renovation, which is expected to cost millions — demonstrates the lengths Broadway landlords were willing to go to get Cursed Child, which is shaping up to be one of the biggest hits of all time. Not since the Shubert Organization spent a sizable sum to reinforce the Majestic Theatre in order to accommodate The Phantom Of The Opera, has a show demanded such a commitment. (It was money well spent, of course. The Phantom has been printing money at the Majestic since 1988.) In the case of Cursed Child, the expenses are somewhat in the family, as Friedman’s production company is part of ATG, the largest theater owner in the UK.
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The booking at the Lyric, one of Broadway’s two larges houses, represents a major blow to Broadway’s traditional landlords, the Shubert Organization (which owns 17 theaters), the Nederlander Organization (nine) and Jujamcyn (five). The UK-based Ambassador is the new kid on the block and looks to have booked a show that could prove to be The Lion King and Hamilton combined. ATG’s other Main Stem house, the Hudson Theater, is expected to open this spring after renovations and updating.
Meanwhile, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is killing it at the Palace Theatre in the West End, playing to sold-out houses, earning rave reviews and tickets being scalped for as much as $8,000.