A Steady Rain
Theatre: Schoenfeld Theatre
BOTTOM LINE: Contrary to all the hype, you don't need to see this; it is fine, but you’ve probably seen it before.
Every so often there seems to be a Broadway play that quickly becomes “event theatre”- a show that sells out every show, draws huge crowds, and soon becomes the hot ticket of the season. Julia Roberts in Three Days of Rain
, the pairing of Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick in The Odd Couple
- these shows had no trouble selling tickets, even though the productions themselves weren't really all that great.
And now we have A Steady Rain
, with Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman. In its first full week of previews, it grossed more money than any straight play in Broadway history. It is likely it's mostly sold out for its entire 12-week run. Seats in the rear orchestra are being sold for premium prices ($276-$376 per ticket) and once it opens on September 29th, tickets may be extremely hard to come by, at any price. At this point, it appears as if spending $125 on a ticket (which is already expensive for most people) won’t even get you a good seat, it will just get you in the theatre. So…is it worth it? Should you pay premium prices to see this play? No. And if your dates are flexible, or you are a student, or you’re willing to stand, you may not need to. More on that in a bit. First, the play.
In A Steady Rain
, Craig and Jackman are Chicago beat cops. The play opens with the men sitting in chairs on a bare stage with two lights hanging over them, as if they are in an interrogation room. They tell a story that begins innocuously enough: the two men are partners and best friends. But the tale quickly turns dark and violent. You may have heard that the play is a series of monologues, or that each cop tells their own (different) perspective of what happened. Neither is exactly true; the two men share the storytelling, as if they are both in the same room telling a listener/interrogator what happened. They occasionally interact with each other, but for the most part, each contributes to the joint story.
Throughout the story, the two men deal with various elements of the Chicago underworld. The tone of A Steady Rain
recalls movies like Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone. As with these movies, in which the turns of plot are so integral to one’s experience, it is best to see the A Steady Rain
knowing as little as possible about the story.
The writing is decent, and certainly evokes the intended atmosphere. Whenever the cops venture out into the seedier areas of the city, a backdrop appears. While these backdrops look great, they aren’t necessary; I couldn’t help thinking that their main purpose was to fill the large stage and justify the high ticket prices. Jackman and Craig are both good. I didn’t love either performance, because I think both characters have the potential to be more complex and layered.
A Steady Rain
was produced in Chicago last year, with no stars and in a much smaller theatre. Frankly, I wish I had seen that production. Broadway is a business, and this production of A Steady Rain will make pots of money for everyone involved. But let’s not kid ourselves: Craig and Jackman are both fine, but there are many actors in New York who could play these roles just as well, if not better. To be fair, my seat was in the rear mezzanine, so I missed the more subtle aspects of their performances. So if you can easily afford spending $125 and can find a decent orchestra ticket, it might be worth it. With only two actors on stage, this play is really all about intimate storytelling, something that you won’t get by sitting in the last row of the Schoenfeld Theatre.
But unless money is no object, don’t get swept up by all the hype and feel the need to drop $300 on a ticket. If you’re a student, there are $31.50 student rush tickets available at the box office (see below). I’ve heard that $29.50 standing room tickets will also be available once the show opens (technically, standing room is only sold when the show is sold out, but that won’t be an issue here). Just know that lots of other non-students will also be angling for these standing room tickets, so the competition may be fierce. But at 90 minutes, it isn’t a bad show to stand for. And both student tickets and standing room are sold the day of the show, which means there will always be a few tickets to be had.
Just don’t feel too bad if you miss the show. A Steady Rain
is a decent night of theatre, but it isn’t “must see” theatre. While I was never bored, I also wasn’t excited. This is a pretty standard cop drama: pulpy, seedy, dark, and violent. You’ve seen it before. Maybe not with Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman live on stage, but trust me, you’ve seen it before.
(A Steady Rain
plays a limited engagement at the Schoenfeld Theatre, 236 W. 45th St, through December 6th. Performances are Tuesday at 7pm, Wednesday through Saturday at 8pm, with matinees on Wednesday and Saturday at 2pm, and Sunday at 3pm. Running time is 90 minutes with no intermission. Regular price tickets are $66.50- $140, and premium tickets are $276.50- $376.50. $29.50 standing room tickets are available at the box office if the performance is sold out (it will be)- they will probably go on sale a few hours before the performance, but lines will form earlier. Student rush tickets (generally last row of the mezzanine) are $31.50; these are either 1 or 2 per ID (depending on availability), and are available the day of the show when the box office opens. IMPORTANT: the box office will sell you a student ticket, but will hold it until 30 minutes before the show, and you will need to show your student ID to pick it up then. Visit telecharge.com
to buy tickets and asteadyrainonbroadway.com
for more information.)