Casting About for Excuses

In truth, great theater has a track record of not putting people in the Playhouse's seats. "Regardless of the [critical] success of Salesman," Mittelman notes, "it still only sold about 40 percent of the number of tickets as [last year's] Bermuda Avenue Triangle. So despite the greatest reviews known to man plus Hal Holbrook plus TV, radio, posters, and a four-week run, it still did not sell out."

Mittelman attributes this state of affairs to the appeal of television stars such as Bea Arthur, who headlined Triangle; the public loves seeing such celebrities up close and personal. Besides, he adds, Triangle "had the patina of 'You'll have a good time.' Salesman and any of these serious works challenge an audience to make a commitment. And when you have people who unfortunately have not had drama as a part of their required studies in grammar school and high school and college, and have not had the theatergoing habit, it's an extra difficult task for them to actually go to the theater. I want to get them into the theater on their way to South Beach or on their way to the clubs in Coconut Grove."

In the meantime: Cher or Madonna, if you read this, give Mittleman a call.

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