According to Riedel today, Vanessa Redgrave's one-woman show of Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking is turning out to be the surprise "producer's dream" of the season:
The Redgrave-Didion combination - Redgrave is starring in Didion's "The Year of Magical Thinking," now in previews - is especially potent, with advance ticket sales nearing $4 million, an impressive number for a dramatic play. There have been $10 million musicals this season that haven't sold as many tickets.
I suspect the reason is not just Redgrave's draw, but the turning out of New York's literary set--those educated cultured crowd that normally takes little interest in theatre that isn't Tom Stoppard or The History Boys. It's the perfect "snob hit" by taking a very popular highbrow book title and merging it with the cachet of a four-star British actress.
The "anti-theatrical" prejudice of American intellectuals is well-established and goes back a long, long way. I could complain about the lack of coverage of the more interesting homegrown theatre or the need to improve accessibility and scheduling of performances. (Ticket prices, of course, are not necessarily an obstacle for this demographic.) But at the end of the day, the silly truth is probably that a lot of hoity-toities still think theatre is fine for singing and dancing and witty Oscar Wilde quips, but otherwise a commercial wasteland just a notch above Vegas.