Will Ferrell’s one-man Broadway show, You’re Welcome America: A Final Night With George W. Bush, just opened last Thursday, but it’s already nearly sold out and has garnered more than $5 million in advance ticket sales, the most of any show this winter.
In the midst of a recession that’s caused several Broadway shows to close early because of disappointing ticket sales, why are people so willing to spend up to $150 each to spend the night with our former president? According to Ferrell, whom we spoke to after his opening night performance, the answer is one word: catharsis.
“A lot of people have come backstage and said, ‘Not to sound corny, but this is kind of cathartic. Thanks for doing this. You’re kind of in a funny way commenting and speaking for us and commenting on things no one commented on and just happened. We all just sat there and went, ‘Why did we let that happen?’.'”
But like Katie Holmes before him, Ferrell’s star power is probably helping sell tickets. Even he conceded that his performance is likely attracting people who don’t normally go to the theatre.
“I think people found my impression funny and are just intrigued by how this is going to turn into a show,” he said. “And I think a lot of people are just coming to Broadway who have seen my movies and are like, ‘I want to just see this show.'”