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Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Stage Addiction: The Body Count of 2008

Let's take a quick stroll around the theatre district, shall we? Let's walk past the dwindling crowds, the bitter cold winds of Times Square. Check out the empty balconies, the middling advance sales. Survey the carnage that this economy has wrought upon the theatre industry. Since mid-August, over 20 productions have announced closings...some were planned, most were not. Here's the count so far. (And if anyone out there has rumors or info I don't have here, please post it in the comments.)

41st Street

THEATRE: Nederlander
CLOSED: Rent (September 7)
REPLACEMENT: Guys and Dolls (previews February 3)
Rent was nearing the end of its life span, having run for over a decade. Its closing was planned prior to the recession, but any hopes of extending a few months were dashed by the economy. G&D is a new production, with an A-list director (Des McAnuff) and B-list stars (Oliver Platt, Lauren Graham, Craig Bierko, Kate Jennings Grant). The musical is considered pretty bullet-proof, both against critics and economic troubles. But that's also what they said about Gypsy (see below).

42nd Street

CLOSING: Young Frankenstein (January 4)
REPLACEMENT: Not Announced
Even with the mixed reviews, no one expected Brooks' follow-up to The Producers to fall after only 484 performances. Word is that Julie Taymor and Co. have been measuring The Hilton's drapes for Spider-Man: The Musical, but that wasn't supposed to start until 2010. The rialto is buzzing with rumors that the webcrawlers are moving their schedule up to April, now that it's free. Personally, I think fall 2009 is a better bet...and that this space will stay empty and wait, or at most book a limited run in the interim.

THEATRE: Roundabout at the American Airlines
CLOSED: A Man For All Seasons (December 14)
REPLACEMENT: Hedda Gabler (previews January 6)
Roundabout really only does limited runs in this space, so everything's planned to end on time...and they do. After Hedda, they'll present The Philanthropist, starring Matthew Broderick.

44th Street

THEATRE: Belasco
CLOSED: American Buffalo (November 23)
REPLACEMENT: None Announced
Well, that was quick, wasn't it? A brutal sign that, even with known talent (John Leguizamo, Cedric The Entertainer, Haley Joel Osment), bad reviews + bad economy = immediate closure.

THEATRE: Helen Hayes
CLOSED: Xanadu (September 28)
CLOSING: Slava's Snowshow (January 11)
REPLACEMENT: The 39 Steps (moving from the Cort Theatre)
After a quick holiday cash grab called Slava, the matchbox-sized Helen Hayes will get 39 Steps, which has bounced around Broadway for more than a year. Recently purchased by Off-Broadway's Second Stage Theatre, these tenants are essentially placeholders for the company, who will begin producing there next season.

THEATRE: Broadhurst
CLOSING: Equus (February 8)
REPLACEMENT: Mary Stuart (previews March 30)
In hindsight, perhaps it's easy to see that Daniel Radcliffe was never a box-office slam dunk. But six months ago, everyone in the industry thought he'd keep the Broadhurst packed to the rafters. He didn't.

THEATRE: Shubert
CLOSING: Spamalot (January 11)
REPLACEMENT: Blithe Spirit (previews February 26)
Perhaps there's no bigger shock of the season than the loss of Spamalot, which many pundits thought would last a decade or more. Turns out that there's fewer Monty Python fanatics that producers imagined...or perhaps, in this economy, they'd rather stay home and watch the DVD.

THEATRE: St. James
CLOSING: Gypsy (March 1)
REPLACEMENT: Not Announced
Having revisited this show just this past weekend, I'm still at a loss as to why it's closing. (Patti LuPone's concert schedule may have something to do with it.) It would be a major shock if the St. James -- widely thought to be the favorite of Jujamcyn head honco Rocco Landesman -- stayed empty for long.

45th Street

CLOSED: [Title Of Show] (October 12)
REPLACEMENT: None Announced
Until two days ago, this theatre was going to Vanities, the new musical. But after terrible pre-opening sales and some truly lackluster industry presentations (I attended one -- consider yourself lucky you'll never have to sit through this show), it has been canceled. Don't expect it to return, either.

CLOSED: Thurgood (August 17)
CLOSING: Dividing The Estate (January 4)
REPLACEMENT: The Story of My Life (previews February 3)
Small, intimate shows are all that really fit in the Booth; prior to its current tenant, the theatre housed solo performances by Laurence Fishburne and Vanessa Redgrave. The Story of My Life, with its two-person cast of Malcolm Gets and Will Chase, might be inexpensive enough to make a successful run of it.

CLOSING: 13: The Musical (January 4)
REPLACEMENT: Not Announced
13 will have a much better time of it, I think, in the regionals...and in high schools, where the show will have a healthy life for decades. It was never really right for Broadway in the first place.

THEATRE: Schoenfeld
CLOSED: A Chorus Line (August 17)
CLOSING: All My Sons (January 11)
REPLACEMENT: Impressionism (previews February 28)
Celebrity-laden limited runs are quickly becoming the theatrical equivalent of dine-and-dash: get in, grab big ticket prices, and get out quick. After Katie Holmes shuffles off to Buffalo, Impressionism will bring real star power to the Great White Way, just in time for Tony nominations: Joan Allen and Jeremy Irons.

THEATRE: Al Hirschfeld
CLOSED: A Tale of Two Cities (November 9)
REPLACEMENT: Hair (previews February 10)
A Tale of Two Cities might have lasted had the reviews been better...they had committed producers, a good cast, and a wide-open slice of the market. But c'est la vie. There's trouble, theoretically, with Hair...word is that the actors don't even have contracts yet. And former star Jonathan Groff will not come back to the production this time around.

46th Street

THEATRE: Marquis
CLOSING: Irving Berlin's White Christmas (January 3)
REPLACEMENT: 9 To 5: The Musical (previews March 24)
A holiday seat filler, waiting for Dolly to arrive and save Broadway from itself. If you're a religious producer these days, you're praying that this one brings audiences back.

CLOSED: Legally Blonde (October 19)
CLOSING: Liza's At The Palace (December 28)
REPLACEMENT: West Side Story (previews February 23)
The best performer, at least in pre-sales, of any of the new shows. But with a murky concept and odd rumors coming out of rehearsal halls, it's too early to pin the hopes of a post-recession upswing on this rarely-seen masterpiece.

47th Street

THEATRE: Brooks Atkinson
CLOSING: Grease (January 4)
REPLACEMENT: Not Announced
Overdue, in my humble (but not generous) opinion. Still, it's sad to see this theatre, one of the statelier palaces in town, empty.

THEATRE: Samuel J. Friedman
CLOSED: To Be Or Not To Be (November 16)
REPLACEMENT: The American Plan (previews January 2)
Sure, it was bad, and it should have closed. But when To be Or Not To Be closed two weeks early -- an unheard-of practice at a subscriber-filled nonprofit house -- it revealed both the critical and commercial nadir of 2008. This abbreviated run never happens in a healthy economy, no matter how bad it is.

48th Street

MOVING: The 39 Steps (to the Helen Hayes)
REPLACEMENT: You're Welcome America. A Final Night with George W Bush (previews January 20)
The faltering 39 Steps will surive by downsizing into the tiny Helen Hayes...and in the process, get out of the way of Will Ferrell's recycling of old SNL sketches. It will probably sell like hotcakes.

THEATRE: Longacre
CLOSING: Boeing-Boeing (January 4)
REPLACEMENT: Not Announced
Unlike other second-tier spaces on this list, the Longacre rarely stays empty during Tony season. Expect an announcement soon about a late-breaking production soon.

49th Street

THEATRE: Eugene O'Neill
CLOSING: Spring Awakening (January 18)
REPLACEMENT: 33 Variations (previews February 9)
Economy or no, Spring Awakening would have probably closed this winter in any case. It's being replaced by a limited-run new play, starring Jane Fonda. Woo hoo.

52nd Street

THEATRE: Neil Simon
CLOSING: Hairspray (January 4)
REPLACEMENT: Not Announced
Another long-running musical that might have run another year or two, without interference from the economy. Would be a great home for a small musical, like Nerds or Pure Country, both of which could make it in before the Tony cutoff date of April 30.

Empty Theatres: Belasco, Brooks Atkinson, Circle in the Square, Hilton, Longacre, Lyceum, Neil Simon, St. James
Circling Productions: Fences, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Nerds, Pure Country, reasons to be pretty, Spider-Man
Canceled: for colored girls..., Godspell, Vanities
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Blogger Paul said...

oh my gosh that's terrible :( I haven't really paid attention to what's happening in London but i bet the situation isn't much better :(

12/10/08, 1:57 AM  

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