Tony Award Winning Revival of “The Color Purple” Closes
This week, the Broadway industry continues with a string of closures in the new year. Following last week’s shutterings of Fiddler on the Roof, Matilda, and Something Rotten!, this week another series of shows play their final performances. Wrapping up a very successful run, The Color Purple plays its final performance on January 8, 2017. This musical, with a book by Marsha Norman, and music and lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray, and which is based on the novel by Alice Walker, first premiered on Broadway in 2005, running until 2008. This production, the first Broadway revival, began previews on November 10, 2015, and officially opened on December 10, 2015. It transferred to Broadway following a highly acclaimed production in London at the Menier Chocolate Factory, produced by David Babani. The Broadway production is produced by Scott Sanders, Roy Furman, Oprah Winfrey, and David Babani, among others. This musical tells the story of Celie, an African-American woman in the South in the first half of the 20th century. This production took home the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical, and Cynthia Erivo also took home the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical, winning one of the few awards that did not go to Hamilton. The Color Purple is not the first successful Broadway production to transfer from the Menier Chocolate Factory; previous shows also include A Little Night Music, La Cage aux Folles, and the 2008 production of Sunday in the Park with George.
Whereas The Color Purple concludes a successful run of more than a year, another musical shares the same closing date of January 8, 2017, which has run for a much shorter stint. Falsettos, which has a book by William Finn and James Lapine, music and lyrics by William Finn, and is directed by James Lapine, began previews on September 29, 2016, followed by an opening night on October 27, 2016. However, this is not evidence that the show was not a success. Rather, this beloved musical was originally slated for a limited engagement of a 14-week run. While it is unusual for musicals to set limited engagements, unlike plays for which it is common, Falsettos had an exciting cast that justified mounting the show for such a short time. Starring Christian Borle (“Smash,” Peter and the Starcatcher) and Andrew Rannells (“Girls,” The Book of Mormon) as a gay couple in the 1980s, Falsettos opened to rave reviews, with Charles Isherwood from The New York Times calling the revival both exhilarating and devastating. While the Tony Award nominations for 2017 have not yet been announced, Falsettos, while just a fall run, is unlikely to be forgotten, and will certainly be in the running for some major awards. After all, Christian Borle and Andrew Rannells are both Tony darlings, having won multiple Tony Awards between them. Christian Borle will next be seen starring as Willy Wonka in the upcoming production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Going Out with a Bang
While the final week of box office figures for these two musicals has not yet been posted, the penultimate week for these shows was the week including the New Years holiday, and as such, it was a great week for both shows. In the week ending January 1, 2017, The Color Purple brought in $1,172,091, which represents 104.34% of its gross potential, with an audience capacity of 97.2%. This was an increase of $570,096 from the week before. As for Falsettos, the weekly gross that week was $712,169, which represents 73.56% of its gross potential, and the audience capacity was filled up to 96.1%. That was an increase of $165,731. In any case, both shows were critically very well received, and the audience members who had the opportunity to see them were very fortunate indeed.