“The Heart of Robin Hood” Delays Broadway Run

heart of robin hoodProducers Extend Toronto Run for Four Weeks

The Heart of Robin Hood is a new play by David Farr, directed by Gisli Örn Gardarsson, and featuring music by the bluegrass roots band Parsonsfield, based in Connecticut. It was scheduled to begin previews on Broadway on March 11, 2015, but producers recently announced that the show would not play as planned. The reasoning is principally due to low ticket sales. The group sales box office reported slower interest than anticipated, and meanwhile the Toronto run was selling very well. Therefore, the producers opted to extend the run at Toronto’s Royal Alexandra Theatre for four weeks until March 29, 2015. Another reason that this decision may have been made is that the producers had only arranged for a limited run of 5 weeks at the Marquis Theatre, due to theatre availability. However, it would be significantly more preferable to have a theatre that allowed for the potential of an open-ended run, as this show could be a long running hit if it found the right traction. Therefore, the next time the show finds a theatre, it may be able to arrange for a longer availability. It is not clear if the producers needed to pay a fee for the last-minute cancellation, but Broadway theatres are always in high demand, so chances are it will be snatched up quickly.

Not a Musical, Not a Spectacle, Not a Spoofheart of robin hood

Though Toronto audiences are finding The Heart of Robin Hood to be a very appealing show, a prominent Toronto critic expressed ambivalence about whether the show would fare well on Broadway. Though its themes, classic story, and fun staging are all certainly appealing for children and adults alike, it is not a musical, which could make it a less interesting choice with all of the musical options on Broadway at the moment. Furthermore, it is not purely a spectacle such as Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark, so it will not be able to ride exclusively on that. Nevertheless, it does contain a fair amount of acrobatics, comedy, aerial choreography, swashbuckling, and dramatic tension. Still, it is not a spoof either, as the show is a fairly serious rendition of the classic Robin Hood tale, although with a unique take. Therefore, it may be tricky for the play to find its audience enough to sustain it through the difficult opening weeks. The play stars Tony Award winner Gabriel Ebert (Matilda the Musical) as the title character Robin Hood, as well as Tony Award nominee Euan Morton (Taboo) as his nemesis Prince John, in addition to Izzie Steele as his love interest Marion, and Christian Lloyd as the character Pierre.

Indefinitely Postponed

It is not clear when the show will come to Broadway. The Toronto run is extended for another four weeks, and it could potentially extend further. There is always a lot of demand for theatres on Broadway, and it will be a matter of reconciling schedules – with the landlords, cast members, and other key team members – in order to find the perfect slot to bring this show to Broadway. The play succeeded earlier this year in Winnipeg, and played to rave reviews in Ashland, Oregon at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Time will tell whether the more cutthroat environment of Broadway will welcome this unique play when it finally does come to town. However, the press agent Boneau Bryan Brown removed the show from their website, indicating it will not be coming any time particularly soon. Coincidentally, the account representative from BBB, Christine Olver, left the organization at around the same time as the show announced its delay, relinquishing her shows including The Heart of Robin HoodThe Book of MormonThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-timeThe Elephant Man, and Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS to other BBB staff members. Therefore, it will be up to another press contact to liaise with reviewers and press personnel when The Heart of Robin Hood does eventually come back to Broadway.

Broadway Revival of “Titanic” Postponed

Titanic the Musical First Premiered on Broadway in 1997

Titanic, a musical rendition of the story of the RMS Titanic disaster, premiered on Broadway in April 1997, with a book by Peter Stone, music and lyrics by Maury Yeston, directed by Richard Jones, and choreographed by Lynne Taylor-Corbett.  Though one could easily presume that this musical followed in the recently popular tradition of movie to musical adaptations, this musical was in fact not an adaptation of James Cameron’s immensely popular film.  That movie, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in career defining roles, was released in December 1997, months after the Broadway musical was already running.  The film release did help propel interest in the disaster story, and subsequently the musical had at least 80% attendance throughout much of 1998.  However, interest in the musical soon began to dwindle, and the show closed in March 1999, after about 2 years.  Still, the show was considered to be quite successful, as it won all five 1997 Tony Awards for which it was nominated: Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book, Best Scenic Design, and Best Orchestrations.

titanic cd coverRevival Has Been Postponed Due to Lack of Theatre Availability

This Tony Award winning Best Musical has therefore been on the minds of theatrical producers for revival for some time.  In January of this year, it was announced that the revival had finally been set, under the guidance of producers Barry and Fran Weissler, as well as David Mirvish.  The show was to be directed by Thom Sutherland, who staged a well-received production of the musical at London’s Southwark Playhouse in 2013.  The plan was for an out-of-town Broadway pre-run to be mounted at Toronto’s Royal Alexandra Theatre from July 22nd to August 31st, and then for a Broadway engagement to follow in fall 2014 at a theatre yet to be decided.  However, it was just announced that both the Toronto production and the Broadway revival have been postponed, due to the lack of a suitable available theatre.  Although this is an issue specific to the New York production, the financing for the out-of-town tryout was reliant on the Broadway run, and thus both have been cancelled.

Theatre Availability A Common Issue For Producers

It is a common issue for theatre producers to have difficulty finding an adequate theatre for an intended production.  It is not only important for a theatre to be available, but it is crucial that a theatre of the right size be vacant in order to attract enough audience members to make the recoupment of the show’s capitalization possible in a feasible amount of time.  Because many theatres suitable for large-scale musicals such as Titanic are taken up by long-running shows that have no intention of closing anytime soon, such as The Phantom of the Opera, Chicago, Mamma Mia!, and The Book of Mormon, this leaves very few options for new musicals or musical revivals to find their ideal home.  This also creates a competitive environment wherein producers are actually eager for other shows to close, so that their show can come to Broadway as planned.  Many of the theatres that are frequently available are more suitable for straight plays, as those tend to have limited engagements, especially as their profitability often relies on the presence of A-list Hollywood stars whose busy schedule only allows for 12 to 20 week runs.  The frequent turnover of play-sized theatres, therefore, leaves few remaining for musicals to inhabit.

Revival Still Forthcoming

It is not clear when the revival of Titanic will find its way to Broadway.  In a press release, the producers have stated that they are committed to bringing this show to Broadway as soon as scheduling allows.  Even for Broadway stalwarts such as the Weisslers, who are also the producing team behind Chicago, Pippin, and many more hit shows, theatre availability can be a serious problem preventing their projects from hitting the stage, even when the creative team and producers are ready to go.

barry and fran weissler namco producers

Barry and Fran Weissler, Producers