January 2015 Broadway Show Closings

Wintertime Brings Many Shows to a Close

As the January cold settles in, and it becomes clear that it won’t be sunny anytime soon, many Broadway shows have decided to shutter their doors. This is a common time to close shows that want to get a final push from the holiday season, but know they will not optimize their financial future to remain open through the rest of the winter. Some of these are long-running shows that are closing at a profit; some are new shows that never made it work for them financially. In any case, the decision to close in January is not related to the quality of the shows themselves, some of which never manage to find their audiences despite an amazing production and efforts by all involved.

“Motown” to Close and then Re-Open

Vinyl record poster Motown the Musical Broadway Show One unusual choice was made by the producers of Motown – the Musical. While the show will close on January 18, 2015, this will only be temporary. The musical will return to Broadway 18 months later: in July 2016. In the meantime, the show will tour around the United States and United Kingdom. The U.S. tour is already underway, with the company just having wrapped up in Chicago. The U.K. tour will begin in summer 2015. The show had a medium to high capitalization of $18 million, which the producers claim will be recouped by the time the Broadway run closes this week. These numbers will of course be aided by the multiple tours. Despite the high benchmark, the musical sold very well since it began previews on March 11, 2013, with its opening night on April 14, 2013 solidifying it as a crowd favorite. The brand name of the musical genre, along with the unique qualities of the musical style and demographic, have allowed the show to do very well. For many weeks it had remained in the millionaire’s club, and even this summer with a decline in sales it still hovered around the $1 million mark. In the week ending January 11, 2015, the show brought in $1,086,042.

Straight Plays that Never Made the Numbers Work

Two plays are closing this January: This is Our Youth and The Real Thing. Neither play succeeded in recouping this is our youththe-real-thing-pink-and-blackits capitalization. The is Our Youth is written by Kenneth Lonergan, and stars young Hollywood sensations Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin, and Tavi Gevinson. The show is also directed by hot helmer Anna D. Shapiro. However, audiences were not quite a match for this play, which deals with themes of reckless youth and drug use, and the show never made back its money. It closed on January 4, 2015. In addition, The Real Thing is a Tom Stoppard revival that failed to meet expectations. With a starry cast including Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ewan McGregor, Cynthia Nixon, and Josh Hamilton, the play was directed by young hot director Sam Gold. The play closed as planned on January 4, 2015, but it never did as well as the pedigree of its creative team could have implied.

Last Chance Musicals: “Pippin”, “Rock of Ages”, “Cinderella”, “Side Show”, “Once”

rock of ages small photo 100x70Rock of Ages closes on January 18, 2015, marking the conclusion of a successful run that began on March 17, 2009. The jukebox musical featuring 80s hits and a rock n roll love story was turned into a high-budget feature film, and continued to attract audiences for blue red yellow Pippin Broadway Musical posterover 5 years. Still, the producers must have decided the show was no longer making financial sense. Once is another musical that had an undeniably successful run but has now closed on January 4, 2015. After winning eight 2012 Tony Awards including the coveted honor of Best

side showMusical, Once continued to play for several years. The U.S. tour is scheduled to run until August 2015. Diane Paulus’ rendition of Pippin also closed on January 4, 2015 after a successful run since March 23, 2013, including the Tony win of Best Revival of a Musical. Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella also closed that week on January 3, 2015, after running since January 25, 2013. That show also entertained a huge number of Cinderella Broadway Musical Rogers Hammerstein logo audiences, but was not as successful as producers probably had wished. Finally, Side Show closed to the disappointment of its team on January 4, 2015, after runningonce small image for only 56 regular performances and 21 previews. This musical failed to gain traction this fall season and was forced to leave by the theatre landlords.

“The Real Thing” Opens on Broadway

A Stoppard Play with an All-Star Cast

the-real-thing-pink-and-blackOn October 30, 2014, The Real Thing opened at the American Airlines Theatre, one of the Roundabout Theatre Company’s three Broadway venues. The play, a classic by Tom Stoppard (Arcadia, Rock n Roll, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead) originally produced in 1982, was directed by Sam Gold, a relative newcomer who has taken New York theatre by storm with such productions as The Realistic Joneses, Seminar, and many Off-Broadway hits. With such a creative team behind it, the production was able to a number of Hollywood stars. Two are making their Broadway debuts: Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Dark Knight, Donnie Darko, White House Down) and Ewan McGregor (Trainspotting, Big Fish, Star Wars). Furthermore, the show stars Cynthia Nixon (Sex and the City, Broadway productions including Wit, Rabbit Hole, Angels in America) as well as Josh Hamilton (Dead Accounts, The Coast of Utopia, Proof). With all of these powerhouse names behind it, the show was destined to be a critical hit. However, something the perfect ingredients do not make the perfect stew, and in this case, the result was sadly underwhelming.

Mixed Reviews from Critics

The most influential of New York theatre critics, Ben Brantley of The New York Times, gave The Real Thing a review that was all but playwright Tom Stoppard event gray whitedisdainful. He called the revival “tinny,” and claimed that the production lacked any real evidence of chemistry between the performers, or any sort of deep feelings in general. The beauty of Stoppard’s work often lies in the fact that his words may be highly complex and intellectual, but there is a deep humanity bubbling beneath the surface. Brantley’s view is that this production (due to a mixture of casting and directing) lacked that crucial underlayer. Other reviewers were less critical, falling prey to the combination of writing and fame onstage that can persuade the audience they are enjoying a well-done production. Mark Kennedy of the Associated Press, for example, thought the revival was thoroughly excellent, and enjoyed the interspersed tunes that Sam Gold opted to include between scenes, often hummed along by the actors. Thom Geier of Entertainment Weekly also praised the production, perhaps delighted merely to see his Hollywood favorites onstage. He claimed Gyllenhaal’s performance oozed poise and sophistication, which may be true, but the argument could also be made that the softness beneath was missing. David Rooney from the Hollywood Reporter was more on the fence, correctly praising Ewan McGregor’s Broadway debut for the professional excellence of his performance, but also calling Gold’s direction “hollow.”

Struggling at the Box Office

It is always interesting to follow how the combination of recognizable playwright, famous actors, and critical response has on the box office. In this case, audiences were not moved by the result, certainly not enough to make this show stand out financially. The show has never reached more than 77.56% of its gross potential in any given week, and the weekly numbers have been squarely in the $400,000 range for each week. With stars such as McGregor, Gyllenhaal, and Nixon onstage, this is almost an insult. And for the true theatre aficionados, the fact that a Stoppard play would be given this treatment is just a shame. However, given that the revival is produced by Roundabout, a not-for-profit theatre institution with an endowment and a subscriber base to keep it afloat, the show will likely be able to play out its intended limited run. The show is scheduled to close on January 4, 2015.

Broadway Fall 2014 Line-Up Falling into Place

This fall looks to be an exciting one on Broadway!  Let’s face it – every new season is pretty exciting.  But with the Tony Awards still a month away to commend the brilliant plays and musicals of the 2013-2014 season, announcements are already being made for shows to open next fall.

It was recently announced that Hugh Jackman will be returning to Broadway this fall in Jez Butterworth’s play The River.  Jez Butterworth’s work was last seen on Broadway with the 2011 production of Jerusalem starring Mark Rylance, directed by Ian Rickson, and prohugh jackmanduced by London-based powerhouse theatre production company Sonia Friedman Productions.  Sonia Friedman will be shepherding a Butterworth play once again, after having watched over its production at the Royal Court Theatre, where Jerusalem also premiered.  The partnership between Ian Rickson and Jez Butterworth also holds strong, as Rickson is on board to direct this play.  The River is about a loner on a remote island and the two women in his life, who will be played by British actresses Laura Donnelly and Cush Jumbo.  The River will begin performances at the Circle in the Square Theatre on October 31, 2014.  A favorite of the Great White Way, Hugh Jackman sold out his 2011 one-man show Hugh Jackman: Back on Broadway, and he will host the Tony Awards this year for the fourth time.

In addition to the proven partnership between director Ian Rickson and playwright Jez Butterworth, another fall show will see the recurrence of a proven Broadway partnership, this time between two beloved actors.  Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, who famously co-starred in 2001’s The Producers, will join forces this fall for a Terrence McNally play called It’s Only a Play, directed by Jack O’Brien.  Like The Producers, It’s Only a Play is also a comedy based in the world of show biz.  Having premiered at the Manhattan Theater Club in 1986, It’s Only a Play is the story of a nervous playwright (Broderick) at the opening night party for a play he has written, and his interactions with his backstabbing friend (Lane).  Produced by Tom Kirdahy, who is married to Terrence McNally, the play will begin performances in September at a theatre yet to be announced.

Producer Scott Rudin also has a starry play up his sleeve for this fall.  This Is Our Youth, written by Kenneth Lonergan (You Can Count on Me, Margaret, The Starry Messenger) first premiemichael cera kieran culkinred Off-Broadway in a production by The New Group in 1996.  The play centers on three aimless teenagers in New York City, and this Broadway production will star Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin, and Tavi Gevinson.  Directed by Anna D. Shapiro (Motherf**ker with the Hat), the show will have an out-of-town pre-Broadway run at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago over the summer, and it will then transfer to Broadway’s Cort Theatre with performances beginning August 18, 2014.  Michael Cera and Kieran Culkin also appeared in their same roles in an Australian production of this play in 2012, directed by Mark Brokaw.

Further fall productions that have been announced include Simon Stephens’ play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, which is a transfer from London’s National Theatre via the West End.  The play will occupy the Ethel Barrymore Theatre with previews beginning September 15, 2014.  In addition, The Country House by Donald Margulies will star Blythe Danner at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, with previews beginning September 9, 2014 in a Manhattan Theatre Club production.  Finally, it has also been announced that a production of Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing will play at the American Airlines Theatre in a Roundabout Theatre Company production, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ewan McGregor, and Cynthia Nixon, and directed by Sam Gold.  This is just the tip of the iceberg, however, as many more exciting shows are sure to be announced for the Broadway fall season in the coming months.

Ewan McGregor To Make Debut on Broadway Next Year

Ewan McGregorA respected actor long known for his film work, Ewan McGregor will finally appear on the Broadway stage next year in a Roundabout Theatre Company revival of Tom Stoppard’s drama The Real Thing. Sam Gold will direct, but the rest of the cast and creative team has yet to be announced.

The Real Thing is scheduled to begin preview performances at the American Airlines Theatre on October 2, 2014, with an opening scheduled for October 30. The limited-run production will play through January 4, 2015.

Though this will mark Ewan McGregor’s Broadway debut, he has been seen onstage in London. McGregor was Iago in a 2008 Donmar Warehouse production of Shakespeare’s Othello, and he has even starred in the musical Guys and Dolls. The actor’s extensive film credits include Trainspotting, Moulin Rouge!, Star Wars, and the upcoming movie adaptation of the Broadway play August: Osage County.

Roundabout To Bring Tom Stoppard’s “The Real Thing” and Donald Margulies “Dinner with Friends” To Broadway

Roundabout Theatre CompanyThe Roundabout Theatre Company, which is currently represented on Broadway by The Mystery of Edwin Drood and the soon-to-open The Big Knife, has announced that its 2013-2014 Broadway season will include revivals of the plays Dinner With Friends and The Real Thing.

A favorite of Tom Stoppard fans, The Real Thing is about a playwright whose marriage is collapsing — both on stage and in real life. The 1984 play was most recently seen on Broadway in 2000 in an acclaimed production starring Stephen Dillane and Jennifer Ehle.

Dinner with Friends, written by Donald Margulies, is a Pulitzer Prize winning play that previously enjoyed a run Off-Broadway, but will be making its Broadway premiere with the Roundabout production. Tracking the journey of two couples, it is also a play that deals with the subject of marriage.