The Yankees Broadway Show "Bronx Bombers" Closes Early to bad reviews, showing again that sports themed shows will quickly fail on Broadway
On Sunday, March 2, 2014, Bronx Bombers shuttered its doors at the Circle in the Square Theatre, less than a month after its official opening on February 6, 2014. This new American play by Eric Simonson (who also penned recent Broadway sports-themed shows Lombardi and Magic/Bird( Bronx Bombers tells the story of Yogi Berra and his wife Carmen, bringing a century of Yankee star players to the stage. Unlike with his previous two plays, this time Simonson also directed. The play had a pre-Broadway limited run at the Duke on 42nd Street Theatre from September 17, 2014 to October 19, 2014, produced by Primary Stages. Broadway producers Fran Kirmser and Tony Ponturo, who were also behind Lombardi and Magic/Bird, transferred the play to Broadway with previews beginning January 10, 2014. The Broadway production was also produced in association with The New York Yankees and Major League Baseball Properties. The Broadway production starred Peter Scolari (Lucky Guy, Magic/Bird) as Yogi Berra and Tracy Shayne (Chicago, The Phantom of the Opera) as Carmen Berra, and the cast also included Francois Battiste as Reggie Jackson and Elston Howard, Chris Henry Coffey as Joe DiMaggio, Bill Dawes as Mickey Mantle and Thurman Munson, Christopher Jackson as Derek Jeter and Bobby Sturges, Keith Nobbs as Billy Martin, John Wernke as Lou Gehrig, and C.J. Wilson as Babe Ruth.
This premature closing follows a pattern of unsuccessful shows that cater to the heterosexual male theatergoer. According to a Broadway League audience survey conducted during the 2012 to 2013 season, 68 percent of Broadway attendees were female, which reflects the fact that male-directed content has trouble staying afloat on Broadway. Simonson’s previous attempt Magic/Bird, which told the story of rivalry and friendship between basketball players Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, closed in 2012 after only 23 previews and 38 performances. Though his football play Lombardi played for a respectable 31 previews and 244 performances between 2010 and 2011, it appears the demographic for these sports dramas became saturated more quickly than the producers had projected. The play was capitalized at a little under $3 million, which was surely not recouped in only 31 previews and 29 performances.
Though the property may have a regional life and also earn some money through amateur rights licensing, it will likely never make back its initial investment. It is interesting to consider the possible reasons behind the producers’ logic in trying their hand at another sports play by the same writer so soon after a comparable flop.