Archive for Closing soon
January usually marks the ending of many a Broadway show, but this season has more than the usual number of closings. Some have celebrated long runs but a few literally just opened; either way, if you were hoping to catch any of these, get moving!
And if you’re looking for gift suggestions for the Broadway musical lover in your life, be sure to check out our holiday gift guide. Happy holidays everyone!
There’s been lots of news this last week. Here are the big items:
West Side Story and Promises, Promises have just announced that they will close on Broadway on January 2, after playing 748 and 291 performances, respectively. West Side Story has had quite the run – an admirable revival that played to positive reviews and celebrated great attendance throughout. Promises, Promises, which opened to very poor reviews, ended up pulling in many more patrons than anyone thought after Sean Penn’s Tony Award appearance (and on-screen heterosexual kiss with his co-star, Kristin Chenoweth). The closing comes soon after announcements that Kate Finneran, who received much critical acclaim and a Tony Award for her performance in the show, would be departing the production.
Fela! will also be closing its doors on January 2, after a bit of celebrity casting in the role of Fela’s mother, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti. Pop star Patti LaBelle has stepped into the role created by Lillias White and will continue until the show’s final performance in January.
Elf has now been fully cast and will star Sebastian Arcelus (Jersey Boys, Wicked, Rent) opposite Amy Spanger (Rock of Ages, The Wedding Singer) alongside an ensemble of big name stars, including: Beth Leavel (The Drowsy Chaperone, Mamma Mia!), Mark Jacoby (Sweeney Todd, Show Boat), George Wendt (“Cheers,” Hairspray), Matthew Gumley (Addams Family), Valerie Wright (Steel Pier), Michael McCormick (Curtains) and Michael Mandell (Big River).
The biggest casting excitement is over that of the star-studded Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, which includes the likes of de’Adre Aziza, Laura Benanti, Danny Burstein, Nikka Graff Lanzarone, Patti LuPone, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Mary Beth Peil, Sherie Rene Scott and now Justin Guarini. If star power is worth anything, this show will bring in the crowds. Whether they’ll recoup with the size of the checks they’ve got to be writing for this cast is another question altogether…
As to casting changes, American Idol winner Jordan Sparks has joined the cast of In the Heights and gave a stunning rendition of “Breathe” at this year’s Broadway on Broadway. Constantine Maroulis left Broadway’s Rock of Ages to tour with the production, and has been replaced with Broadway newcomer Joey Taranto. Ryan Jesse will be stepping into the role Sebastian Arcelus is vacating in Jersey Boys on October 12, but most everyone else appears to be staying put.
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Elf and Priscilla Queen of the Desert all had premiere performances this last week, the first on Good Morning America and the other two at this year’s Broadway on Broadway. Check out the songs below. What do you think?
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark
Priscilla: Queen of the Desert
Become a Producer
And then there’s a new category of news – Ken Davenport is producing Godspell on Broadway and is inviting anyone with $1,000 to help him do so. It’s what he’s calling “the first ever community produced Broadway musical.” Shares are available at $100 a pop, with a minimum purchase of 10. For more information or to become a producer, go to www.peopleofgodspell.com.
Bye Bye “Birdie”
The universally panned production of Bye Bye Birdie, starring John Stamos and Gina Gershon, closed on Broadway on Jan 24 after playing 117 performances. Though selling at 90% capacity, producers decided the show’s success would dwindle upon the departure of its stars and so closed as planned, rather than extending its run.
Hello New Work
An exciting new musical that’s been getting lots of buzz in the social media sphere Frank Wildhorn (Jekyll & Hyde, The Scarlett Pimpernel, The Civil War) and Jack Murphy’s (The Civil War) Wonderland, a new take on Lewis Carol’s “Alice in Wonderland.” The show opened on Jan 20 at the Alley Theatre in Houston.
The cast includes a lot of Broadway names, including Janet Dacal (In the Heights, Good Vibrations), Jose Llana (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), Karen Mason (Sunset Boulevard, Mamma Mia!), Darren Ritchie (Dracula: The Musical), Nikki Snelson (Legally Blonde), Ed Staudenmayer (Forbidden Broadway) and Tad Wilson (Rock of Ages).
This show definitely has Broadway aspirations, though no dates or official plans have yet been announced. Cross your fingers that its sooner rather than later.
Duncan Sheik’s The Whisper House
Spring Awakening‘s Dunkan Sheik celebrated the world premiere of Whisper House, which opened Jan. 21 at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. The show, which features a hauntingly beautiful score, has hopes of making it to Broadway sometime in the next couple of years.
The Pee Wee Herman Show
Another show with Broadway aims is the Pee Wee Herman Show, which opened on Jan 20 at the Los Angeles’ Club Nokia @ L.A. LIVE. Paul Reubens stars the title role he created back in the 1980s and looks to be having just as much fun today as he did back then. Though more a show with music than a musical, I couldn’t not include it on the blog here. I mean, it’s Pee Wee Herman!
A Spice Girls Musical?
Yep. Pee Wee Herman isn’t the only pop-culture icon to be brought to the stage. Mamma Mia! producer Judy Craymer is turning her attention to a jukebox musical that will use the songs (and we can only hope, the personalities) of that crazy English girl-group of the 90s – the Spice Girls.
Original Foursome will Make their Broadway Debuts with Million Dollar Quartet
The original foursome from the Chicago production of the musical Million Dollar Quartet, Eddie Clendening, Lance Guest, Levi Kreis and Rob Lyons, will reprise their roles in the show’s Broadway premiere, all making their Broadway premieres. They will be joined by two Broadway veterans: Hunter Foster (Urinetown, Little Shop of Horrors) and Elizabeth Stanley (Cry-Baby, Company).
Showtime to Document the Process of Taking a Musical from Concept to Broadway
If you’ve kept up with the blog here, you know that Speilberg is producing a new Showtime series tracing the evolution of a new musical.
Composers Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (Hairspray, Catch Me If You Can) were previously announced as being on board, and now a writer has surfaced – Theresa Rebeck – the author who penned the recent off-Broadway hit the Understudy and has a fair number of TV shows under her belt.
I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to see this show get off the ground, and if the success of Glee and the long string of casting shows series, I’m not the only one that’ll be eating it up.
Norbert Leo Butz on TV
Norbert Leo Butz (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Wicked, The Last Five Years) is starring as Rowdy Kaiser on ABC’s “The Deep End,” a new drama series about five first-year lawyers starting out at a top firm. If you missed last week’s premiere – check it out on ABC’s website.
Opening/Closing on Broadway: Shrek, White Christmas, Finian’s Rainbow, Ragtime, Come Fly Away, American Idiot, Altar Boyz, Ragtime
As previously announced, Shrek closed on Broadway on Sunday after an admirable run of 441 performances at the Broadway Theatre. Also closing Sunday was the holiday favorite White Christmas, which played out its limited engagement at the Marquis.
And last week a shocker of an announcement hit Broadway audiences that another of the critically acclaimed productions that just opened – Finian’s Rainbow – will be playing its last performance on Jan 17. Coming on the heels of the Ragtime closing announcement, a number of big names like Matthew Broderick are doubting the lasting power of anything that’s not a “sure bet” in this economy…
But, along with the closings and bemoaning came some happier news: Producer James L. Nederlander announced that Come Fly Away, Twyla Tharp’s Frank Sinatra inspired musical, will open March 25. The musical, originally titled Come Fly With Me, played a sold-out engagement last year at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta.
And it’s official: another out-of-town favorite, American Idiot, is taking over at the St. James on April 10. If you haven’t yet heard of this show, you soon will – the creative team is an incredible assembly of Broadway big-hitters, and if the reviews from its Berkely Rep run are any indication – this show may be a contender for many of those looking for one of Broderick’s “sure bet[s].”
If we’ve learned anything from 2009 it’s this: if there’s anything on Broadway you’ve been dying to see, see it now! Unless it’s Phantom of the Opera or Wicked, there’s no guarantee it’ll be around beyond next week.
Due to what Ragtime‘s marketers are calling a “miracle on 54th Street” – enough angry and saddened patrons hammered at the Neil Simon box office windows to allow producers to extend the dying show’s Broadway run by a week. Instead of closing on January 3 as previously announced, the production will now run through January 10.