Thursday, November 11, 2010

Broadway's Annual Post-Holiday Cleaning

UPDATED: See items in RED.

With yesterday’s announcement/confirmation that next to normal will be closing on January 16, I really took a closer look at Broadway’s annual post-holiday freeze. (Before I forget, thank you to those of you who sent me “condolences” on the closing of my favorite show. It is nice to know that I won’t be mourning alone!)

Yes, every year at this time, Broadway cleans out the old, the broken, the never-worked-in-the-first-place, freeing up space for the new spring crop of shows. A similar cleanse happens post Tony Awards. So it comes as no surprise that one is getting ready this January. Except that this year’s loss seems particularly acute - 14 shows are currently scheduled to close during the month of January!

The New Year will start out especially harshly.

January 2:
Brief Encounter (*, +)
Elf: The Musical (~)
The Pee-Wee Herman Show (*)
Promises, Promises (*)
West Side Story

January 8:
Colin Quinn: Long Story Short (~)

January 9:
A Free Man of Color (+)
In the Heights
La Bete (~)
A Little Night Music
The Merchant of Venice (~) (According to The New York Times, in talks to extend. (11/18/2010))

January 16:
next to normal
The 39 Steps

January 23:
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (+)

January 29:
Driving Miss Daisy (~) (11/12/2010: In talks with the stars to extend the run into spring.)

Barring any further extensions, the list doesn’t really hold that many surprises. Three of the shows are closing after extending their runs beyond the expected closing. (*) Three of them are a part of subscription series, and their runs were already potentially limited to begin with. (+) And five of the shows were limited engagements to begin with. (~)

The good news is that there are shows already lined up to take the place of all but four of these theatres: the Booth, Walter Kerr, Richard Rodgers and Belasco. (Make that threeThe Richard Rodgers will be home to Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, starring Robin Williams.)

Of the rest, we are losing some shows with incredible success stories - In the Heights is the American Theatre Dream personified. And would anyone have guessed that West Side Story would surpass its original Broadway run? Or that next to normal would have run for 733 performances? And we all know the A Little Night Music’s days were numbered well before this closing date. It was supposed to have closed when its original stars departed, remember? Promises, Promises' fate was sealed when the critics didn’t drool over Kristin Chenoweth, so all this extra time, courtesy of the stars themselves has been a gift. So maybe the only real surprise here is Fela!, the critically acclaimed production, which should have at least lasted a year, right?

And so it is sad to see all of these shows go. But if shows don’t close, new ones can’t open, right? Of course, right!

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