Within 24 hours of the Nancy Hasty play's hasty demise at the Cort Theatre on Nov. 9, several Bobbi Boland programs were put up for auction on eBay, most sellers asking a minimum price between $10 and $15. Leading the pack, however, is the theatregoer savvy enough to have secured star Farrah Fawcett's autograph. This program, signed "Love, Farrah" in black marker, has fetched $102.50 after three bids. A second signed program's price has climbed to $51.
Also up for sale are such bits of Bobbi detritus as a couple of mailers for the play; a copy of the Nov. 16 New York Times Arts & Leisure interview with Fawcett; and a Bobbi Boland magnet. The oddest items, perhaps, are two homemade videos of the Cort Theatre's Bobbi marquee.
Bobbi Boland, which was directed by David Esbjornson, only survived a week of performances, beginning its short life on Nov. 4. It was to have opened on Nov. 24.
A show spokesman indicated that during the morning of Nov. 10 talks were ongoing between producer Joyce Johnson and star Fawcett, but they were apparently to no avail. An official closing announcement followed shortly thereafter. Johnson said in a statement released on Nov. 10: "I decided to close the production now because we learned in previews that the play simply does not work in a Broadway house. This work debuted in a more intimate (Off Broadway) theatre some years back, which is where I first saw Bobbi Boland. The vivid characters that I saw in such a small setting did not transfer to the Cort. It's as simple as that."
In a subsequent statement, released still later on Nov. 10, Johnson said. "I am hoping our playwright, Nancy Hasty, will make the necessary script revisions, and that Farrah will star in a new version of Bobbi Boland that I would like to bring to Off-Broadway this spring."
The initial Off-Broadway run was at the ArcLight Theatre in spring 2001. The show opened March 1 after previews started Feb. 15. Evan Bergman directed. Rose McGuire was cast in the lead, but was replaced in previews by playwright Hasty.
A closure before opening night is an increasingly rare thing in the world of Broadway. The last such occasion was David Henry Hwang's Face Value, which collapsed short of its opening in 1993 (ironically, at the unlucky Cort). A famous example of a pre-empted show was the 1966 musical Breakfast at Tiffany's, on which producer David Merrick famously pulled the plug after a few performances.
The play is set in Florida in the late 1960s and demonstrates how far a former beauty queen will go to protect her realm. The character Bobbi has built a life that could be compared to a shrine, symbolized by the glass cabinet in her living room that houses her 1947 crown. Boland's formal world is tossed into chaos with the arrival of a young, beautiful woman.