Broadway Theatres Clean House for New Spring Arrivals

News   Broadway Theatres Clean House for New Spring Arrivals
 
With the start of a new year comes a fresh slate of productions set to take over Broadway stages in the mid-winter months. Before the curtains are raised on another season, a host of productions, from Tony Award-winning hits to limited engagements and short-lived revivals, must take their final bows.

Paul Nolan in <i>Once</i>, which will close at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre
Paul Nolan in Once, which will close at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre Photo by Joan Marcus

January turnover on Broadway is common, with producers cutting losses during slower winter months as a slate of new shows vie to open in time for spring awards season. In 2009 over a dozen productions closed in January, while 2011 saw 15 shows dim their lights. This year, nine productions bid Broadway farewell.

While fans may mourn the loss of favorite productions, the changeover in Broadway real estate is actually good news for showbiz fans as producers are circling coveted houses to bring new shows our way.

Here's a look at the comings and goings on the Main Stem in January:

Two Tony Award-winning musicals depart Broadway Jan. 4 after successful Main Stem runs. Once, the Tony Award-winning musical based on the 2007 Academy Award-winning film, ends its 1,189-performance run at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre after arriving on Broadway in March 2012. The soulful actor-musician musical about two lovelorn musicians longing for connection won eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

John Tiffany won the Tony Award for his direction of the intimate musical, set within a working pub (audience members could purchase wine and beer onstage prior to the performance and during intermission), which has a score by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová and a book by Enda Walsh. Once closes having recouped its $5.5 million capitalization in August 2012.

Martin Short
Martin Short Photo by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging

The next tenant of the Jacobs is the Terrence McNally comedy It's Only a Play (the hit recouped its $3.9 million capitalization the week of Dec. 17), which transfers to that theatre after finishing its initial run Jan. 18 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre with new cast members Katie Finneran, Maulik Pancholy and Martin Short in tow. The choice Schoenfeld is the future home of The Audience starring Helen Mirren, beginning Feb. 17.

Another Tony Award-winning production winding down its successful run is Diane Paulus' cirque-infused revival of Pippin, which performs its final trick Jan. 4 at the Music Box Theatre. The Stephen Schwartz-Roger O. Hirson musical opened to critical acclaim April 25, 2013, and will have played 746 performances when it closes.

Pippin recouped its $8.5 million capitalization in December 2013 after earning four 2013 Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical, Best Direction of a Musical (Paulus), Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical (Patina Miller) and Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical (Andrea Martin).

Pippin packs up its tent to allow for the Broadway return of Wendy Wasserstein's The Heidi Chronicles, which begins previews Feb. 23.

Keke Palmer
Keke Palmer Photo by Carol Rosegg

The Broadway premiere of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, which began previews in January 2013 featuring a modern slant on the classic tale thanks to Tony Award nominee Douglas Carter Beane, ends its run Jan. 3 after 811 performances at the Broadway Theatre. Directed by Mark Brokaw, the production's dazzling costumes won designer William Ivey Long the Tony Award.

The opening cast featured Tony Award nominee Laura Osnes in the title role. She was succeeded as Cinderella by "Call Me Maybe" hit-maker Carly Rae Jepsen, Paige Faure and Keke Palmer, who co-starred opposite Sherri Shepherd and, later, NeNe Leakes as evil stepmother, Madame, in the closing cast.

Capitalized at nearly $13 million, the production did not fully recoup at the time of closing. Another romantic musical takes up residence at the Broadway Theatre beginning March 27: Doctor Zhivago.

Leaving Broadway once again after an all-too-brief run is the Henry Krieger-Bill Russell musical Side Show, which ends its run Jan. 4 after a late October Broadway return in a re-conceived and rewritten format. Side Show, which centers on real-life conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton, failed to capture the imagination of a broad theatregoing audience despite garnering nearly solid raves across the board and enthusiastic audiences.

Emily Padgett and Erin Davie
Emily Padgett and Erin Davie Photo by Joan Marcus

Coincidentally, the original production of the musical played a nearly-identical run, beginning performances in mid-October 1997 and playing its final performance Jan. 3, 1998. Side Show, which surpassed the $500,000 mark at the box office only twice during its run, will shutter, losing its $7.8 million capitalization. The St. James Theatre will next be host to the anticipated musical comedy Something Rotten!, which has been fast-tracked for a Broadway arrival on March 23.

This Is Our Youth, and its starry young trifecta of Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin and Tavi Gevinson, pack up their angst and depart the Cort Theatre after a limited run that began Aug. 18 following an out-of-town tryout at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. The Broadway premiere of Kenneth Lonergan's play about aimless youth in New York City received solid reviews and grossed over $6,660,137 during its run of more than 150 performances.

The Cort's next show is the Broadway premiere of Larry David's world-premiere dark comedy Fish in the Dark, which begins Feb. 2. The show's director is Tony winner Anna D. Shapiro, who also staged This Is Our Youth.

Maggie Gyllenhaal and Ewan McGregor
Maggie Gyllenhaal and Ewan McGregor Photo by Joan Marcus

The Roundabout Theatre Company's strictly limited engagement of Tom Stoppard's The Real Thing, which boasts a cast including Ewan McGregor, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Josh Hamilton and Cynthia Nixon, also ends its Broadway affair Jan. 4 at the American Airlines Theatre after over 100 performances. The revival began performances Oct. 2. Roundabout's next pick for the American Airlines Theatre is another starry revival: The musical comedy On the Twentieth Century, starring Kristin Chenoweth and Peter Gallagher. That production pulls into Broadway Feb. 12.

The Illusionists, the magic spectacular that played a limited Broadway engagement as part of its world tour, did a quick job of recouping its $1.75 million dollar investment Dec. 22 after only three weeks of performances. It ends its run Jan. 4 after materializing on Broadway Nov. 26 at the Marquis Theatre. Next up at the Broadway venue is a limited run of the high-flying spectacle The Heart of Robin Hood, beginning March 10.

Further into January, another high-performing musical concludes its run, this one with an eye toward a future Broadway return. In August 2013 producers Kevin McCollum, Doug Morris and Berry Gordy announced that Motown would end its Broadway run at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre Jan. 18 after over 750 performances, with plans to return to the Main Stem a year-and-a-half later in July 2016 at a Nederlander theatre to be announced.

It's a rare move for producers to shutter a production that consistently surpasses the million dollar mark at the box office; however, Motown is currently on a lucrative, streamlined national tour (grossing over $20 million since an April 2014 launch), which was revised after the Broadway production opened March 11, 2013.

Matthew Morrison
Matthew Morrison Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Producers are aiming for a summer 2015 U.K. bow for the musical that was previously reported to be within weeks of returning its $18 million Broadway investment. It is likely that the 2016 Broadway return will reflect a revised book and structure for the show, potentially with a more streamlined production and cost-effective overhead. Flying into the Lunt-Fontanne is the Harvey Weinstein-shepherded musical Finding Neverland, starring Matthew Morrison in his Broadway return after finding fame on "Glee." Performances begin March 15.

Also leaving on a high is Rock of Ages, the amped-up jukebox musical that took a five-year stronghold on Broadway when it premiered in March 2009 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre and later transferred to the intimate Helen Hayes Theatre to power through a 2,350-performance run. Featuring returning original star Constantine Maroulis, who was Tony-nominated for his powerhouse vocal performance as Drew (also a headliner of the national tour and guest star in the film), Rock of Ages closes Jan. 18. The show recouped its $7.3 million investment in 2012.

As for the future of the Helen Hayes Theatre, the Off-Broadway non-profit Second Stage Theatre is in the final stages of closing a deal to purchase and renovate the 597-seat house, which will likely be renamed. It is expected that 2ST will begin producing there during the 2017-18 season.

For a full list of what's coming up on Broadway, read Playbill.com's 2015 Spring Broadway Preview and check out our Schedule of Upcoming Broadway shows.

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