Bucking the Closing Notice, Urban Cowboy Gets Reprieve; Show Will Go On

News   Bucking the Closing Notice, Urban Cowboy Gets Reprieve; Show Will Go On Faster than a Texas rattler recoils, Chase Mishkin and Leonard Soloway, producers of Broadway's Urban Cowboy, have scrapped their plans to shut down the new musical.

Matt Cavenaugh rides again in Urban Cowboy.
Matt Cavenaugh rides again in Urban Cowboy. (Photo by Joan Marcus)

Director Lonny Price announced from the stage of the Broadhurst Theatre March 29 that the producers decided to keep the show alive. The announcement to close came late Friday night following a slew of negative reviews (and one high-profile near-rave from Clive Barnes of The New York Post). The show opened Thursday March 27.

According to a press statement, Mishkin and Soloway decided to keep the show open after "receiving many encouraging calls in support of the show and seeing audience reaction at performances on Friday evening, Saturday matinee and Saturday evening."

Said Price from the Broadhurst stage: "This was to have been the show's closing night. We have wonderful producers and they have just told me that the show will not be closing." Rozz Morehead, who plays Jessie in the musical, then sang one of her numbers cut during previews, "Better Days."

The show was slated to close after only 4 performances and 26 previews.

Mishkin and Soloway will now make the show Tony Award eligible. Most Tony nominators saw the show during the press previews, but the voters had not been invited and that would have not allowed the show to receive any nominations. Invitations to the Tony voters will go out in the coming week, according to a statement. "We are hopeful that during these trying times, audiences will continue to respond so positively," Mishkin said in a statement. "It's not sophisticated, just a simple love story, but it's an audience-pleasing good time, so we're going to give it a shot."

The show was undergoing vital rewrites when it, like other musicals on Broadway, fell victim to a four-day musicians' strike that scuttled performances as well as rehearsals. After performances resumed, new songs were added to the show and the piece was said to have clearer storytelling from the collaborators (including musical director, orchestrator, arranger and songwriter Jason Robert Brown).

Fans view the show as a populist good time, with the potential to have a healthy run like Broadway's teen-friendly Footloose did. Word of mouth and advertising (thought to be key elements in the equation now) could keep the show running well into the summer when tourists flood New York in search of recognizably-titled shows (the film by Aaron Latham was big hit in 1980).

Mishkin told Playbill On-Line March 29 that she planned to tour the show in 2004.

Matt Cavenaugh and Jen Colella in <i>Urban Cowboy</i>.
Matt Cavenaugh and Jen Colella in Urban Cowboy. (Photo by Joan Marcus)