The Joseph Papp Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival's Broadway run of On the Town will close Jan. 17 due to sagging box office sales, proving once again New York, New York can be a helluva town for producers.
Producer-director George C. Wolfe, the driving force behind the downtown nonprofit's initiative to revive the 1944 musical comedy in Central Park in 1997 and move it to Broadway in 1998, announced Jan. 12 that the money-losing commercial venture at the Gershwin Theatre would close after 37 previews and 65 performances.
In a statement, Wolfe said, "It is with deep regret that On the Town must close this Sunday. We had hoped that with a television commercial and a direct mail campaign, as well as a number of extremely positive reviews, that we would be able to surmount the annual January doldrums on Broadway. This unfortunately was not the case."
On The Town actually jumped to 71.9 percent attendance (from a previous 53.5 percent) during Broadway's record holiday week of Dec. 28-Jan. 3, 1999, but prior to that, attendance generally hovered in the mid 50 percent range. At 1,903 seats, the Gershwin is the largest theatre on Broadway -- and therefore, one of the toughest to succeed in, as Candide and 1776 both recently learned.
Purchased tickets for shows after Jan. 17 can be returned at point of purchase.