Less than a year after it opened in Chicago, Ragtime will close June 13 at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts Oriental Theatre to make way for Livent's first national company of Fosse, which will begin Windy City performances Sept. 14.
Tickets for Fosse go on sale April 19. The production will tour after its "limited run" at the Ford Center in Chicago, according to a Feb. 17 announcement.
Fosse, the dance revue of the work of choreographer Bob Fosse, opened on Broadway Jan. 14 after pre-New York engagements in Toronto, Los Angeles and Boston in summer 1998. (The New York gross for Fosse at the Ambassador Theatre Feb. 7-14 was $534,032, according to the League of American Theatres and Producers.)
Bill Conner, a Livent vice president at the company's Toronto headquarters, told Playbill On-Line Feb. 16 that he's "very happy" with the success of the so-far 16-week Chicago sit-down (technically, the second national production) of Ragtime.
The Chicago Ragtime production will not tour; it ends in Chicago, Conner said. Conner added that elements of the Chicago set and certain Chicago cast members will likely be used for the "hybrid" tour beginning August 1999 in Houston. The new "hybrid" tour, licensed to Pace Theatrical Group, will also use elements of the current third national company that's doing smash business in Boston's Colonial Theatre through March 28.
The costly and time-consuming, one-week load-in of the third national tour was one of the reasons the show almost shut down last fall in Minneapolis, Conner confirmed. A bankrupt Livent announced the show's closure, but Pace came to the rescue and guaranteed the Seattle booking in December and the Boston booking January-March.
Conner also confirmed that the cast of the new summer 1999 Ragtime would be slightly scaled back from the current 55-actor production.
Meanwhile, in Chicago, the second national Ragtime company grossed an estimated $639,192 (of a potential $1,025,7054) Feb. 1-7, according to Variety. The Boston company grossed $775,282 (of an $821,618 potential) and the New York gross was $635,123 (of a potential $896,218).
For Chicago Ragtime ticket information call (312) 902-1400.
For Fosse group sales tickets at the Oriental Theatre, available Feb. 17, call (312) 855-9400.
With city dignitaries including Mayor Richard M. Daley in attendance, Livent, Inc., formally dedicated the Ford Center for the Performing Arts Oriental Theatre at 1 PM (CT) Oct. 13, 1998.
Rapp and Rapp designed the theatre as a garish Asian-Indian fantasia (leading to the "Oriental" moniker). Its exotic interior, which has been retained where possible, borrows from mythic figures from India.
Under the management of Balaban and Katz, live musical performances and movies were presented (often complemented with lavish live shows) to a resident and tourist crowd for many years. Among stars who performed there were Judy Garland, Al Jolson, Danny Kaye, Bob Hope, Sophie Tucker and others. The theater survived under different managements over the years and finally fell into disrepair in the 1970s. It was closed in 1981.
The renovation, which retains much of the original design while adding bathrooms and widening some spaces, was funded in part by a $17 million grant from the City of Chicago.
The project reduces the original seating capacity from 3,238 to approximately 2,200 and adds 28 feet of stage depth, which required boring into the adjacent Oliver Building, whose facade remains intact.
The theatre's program is Showbill, a title owned and operated by Playbill. Showbill also services Livent's Ford Center for the Performing Arts on Broadway.
The Ford Center for the Performing Arts-Oriental Theatre, in Chicago's North Loop, is within blocks of the Shubert Theatre, the Chicago Theatre, the Auditorium Theatre and the currently-under-renovation Palace Theatre. The Ford Center is at 24 W. Randolph between Dearborn and State Streets.