Four Broadway Shows to Shutter Sept. 23; Others Likely to Follow in Attack Aftermath

News   Four Broadway Shows to Shutter Sept. 23; Others Likely to Follow in Attack Aftermath The Rocky Horror Show had just added a new attraction - Broadway star Terrence Mann - to its eclectically cast mix of rockers, personalities and solid theatre talent. But no one could have predicted the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center and its devastating effect on New York theatre.

Jarrod Emick and Alice Ripley in Rocky Horror Show; Barbara Garrick and Tom Selleck in A Thousand Clowns.
Jarrod Emick and Alice Ripley in Rocky Horror Show; Barbara Garrick and Tom Selleck in A Thousand Clowns.

The Rocky Horror Show had just added a new attraction - Broadway star Terrence Mann - to its eclectically cast mix of rockers, personalities and solid theatre talent. But no one could have predicted the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center and its devastating effect on New York theatre.

After doing only 32.1 percent of its business last week, as reported by Variety, The Rocky Horror Show will close Sept. 23.

If You Ever Leave Me, I'm Going With You, the Renee Taylor-Joseph Bologna comedy which opened at the Cort Theatre on Aug. 6, will also ring down its curtain on Sept. 23, as will the Tom Selleck starrer, A Thousand Clowns and the English import Stones in His Pockets. [See separate PBOL stories on each show.] The trade publication Variety additionally hinted that "at least one... musical might join that list" by the end of Tuesday. Several sources point to Kiss Me, Kate, which had already announced an end date of Dec. 30.

Stones producer Emanuel Azenberg told Variety that he had contemplated closing his production over the weekend, but was waiting to see whether the theatrical unions might grant concessions to struggling Broadway shows. However, on Monday, he decided to pull the plug on the comedy.

On Friday, Sept. 14—the day after Broadway relit its marquees following two days of darkness—The League of American Theatres and Producers and labor leaders met to consider how to combat the monumental losses at the box office which followed the World Trade Center disaster. Aside from the three cancelled performances of last week, Variety reported that box office was down by 80 percent. Labor and management had a follow-up meeting on Monday, Sept. 17. Shubert head Gerald Schoenfeld was quoted as saying producers were asking for labor cuts on "a show-by-show basis," while powerhouse English producer Cameron Mackintosh reportedly requested an across the table 30 percent cut in salary. The League also petitioned for a waiver of the one-week closing notice period, said Variety.

The unions are not the only ones being asked to make sacrifices. Theatre owners were said to have foregone rent on houses contained endangered productions.

The unions will now meet with their executive boards over the next two days. A third pow-wow between producers and labor is set for Friday, Sept. 21.

Help may also be coming from the Mayor's office. Rocky Horror producer Jordan Roth told Playbill On-Line, "We've just heard today that the Mayor's office will be working with Broadway to prevent closings. We don't know what that means. Is that money? How much? When?"

Over the past week, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has repeatedly urged New Yorkers to help the city's stalled economy and bruised psyche by taking in a Broadway show.

"We are specifically going to reach out to restaurants and to Broadway plays," the Mayor was quoted as saying, "to see if they need some transitional help because we may be going through a period in which people might just not feel like going to a Broadway play."

A cast member of The Full Monty told Playbill On-Line that Broadway shows are being asked to dedicate the proceeds of one performance to the city's Twin Towers Fund. The cast of the hit musical has not yet voted on a specific date.

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Terrence Mann was Tony-nominated for playing Javert in Les Miserables and the Beast in Beauty and the Beast. Other Broadway credits include Rum Tum Tugger in the original company of Cats, the ringmaster in Barnum, Greg Reed in Getting Away With Murder, Saul in Rags and the narrator in Jerome Robbins' Broadway.

Mann is the latest addition to Rocky Horror, home of eclectic casting. Recent company members included "Beverly Hills, 90210"'s Luke Perry, replacing a vactationing Jarrod Emick, political comedian Kate Clinton replacing a vacationing Dick Cavett and "Saturday Night Live"'s Ana Gasteyer permenantly replacing rocker Joan Jett.

Jordan Roth's revival of Richard O'Brien's The Rocky Horror Show opened Nov. 15 at Circle in the Square. The show started previews Oct. 20, 2000. It ran 356 performances, hundreds more than the original's Broadway run, after 30 previews.

Roth, for whom Rocky was his first producing venture, was pleased with the show, despite the premature close. "We had a great year on Broadway. We did what we set out to do. We brought a new audience to Broadway and created a new kind of Broadway experience," he said.

Whether or not Rocky may rise again, Roth was unsure. It would depend on whether or not the Mayor's office offers money to bail out producers and whether or not the theatrical unions agree to offer enough pay cuts to make the show profitable. "It is entirely possible," Roth said, but acknowledged it's too early now to tell anything.

The cult musical features an eclectic cast, including Dick Cavett (Into the Woods, Otherwise Engaged, television's "The Dick Cavett Show"), Lea DeLaria (On the Town, Chicago, The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, "The First Wives Club"), Daphne Rubin-Vega (Rent, Two Sisters and a Piano, Flawless ) and Alice Ripley (Side Show, James Joyce's The Dead, King David, Les Miz, Sunset Boulevard).

Director Christopher Ashley helms the show. Producer Jordan Roth is the son of producer Daryl Roth (Wit, Three Tall Women and The Bomb-itty of Errors) and himself the producer of the Off-Broadway hit, The Donkey Show.

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The Broadway revival of Herb Gardner's A Thousand Clowns, which had been staying afloat at the Longacre Theatre, suffered a drop in attendance following last week's tragedy at the World Trade Center. It will close its doors Sept. 23 ahead of its originally scheduled close of Oct. 14.

"We had no plans to close early prior to this [event]," said a production spokesperson. Attendance to the revival had remained just under 60% of capacity throughout August following its July 11 open.

The production had seen out-of-town productions prior to reaching Broadway and was confident enough to push up its opening date from July 17 to July 11. Previews began on Independence Day, July 4, at the Longacre Theatre.

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Stones in His Pockets, Marie Jones' Olivier Award and Evening Standard Award winner for Best Comedy, will close Sept. 23 as well. The play, which earned Tony Award nomination for its stars Conleth Hill and Sean Campion, transferred from a hit run in London and Toronto to open April 1 at the John Golden Theatre.

Stones in His Pockets is seen through the perspective of Charlie and Jack, two down-on-their luck Irishmen (played by Hill and Campion) working as extras on a Hollywood film being shot in the Irish countryside. The close-knit rural community around them is uprooted and in some ways destroyed by the arrival of the Hollywood cast and crew. Among the characters Hill and Campion portray are Caroline Giovanni, the spoiled and horny American diva; Mickey, the last remaining extra from "The Quiet Man"; and Clem, the hunchbacked director.

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If You Ever Leave Me... began previews July 17 and opens Aug. 6 at Broadway's Cort Theatre. The latter date is especially meaningful, as it was be the twosome's 36th wedding anniversary. It will have played 24 performances and 45 previews.