The traditional, end-of-the-year, New York theatre bloodbath is officially underway. Producers of Game Show, an interactive comedy at 45 Bleecker in Manhattan, have announced that the show will close Dec. 31, after 17 previews and 78 regular performances. The news came the same day as an announcement that Tallulah Hallelujah! would shutter at the Douglas Fairbanks on the same night.
Other new York shows previously scheduled to close at year’s end or very early January include Gore Vidal’s The Best Man (Dec. 31), Saturday Night Fever (Dec. 30), Book of the Dead at the Public Theatre (Dec. 17), Comic Potential at MTC (Jan. 7), Strictly Personal (Dec. 31), Jesus Hopped the “A” Train (Dec. 31), Juno and the Paycock (Dec. 24), The Hostage (Dec. 31), Sightseeing (Jan. 7) and What the Butler Saw (Dec. 31).
Game Show, which opened Oct. 25, was written by Jeffrey Finn and Bob Walton and is directed by Mark Waldrop. Waldrop wrote and directed Bette Midler’s recent "Millennium Tour" and is a two-time Drama Desk nominee for Best Director and Best Lyricist for Howard Crabtree’sWhen Pigs Fly.
As reported earlier, Game Show "places the theatre audience in the role of the TV studio audience, in which members are picked as the contestants to play the trivia-based game and win actual prizes." It is the second Off-Broadway “interactive” show to fall short with audiences this fall, with Lifegame a recent casualty at the Jane Street Theatre.
Place the blame for Game Show’s demise on fears of the traditional winter doldrums. Traditionally, shows can be strong sellers during the early autumn and holidays, but as soon as New Year’s is over, there’s a devastating audience drop-off that can last until spring. Producer Jeffrey Finn said in a statement, “While business has been building throughout the fall, Game Show is on a limited contract with the theatre into the spring, and sustaining losses in the traditionally slow months of January and February simply doesn't make financial sense. As to the future life of Game Show, we're currently in discussions regarding sit-downs in major markets, including Las Vegas. Additionally, interest from the television industry has been high and we're also in discussions on that front." Two-time Tony nominee Joel Blum (Show Boat, Steel Pier), Jeb Brown ("Star Trek," "All My Children"), Jeremy Ellison-Gladstone ( The Fantasticks), Dana Lynn Mauro (Steel Pier, A Christmas Carol), Cheryl Stern, Brandon Williams (national tour of Blood Brothers) and Michael McGrath (Little Me, Swinging on a Star) comprise the cast for the Off-Broadway world premiere. Michael McGrath stars as the Game Show host, "Troy Richards."
The creative team for Game Show features set designer James Youmans (Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Jeffrey), costume designer Theresa Squire (New York Theatre Workshop, La MaMa) and 1986 Obie Award-winning lighting designer Jeffrey S. Koger.
Game Show's environmental set turns 45 Bleecker into "the television studio of the fictional game show, including operational television cameras mounted on either side of the audience with screens for 'broadcast.'" The workshop audience experiences "candid dramatic action" involving the studio and game show personnel as they comport themselves on stage during the simulated commercials. Production notes indicate the audience sees "all the back-stabbing, backstage antics" that go on during typical commercial breaks.
Jeffrey Finn Productions (JFP) credits include the recent national tours of The Who’s Tommy, Stephen Sondheim’s Company, Chess, Diahann Carroll in Almost Like Being in Love, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr. in Hit Me With a Hot Note!, Melba Moore in A Swell Party, Carol Lawrence in Puttin’ on the Ritz and Mimi Hines in This Funny World.
Bob Walton (co-author) and his brother, Jim Walton, received the 1997 Bistro Award for Best New Musical Comedy for writing and performing their show, "My Brother’s Keeper -- A Fraternally Wacky Revue." He was seen in the Broadway production of Once Upon a Mattress starring Sarah Jessica Parker, the Broadway company of Show Boat, the Broadway and national companies of City of Angels as Jimmy Powers and in the starring role of the Off-Broadway musical Preppies.
All tickets are $49.50. When available, student rush tickets will be $15 in person at the box office, 30 minutes prior to performance. For tickets call TicketMaster at (212) 307-4100.
- David Lefkowitz