Macabre Farewell for Murder

News   Macabre Farewell for Murder
 
Stephen Sondheim fans hoping to see his first non-musical for the stage, Getting Away With Murder, better get to the Broadhurst Theatre box office fast. The "comedy thriller" he co-authored with George Furth will close March 31 after 31 previews and 17 regular performances.

Stephen Sondheim fans hoping to see his first non-musical for the stage, Getting Away With Murder, better get to the Broadhurst Theatre box office fast. The "comedy thriller" he co-authored with George Furth will close March 31 after 31 previews and 17 regular performances.

In a macabre touch, the producers made a tiny change in the show's already-famous gargoyle logo. The logo, as shown on the Playbill cover, has the gargoyle holding a smoking gun. In the ad that ran in the March 20 New York Times announcing the closing, the gargoyle was pointing the gun at its own head. (See comparison above.)

On March 29, the ad added a dialog bubble with the gargoyle crying "Goodbye cruel world."

With the exception of the New York Daily News, reviews were generally negative for the show, which stars John Rubinstein, Terrence Mann and Christine Ebersole.

Reviews said the show lacked suspense and the trademark wit that the pair brought to their two previous collaborations, Company and Merrily We Roll Along. The run will be Sondheim's third-shortest on Broadway. Anyone Can Whistle ran 9 performances; Merrily ran 16.

It's been a rough season so far for Sondheim and Furth. A commercial Broadway transfer of Roundabout Theatre's successful revival of Company dissolved earlier this season in acrimony between the director and the would-be producer.

A Broadway revival of Sondheim's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum began previews March 18, the same day the murderous Murder reviews came out. Sondheim is at work on a new musical about the notorious Mizner brothers, which is scheduled to open at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. in fall 1996.

Murder follows a group of highly neurotic members of a New York psychotherapy group who try to figure out which among them has murdered their analyst.

The show stars John Rubinstein ("Pippin," "Children of a Lesser God"), Terrence Mann (Javert in "Les Miserables," Rum Tum Tugger in "Cats," the Beast in "Beauty and the Beast"), plus Christine Ebersole, Josh Mostel, Kandis Chappell, Frankie Faison and Jodi Long.

Most of the cast was retained from the show's debut in September 1995 at San Diego's Old Globe Theatre, under the title, "The Doctor Is Out."

Sondheim and Furth collaborated as composer and librettist, respectively, on two musicals, "Company" and "Merrily We Roll Along." Sondheim collaborated with Anthony Perkins on a previous murder mystery, the 1973 film "The Last of Sheila." Sondheim is a Pulitzer Prize winner (for "Sunday in the Park With George"), and a multiple Tony Award winner for shows such as "Sweeney Todd," "A Little Night Music" and the recent "Passion." His next musical is scheduled to open at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC in autumn 1996. Furth wrote the non-musical plays "Twigs," "The Supporting Cast" and "Precious Sons."

"Getting Away With Murder" is directed by Jack O'Brien (the 1994 Broadway revival of "Damn Yankees"). Sets are by Doug Schmidt, costumes by Bobby Wojewodski, lighting by Kenneth Posner, and sound by Jeff Ladman.

Phone orders for tickets: (212) 239-6200, outside metro New York at (800) 432-7520.

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