Millennium or no millennium, this post-holiday season resembles so many others in one respect: shows try to ride out Christmas and New Years and then close before the winter doldrums set in.
Nearly a dozen Broadway and Off-Broadway productions will shutter between now and mid-January, which, on the upside, makes room for other productions desperate to find a theatre.
Here's a chronological rundown of plays and musicals that will be singing Auld Lang Syne in the weeks to come:
Dec. 12: An Experiment With an Air Pump: Shelagh Stephenson's drama, fashioned after Tom Stoppard's Arcadia, ends its run at Manhattan Theatre Club. Reviews were mixed-to-positive for the piece, which features Daniel Gerroll, Ana Reeder and Clea Lewis.
Dec. 12: Refuge: From Playwrights Horizons' New Theatre Wing of alternative productions comes Jessica Goldberg's drama of dysfunctional sibling rivalry. Dec. 12: Savannah Bay: An actress and her granddaughter are the focus of this Marguerite Duras work, at Theatre for the New City.
Dec. 12: Sun Flower: Elizabeth Perry's solo look at Elizabeth Cady Stanton ends its extended run at the John Houseman Studio Theatre.
Dec. 12: The Trial of One Short-Sighted Black Woman vs. Mammy Louise and Safreeta Mae: A pointed satire on race by Marcia L. Leslie, this return engagement recently won six Audelco Awards.
Dec. 19: Enter the Night: Admittedly cryptic even for Maria Irene Fornes, this somber drama ends its scheduled Signature Theatre Company run.
Dec. 19: Eclipsed: Patricia Burke Brogan's look at the horrors of the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland ends its scheduled run.
Dec. 19: Ice Island: The Wait For Shackleton: Marjorie Duffield's historical drama set in the Antarctic ends its Melting Pot Theatre Company run at Theatre Three.
Dec. 19: Epic Proportions: Larry Coen and David Crane's biblical spoof suffered poor reviews and even a death -- featured performer Richard B. Shull -- but kept pressing on in the hopes that word of mouth and a growing fan-base for Kristin Chenoweth would turn things around. That didn't happen, but on the plus side, the producers had wanted to close Dec. 12 but added another week to accommodate ticket-holders. There's word that the producers are now considering playing through the new year if last-minute sales warrant.
Dec. 20: Ancestral Voices, the latest epistolary, cast-revolving play by A.R. Gurney, ends its run at the Mitzi Newhouse but will come back Feb. 6.
Dec. 30: A Christmas Carol: This year, the Madison Square Garden extravaganza features Didi Conn, Tony Roberts and Reginald VelJohnson.
Jan. 2: Contact leaves Lincoln Center's Mitzi Newhouse Theatre, but this one doesn't count as a closing, since it'll open up again at the Vivian Beaumont March 9.
Jan.2: Fuddy Meers: David Lindsay-Abaire's drama leaves Manhattan Theatre Club's Second Stage, but don't fret: it moves to the Minetta Lane Theatre (current home of Thwak) Jan. 28.
Jan. 2: Thwak: The Umbilical Brothers' sound effects comedy goes silent, after playing at off-Broadway's Minetta Lane Theatre since late May.
Jan. 2: Give Me Your Answer, Do!: The latest from Brian Friel, about a dinner party that brings out the worst flaw in each guest, ends its run at the Gramercy Theatre.
Jan. 2: Minnelli On Minnelli: Liza's comeback show, which opened Dec. 8, finishes its scheduled 24-performance run. Ticket sales have been very brisk, but reviews were iffy, making an extension less likely.
Jan. 2: Kat and the Kings: A big London success that didn't quite catch on across the Atlantic, this South African musical will have run 157 regular performances at the Cort Theatre.
Jan. 2: The Scarlet Pimpernel: They did not seek him anywhere, and so The Scarlet Pimpernel will end its third attempt at becoming a hit. This scaled-down version, at the Neil Simon Theatre, will be followed by The Music Man in April.
Jan. 9: Marie Christine: Michael John LaChiusa's operatic setting of Medea against the voodoo culture of Louisiana finishes its scheduled run Jan. 9, with Contact swooping into the Vivian Beaumont Theatre just a few weeks later.
Jan. 9: It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues: Good reviews and positive feedback allowed the producers to move this revue from Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont space to the Ambassador Theatre, but the show never quite caught on. (Having a song bumped from the 1999 Tony Awards gave producers some much-needed but short-lived publicity.) Nevertheless, a national tour is planned for summer 2000.
Jan. 9: Tango Argentino: This feast of fancy footwork first exhibited in 1985 exits the Gershwin Theatre following its limited return run, Nov. 17-Jan. 9.
Jan. 16: Ragtime: Despite all the acclaim, awards and promotional hoopla, Livent's perceived money machine turned into a machine that ate up money. Vague rumors are still floating that the producers might reopen the show in a scaled-back version, but for now, this musicalization of E.L. Doctorow's history-based novel is set to finish Jan. 16, after more than 800 performances.
Jan. 16: Smokey Joe's Cafe: After more than 2,000 performances, this sleeper hit, directed by Jerry Zaks, will finally dim its neon lights on Broadway.
Jan. 16: Inappropriate: From the DeSisto Theatre Ensemble, this collection of true-life teen tales ends its extended run at the Theatre Row Theatre.
-- By David Lefkowitz