Miss Them At Your Peril: Winter Blues Brings Show Closings

News   Miss Them At Your Peril: Winter Blues Brings Show Closings 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.
Carolee Carmello in The Scarlet Pimpernel.
Carolee Carmello in The Scarlet Pimpernel. (Photo by Photo by Joan Marcus)

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 shutter between mid-December 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. 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: In The Blood: Suzan Lori-Parks' "riff" on "The Scarlet Letter," with Charlayne Woodard in the Hester role, ends its extended run at the Public Theater.

Dec. 19: Space: Tina Landau's metaphysical drama received acclaim for its visuals but not for its dramaturgy and finishes its scheduled run at the Public.

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. The off off-Broadway oddball hit, Squonk - Bigsmorgasborwunderwerk, is set to take the Hayes in February.

Dec. 19: Last Train to Nibroc: Arlene Hutton's romantic comedy ends after 13 previews and 33 regular performances at the Douglas Fairbanks Theatre.

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