The 90-minute pop show opened on Broadway following previews from April 22. The shuttering was one of the fastest in recent memory. In 2003, The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All closed on Nov. 17, the same night it opened at the Longacre Theatre.
Glory Days, which played 17 previews and one official performance, received kind but dismissive reviews that largely sought to protect and encourage its 24-year-old librettist James Gardiner and 23-year-old songwriter Nick Blaemire. Most critics took the producers and director Eric Schaeffer to task for shepherding a show that was wet behind the ears.
Glory Days was produced by John O'Boyle, Ricky Stevens, Richard E. Leopold, Lizzie Leopold, Max Productions and Broadway Across America in association with the Signature Theatre.
Producers O'Boyle and Stevens said in a May 7 statement, "We adore Glory Days and everyone connected with this production. Sadly, given the over-night reviews and our low advance sales, we believe it is prudent to close the show on Broadway immediately."
Like a teenager's unexpected growth spurt, the show came out of the blue at the tail-end of the 2007-08 Broadway season. After a critically acclaimed, hot-selling January world premiere at Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA, Glory Days was picked up by commercial producers who thought the mix of pop, emotional candor and young testosterone would play to a wider audience. Think of it as Altered Boyz.
Schaeffer, who shepherded the show's development and directed the premiere at Signature, where he is artistic director, again directs. The Signature cast transferred to Broadway. All freshly scrubbed, they might have stepped out of a production of the popular musical Altar Boyz; Johnson and Call, in fact, are alumni of that pop show.
Blaemire and Gardiner told Playbill.com that Glory Days — set on a high school football field — doesn't try to tackle all The Big Issues of all human experience. The writers are serving a slice of life — life as they know it, drawing on less than a quarter-century of experience.
"One of the things Nick and I were really trying to do with this show was capture what it's like to be a member of our generation, and to talk about the things that we love about it, and also to talk about the things that annoy us," Gardiner said at an April 10 press event that introduced the college-graduate writers to the New York theatre community.
Blaemire explained that the show is "a commemoration of our friendship and the friends we've had and lost between high school and college — and what happens when you're a kid, and then you realize that you're not anymore."
Booth (of Avenue Q in Las Vegas) plays Will, a young writer and the "glue" of the foursome. The show is an ensemble piece, but Will's voice is heard in most of the 18 songs of the score, which flirts with the kind of pop that would make fans of John Mayer and Jason Mraz sit up and listen.
In the summer after his first year attending the University of Michigan, Blaemire wrote a couple of songs ("After All" and "Open Road") inspired by a painful breakup with friends, and played them for Gardiner, a student at the University of Maryland. Blaemire had also sketched out a treatment for a musical about high school buddies who find themselves on different paths following graduation. He sought Gardiner's advice, and a collaboration sparked.
How did the young writers get the attention of Helen Hayes Award-winning director Schaeffer?
Every summer Schaeffer teaches a master class called Overtures at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. Three years ago, Blaemire and Gardiner were students there and shared some of their work with him (including a song called "Open Road," which remains in the show). Schaffer thought they showed promise.
The writers and their pals later presented their formative musical (then called Ass Backwards) to Schaeffer in his home, and he was moved. He helped guide them over the next two years until he offered them a world-premiere slot at Signature.
The Signature production received a rave review from the Washington Post's respected critic Peter Marks (and from other scribes), and it became a surprise regional hit — and managed to lure a younger demographic to Signature in the process, Schaeffer said.
"Rehearsing it with six guys, I felt like I was at a frat party for five weeks," Schaeffer said. "It took me back to my college days."
He later admitted with a laugh, "It made me feel old."
The producers officially bill Glory Days as "the story of four best friends who reunite a year after high school graduation, only to find how much they have grown apart. As they attempt to understand each other's differences, they soon realize that nothing can compare to the glory days of high school when life was simpler. Set to a vibrant score, Glory Days is a witty, unflinching look at four guys who refuse to be defined by generational stereotypes as they struggle to find their place in the world."
The creative team also includes James Kronzer (scenic design), Sasha Ludwig-Siegel (costume design), Mark Lanks (lighting design) and Peter Hylenski (sound design). Ethan Popp is musical director. Vocal arrangements are by Nick Blaemire and Jesse Vargas. Musical supervision, arrangements and orchestrations are by Jesse Vargas. Production stage manager is Gregg Kirsopp.
Understudies are Alex Brightman and Jeremy Woodard.
For ticket refunds, go to point of purchase.
For more information about the Broadway production of Glory Days, visit www.GloryDaysBroadway.com.
Circle in the Square Theatre is located at 235 West 50th Street between Broadway and Eighth Avenue.