Broadway's The Music Man will close Sept. 30 unless the producers' ongoing petition for cast and crew pay concessions comes to fruition, a spokesman said.
Notice to close this coming Sunday was posted at the Neil Simon Theatre Sept. 25 after meetings between producers and unions failed to agree to concession plan that would cut cast and crew pay in an effort to keep the show afloat during a time of low theatre attendance.
"There is dismay in the house and among the producers" that unions will not consider Music Man as falling under the same criteria of six other Broadway shows that got concessions last week, spokesman Adrian Bryan-Brown told Playbill On-Line. Those shows — Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera, Rent, The Full Monty, Chicago and Kiss Me, Kate — are considered brand-name shows that rely heavily on tourist trade.
The closing notice could conceivably be taken down if unions agree to concessions. Casts and crews of six other shows agreed to a 25 percent across-the board pay cut for a limited period until business picks up again. IATSE reportedly is not considering any more petitions for concession for four weeks.
Music Man, internationally known, has been running longer than The Full Monty, which received the break from unions. The All-American tuner by Meredith Willson (some of it set on the Fourth of July) would seemingly be one of the major draws in the time of national crisis (a massive American flag is unfurled in the finale) — but, ironically, it is in danger of closing because it relies heavily on American tourists, who are not flocking to Manhattan at the moment. There was speculation in the theatre community that Dodger Theatricals, one of the producers of The Music Man, were being snubbed in the concession deal because it had sent out a non Equity national tour of the show in recent weeks. Actors' Equity's Alan Eisenberg said in Variety that it would never put its members out of work to punish a producer.
A spokesman for 42nd Street, another Dodger show, said that Tony Award-winning revival is not seeking concessions and is hoping to weather the dearth of theatregoers.
The musical comedy was one of only three Broadway scores composer lyricist Meredith Willson wrote (and he also co-wrote its story and wrote the libretto), but Music Man has sunk into the popular American imagination: It celebrates small town Iowa in 1912, a salesman's drive to succeed, a spinster's dreams of a quality man and true romance, and a child's wish to be special.
And it does so with now-classic tunes such as "Trouble," "Seventy-Six Trombones," "My White Knight," "Gary, Indiana," "Goodnight, My Someone" and "The Wells Fargo Wagon."
The Music Man is presented by Dodger Theatricals, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Elizabeth Williams/Anita Waxman, Kardana-Swinsky Productions, Lorie Cowen Levy/Dede Harris.
The Music Man originally opened on Broadway Dec. 19, 1957, starring Preston and Barbara Cook. Book, music and lyrics are by Meredith Willson and the story is by Meredith Willson and Franklin Lacey. It was a Tony Award winner for Best Musical (skunking West Side Story) and ran 1,376 performances. Willson would not have a greater success, despite the Broadway run and movie version of The Unsinkable Molly Brown. His musical, Here's Love, based on "Miracle on 34th Street," fared less well.
The Music Man plays at The Neil Simon Theatre at 250 W. 52nd Street. Call (212) 307 4100 for ticket information.