By David Lefkowitz
26 Jun 1998
As if to emphasize just how tough June has been on the New York theatre season, three Broadway shows will close Sunday, June 28: The Last Night of Ballyhoo, The Sunshine Boys and Wait Until Dark.
The most surprising termination is the last, since Dark came into New York with a $2 million advance and much hype over stars Marisa Tomei and Quentin Tarantino. However, the producers of Broadway's Wait Until Dark were a bit too optimistic when they extended the show's run at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre through Aug. 30. Attendance has been hovering only around 65 percent for the past few weeks. Weekly grosses were stalled at the quarter-million mark (out of a potential $412,000). The show was also blanked by the Tony Award nominating committee, which also didn't help.
As such, Wait Until Dark will close after 12 previews and 97 regular performances, stopping two months short of the show's projected run. Dark had a sold-out pre-Broadway run at Boston's Wilbur Theatre, Feb. 28-Mar. 22, before starting previews Mar. 27 and opening Apr. 5 in NY.
Spokesperson James Morrison said the early Broadway closure was due to "a drop in ticket sales," and did note that Tarantino's recent legal troubles (including an assault charge and civil suit leveled against him by a fashion designer) had "nothing to do with the decision." One producer told the NY Daily News (June 24) advance sales for the upcoming July 4 weekend were so weak, the show would have had to struggle through August just to make up for losses during that period.
Also closing June 28, after a much healthier run, is the 1997 Tony Award winning Best Play, The Last Night of Ballyhoo. Alfred Uhry's drama about a Jewish family in 1939 Atlanta ends Sunday, June 28, after 23 previews and 557 performances. The show opened at the Helen Hayes Theatre Feb. 27, 1997.
Another healthy run was enjoyed by Jack Klugman and Tony Randall in The Sunshine Boys, which will end after 12 previews and 230 regular performances at the Lyceum Theatre (home of Randall's National Actors Theatre).
Though the show was overlooked by the Tony Award nominators May 4, spokesperson Charlie Siedenberg (of Springer/Chicoine) stressed again (June 3) the closing had been long-planned and had nothing to do with the Tonys or Broadway's typical summer doldrums. (Randall, 78, has reasons to be cheerful despite the closing. On June 18 he became a proud papa for the second time, bringing Jefferson Salvini Randall into the world.)
For tickets to The Sunshine Boys and The Last Night of Ballyhoo call (212) 239-6200. For tickets to Wait Until Dark call (212) 307-4100.
As reported earlier this month, June has become something of a grim reaper for a number of productions, both on and Off-Broadway -- the positive side being that the closings open up much-desired theatres in a log-jammed theatrical climate.
Here's a rundown of productions (including 10 Broadway shows) that have recently ended their runs or will finish up within the next couple of weeks:
As Bees In Honey Drown, Douglas Carter Beane won the Outer Critics Circle's John Gassner Playwriting Award for this treasurable farce about a young author taken for a ride by publicist extraordinaire, Alexa Vere de Vere. As of June 5, the show will have played in New York for most of the last year, first at the Greenwich House (June 5-29, 1997), then at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, opening there July 24, 1997. After starting at the Lortel July 15, 1997 the comedy played 10 previews and ran 366 regular performance by its June 7 close.
The Chairs, a celebrated revival of Eugene Ionesco's absurdist comedy, ended its limited run June 13 after 75 performances at the Golden Theatre. The show is up for six Tonys, it was scheduled to close because its British stars, Richard Briers and Geraldine McEwan, have other commitments.
The Diary of Anne Frank was hoping for a Tony boost from its Best Revival and Featured Actress nominations, but the wins didn't pan out, and the show, which has been hovering at the 50 percent attendance mark for weeks, closed June 14. James Lapine directs the star-studded, somewhat revised revival at the Music Box Theatre.
The Dying Gaul ended its brief, troubled run at the Vineyard Theatre June 14. Reviews ranged from mixed to exceptionally good, but the NY Times was lukewarm, and the show had to overcome the loss of its lead, Cotter Smith, due to a back injury. After a short postponement, Craig Lucas' drama opened with new lead Tony Goldwyn, May 31.
Honour posted its closing notice thirteen hours after the 1998 Tony Awards (both nominees, Jane Alexander and Enid Graham, went home empty-handed). Joanna Murray-Smith's drama will end after the matinee, June 14, after 28 previews and 57 regular performances.
The Life, though a strong contender for Tony honors last season (it won for Best Featured Actress and Featured Actor), the Cy Coleman & Ira Gassman musical closed June 7 after 466 performances at the Barrymore Theatre. Despite the run, it will have lost a reported $7 million.
Mr. Peters' Connections, Arthur Miller's new play, capped an entire season of his plays at Off-Broadway's Signature Theatre. With Peter Falk and Anne Jackson heading the cast, the show was extended past its June 7 close to June 21. Previews began Apr. 28 for the show's May 17 opening.
Nasty Little Secrets, a Primary Stages revival of Lanie Robertson's look at Joe Orton received mixed reviews but did well enough to extend a week past its June 7 close to June 14. Previews began May 6 for a May 20 opening.
Once in a Lifetime at the Atlantic Theatre was greeted by mixed reviews when it opened May 31, so the show ended its run June 18. The Kaufman & Hart comedy began previews May 16.
1776 -- Roundabout's acclaimed production ended its lengthy but costly run at the Gershwin Theatre June 14, a week after being beaten by Cabaret for the Best Musical Revival Tony.
Remember the log-jam of unavailable theatres at the beginning of the season? Here's a list of Broadway theatres that will be (at least temporarily) free after early July:
Brooks Atkinson Theatre
Cort Theatre (Freak closes July 4)
Gershwin Theatre (On The Town starts there Oct. 20)
Helen Hayes Theatre
Music Box Theatre