By Robert Simonson
28 Mar 2003
The close is the quickest in Broadway memory. Producer Chase Mishkin said the show was done in not only by the poor critical reception, but by the recent musicians strike and the ongoing war in Iraq. "There are no tourists right now. This show has been heavily attended by people from New Jersey and Long Island and right now they're afraid to go through the tunnels and across the bridges. They're waiting for the war to end or waiting for something.
"Our contingency was used up by the strike," which shut musical Broadway down for four days in early March, Mishkin continued. "This is a bad time on Broadway."
Mishkin said she planned to tour Urban Cowboy around the U.S. starting sometime next year. It is unlikely the show will have an original cast album.
As for the Tony Awards, it is uncertain whether the musical will be up for contention. Mishkin said some Tony voters saw the production, but, due to the short run, not all.
Lonny Price (A Class Act) directed Urban Cowboy with choreography by Melinda Roy. Aaron Latham, who co-wrote the original screenplay for the movie that starred John Travolta and Debra Winger, shares credit for the book of Urban Cowboy with the late Phillip Oesterman. Mishkin and Leonard Soloway produce.
Urban Cowboy follows the ups and downs of the whirlwind romance of out-of town dreamer Bud and the unlucky-in-love local Sissy. The couple instantly hit it off and marry, but when a little bit of jealousy and a lot of hubris mix in, the newlyweds find their (mobile) home is not as strong as expected.
Filling the Texas cityscape are a blend of characters including Bud's leathery aunt Corene and ailing uncle Bob, the sinister ex-con Wes, the rich flirt Pam, Gilley's rowdy manager Jesse and plenty of young dancing barflies.
The new musical features an eclectic collection of old and new music. Popular country music by Clint Black and Brooks & Dunn will be interpolated among songs from the movie — including the signature "Lookin' For Love" — as well as original works by Jeff Blumenkrantz, Bob Stillman and the production's musical director conductor Jason Robert Brown (The Last Five Years.)
The show stars newcomer Matt Cavenaugh as Bud, who gets seduced by the barflies in and around a honky-tonk Texas bar named Gilley's, where a mechanical bull is the center of attention. Jenn Colella is Sissy, his love interest. The cast also features Leo Burmester, Marcus Chait, Sally Mayes, Rozz Morehead and Jodi Stevens along with Michael Balderrama, Mark Bove, Gerrard Carter, Nicole Foret, Lisa Gadja, Justin Greer, Michelle Kittrell, Brian Letendre, Barrett Martin, Kimberly Dawn Neumann, Tera-Lee Pollin, Chad L. Schiro, Kelleia Sheerin and Paula Wise.
The show has been in development for several years and has gone through many rewrites and reconsiderations in that time. In the last year, Jason Robert Brown was brought aboard and was signed as musical director and arranger. When co-librettist and director Phillip Oesterman died unexpectedly, Price was brought in to direct.
The Florida tryout of the Broadway-bound Urban Cowboy ended its nearly sold out run at Coconut Grove Playhouse. Seats for the show's final week were a top commodity at the Miami venue, a Coconut Grove spokesperson said.