Well Runs Dry: Lisa Kron Play to Close on Broadway May 14

By Robert Simonson
08 May 2006

Lisa Kron in Well.
Lisa Kron in Well.
Photo by Joan Marcus

Well, the praised Broadway comedy by Lisa Kron, which has been advertising "last weeks" in its ads, will end its run on May 14, just two days shy of the announcement of the Tony Awards nominations.

It will have played 23 previews and 53 performances.

Though it opened to some of the best reviews for any play this season, Well—bereft of a name actor, star playwright or Pulitzer Prize (such as the hit play Doubt has)—struggled to find an audience. Audiences in recent weeks hovered around one third capacity.

The comedy about mothers, daughters, health, wellness, community, racism and more was something of a mystery when it comes to figuring out how to sell it to the public, producer Elizabeth Ireland McCann told Playbill.com. She admits that Well — which has audiences laughing and crying (and some baffled by its self-deprecating uniqueness) — is hard to define. How do you pigeonhole something that is singular? How do you explain that Lisa Kron is playing herself in what she bills (as she reads note cards on stage) a "theatrical exploration"? And what is to be made of that doughy woman she calls her mother, who wallows in a La-Z-Boy stage left?



"That is, I think, always a bit of problem with Well…it's a very hard play to describe," McCann said in the days following a positive review in The Times, which usually results in a spike in ticket sales. There was indeed a post-review box office spark, she said, but it clearly was not wildfire, as office reports now indicate.

Though Well will close before the Tony nominations come out, observers expect it to be remembered by the nominators, possibly picking up a Best Play nod and almost definitely netting a Best Featured Actress in a Play nomination for Jayne Houdyshell's work as Kron's mother.

Well began at The Public Theater downtown in 2004, where it also got solid reviews before playing a 2005 run at American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, where it was further refined.

*

Previews began at the Longacre Theatre March 10. Leigh Silverman (Off-Broadway's Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, Jump/Cut, Oedipus at Palm Springs) directs Well, as she has previous engagements of the presentational, highly theatrical work — a seriocomic investigation about wellness and the mystery of parent/adult child relationships.

Well is produced by Elizabeth Ireland McCann, Scott Rudin, Boyett Ostar Productions, True Love Productions, Terry Allen Kramer, Roger Berlind, Carole Shorenstein Hays, John Dias, Joey Parnes (executive producer) in association with Larry Hirschhorn and The Public Theater and The American Conservatory Theater.

OBIE Award winners Lisa Kron and Jayne Houdyshell reprise the roles they created when Well had its premiere at The Public Theater in 2004. They played a subsequent 2005 run at American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco.

The Longacre Theatre is at 220 W. 48th Street.

Well plays Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 PM, Thursday-Saturday at 8 PM, Wednesday and Saturday at 2 PM, Sunday at 3 PM.

Tickets are on sale via Telecharge.com at (212) 239-6200. Ticket prices range $25-$85.

Visit www.wellonbroadway.com.