The shortage of Broadway theatres that postponed Jekyll and Hyde and relegated even the hit Rent to the seldom-used Nederlander Theatre looks like it will continue unabated into the 1996-97 season.
Two new incoming shows have booked prime Broadway houses for this fall even before their current tenants have closed.
The U.S. premiere of London's Taking Sides starts previews Oct. 4 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, where Buried Child is running through June 30.
Productions at Broadway's institutional theatres, like Wendy Wasserstein's An American Daughter and Christopher Durang's Sex and Longing have guaranteed spots to open (Lincoln Center Theater has booked the Cort for the season). However, there are at least 17 shows already scheduled by commercial producers for the 1996-97 season but only six Broadway theatres scheduled to be vacant this fall, as of June 25. Of those theatres, only two are musical-size houses (the Martin Beck and the Lunt-Fontanne); three are medium-size (the Music Box, the Broadhurst and the Longacre); and one is a rarely-booked smaller theatre (the Belasco).
Where then will productions like Livent's Ragtime, Andrew Lloyd Webber's Whistle Down the Wind, Jack Viertel's Time and Again, Sarah Jessica Parker's revival of Once Upon a Mattress -- not to mention the previously delayed Jekyll and Hyde -- open?
All will be waiting to see which of the current shows proves weak and closes, freeing up another stage. The post-Tony Awards shakeout proved brief. A UPI story speculating that Big would close at the Shubert to make way for Whistle Down the Wind was vehemently denied by a spokesman for the production.
It is a bittersweet situation for Broadway. So many hits -- both recent and long-running -- is good for the business side of show business. But the booking jam is threatening very literally to block future hits.