Facing The Final Curtain: Many NY Shows Close Or Change Casts In Winter

News   Facing The Final Curtain: Many NY Shows Close Or Change Casts In Winter
For all the festivities of the New York holiday season, the dark side is that the minute New Years ends, tourists leave, locals stay home in front of the TV, and the whole town suddenly finds itself stuck in the dead of winter.

For all the festivities of the New York holiday season, the dark side is that the minute New Years ends, tourists leave, locals stay home in front of the TV, and the whole town suddenly finds itself stuck in the dead of winter.

That's bad news for Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, which experience a surge at holiday time but then must make tough decisions for January and February. Some shows sail along fine, some institute deep and wide ranging ticket discounts, and others struggle through with the expectation that spring will bring an influx of audiences. However, a great many productions finish their runs around this time or make significant cast changes -- all part of Broadway's seasonal cycle.

Here's a list of shows scheduled to end or undergo cast changes over the next several weeks.

Jan. 2, 1999
The Old Settler began performances Oct. 7. There had been talk of moving John Henry Redwood's comedy/drama from Primary Stages to a commercial space, but instead the producers simply extended the limited run.

Sandra Bernhard's I'm Still Here, Damn It! will no longer be here -- at the Booth Theatre, that is. The solo started previews Oct. 22 and opened Nov. 5. Originally intended to run until late February, the show will instead leave New York early and start a brief tour, Feb. 2, in San Francisco. Jan. 3, 1999
Communicating Doors will shut after 158 performances and 17 previews. Alan Ayckbourn's play opened at the Variety Arts Theatre with Mary Louise Parker in the lead, recently replaced by Anne Bobby.

Dinah Was, Oliver Goldstick's play with music on the life of Dinah Washington, ends at the Gramercy Theatre. Lillias White (The Life) stars.

Fool Moon, a limited engagement return of Bill Irwin & David Shiner's priceless wordless comedy, which opened Nov. 22 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre.

Freedomland, Amy Freed's dark comedy opened Dec. 16 and is scheduled to conclude its limited run at Playwrights Horizons only two weeks later.

Grimm Tales, an acclaimed visit by England's Young Vic Theatre Company, finishes its limited run at the family-oriented New Victory Theatre.

Impossible Marriage, Beth Henley's comedy starring Holly Hunter, opened Oct. 15 at the Roundabout's Laura Pels space.

Mercy, Laura Cahill's play at Off-Broadway's Vineyard Theatre, ends its run after starting previews Nov. 24 and opening Dec. 15.

Nunsense A-Men! the campy, all-male version of Dan Goggins' musical phenomenon has been running at the 47th Street Theatre since June 13 (opening June 23).

Peter Pan, a hot ticket for family audiences, finishes the New York stop of its tour, scheduled Nov. 20-Jan. 3. Audiences must've clapped their hands pretty hard; the Cathy Rigby starrer is scheduled to return to Broadway in April 1999.

R & J, after nearly a year (since previewing Jan. 14 and opening Jan. 22) at Off-Broadway's John Houseman Studio, this all-male, prep school adaptation of Romeo and Juliet will end its acclaimed run. A national tour and regional productions are planned.

Sakina's Restaurant, a sleeper hit at the American Place Theatre, concludes its look at an Indian emigree to New York, Jan. 3. The show will have played 12 previews and 188 regular performances before heading off for a tour beginning in Toronto, Jan. 25.

Beauty Queen Of Leenane -- Anna Manahan stays, the other three Irish cast members leave, with Kate Burton assuming the role now played by Marie Mullen.

Hedwig And The Angry Inch -- The show is far from closing, but this is your last chance to catch John Cameron Mitchell in the role he originated, before Tommy's Michael Cerveris takes over (as he did during Mitchell's last vacation from the role.)

Jan. 4, 1999
Star Billing, producer Alexander Cohen's solo of theatrical barbs and reminiscences, concludes its extended run at the Douglas Fairbanks Theatre. Previews began Oct. 26 for its Nov. 9 opening.

Jan. 5, 1999
Jekyll & Hyde loses its Jekyll and Hyde Jan. 3; Robert Cuccioli. He's been with the production not only since its April 28, 1997 Plymouth Theatre opening but in its various touring and workshop forms long before that. Rob Evan, whose been the matinee J & H more than 300 times, takes over, Jan. 5. Also, Christiane Noll disembarked Jan.3, to be replaced by Anastasia Barzee.

Jan. 8, 1999
Side Man gets its original female lead, Edie Falco back. Wendy Makkena had taken over when the show moved to the John Golden Theatre. Christian Slater is scheduled to stay with the show at least through Jan. 20, 1999.

Jan. 10, 1999
Bosoms And Neglect, Signature Theatre's revival of John Guare's love-it or hate-it drama starring Mary Louise Wilson, is set to close Jan. 10, 1999, but ticket sales have been strong, which could lead to an extension.

Bring In `Da Noise, Bring In `Da Funk finishes its long run (since April 25, 1996) at Broadway's Ambassador Theatre. Savion Glover rejoined the cast for its final weeks.

The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, Paul Rudnick's retelling of the Judeo-Christian creation myths, is selling out houses at New York Theatre Workshop. Producers are hoping to move it after this limited run.

Power Plays, the hit trio of one-acts, ends its run at the Promenade Theatre. The show opened May 21, 1998 with co-writers Alan Arkin and Elaine May in the leads. Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss took over Sept. 22.

Jan. 17, 1999
All Under Heaven, Valerie Harper's solo on the life of Pearl S. Buck, ends at the Century Center, after starting Nov. 3 and opening Nov. 16.

Jan. 18, 1999
Miss Saigon gets its original Kim back: Lea Salonga. The show is coming up on 3,200 performances at the Broadway Theatre.

Jan. 23, 1999
Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake ends its limited run at Broadway's Neil Simon Theatre. A national tour is planned for this summer.

Jan. 24, 1999
Extended past its original Jan. 3 close, this Irish Repertory offering by Dion Boucicault has been a success with both audiences and critics. Patrick Fitzgerald and Daniel Gerroll star.

March 7, 1999
The Blue Room ,with its Hollywood star (Nicole Kidman) and brief but highly-publicized nudity, ends its all-but sold out, 111-performance run. The show officially opened Dec. 13 after 15 previews, starting Nov. 27.

-- By David Lefkowitz

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