The Broadway musical Play On!, which closed Sunday, May 11, 1997, after 61 performances and 19 previews, will "definitely" open in London's West End, though a previously announced Oct. 1 opening at the Savoy has been delayed.
A major funding source fell out of producer Mitchell Maxwell's mounting of Damn Yankees in the UK, which has also delayed, but not canceled, the opening of Play On!. In a Sept. 18 press release, Maxwell anticipated Play On! reaching London within six months.
The decision to close Play On! on Broadway was made just hours after the show was nominated for three 1997 Tony Awards. Tonya Pinkins was nominated for Best Leading Actress in a Musical. Andre De Shields was nominated for Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical. Luther Henderson was nominated for Best Orchestrations -- a new category.
"We got some strong nominations -- but not the ones we needed," said production spokesman Rick Miramontez. The producers "were holding out, I think, to see if it would get Best Musical. That might have put the show over the edge."
The production was playing to less than two-thirds of its capacity at the 1080-seat Brooks Atkinson Theatre. Play On! uses the music of Duke Ellington to retell the story Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, but updated to an idealized 1940s-era Harlem.
Play On! opened March 20, 1997. The original cast album was released on Varese Sarabande, as scheduled, May 20.