The producers of Broadway's Wait Until Dark were a bit too optimistic when they extended the show's run at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre through Aug. 30. Attendance has been hovering only around 65 percent for the past few weeks. Weekly grosses were stalled at the quarter-million mark (out of a potential $412,000).
As such, Wait Until Dark will close June 28, after 12 previews and 97 regular performances, stopping two months short of the show's projected run. Dark had a sold-out pre-Broadway run at Boston's Wilbur Theatre, Feb. 28-Mar. 22, before starting previews Mar. 27 and opening Apr. 5 in NY.
Spokesperson James Morrison said the early Broadway closure was due to "a drop in ticket sales," and did note that Tarantino's recent legal troubles (including an assault charge and civil suit leveled against him by a fashion designer) had "nothing to do with the decision."
The production received no nominations for the 1998 Tony Awards.
Wait Until Dark concerns a menacing drug dealer terrorizing a blind woman and her pesky young next-door neighbor. The director is Leonard Foglia (Master Class, Lonely Planet). Other thrillers by Knott include 1961's Write Me A Murder and 1952's Dial `M' For Murder. Film actor/director Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Reservoir Dogs) is making his legit debut as a psychotic stalker in the revival. Oscar-winner Tomei's theatre credits include Demonology at Playwrights Horizons and Slavs at NY Theatre Workshop. Co-star Stephen Lang starred in The Speed Of Darkness and A Few Good Men.
The little girl is played by African-American actress Imani Parks, who turned 13 on Jan. 8. Parks debuted in Show Boat, singing opposite Lonnette McKee, and appeared Off Broadway in a Joanne Akalaitis-directed Woyzeck at the Public Theatre. Also in the cast are Juan Hernandez and James Whalen.
Designing Dark are Michael McGarty (sets), David C. Woolard (costumes), Brian MacDevitt (lighting) and Darron L. West (sound).
Producers Lichtenstein and Young (who have recently been joined by Stewart F. Lane and Rodger Hess) mounted the 1996 tour of Knott's Dial M. For Murder (with Roddy McDowall and Nancy Allen) that never made it to Broadway. Joining the two producers are Gregory Young, Jon B. Platt and Liz Oliver.
Disappointing receipts weren't the only trouble plaguing Wait Until Dark recently. Reports began to surface in the major dailies that onstage, Tarantino accidentally tended to get a little rough with co-star Marisa Tomei (a charge she later denied to the NY Post.) Then, NY print and broadcast media reported that Tarantino surrendered to police June 11 on a charge of punching a woman in an East Village, NY, restaurant May 1.
Fashion stylist Leila Mwangi hit Tarantino with third degree assault charges (a misdemeanor) and a $15 million civil suit. She allegedly cut her forehead when Tarantino took a swing at her boyfriend and caught her instead. The NY Times reports that the police said the argument stemmed from Mwangi protesting the way black people are portrayed in the director's films (Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs). The alleged incident occurred at 2:30 AM May 1 at the Three of Cups eatery on First Avenue.
Tarantino's lawyer, Paul Callan, told WCBS-TV news the assault charge was just a way of beefing up the hefty civil suit. "This is celebrity stalking of the worst possible kind," he said.
For tickets and information on Wait Until Dark at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, 256 West 47th St., call (212) 307-4100.