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'Next Fall' is Broadway's first post-Tony casualty; what's next?

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Image Credit: Carol RoseggThe gay-themed Broadway drama Next Fall will close July 4 after 26 previews and 136 regular performances — reportedly losing the entire $2 million investment of its producers, who include Elton John and David Furnish. Ouch. Despite some rave reviews and Tony nominations for Best Play and Best Director, the show (pictured left) filled just over half its seats in the week after the Tony Awards broadcast.

The Tonys, which aired June 13, did boost the fortunes of some of the night’s biggest winners: The sensational drama Red (a limited-run show that closes on schedule this weekend) and the mediocre Best Musical winner Memphis both saw their grosses climb about 20 percent for the week ending June 20 — though Memphis was still playing at about 86 percent capacity. The sold-out revival of Fences, starring Tony winners Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, continues to break house records at the Cort Theatre, grossing an impressive $1.1 million last week. (The show is slated to end its planned limited run on July 11.) Best Musical Revival winner La Cage aux Folles was up a modest 7 percent and is playing at about 86 percent capacity.

Some of the biggest box office winners were Tony also-rans that benefited from prominent production numbers on the telecast: The musical Million Dollar Quartet had a 25 percent bump in grosses over the previous week; the Green Day musical American Idiot was up 15 percent; and the musical revival Promises, Promises, starring Tony host Sean Hayes, was up 10 percent. While Promises, Promises is nearly sold out these days, both Million Dollar Quartet and American Idiot are playing to houses that are less than 70 percent full — so they’ll need that post-Tony momentum to carry them profitably into the fall, when New York tourism tends to wane.

Like Next Fall, some of this season’s other Tony underachievers are similarly falling short at the box office. Twyla Tharp’s Frank Sinatra dance musical Come Fly Away was down 15 percent last week. And David Mamet’s drama Race, which is currently slated to close Aug. 23 with a new cast headlined by Eddie Izzard and Dennis Haysbert, played to less than half-full theaters last week. If either show appeals to you (and I had a blast at Come Fly Away), act quickly. And needless to say, you can probably pick up discounted tickets for both at TKTS.