This Week on Stage: Billie Joe Armstrong boosts 'American Idiot' just as other shows turn on the dark
Image Credit: Slaven Vlasic/Getty ImagesForget the fuss about Julie Taymor’s megabudget musical Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark. The other big theater news is the return of Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong to Broadway’s American Idiot for 50 shows, starting Jan. 1. This is very good news for producers of the rock musical, which has struggled at the box office for much of the seven months since its opening. Last week, the show filled just over half its seats and grossed a mere $600,000. The hope is that Armstrong’s presence will spike sales to the levels Idiot reached when he leapt into the role of seductive, drug-pushing rebel St. Jimmy for a surprise one-week gig from Sept. 27 to Oct. 3 (that week, the show played to 93 percent capacity and grossed $1.1 million).
The timing is particularly smart since Armstrong will be arriving during what is traditionally a slow time for Broadway, the postholiday lull when New York is light on the tourism that typically drives ticket sales. In fact, it’s the fear of the January doldrums that has spurred the recent outbreak of closing notices on the Great White Way. Today, the well-reviewed rock musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson joined the trend; it will close Jan. 2.
A lot of Broadway houses will be emptying in the next couple of months. The Kander-Ebb musical The Scottsboro Boys announced its last performance will be Dec. 12, and the Brendan Fraser-topped comedy Elling closed on Sunday after just nine shows. The curtain will also be falling early on Fela! (Jan. 2), Promises, Promises (Jan. 2), Brief Encounter (Jan. 2), West Side Story (Jan. 2), Colin Quinn Long Story Short (Jan. 8), In the Heights (Jan. 9), La Bête (Jan. 9), and Next to Normal (Jan. 16). And that’s not even counting shows like the holiday hit Elf that were mounted this fall for a deliberately limited run.
Are there are any shows you’re hoping to see before they close? (My suggestion: Hurry up and see the sensational Scottsboro Boys!) And will you consider a trip to New York to see Billie Joe belting out “Know Your Enemy” at the St. James Theatre?
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