Broadway Death Watch: Can Harry Connick Jr.'s musical survive?
For some Broadway producers (particularly those whose star doesn’t moonlight as Wolverine), it’s the winter of their discontent. January is traditionally when Broadway attendance dips dramatically as tourists retreat from New York City. The final curtain came down last weekend on many shows, both long-running veterans (The Addams Family) and relative newcomers (Private Lives, Bonnie and Clyde). But the vultures are circling other box office weaklings that have struggled to find an audience even during the tourist-flush holiday season.
Last week, for instance, the new musical Lysistrata Jones filled less than half its seats and grossed an anemic $132,779 — less than 18 percent of its potential gross. The smart but star-free comedy Chinglish played to houses that were less than 40 percent full and earned just 24 percent of its potential gross. And the Mekhi Phifer-Dulé Hill dramedy Stick Fly grossed a measly $222,875, about a quarter of its potential draw, and filled 54 percent of its seats.
Some other shows that seem to be on the cusp of a darkened marquee include the musical revival On A Clear Day You Can See Forever, which filled 55 percent of its seats last week and earned 29 percent of its potential gross despite its A-list leading man, Harry Connick Jr. (pictured above with costar Jessie Mueller); the star-studded comedy Relatively Speaking, which also filled 55 percent of its seats and earned 31 percent of its potential gross; and last season’s winning movie-based musical Sister Act, which played to less than half-full houses and earned just 36 percent of its potential gross.
As the Times reported today, there are plenty of productions waiting to swoop into theaters should any of these shows post a closing notice – especially since there’s a looming late-April deadline to open a play for Tony eligibility. Among those vying for a venue: Magic/Bird, a play about the rivalry between basketball legends Magic Johnson and Larry Bird; Peter and the Starcatcher, based on Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson’s best-selling prequel to Peter Pan; an all-black revival of A Streetcar Named Desire starring Blair Underwood and Nicole Ari Parker; and a Lance Bass-backed comedy called The Fabulous Lies of Hollywood Whores. (No, that is not a typo.)