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VIP ACCESS: A Broadway Scorecard of Summer Openings and Closings

June 28th, 2012

Every fourth Wednesday of the month, the “VIP Access” column will serve up advice on how to make your theater-going experiences cheaper, easier and more fulfilling with inside scoop from the experts. This month, we’re getting out our datebooks for some important dates…

"Memphis". Photo by Joan Marcus.

The recent surprising news that Tony-winner Memphis will be closing on August 5 (after a healthy run, though without an official recoupment announcement) highlighted the fact that this has been a particularly brutal summer on Broadway. In fact, I’m finding it hard to keep track of who is still standing–or kick-ball-changing–on the Great White Way. And if you have a vacation to New York planned, you may be similarly at sea about what will still be around to see or not to see.

[Special note: For the holiday week next week, most Broadway shows are changing up their schedules to avoid competing with fireworks. The added/rearranged shows are a great time to pick up last minute tickets.]

So let’s take a moment to update our scorecards and take a look at who is on the death watch list (see them now, just in case) and what new shows will be replenishing our stock in the coming months. First up, a moment of silence for the shows that won’t make it to Labor Day:

  • Josh Young in "Jesus Christ Superstar". Photo by David Hou.

    The Lyons: Catch Linda Lavin’s wonderful, Tony-nominated performance before July 1.

  • Anything Goes: Without box-office draw Sutton Foster, the Cole Porter tuner heads for port on July 8.
  • The Columnist: John Lithgow finishes his limited run in a new play from David Auburn (Proof) July 8.
  • A Streetcar Named Desire: Following mixed reviews and middling crowds, the multi-cultural revival gets dragged off to the asylum on July 22.
  • Harvey: A blockbuster sitcom waits for no stage star, so Jim Parsons returns to shoot The Big Bang Theory, as planned, after August 5.
  • Sister Act: The nuns are back to a vow of silence after the movie to musical adaptation closes the convent doors on August 26.
  • Clybourne Park: Don’t miss the Tony and Pulitzer winner as it finishes its extended run on September 2.

Not to be a Negative Nancy, but just because a show hasn’t announced a closing date, doesn’t mean it’s going to be around until the kids are back in school. Closing notices can go up and into effect with surprising speed, a show seemingly coming down in less than a week. I’m not privy to insider, financial information but glancing at the most recent box office chart and guessing at the costs of running each show, here are two more shows you might want to visit at the nursing home sooner rather than later:

  • Caissie Levy & Richard Fleeshman in "Ghost". Photo by Joan Marcus.

    Ghost: With its massive technical operation and large cast, this can’t be cheap to run. Selling only 41% of its total potential gross though at a not-too-heavily discounted average of $80 a ticket, the show is not on life support but that cough is getting worrisome.

  • War Horse: Sales on this perennial are starting to trail off (54% of potential gross) and Lincoln Center may want its large theater back for new work. Hopefully they simply put Joey out to pasture and not, well, off to the glue factory.
  • The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess: Though it pulled off a serious Tony upset and leading lady Audra McDonald’s current absence due to illness skews the numbers, one wonders if this revival can really make it through its currently announced September 30 extension. If you love Audra or want to support this kind of risky, big budget theater, go see it in July and push back up its numbers.

But all is not gloom and doom, there is fresh blood (some of it beaten and battered) coming to Broadway this summer in the form of three “limited runs”.

  • Fela!: The acclaimed musical about the African activist/musician, returns as a stop on its national tour for a highly unusual short re-run of 32 performances starting July 9.
  • Bring It On!: The movie-inspired tuner cheers its way through the Big Apple off tour as well for a longer (and one suspects a hopeful sit-down) stay, with an opening date of August 1.
  • Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth: Yeah. You read that right. The boxer. On Broadway. Talking. Directed by filmmaker Spike Lee. I’m just as mystified as you are to see what this is.
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