Monday, January 2, 2012

Broadway Shows Delayed

A number of shows have been announced for the fall season of 2011 that have not materialized. Among them is Lisa D'Amour's new play Detroit. The play was a hit at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theater Company and was so successful that Jeffrey Richards, a New York based producer, quickly announced that he would be bringing the show to Broadway in a production to open this past fall. Clearly, that production has yet to materialize. When the New York Times inquired what was going on, Mr. Richards cited a hectic producing schedule between Chinglish, Bonnie and Clyde, and The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess. The problem now is that, in the hesitation, Playwrights Horizons announced three weeks ago that it would be producing an off-Broadway production of the play in the fall of 2012.

The reasons are best described by Patrick Healy's New York Times article. "So why was Detroit ballyhooed for Broadway if the actors weren’t on board? Because producers routinely announce shows prematurely, before even signing deals with actors, to generate buzz or signal seriousness to investors in hopes that they will commit money. Even more common is producers announcing a show before they have one of Broadway’s 40 theaters lined up, because they are counting on other productions to fail or close."

Two planned revivals, of William Inge's Picnic and George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart's You Can't Take It With You, failed to come together due to a lack of available stars to cast -- an unfortunate necessity for selling tickets to such productions on Broadway. Patrick Healy adds, "A third revival, A Few Good Men by Aaron Sorkin, is in the same boat; the producer Ken Davenport said he was also hoping for next season. The delay, he added, was because of the difficulty of finding stars who could attract tourists as well as regular theatergoers. 'We have some big shoes to fill,' he said, noting that Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson were in the 1992 film version."

Musicals have had similar problems this year. Announced Broadway attractions, like the revival of Funny Girl and a new musical Yank (about gay soldiers serving in World War II) did not come due to lack of funds.

Lack of available theaters has plagued a planned revival of A Streetcar Named Desire, as well as new plays Magic/Bird and Peter and the Starcatcher.

Then there are the shows in total limbo, with no certain fate ahead. These include Neil LaBute's Fat Pig, a revival of Bob Fosse's Dancin' that was to appear at the Roundabout Theatre Company, and a musical version of Ray Charles' life, titled Unchain My Heart. These shows have been announced as coming to Broadway in recent seasons but were then delayed indefinitely.

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