Once the Tonys pass, Broadway tongues will get to wagging on closings, extended runs, and all the other fallout from the awards show. An annual inevitability? State of the Arts tradition? Or maybe, a simply worded cliché: let's get this show on the road. Any way you tweet it, it happens as a direct result of the Tony Awards.
So far, we’re only talking plays…the ones that audiences didn’t embrace (nor, evidently, did Tony voters, despite Pulitzer Prize cred, decent-to-stellar reviews, and/or a celebrity appearance.
Three plays—none of them insignificant in the scheme of things but all facing stiff competition—will be heading out before the month is out. Sad? Oh my, yes. But while you can lead the tourists to TKTS, you can’t make them buy. And for sure you can’t stop producers from pulling the plug.
Rebecca Taichman accepts the award for Best Direction of a Play for “Indecent” onstage during the 2017 Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 11, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions.)
INDECENT. Final performance will be June 25th
2017 Tony Awards: Best Director: Rebecca Taichman; Best Lighting Design: Christopher Akerlind
Pulitzer Prize winner (How I Learned to Drive) Paula Vogel‘s beautifully rendered take on Sholem Asch’s controversial 1920’s play, God of Vengeance (two women share a passionate kiss in the rain onstage), might not have been the easiest sell, but its theatrical bones and lush performances should have given it a longer shelf life.
Reviews were mixed (“Indecent feels like a blessing;” “[It] is, above all, decent… [y]et the ardor that must have informed the writing and early performances of Vengeance only occasionally blazes forth;” “…an exhilarating ride you will never forget.”)
End Game: Performance count: 15 previews; 79 regular performances; earned 30% of its gross potential in the week leading up to the Tonys
Next up: 2018 & 2019 licensed productions
What producers Daryl Roth, Elizabeth McCann and Cody Lassen said:
"Indecent has touched the hearts of theatergoers who have experienced the play's magic at the Cort Theatre for the past three months, and we hope it will continue to do so as it is presented in theaters across in the U.S., Canada, and overseas in the months ahead.”
SWEAT. Final performance will be June 25th
2017 Pulitizer Prize-winning drama by Lynn Nottage
2017 Tony Awards: none; Tony Nominations: Best Play; two nominations for Best Featured Actress in a Play: Johanna Day and Michelle Wilson
Riding the subway last night I sat next to a woman reading the program for Sweat. When I asked her what she thought of it, she said, “It was brilliant… but so heartbreaking.”
Blue collar, homing in on the love, anger and loss that prevail on reality TV, this is an important and unforgettable work. Personally, I’m so sorry it wasn’t able to weather the no-Tony curse. If they had shown a scene from the show on Sunday’s program, no question it would run longer.
Reviews were effusive, with the New York Times writing: “Keenly observed and surprisingly funny, this compassionate but clear-eyed play throbs with heartfelt life.”
End Game: Performance count: 24 previews; 105 regular performances; earned 46.6% of its gross potential in the week leading up to the Tonys.
Next Up: This Is Reading, a site-specific multimedia installation blending live performance and visual media which will occupy the historic Franklin Street Railroad Station in Downtown Reading (7/14-16 and 7/21-23). Also, regional theater productions across the US. (TBA)
What producers Stuart Thompson and Louise Gund said: “Lynn Nottage’s play is an electrifying look at our country told with passion and humor, and we are so very proud to have given Lynn her much-deserved Broadway debut. We thank our brilliant director Kate Whoriskey and our incredible cast for bringing Lynn’s prescient play so vividly to life…”
SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION. Final performance will be June 18.
1991 Pulitzer Prize Finalist for Drama by John Guare
2017 Tony Awards: none; Tony Nominations: Best Play Revival; Best Leading Actor in a Play: Corey Hawkins.
The revival of a Guare classic—the original ran well over a year—so the announcement of its premature au revoir (it was already a limited run slated to close on July 16th) was a surprise, even although its ticket sales were known to be faltering. For me, I was hoping it would hold on, if only because of the high level performances by Allison Janney, John Benjamn Hickey, and Corey Hawkins, the star of Straight Out of Compton.
While the subject of a young African American con man targeting New York’s wealthy (based on a true story), doesn’t pack the same punch it did in the early '90s, this was an intriguing and well-thought out production under Trip Cullman’s direction. Sorry the window to see it is slamming shut so quickly.
End Game: Performance count: 21 previews; 63 regular performances; earned 29.1% of its gross potential in the week leading up to the Tonys
Next Up: Seemingly new projects for all involved
What producer Stuart Thompson said: “On behalf of my partners Louise Gund and Tim Levy, we are tremendously proud to have brought John Guare’s seminal work back to Broadway after 27 years… It has been a rare pleasure.”
The heartiest of Tony night partyers were just climbing into bed when the announcement came through that OSLO, 2017’s Tony-winning Best Play would be extending its run from June 18th to July 16th.
J.T. Rogers’ mesmerizing play—which also scooped up “Best Play” from the voters at the NY Drama Critics Circle, Drama Desk, Outer Critics’ Circle, Drama League, Lucille Lortel, and Obies—has graduated to one red-hot ticket, and deservedly so. I would make a return visit if I wasn’t pretty sure it’s already sold out. But by all means take your chances and see it in its theatrical reprieve. OsloBroadway.com
The cast, lead by Tony winners Jefferson Mays (I Am My Own Wife), and Jennifer Ehle (The Coast of Utopia), vibrantly translates this up to now “untold story of how one young couple, Norwegian diplomat Mona Juul (Ehle) and her husband social scientist Terje Rød-Larsen (Mays), planned and orchestrated top-secret, high-level meetings between the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, which culminated in the signing of the historic 1993 Oslo Accords.”
Notably, the show’s other 2017 Tony was won by Michael Aronov for Best Featured Actor in a Play.
A DOLL’S HOUSE, PART 2. This is more of a postscript, since Lucas Hnath’s new play posted its extension a week before the Tony broadcast. But as it stands, the show that arrived on Broadway as a limited 16-week run will now be playing through January 2nd, 2018. The show, starring this year’s Best Leading Actress in a Play, Laurie Metcalf, homes in on Nora Helmer—the controversial heroine who deserts her family in Ibsen’s original script—should she return home after 15 years. What became of her and the family she left behind.
And incidentally, all three of Metcalf’s costars (Jane Houdyshell, Condola Rasha, and Chris Cooper) also were honored with Tony nominations.
Stay tuned for future news on closings and extensions!