NEW YORK (Reuters) - Broadway productions of musical “Guys and Dolls” and the play “Reasons To Be Pretty” will close on Sunday, one week after failing to win any of U.S. theater’s top honors which could have boosted ticket sales.
“Guys and Dolls” opened on March 1 and was nominated for two Tony Awards, including best musical revival, and “Reasons To Be Pretty” opened April 2 and picked up three Tony nods, including best play.
The Tony Awards, Broadway’s top honors, were announced on Sunday with “Billy Elliot The Musical” winning 10 prizes for a season that defied the recession with record ticket sales.
But for shows like “Guys and Dolls” and “Reasons To Be Pretty” making it through the competitive, tourist-filled summer season is difficult without any awards to promote on billboards and in advertisements.
“Broadway is cyclical; shows open and close,” said Charlotte St. Martin, executive director of The Broadway League. “It has been a spectacular spring and both of these shows have had enormous competition for theatregoers.”
During the 12-month Broadway season ending May 24, 43 shows opened — the most in more than 25 years, said the Broadway League. There were 10 new musicals, eight new plays, four musical revivals, 16 play revivals and five special shows.
A spokesman for director Neil Labute’s “Reasons To Be Pretty” noted that the summer can be long and hard for “straight plays” to run at a profit. “Without a Tony Award win, it would have been very hard to survive,” he said.
“Guys and Dolls” producer Howard Panter said in a statement “the final Broadway performance saddens us,” while director Des McAnuff told the Toronto Star the show had been “hanging tough, but we just never managed to turn the corner.”
“I believe in a different economy, there would have been room for us as well as ‘Hair’ and ‘West Side Story,’” he told the newspaper, referring to rival musical revivals which both picked up Tony Awards and have proven to be box office hits.
Although “Reasons To Be Pretty” received strong reviews, The New York Times reported that it struggled to build an audience and “was frequently among Broadway’s lowest-grossing shows at the box office,” which producers blamed on the strong slate of plays and play revivals it was competing against.
The Broadway League said the 39 theaters in the famous district contribute $5.1 billion per year to the economy of New York, on top of ticket sales, and support 44,000 jobs.
Broadway’s paid attendance was 12.15 million tickets, down from 12.27 million the previous season, but gross takings rose $6 million, or 0.6 percent, to $943.3 million, beating the previous record set in the 2006/07 season of $938.5 million.
“There are usually a handful of closings in late June and in July, but we’re eagerly awaiting an exciting fall with numerous new shows gearing up for rehearsals,” said the Broadway League’s St. Martin.
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte