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Broadway's 'Big Fish' to Close Three Months After Opening

Big Fish Musical - H 2013
Courtesy of The Hartman Group
Kate Baldwin and Norbert Leo Butz in "Big Fish"

One of the commercial high hopes of the fall season, the musical adaptation of the 2003 Tim Burton movie, becomes the fifth show this season to end its run early.

NEW YORK -- The Broadway musical Big Fish is being reeled in.

The stage adaptation of Daniel Wallace's 1998 novel and Tim Burton's 2003 film about the conflicted relationship between a Southern spinner of tall tales and his more grounded son will cut short its open-ended run Dec. 29, less than three months after its official opening. 

Directed and choreographed by five-time Tony Award-winner Susan Stroman, the show drew mixed reviews and has seen its box office slip in recent weeks, as initial curiosity from diehard musical fans subsided and the pot of advance ticket sales diminished.

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The show's grosses for the week ending Nov. 3 fell to a still-respectable $647,165, averaging 69 percent capacity. However, with the downward trend in place, it makes sense for producers to pull the plug at the end of December, giving them the potential benefit of Thanksgiving-through-Christmas box office bounty without having to endure the traditional January freeze.

The 2013-14 theater season already has seen some casualties, with early closing notices posted for Let It Be, Soul Doctor, A Time to Kill and First Date. But the premature demise of the $14 million Big Fish makes it the fall's first big-budget entry to bail.

The show, which began previews at the Neil Simon Theatre on Sept. 5 and officially opened Oct. 6, will have played 34 previews and 98 regular performances by the time it closes. The production previously played a successful Chicago tryout engagement.

"Big Fish is about the passing on of stories, and from the tremendous audience reaction we have received, we know our tale will live on," said producer Dan Jinks in a statement, possibly hinting at an afterlife as a touring property. "I am so proud of our entire team for creating a unique, heartfelt and inspiring stage production." 

THEATER REVIEW: 'Big Fish'

The producing team was led by Jinks and frequent producing partner Bruce Cohen, marking the first significant foray into Broadway for the Oscar-winning duo behind American Beauty. Jinks and Cohen also produced Burton's screen version.

The cast of Big Fish is headed by Norbert Leo Butz, Kate Baldwin and Bobby Steggert, all of whom remain eligible for Tony consideration next year, along with the musical and its creative and craft teams. The show's music and lyrics are by Andrew Lippa, with a book by screenwriter John August.

Stroman (The Producers) also will be represented on Broadway this season with the upcoming Woody Allen musical, Bullets Over Broadway, with Zach Braff undertaking the role originated onscreen by John Cusack. That show begins previews at the St. James Theatre March 11 for an April 10 opening.