NEW YORK -- Evidently, Ricky Martin is irreplaceable.
Despite previously announced plans to recast the principal roles in Evita following the exit Jan. 26 of original stars Martin, Elena Roger and Michael Cerveris, producers of the Broadway revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's bio-musical portrait of Eva Peron instead have opted to close the show on that date.
“Our extensive search for a new cast presented the significant challenges of not only replacing a high-caliber trio of stars, but also synchronizing the schedules of potential replacements with that of the production,” said Hal Luftig, who heads the producing team with Scott Sanders.
“Despite going down the road with a variety of artists, the planets have simply not aligned for us to engage the right talent at the right time," Luftig continued. "Therefore, we have made the decision to end this incredible journey on a high note on Jan. 26 with our original stars intact.”
“The style, grace and vision brought to this legendary musical by the cast, musicians and creative team exceeded our wildest expectations," added Sanders.
Given that January through March tend to be the leanest months on Broadway, the producers would have needed major-name replacements in order for the show to meet its high weekly running costs.
Business has been strong since the revival opened on April 5 at the Marquis Theatre, consistently grossing north of $1 million a week, and frequently topping $1.5 million. Its total gross to date is a hefty $45.5 million. But box office dipped notably during Martin's scheduled absences, indicating that while the show itself is a brand name, it is still dependent to a large degree on star power.
When it closes, the revival will have played 26 previews and 337 regular performances. That's a far cry from the original Broadway run, which opened in 1979 and played for almost four years, notching up 1,567 performances. However, as revivals go, Evita significantly outperformed last season's other Lloyd Webber-Rice reincarnation, Jesus Christ Superstar, which eked out only 116 performances post-opening.
Martin played the enigmatic narrator figure Che in the Michael Grandage-directed production, with Argentine actress Roger in the title role and Cerveris as her husband, Juan Peron. Those roles were originally played on Broadway by Mandy Patinkin, Patti LuPone and Bob Gunton, respectively.
The producers have confirmed that a national tour of the Evita revival will launch in September 2013 at Providence Performing Arts Center in Providence, R.I. No details have yet been disclosed as to whether the Broadway production is expected to recoup by closing date.