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Demonstrating that Broadway has become tough terrain for original musicals without a recognizable movie title or jukebox catalog behind them, critical darling The Prom has announced an Aug. 11 closing date.
The production opened Nov. 15 at the Longacre Theatre to sparkling reviews, and went on to earn seven Tony nominations, including best musical, original score (Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin), book (Bob Martin and Beguelin), direction (Casey Nicholaw), lead actor (Brooks Ashmanskas) and two lead actress spots (Caitlin Kinnunen and Beth Leavel). However, none of those noms translated into a win.
The show generated a lot of good will within the Broadway and LGBTQ communities with its tart but affectionate skewering of self-infatuated New York stage veterans. The story follows a bunch of fading theatrical stars in desperate need of an image makeover, who seize on the cause of a small-town Midwestern lesbian prevented from taking her girlfriend to their high school dance.
But only once during the 34 weeks of its run to date has the $13.5 million production reached more than 70 percent of its gross potential, over the lucrative post-Christmas week, even then falling short of capacity. And while attention around the Tony nominations and a lively performance on the awards telecast has yielded a slight bump at the box office, it was only a matter of time before producers pulled the plug.
A future life seems assured for the show, however, with a national tour scheduled to launch in February 2021 in Providence, Rhode Island; a young adult novel due in the fall from author Saundra Mitchell and Viking Books; and a movie event in the works at Netflix, which is being shepherded by Ryan Murphy as part of his production deal with the streaming platform. A licensing deal also was recently struck with Theatrical Rights Worldwide.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to bring this original musical comedy, full of heart and humor, to Broadway with this dream cast and creative team,” producers Bill Damaschke, Dori Berinstein and Jack Lane said Wednesday in a joint statement. “Since the earliest days in the journey of The Prom, we have known this story was something special. We are beyond thrilled that our story will continue beyond Broadway.”
By the time of its final bow, The Prom will have played 23 previews and 310 regular performances. The show’s cumulative box office as of last Sunday stands at $19 million.
Between now and its closing, The Prom will be represented extensively in New York’s Pride month celebrations, including a June 29 performance as part of Youth Pride at Summerstage in Central Park and a June 30 spot at the WorldPride celebration closing ceremony in Times Square. In addition, the show is the face of Kenneth Cole’s annual Pride campaign.
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