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While several Broadway shows are celebrating record-breaking weeks at the box office over Thanksgiving, Head Over Heels, the new musical built around songs by The Go-Go’s, has succumbed to months of slow sales, setting a Jan. 6 closing date.
The production began previews June 23 at the Hudson Theatre ahead of a July 26 official opening, and while it did draw some ardent pockets of critical support, the musical comedy has been limping along at the box office, failing to build an audience. The show has posted a weekly gross of more than $300,000 only twice during its run, mostly playing to less than 50 percent capacity. Total box office to date is $5.6 million.
When it concludes its Broadway run, the musical will have played 37 previews and 188 regular performances.
Directed by Tony winner Michael Mayer, Head Over Heels was conceived by Jeff Whitty (Avenue Q), whose original book was adapted by James Magruder. Based on Philip Sidney’s 16th century English prose poem The Arcadia, the show is a giddy fairy-tale exploration of love, sexuality and gender fluidity that follows the quest of a royal family threatened with extinction.
In addition to the title song, it features such Go-Go’s tracks as “We Got the Beat,” “Our Lips Are Sealed,” “Vacation” and “Cool Jerk,” as well as Belinda Carlisle’s solo hits “Heaven is a Place on Earth” and “Mad About You.”
Gwyneth Paltrow made her Broadway producing debut on the show, as part of a team led by Christine Russell.
“Along with my partners, creative team and cast, it was our desire to create a piece of live theater that celebrates love of all kinds and portrays a world of beauty in which joy and acceptance reign above all else,” said Russell. “We are incredibly proud of what Head Over Heels has come to represent, not only on Broadway, but for future generations of theatergoers.”
Russell will be looking into U.S. tour possibilities for the musical in 2019, along with regional productions and professional licensing. In the meantime, stock and amateur performance rights will be available through Broadway Licensing.
Thanksgiving week traditionally is one of the busiest periods of the year at the Broadway box office, and while holiday traffic wasn’t enough to save Head Over Heels, several other shows clocked their highest-ever tallies.
The massive $3.8 million total for Hamilton puts a $4 million week firmly within the smash musical’s sights; Harry Potter and the Cursed Child set a record for the highest-grossing week for a play in Broadway history, totaling $2,338,315; Disney’s Frozen broke the house record at the St. James Theatre with $2,319,012; Mean Girls smashed the August Wilson Theatre’s record with $1,778,290; Network set a new high at the Belasco Theatre with $1,269,076; the critically maligned musical King Kong showed some muscle with its best week ever, grossing $1,203,258; and To Kill a Mockingbird raked in a hefty $1,260,035 for just seven performances at the Shubert Theatre.
That new Aaron Sorkin stage adaptation of the classic Harper Lee novel, starring Jeff Daniels as Atticus Finch, also wrapped over $1 million in additional sales in the 12 hours since a 60 Minutes behind-the-scenes piece on the production aired Sunday night on CBS, indicating that it’s likely to be one of the blockbuster plays of the new season. The show currently is selling out in previews, with its official opening set for Dec. 13.
With the Hudson Theatre now available from January, pundits have begun speculating on which incoming show will grab that vacancy to open before the April 25 cutoff date for 2019 Tony Awards eligibility. One of the lead contenders appears to be another production directed by Mayer — a revival of Pulitzer Prize winner Lanford Wilson’s 1987 drama Burn This, set to star Adam Driver and Keri Russell.
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